Life was never the same after the advent of the Sun Network. There was a movie every afternoon on Sun TV! Every afternoon! Previously, movies could be watched only on the weekends, on TV, so this was cause for much joy, especially among those who didn’t have much to do in the afternoons.
Then there was Sun Movies. Three or four movies a day! When I wasn’t burning my skin off in the sun during the summer vacations, or watching Cartoon Network, or fighting with my sister, I’d be glued to these movies.
This love for movies were further kindled by themed movie weeks on Sun TV. So the late evening movies for a particular week would follow some theme. Like ‘Adhiradi vaaram’, where all the movies would be action blockbusters, or ‘Thik-thik vaaram’, where horror movies would be screened the whole week, or even a week full of Vithalacharya movies, or movies where Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy were the composers. There were also other more specific themes like Movies Where Hero And Heroine Cannot Be Together, or Movies Where Love Is Sacrificed For Higher Reason. Apart from Movies Where One Or More Protagonists Are Differently-Abled, or Movies Where One Or More Of The Protagonists Are Dying (Of Cancer). I’m not making any of these up.
This went on for around a year or two, before they filled late evenings with some or the other soap (which all deserve a post or three to themselves… remember Chitthi, anyone?). Then they had a common theme throughout, with every day of the week having one genre. Like there was a comedy movie every Monday, a love story every Tuesday (Kaadhal Sevvaai), a classic old movie every Wednesday (Kaaviya Budhan), an action flick every Thursday (Adhiradi Vyaazhan) and a superhit blockbuster every Friday (Superhit VeLLi). This, apart from two movies, one in the afternoon and another in the evening, every Saturday and Sunday.
And I sat fixated as often as I could. Watched heckuva load of Tamil movies. Amma and I would watch some Kannada movies too, on Chandana, but we stuck to comedies… Anant Nag’s Ganesha ones, or S. Narayan… we both still adore his Oho. Channels would promptly be changed if it was a Kashinath movie. But I hated Kannada movies back then. They seemed too serious and too tragic. When we didn’t still have cable, Amma and Ajji would watch the Sunday evening Kannada movie on DD, and cry and cry and then cry some more. One movie which freaked the heck out of me had Ambarish write a letter in blood to the leading lady. Years later, when a classmate wrote a love letter in blood to another, I felt very very very faint not because it looked like a crazed madman’s handiwork, but because it brought back repressed memories of this movie. And I stopped watching Kannada movies after this one wacko movie where Ambarish gets bitten by a dog and dies of rabies. He barked like a dog, ate food from an aluminum plate not using his hands, frothed at the mouth, and died. I swore to myself I’d never watch a Kannada movie again, and never one with Ambarish in it.
So Tamil movies it was. And God, they weren’t any less gaga. They might be cheerier, more hopeful, better-made and more watchable, but less crazy, they most certainly weren’t.
One of the more tragic ones I watched involved a lower-middleclass family, where the father was presumed dead in a train accident. They get his insurance money, and their standard of living suitably improves. But then, the father comes back, and the rest of the movie is about the shenanigans that result from trying to hide him from the rest of the world. It could have been a nice comedy, but it mainly involved the family politics, grinding poverty, maintaining self-respect, and endless mother-in-law daughter-in-law shenanigans, apart from the mother not being able to wear her mangalsutra and sindoor even though her husband is alive. It sapped the energy out of me.
Then there was this seemingly normal movie where a boy with a widowed mother falls in love with a girl with a widower father. The girl’s father suitably opposed the match like all movie dads, but then he went one step further. He spoke to the boy’s mother, saying there’s only one way we can stop them from marrying and making the biggest mistake of their lives. And the mother agrees. They both get married, and then he snidely tells the boy, now since I’m married to your mother, Heroine is your….? . Mindblown, simply mindblown.
And I saw this one clip of a movie and couldn’t bear to watch it any more. So this guy has a rather cold wife who’s not being intimate with him. He takes her to a movie one evening. And from her horrified shrieks on watching it, we infer that it was an adult movie, and she is thoroughly disgusted and limp from shock. He tells her in a confrontational tone that he did that just to loosen her inhibitions after which she’d fall limp into his arms. Oh. My. God.
