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First things First – It is not easy to handle a religion based movie subject in India. Period. No matter what you do, there will always be those who will get offended. So given that, Hirani deserves more than a pat on his back to have tried to deal with the subject.

PK - The Movie
PK – The Movie

Religion being one of my favorite topics, I have no choice but to support a movie of this nature no matter how badly it is made because of the simple reason that I want the core message to reach as many ignorant, weak and cowardly people as possible.

Now, how Hirani went about conveying the message is where I have problems with. And before I put down some not so positive comments about the movie, I asked myself, how would I have handled a subject like this and how exactly would I have built a story to convey that. Not a problem. I could come up with a couple of one liners for the story very quickly, which in my opinion would have been more intelligent, logical and mature compared to what Hirani did with PK.
Then I asked myself how would I have handled a subject like this and how exactly would I have built a story to convey that message, so that it reaches the maximum audience possible. Hmm. Difficult. I couldn’t come up with a good idea in the last few minutes since I asked myself that question. May be I will come up with something soon. But not an easy thing to do. And therein lies Hiran’s justification for making what he made.
Since I can’t buy that justification let me simply list what I found a bit problematic for me in the movie:

  • Could he have avoided the templatish sermon based approach to the core message?
  • Aamir’s search for god lasted for a long time – so long that I actually was ready to walk out of the theater. Especially that one sequence where he goes on and on singing a song searching for god at some warehouse. I just couldn’t tolerate those 10-15 minutes of overdose of the message coated in bollywoodish glam sham. Glad I didn’t walk out of the theater as the movie picked up some nice pace afterwards.
  • Is the movie meant for kids?? The way the message gets conveyed in different forms is actually very much like how one would teach kids. But then there were also some scenes were some adult subjects were discussed in a no so kids friendly format. Hirani clearly had two minds about conveying his message – treat his audience like kids to feed them a strong dose of a message that PK has and at the same time, throw some adult jokes to ensure the titillating factors are there just enough to balance it out.
  • Could he have avoided the whole India-Pakistan angle?? What was the point other than scoring a sentimental point?
  • The climax – really?? Media circus and all that?? I am sure this could have been less schmaltzy.
  • Much to my own amusement, I found myself in agreement with some of my right wing Hind friends – Why did Hirani go soft in his bashing of Islam and Christianity?? Why focus so much on Hindu bashing?? C’mon the argument that majority of the Indian population is Hindus is bull. Hirani and Aamir Khan were just afraid to go any further in their criticisms of other religions. Even the bomb blast that happens at the end perhaps was an afterthought (just to add an Islam related issue). Hirani didn’t have the guts to come out strong against Islam and Christianity & that is a fact. Let’s not pretend any other way.
  • Hirani of course played it safe by openly saying – belief in god is long as it is not….blah…blah…It’s still closer to an atheistic message I would have liked to see than nothing or no message at all. But for people like me, this part is cop out. Total cop out.
  • Finally Aamir Khan. Some actors get totally lucky because everyone likes them just for their appearance. Amir Khan perhaps falls into that category. Always likable for his boyish features. But what is beyond me is how he managed to earn this reputation of being a great actor. I like Aamir. He is a very decent actor. But a great actor?? Somehow, I can’t accept that. Just for the reason that many people think he is a grrreeeaaat actor, I feel he is perhaps the most overrated actor in India right now. He did his part very well in PK. But was it great? or master class? No, Not in my opinion.
  • And…oh yes, I almost forgot – Barring a few jokes here and there, the humor was forced and very childish.

PK is a must watch for the simple reason that it has a an underlying message that needs to be given a deep thought by every single citizen of this ‘religious disease’ infected world.

But the problem is when the rest of the world watches (other than India), they will all come to the conclusion that Hinduism is the sole reason for all religions getting flak.

That is just not true. Don’t you think?

Posted in AR Rahman, Movies - General

Kaaviya Thalaivan

Kaaviya Thalaivan
Kaaviya Thalaivan

I avoided reading any detailed reviews of this movie prior to watching it in theaters tonight. Of course, I couldn’t totally avoid any news about the movie after it was released. Tweets, Short reactions from the people involved in the movie, etc. were all things I had been exposed to, as I was not really living under the rock the past few days.

