-An objective stand-
An aging Kamal Hassan tries to foray into a new dimension of film making through Mumbai Express. Like many of his previous experiments, even this one evokes a lot of applause from those of us who appreciate anything creative. But there are many more unlike “us” – who will be ready to get their daggers out to chop these kind of ventures into simply invisible pieces by throwing out their critical views eventually leading these movies into a box office abyss.
I belong to the former category so I enjoyed the whole experience of watching Mumbai Express twice in Tamil. I am waiting for the Hindi version to be released in some nearby theatres or be available in some legal form for home viewing. Either way, I know I am going to be buying the Tamil and Hindi DVDs as soon as they get released.
If at all there were places in the movie, where I got some dreary feelings while watching the movie for the second time, I realized they were places when characters were involved in some lengthy and serious conversations. The case in point being – the initial hospital sequence when Kovai Sarala and Dheena indulge in some real “documentary style” dialogue exchange. Then the Manisha – Kamal sequence when they talk about love, at a point in the movie when that seemed totally irrelevant & pushed in. So sometimes, the dialogues, although inventive and intelligent, lacked the punch to keep the audience glued to their seats. They definitely gave a dragged feeling to many movie watchers.
Climax – Probably the censor board’s firm stance on that (“yele”) song gave very little time for Kamal and crew to come up with a better idea as there was less than a week left between censor certification and movie release. They resorted to some optimal editing which has resulted in a rather abrupt end making you wonder if that kind of seemingly dramatic ending was necessary.
Kamal Hassan is a very good media agent. He has got a lot of good friends in the media (Hindi, Telugu and Tamil) but I am not sure if his PR skills always work, specially the pre-release ones. This movie, albeit a little late to get a good share of media’s attention (partially because Chandramukhi hogged the limelight), did eventually get all the pre-release hype all Kamal Hassan’s movies, of late have been receiving. May be Kamal, in an over enthusiastic tone has always managed to build a bubble which is ready to burst as soon as the movie gets released. The bursting here is definitely a reference to the BO stand. I can’t recall when this trend started – probably after Avvai Shanmughi. I am sure some movie goers who feed on such media coverage, always find Kamal Hassan’s movies (in the post-bubble era) not living up to their expectations.
What surprised me this time around was that I could clearly see myself taking a stand a little far away – may be too far away from Kamal Hassan’s diehard fans. Most of the Kamal DHFs reacted to the movie as if this was the worst thing that had happened to Kamal and that he had let them down miserably. I just do not seem to understand the reason. Some of them have gone to the extent of declaring the movie an utter flop already (4 days after its release). I thought of myself as a very big admirer of Kamal but I certainly miss something that would make me a KDHF – I think I am glad I don’t know what that is. I can be critical of Kamal Hassan without getting emotional, this way.