On the other end of the spectrum, there was this sweet movie on Young Love called Panneer Pushpangal. The western world (and the Star World-watching world) may have had its Wonder Years, and Kollywood had Panneer Pushpangal. It starred Prathap, who I used to confuse for Kokila Mohan, as a cool and with-it teacher at an Ooty boarding school, where the lead pair were students and fell in love. Of course, the girl’s mom was a witch and locked her daughter up, but the ragtag bunch of friends help her escape. She meets the boy, and then everyone wonders what to do. And then the movie ends. I rather liked this movie, I’ll admit, and wished my school had a teacher like Prathap. And I mention that movie here mainly because it has this wonderful, wonderful song.
Radhika (of Chitthi, Annamalai and Arasi fame) starred in a few more mindblerg movies I watched. First was this one where she woos Sivakumar as a village girl, going as far as getting each others’ names tattoed on their arms, after which he is transferred to the city, where he meets another Radhika who is a modern-dressing rich daughter of his boss. She keeps aggressively pursuing him, and he never gives in because he loves only the villager Radhika. He goes back to the village to find her, but she isn’t there and the whole village blames him for her disappearance. And then comes the shocker. Both the Radhikas are the same! It was an experiment where the rich girl was testing a potential suitor to see if he was only after her money. Oh, what problems rich girls have. Anyway he takes offense and spurns her, and her own father says while he supported her through this endeavour, he feels this sort of test insults any self-respecting man. Then both Sivakumar and Radhika down sleeping pills separately. After appropriate edge-of-seat shenanigans, the director makes sure both lives are saved and that they live happily ever after.
Another one was Meendum Oru Kaadhal Kadhai with Radhika and Prathap. They are two mentally-ill kids in an asylum, and are supervised by a progressive doctor played by Charuhaasan. Radhika is from a rich family who all don’t really like her, especially her scheming brother and brother’s wife, while Prathap has no one. They fall in love, get married and move to some new village with the doctor to have a new life. The village had a slew of quirky characters I don’t really recall, but most of the movie was pitiful while not being slapstick. Radhika ends up pregnant, and dies when Prathap is making her laugh or something…. most mindblerging natal death EVER. I didn’t follow what happened after that, but it might have involved the doctor dying after killing Prathap.
And then. This is the first mindblerging movie I watched, and the one which I was thinking about and then remembered all these movies I’ve talked about. I saw it first on DD one Sunday afternoon when they’d show regional-language movies, which meant this movie had subtitles. It starred Mohan as a Hindu boy, who falls for his sister’s Christian friend. She keeps away at first, actively asking him to get lost, but he persists and they end up in love [Aside: it never fails to blow my mind how easily couples before the Noughties fell in love in movies so quickly and based on so little! He saved my life, so I'm going to spend it with him! Or, she loves animals, so I'll love her]. His mother and her father can simply not submit to this match. They chain Mohan to a small room in their terrace, while the girl (who could have been called Julie and could have been played by Radha) is locked in her room, while presumably her wedding to a Christian boy was being planned. The separation proves too much for her, and as Christ is the reason she can’t be with her love, she hammers a nail through her palm, like was done to Christ. And obviously dies. He escapes from his shackles and comes to help her escape, but he only sees her little neighbour boy (every heroine in every movie before the late ’90s had one) standing in line for her funeral. He runs to the graveyard as they are reading out hymns before burying her, sees her dead, kisses her prone body and dies right there. Lovers dying, okay, fine, but nail through palm? That made my eight-year-old self squirm a whole lot when I saw a crucifix after that, and I took special care to never hold a nail in my hand, and was very edgy around hammers.
I’ve been wondering what the name of this movie is. Does anyone know? Please please tell me… I want to watch it again, this time with new eyes that are cynical about such dated movies.
But…. that might be jumping the gun. These movies were definitely cheesy. But they were gritty. And original. And had an honesty and creativity to them which is missing in later suave movies without bright lights and item dancers in shiny costumes. They had some really good music, and I don’t know how popular they turned out in their time, but their actors gave really wonderful performances in these movies.