Right from the time when it was announced, I had been eagerly waiting for this movie. And no, it was not only because of AR Rahman but it was also because of him. But the main reason was really the subject that director Vasanthabalan had undertaken.  When I read that this could be a movie loosely based on the lives of MKT, KBS and SGK (Doyens of Thamizh Stage), I was fascinated.

I still remember my grand mother making me sit through an old MKT movie on TV, when I was a child and how she made me count the number of songs in the movie (which worked out to some 36 or so. Yes. 36 songs in one movie). I can’t recall if the movie was Haridas or Ambikapathy. But that era of stage artistes carrying over a certain culture from their theaters to envelope the movies of the then era with a certain character, gave glimpses to their stage world a bit to a 10 year old boy like me then. I had witnessed live stage plays in the 70s and 80s, but then they were more modern compared to the MKT era productions and artistes. So there was always something esoteric and mysteriously amusing about this era of Thamizh stage doyens. At least for me.

Kaaviya Thalaivan is an attempt that you can’t but accept to be completely earnest and sincere. One could argue over the categorization of the movie as to if it should be termed classic or not and one could argue over the apparent creative liberties that the director may have taken in panting a certain era on celluloid, but what one can’t argue over is the importance of such movies in the context of how Thamizh movies are evolving today.

The director does complete justice and is absolutely sincere to the foundation of the story, which is ‘Lives of Thamizh stage artistes during a particular period of time’. Everything else in the movie is only to support a narrative that a movie format needs. Many of those embellishing incidents fall in place just fine and then there may have been some that stand out like square pegs on round holes, but nevertheless aesthetically beautiful pegs on their own. In general, all of them helped maintain the tempo of the movie.

Siddharth and Prithviraj compete with each other in delivering one knockout punch over another in the acting department. What a treat it is to watch both of them. For Siddharth, the actor, I really hope this movie fetches him some accolades which he rightfully deserves. The scene when he gets caught by his guru (Swami played by Nasser) is a small proof for what this man is capable of doing, but how unfortunate it is that he hasn’t gotten enough opportunities till now. Prithviraj, on the other hand is already a well proven veteran in the art of underplaying his roles to perfection. And in this movie, he does a commendable added job of reciting some longwinded Thamizh dialogues with poise and ease.

I remember Vasanthabalan talking about the tone he and Nirav Shah (DOP) decided to have for the movie and I think it was a brilliant idea to settle on a uniform technicolor/reddish tone throughout the movie. The song picturizations were more or less on stage, so it needed a lot of creativity on the DOP’s part to make each song look different. And I loved how “Sandikkudhira” was picturized (and choreographed).

Jeyamohan has been credited for dialogues and although the language used could be debated if it really belonged to that era (the big question is which time period is the movie set in. The director probably leaves it to our imagination to some extent, even though we all know the story takes place prior to 1947), the punches in some of the lines were mind-blowing.

AR Rahman must have thoroughly enjoyed working on this movie. Assuming his appetite for good Indian movies has only increased compared to how it was in the 90s, then this movie does more than just feed his appetite. What a swelteringly captivating OST that Rahman has spun around this movie. It’s hard to imagine this movie without his OST. Downplayed for the most part and yet created the necessary mood for each scene. Touched our hearts where it had to and Moved our emotions when it needed to. I really hope the OST of this movie is released separately for wider audience appreciation.

If Vasanthabalan’s original dream behind making a movie like this is essentially to set a story based on the lives of stage artistes, then he completely succeeded in achieving that dream. But where he may have fallen a bit short is around how he tried to fit his dream into a movie format, thereby compromising on a few story stretches which in hindsight could have been avoided (including the mildly melancholic climax).

Kaaviya Thalaivan translates to “An Epic Leader” – The movie falls short of being an epic, but definitely can claim to be a leader in throwing light on the forgotten trials and tribulations of a certain special group of extremely talented people, aka the Thamizh stage artistes.