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Surya S/o Krishnan (Vaaranam Aayiram) November 16, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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Apart from being a Gautham Menon-Surya film, this one was in the news during its launch for all the wrong reasons. In the first place this was announced out of the blue only after a couple of films (with the same combination) supposed to begin shooting got scrapped. Also, there were major changes in the casting of the female leads. It’s only very recently I came to know that this was intended to be a personal tribute from Gautham Menon to his father.

Following the death of his father Krishnan (Surya), Surya (Surya) – an army major currently on a rescue mission reminisces his whole life and the relationship he shared with his father; who we get to know turns out to be his inspiration and support at every point in his life. Surya recalls his mom Malini (Simran) telling him how his father “swept me off my feet” in college – through a wonderful flashback sequence. We then move through Surya’s teenage years and college life following which he falls in love with Meghna (Sameera Reddy) and decides to pursue her to the US where she is studying. I can’t say more about what happens from thereon because that would involve giving away major spoilers. Needless to say, every major step Surya takes in his life is inspired by “how my dad would have done it”.

Gautham’s film is uninhibitedly personal and absolutely honest. Apart from including some action episodes for commercial reasons he never really strays from what he is trying to convey. The result is somewhat a self-indulgent effort which is just over 3 hours long but once I was sucked into the director’s vision and the actors’ performances I totally fell in love with it. After the initial wooing sequence between Krishnan and Malini I knew there was no way I am not going to like this one. And it just keeps getting better (for most part). The film actually spans a period of about 30 years and it is so rare to see how much careful thought has been put into the visual detailing of different periods – be it the actors’ costumes or the the surrounding props (vehicles, buildings, billboards etc..). Even the sequences in the US are quite refreshing in terms of the locations. The dialogue is quite contemporary and urban (with the liberal use of English) – however I felt there was a voice-over overdose which was definitely not needed for each and every scene. Harris Jayaraj – in his last collaboration with Menon belts out another hit soundtrack but it is the way he’s experimented with the background score which really stands out.

And now the best part of the movie – Surya. Though he has had great performances to boast of before, I think he’s been quite unlucky when it comes his talent being recognized. Sometimes those films haven’t done well and if they indeed have done well it was overshadowed by a much bigger actor/film. I can only pray that it doesn’t happen this time. For if this film doesn’t do well, not doubt one of the most memorable performances you’ll ever see would go down the drain. Surya gets to play a range or characters right from a teenager to an old man (in a sense he actually does more than that for even the father’s character goes through the same cycle). Be it the body language or the styling, he is just so convincing in each and every frame. And that believability is brought about without the use of any prosthetic make-up whatsoever. He has lost/gained weight (even got a six-pack) as each character demands and by changing his look (hair/beard/moustache) appropriately for each role he plays.

In the past, whenever an actor has gotten to play multiple roles (or even a single “different” standout role) the temptation for some self-serving over-the-top histrionics has always marred the outcome a bit (though that’s precisely the reason they receive accolades). Here, more than anything else Surya’s nuanced, understated delivery for each character is the real stuff you’ve got to give credit for. He is however most comfortable doing his winsome routine chasing Sameera Reddy (check out the Visa Interview scene). Simran is wonderful as the mother. I think she should seriously think of taking up these kind of roles rather than making futile attempts at making a comeback as a leading lady. Sameera and Divya/Ramya look gorgeous (Sameera especially) and they are very impressive. Deepa Narendran – who plays Surya’s sister also makes a mark (don’t recall exactly where I’ve seen her before – probably a TV personality). To sum it up, all actors can easily cite this film for now when asked about their career best performance.

Though the film ends on a happy note, a strong feeling of poignancy took over me as I left the theatre. This is a film which will stay with me for a long time. I don’t know whether I can call it a great flick but Surya S/o Krishnan is unlike any other film you’ll get to see which makes it something you can’t afford to miss.

P.S: Initially I was planning to watch Dostana this weekend but I had to go for this one because I couldn’t get tickets for the former. Now, I am glad I didn’t.

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Mozhi May 17, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Tamil.
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In the beginning of this film, Prakash Raj makes a joke about ‘the daughters of rich landlords falling in love with beggars’ being a common scenario in recent Tamil cinema. I expected then that this film would not fall into the trap of creating an unexpected love story without plausible reasons. But it definitely does and that disappointed me a little.

The love here is between a handsome young keyboard player and a beautiful deaf and dumb girl. The boy proposes but the girl disposes. Will the situation improve? Will they get together in the end? It is as simple as it seems with the physical disability being the reason for its existence.

The movie does have some nice material but the problem for me was that director Radhamohan could have decided to make it a bit more subtle. A lot more subtle, actually. That, of course, means that this movie is made for the mainstream audience (despite its purported critical acclaim) and that is not necessarily a bad thing (as substantiated by its box office success).

The first half of this film breezes through quite quickly but it gets a bit turgid towards the conclusion when it moves into the romantic comedy conflict zone. One interesting aspect is that you don’t feel for the dumb girl with a high self esteem and short temper. The film makes her seem normal enough to be unlikable, which is quite unexpected in a commercial film, but it focuses too much on her disability to treat her as a normal person. A movie that could successfully achieve this would be worth a watch but this isn’t it.

I wouldn’t rave about Jyothika’s work too much but Prithviraj and Prakash Raj make an impression fas does Swarnamalya. It was surprising to see Brahmanandam in a major comic part in a Tamil film but it is the sort of role that he gets in every second film. The tunes composed by Vidyasagar are quite beautiful (that was what pulled me to this movie in the first place) and the lyrics (Vairamuthu) seemed good too (the subtitles were definitely much better that what I’ve seen earlier with DVDs of south Indian movies).

Overall, this is a reasonably entertaining film that isn’t a bad watch. Just don’t expect it to be a realistic portrayal of an uncommon love story.

Parting Shot: In a movie that projects itself to be sensitive, making fun of an obese kid is clearly a major faux pas.