The themes were bold and original. The filmmakers might have been wacko jerks with too many rich uncles, or they might have been thinkers, I’ll never know. But I’m glad these crude movies that lack even an ounce of finesse and subtlety got made. They were like alcohol experiments in undergrad where you experiment with a wide range of quality and quantity of drink before you figure out what works for you. The makers of these movies might have hit bull’s eye with exploring early-teenage love and jealousy with a Panneer Pushpangal, and I might be glad for that, but I’m also glad that they got the scenario of ‘What if a guy likes a girl but his mother marries her father?’ out of their systems so that none of us needs to explore that again.
You are warned. Long Post Ahead.
I’m pretty sure every urban South Indian has one of these. Quite obviously… Rahman would score music for all those feel-good flicks that would be megahits. And even if they were not, the music would be a superhit for sure… which meant you’d hear of them. And hear them over and over again. Either on the radio or in the interval at the movies, or in weddings, or in someone’s car, or on TV…. basically there was no escape. And no one wanted one either… the music was different, and good. So you end up having a lot of memories tangled with quite a few of these songs. Some of these songs manage to stick with you through the ages and enter the hallowed portals of what you consider ‘alltime great’ songs. Here are mine:
- Mettu Podu from Duet: A very nice fusion-ish song. I suspect the lead character was made a saxophonist just so that ARR could use nice sax melodies for the songs in the movie. It’s a nice idea to have a wedding musician who plays the sax (in the movie)… it just sounds like the nadaswaram with a more fusion-ish feel. The same movie had some really soulful songs like En Kaadhalae and Anjali, all rendered awesomely by SPB. But Mettu Podu is the feel-good song in the album, and no matter how many times I listen to it, it only seems to get better.
- Margazhi Poove from May Madham: Sonali Kulkarni’s debut. Movie’s about a young girl yearning to be free from her overbearing father and a stuttering fiance. And this song is where she talks about all the things she’d love to do, while on a morning walk. This song had the suprabhatam as its opening…. gives the song a really good feel. The whole zest for life and freshness Sonali Kulkarni is supposed to have in the movie is reflected in this one song.
- Signore Signore from Kannathil Muthamittaal: People might like Vellai Pookal for its social message about peace and all, or adore Jayachandran’s soulful rendition of the title track. I however can’t get this song out of my head. The baila tunes and Sinhalese words demand to run through my head atleast once a day. It’s stock baila, just like Surangani, and possibly many other songs in the genre, but the cheerful mood of the song stands out against the serious mood of the rest of the movie. It’s the current song stuck in my head.
- Pettai Rap from Kaadhalan: This song needs no introduction, does it? I like the lyrics too… deep philosophical ponderings about life and death… appropriate for a song to be sung at a funeral procession. And I have fond memories of this song from school when our seniors choreographed it awesomely for the annual day, transvestite and all.
- Allay Allay from One Two Ka Four: Sad movie, sad SRK, boring Juhi Chawla, irritating kids, silly villain. And this cute song comes along. I’ve never watched the video ever. Just as well, I guess… I’ve had it upto here being disappointed by insipid videos for great songs.
- Paarkaathey Paarkaathey from Gentleman: Yet another let’s-live-life-and-have-fun song sung by a funloving girl. And this singer was called Minmini – with such a cool singer with such a cool name, which teenaged girl wouldn’t love this one? Turns out my bathroom-singing-neighbor-akka definitely did. I hadn’t met this much-older girl ever… she stayed in the next street, her house was behind mine, and I could hear her sing in the bathroom. I used to hate this girl because she sang classical songs in the bathroom very well, prompting mom to begin comparisons… and then one day she begins to sing this song… and thus became my first pop idol. I don’t think I’ve seen her, ever. But her 8 am voice singing Mangta Hai and Maragathavalli manasasmarami with the same zest continues to be an inspiration, more than a decade since I heard it last.
- Nila Kagirathu from Indira: Suhasini Mani Ratnam’s directorial debut. It had some extremely Suhasini-ish lines in the screenplay. And no, that is not a compliment. The tagline was very Suhasini too: Idhu peNNin kadhaialla, idhu maNNin kadhai – This isn’t the story of a girl, it is the story of the land. I didn’t much understand the movie, but the music was godawesome. Back then, Arvind Swamy was still goodlooking, if a bit chubby, and his intro song was good enough to keep humming every now and then. And then there was one patriotic one picturized on Anu Haasan and a bunch of schoolchildren. But Nila Kagirathu was the one that made the most impact. The more famous version was a little girl singing it.. on her own, and not because a band of aunts and grannies tempted her with promises of chocolates, unlike me. I dreaded being in the room when the song/video played – some or the other adult would invariably compare the girl singing with me and say ‘You should also sing like her’. My biggest doubt back then was how could this little girl, all of six years old, manage a tanpura without letting the whole thing fall down with a spectacular crash that left its bottom broken and top mutilated.
- Strawberry Kannae from Minsara Kanavu: Known to some as Strawberry Aankhen from Sapnay, but I listened more to the Tamil version. It sort of reminds me of Bohemian Rhapsody… is this what is opera? I liked the video, too. Kajol never looked more beautiful and more confident when she was listing out to Prabhudeva why she’d rather be a nun than be married and baked in an oven. And never more pissed off than when he makes a comment about her nose. I preferred this one over Kajol’s intro track where she’s trekking and having some girlie fun… the song wasn’t so awesome, or Vennilavae…. though that’s a fine track.
- Aye Ajnabi from Dil Se: Flawless. The title track comes close, but I don’t like the ending chorus…. I totally hate the ending chorus that Rahman adds to his songs when he can’t think of a decent way to wind it up. That apart, apparently Mani Ratnam made Priety Zinta a Malayalee solely because Rahman was hearing some awesome Mapilla tunes in his head… and there you go, you got Jiya Jale.
- Veerapandi Kottayile from Thiruda Thiruda: Folksy song with a Rahman feel. The background instruments, and Chitra’s strong vocals make this song awesomer than the others on the soundtrack – Thee Thee and Chandalekha.
- Ishq Bina from Taal: Anuradha Sriram did an awesome job here. Actually, the whole arrangement is so awesome, and all the instruments and vocalists seem so perfect – be it the solos by Anuradha Sriram (who sings impromptu in her interviews for the silliest of reasons even when no one asks her to, so much that you feel like asking her to just shut up for godsake… and you don’t for once feel like asking her to shut up in this song) and Sonu Nigam, or the chorus by Rehman and some others. And they didn’t mutilate the video, thank god.
- Dheeme Dheeme from 1947-Earth: One of the best romantic songs I’ve heard. Made better by the soundclip of a bird singing in the background. Of course, it was all integrated into the song and all that – there’s a musical instrument synchronized to play when the bird stops to breathe. Though… I like birdsong in a track better in Blackbird by The Beatles… the bird just sings in the end, it’s not synchronized and all.
- Des Mere from The Legend of Bhagat Singh: It really sounds patriotic, the tune atleast. I don’t know how he does it. I like this track much better than Maa Tujhe Salaam, maybe because I hear Maa Tujhe Salaam so much and so often I’m tired of it. Or maybe because Des Mere is a much better track. Just listening to it gives me goosebumps. I also liked Jogiya Jogiya from the same soundtrack – it was much better than the Jogiya Jogiya in the Deol version of Bhagat Singh.
- Dol Dol from Aayutha Ezhuthu/Yuva: You can’t do anything with this song except listen to it. Which makes it a perfect song for a montage. It might initially sound jarring on the nerves, but if you watch the video, it seems to fit it very well, like nothing else could have. Which is a lot more than I can say for Fanaa in the same movie – awesome song, awesome beats, and it’s ruined by the video which is too slow and can’t seem to keep up with the pace of the song and the passion it conveys. Plus, in the Hindi version, you had Kareena and Vivek Oberoi, who don’t look like teenyboppers and that ruins the whole song for you. Though if you want to go by video alone, Hey Goodbye Nanba is the best of the lot… man, does that even look like Marina beach?
- Yaaro Yaarodi from Alaipayuthey: So artfully out of tune – it’s actually quite in-tune, but sounds like it’s being sung out of tune. So much that people actually think it is meant to be sung out of tune, and mangled beyond recognition. By the time this soundtrack came out, Rahman was pretty famous even outside South India… I was pleasantly surprised when, on a train to Delhi, I found this five-year-old Bihari kid singing this song.
Uh…. don’t I seem to have missed out something? I can see purists and Rahman devotees going “How Could You?!’. No, I haven’t forgotten or overlooked it. I was merely saving the best for the last.
- Chinna Chinna Aasai from Roja: When this came out, it was the only audio tape I possessed, and I listened to it till it wore out. And I used to wait all week for Chitrahaar and a couple of other shows, waiting through all the tacky songs of those days, just to watch the video of this song. Somehow watching Madhoo talk about all her little-little wishes made my day a bit better. And the colourful video with no overweight hero-heroine attempting to tease each other silly or make out in secret was so refreshing… maybe it was all the natural beauty. And the cute things they showed Madhoo doing was so new to us – playing in water, holding a baby goat… and then the video has this shot of a little boat floating in the stream, with a little light in it. I don’t know what it was, but I totally loved that particular shot, and wouldn’t take my eyes off the screen till I saw it. Even now when I watch the video, I wait just to watch that particular shot.
So what is it that sets Rehman apart? He experiments and innovates. Which you don’t see very often. He takes bits and pieces from everywhere and puts them together and packages them in a way that most people find very appealing – all of them have a yuppie ’90s feel alongside which they also sound new and futurish – which appeals to the looking-to-get-globalized generation of the ’90s who wanted to break free from the mould of tacky Indian film music while not really wanting to listen only to Indian Classical or sticking with only Michael Jackson and GnR. His compositions favored singers with younger, lighter voices over the heavy-voiced singers Bollywood had seen till then, and as a result, the youth identified more with these songs.
And Rehman was also at the right place at the right time. Other composers might have innovated, or introduced new sounds in the past, but they weren’t equipped with a Moog Synthesizer (his father owned the first one in India) back then. Cable television was breaking ground, thus making any and every sort of film music accessible to everyone who owned a TV set. And the music video was beginning to take shape. Which meant, Rehman’s songs were also nicely picturized, and more appealing. People also had more money to spend on music and movies.
And this was also the era when the Western world began to see India as a hot market and so all of a sudden, you had India all over the globe – beauty queens, films winning international awards, or atleast getting worldwide attention – mostly thanks to the diaspora abroad, and… our composers getting to make music with Andrew Lloyd Weber. I don’t mean to trivialize the achievements of ARR, but it was more a question of being at the right place at the right time than most other things. Talent did matter, of course, coz otherwise you’d also have Harris Jeyraj or Yuvan Shankar Raja or Jatin-Lalit attaining the same level of fame.
This was an era when we were gaining self-confidence as a nation, and who better than Rahman to serenade us through it, and provide us our clairon calls, our march songs, our war-cries, our wake-up calls, our joyous shouts when we win and our inspiring power ballads to not give up when we lose by a whisker?
He was our official provider of melodies for all occurrences from waking up (Margazhi Poove) to going to bed (Rukmani Rukmani), all occasions from weddings (Mangalyam Thanthunanena) to anti-wedding requests (Kariye na) to funerals (Pettai Rap, or if you prefer mellower, Luka Chupi), realizations of love (Kandukondain Kandukondain) or cries of desperation (Evano Oruvan), secrets to success (song of the same name from Boys) or when you’ve lost everything (Vidu Kathaiyo), dancing in the rain (Thenmerku paruvakattu) or dancing in expectation of rain (Ghanan Ghanan), frustration with the system (Break the rules) or praying for good luck (O Paalanhaare) gender war (Boys-a yaenga vekkadhey) or cheerful rebellion (Paarkathey Paarkathey), flirty serenades (Signore Signore) or serious declarations of love (Nahin Saamne)… he’s such an integral part of our lives and everyone loves him for that.
If you don’t believe me on the last one, google for “I hate AR Rahman’ or variations of that, and all you’ll get is stuff like “I hate him because he doesn’t compose music for all movies’ or “I hate him because his music is so lovely it makes me cry’.
Been ages since I did one of those movie-music-list posts. So here we go again.
There are many times when I’ve been totally floored by just one tiny scene in an entire movie, even if the rest of the movie is quite sucky. Some scenes are very poignant, the sort of ‘defining moment’, the sort that make their point very well. Basically these scenes are the ones responsible for dramatic changes in your emotional state, the ones that make your heart stop, or race, or put a smile on your face, or make you wince and squirm, or left you speechless for the rest of the movie and gave you something to talk about to the rest of the world.
- The climax of Siraichaalai/Kalapani: Amrish Puri is the dreaded Afghan jailor in the Andamans who inflicts untold misery on the prisoners. Mohanlal has been wrongly convicted and has to serve a sentence in Kalapani. Prabhu is the revolutionary who tries to escape (and fails) multiple times and so gets the worst of Amrish Puri. Tabu is Mohanlal’s wife, who has contacted a friendly British officer who manages to get a release order for Mohanlal. Prabhu has been shot in an ‘encounter’. Mohanlal is infuriated, and wants to put an end to the brutality inflicted upon all the prisoners. The officer runs in to the prison with the release order. Just then he sees Mohanlal ram an iron rod into Amrish Puri’s throat. He screams a ‘No….’, and crushes the release order he’s holding in his hand.
- The escape scene in Siraichaalai/Kalapani: Elaborate plans have been made and executed by a band of prisoners led by Delhi Ganesh, to escape on a German steamer after blowing up the jail. Everything’s going according to plan. The sticks of dynamite are in place. When they strike matches to light them, it begins to rain.
- The scenes after Aparna and Apu are back home after their wedding in Apur Sansar. It just showed them going about their daily routine. But there was something about the way it was executed that was so poignant, that made their chemistry so palpable. There were no sweet nothings exchanged, there’s hardly any dialogue even. But you still sense the newlyweds-in-bliss feeling, something Mani Ratnam tries hard to achieve, but doesn’t quite get there. Sample: the scenes in Bombay where Manisha Koirala and Arvind Swamy can’t get their hands off each other and at the same time look so ill at ease with each other.
- The scene in Cyanide where all the LTTE militants are seeing their life flash before their eyes while biting the cyanide capsules. That is one point when you actually feel some semblance of pity towards them.
- The one in The Prestige where you see the duplicate drowning, and then you understand how the trick is done.
- In Alaipaayuthey, where you see the opening scenes repeated near the end, after you know Shalini’s suffered an accident, and Madhavan is still unaware of that fact, and he’s teasing, joking, unaware of what is to come…
- The song Kaadhal Sadugudu in Alaipaayuthey. Seems so common, everyday, but the little details are well taken care of, leaving the larger picture to the imagination.
- The last scene in Thiruda Thiruda, where Prashant and Rehman, mercenaries to the core, are each ‘sacrificing’ the girl (Heera Rajagopal) for the other and taking the money as consolation… until she begins to yell at them, asking if they think she is something to be bargained about… and chases them out of the frame. What makes this scene all the more better is that throughout the movie, you are kept guessing as to who likes Heera, and who she likes.
- Panchathanthiram‘s penultimate scene, when all of Kamal’s friends denounce him and leave him, out of fear of their wives, and the doctor telling him right after that his wife might not live. A couple of minutes of torment, when he realizes he’s got it all wrong giving his friends priority over his wife… and then everything resolves itself in true Crazy Mohan style.
- Last scene of Aayutha Ezhuthu where the evil politician Bharathiraja congratulates Surya and his party members on making it to the Legislative Assembly. Now there’s politics, you feel like saying.
- The scene in Anbe Sivam where Madhavan says he’s scared of blood, and almost confesses as to why. He loosens his guard a bit to tell Kamal Haasan that his brother at age ten was hit by a cricket ball and bled to death before they could reach a hospital… he just about lets it slip that it was he who hurled the fatal cork ball, before his guard comes back on and he slips into denial again. Just a brief glimpse of the kid he still is, and then he’s back to being the always-unsatisfied ad-filmmaker.
- The one in Hey Ram after the riots when Kamal Haasan sees his now-dead wife’s (Rani Mukherjee’s) painting on someone else’s wall.
- Hey Ram when Vasundhara Das is singing Vaishnav Jan To when Kamal Haasan comes for the bride-seeing. She chooses a very high pitch, and her mother (played by Hema Malini) is worried whether she’ll go off key when she hits the high notes. She hits the high notes, doesn’t go offkey. Hema Malini sighs. Vasundhara looks back and gives a smile of achievement while continuing to sing. What I liked about this scene was the very perfect Iyengarish touch to it. Guess that would have to have been achieved, considering most if not all of those cast in that scene, and in the following scene of Kamal’s and Vasundhara’s wedding, were Iyengar – Hema Malini, Vasundhara Das, Vaali, Kamal Haasan, YG Mahendran.. and a few others whose names I’ve forgotten. The best touch was when a wedding guest scolds the naadaswaram player – ‘Seevadi-ya chappindirukkadaeL’… the total busybody touch.
- In The Holiday, when Kate Winslet realizes that she’s recently acquired some… gumption.
- In Keladi Kanmani, when Ramesh Arvind is rather dissed with his girlfriend for not turning up for their date on his birthday, and vents out his frustrations. She patiently hears him out, before calmly telling him that that was when she fainted, and found out after a doctor’s visit that she’s not going to live much longer.
- Balram Naidu’s intro scene in Dasaavatharam. He exudes Gultness with every atom of his being – right from accent to ringtone.
- The ‘Ek gaon mein ek kisan rehta tha’ scene from Indru pei naalai vaa. I don’t think I need to elaborate any more, because words won’t bring the magic of the scene to those who haven’t watched it, and for those who have, I don’t need to say anything further.
- I forget the name of this movie, but remember everything else about it rather well. It was produced by Sun TV, and it starred Radhika. She played a very Indian not-very-educated housewife in UK, whose husband left her for someone else, and she is left all alone, with two daughters to take care of. Vikram (of Anniyan fame) was her Indian neighbor who gave her moral support. She tells hims she doesn’t understand why her younger daughter has resumed bedwetting. He appears to share her perplexity, but just as soon as the child is fast asleep in another room, he gently asks her if she cries in front of her children. When she nods, he very politely, caringly says not to, because her children would lose their courage and begin to feel insecure. And casts a lingering look before he leaves. [Aside: This one was where Vikram looked and sounded his best IMO. Yuppie glasses, polite demeanor, formal clothes, guy-next-door appeal, and being the soothing foil to Radhika's helplessness... where the hell is this part of him gone? All he does now is some shite porikki role.]
- Madhavan and Geetu Mohandas in Nala Damayanti, in the third-to-last scene where they are telling the folks at the immigration office why they are in love and want to get married. Maybe this is not what happens in an interview for Australian citizenship, but who cares when they are spouting such sweet dialogues.
- The entire movie Avvai Shanmughi aka Chachi 420. Where do I start? Where do I end? The Hindi version wasn’t so awesome, but the Tamil one is IMO Crazy Mohan’s magnum opus. Such a well-crafted script, appealing to different people at different levels… And I haven’t seen another flick with the Iyer aspect so well-portrayed without the slightest hint of stereotyping or disdain. I can only put a few samples here.
- Manivannan’s love-at-first-sight on seeing Kamal in disguise. The otherwise roughshod man turning into a lovesick guy who reads between the lines when a flower falls on him, or when (s)he holds his hand
- Kamal’s deft gestures – One second he’s gesturing to his daughter on how to tune the video, and when he senses other eyes on him, he switches so deftly to gesturing his daughter to come to him. And when he’s instructing Nasser on what to say, he makes his fierce nods so impossible to tell from an innocent turn of the body when he’s feeding his daughter.
- The scene where Gemini Ganesan is giving wads of cash to Nagesh, supposing he’s Shanmughi’s husband. So rife with pun and double entendre.. it needs to be watched to be appreciated.
- Basically, the whole absurdity of so many men vying for an aged lady well past her prime, and so many women doubting her character being one of the underlying themes, and how well this has been treated by the scriptwriter, so well that you’ll believe it… this is what makes the movie what it is.
You might have noticed bulk of the movies here are Tamil. Understandable, considering it’s my mother tongue, and that I frequent Tamil movie channels more than others. But virtually no Bollywood movie makes it here. That was one thing that surprised me, too, considering I watch a good number of Bollywood movies too. Guess it is because most of those I’ve watched are from the ’90s, when thoughtful movies had become totally nonexistent. No single scene in a Hindi movie has warmed the cockles of my heart or made my brain cells go ‘Aha!’, or showed me a new emotion – which I’d not already seen in Tamil or Kannada or English movies, or least of all made me marvel at the well-made-ness of the scene. They might be entertaining, but thought-provoking… naaaaaah, not unless you count thoughts like “Why the hell am I even watching this?”.