If Thamizh film history can be split into an era influenced by stage plays and an era which does not have any influence of Thamizh stage plays but completely contemporary, then the industry itself & the films may still appear to be in a transition phase because there is a firmly rooted & a very talented bastion called Kamal Haasan who is still standing strong, as a bridge between those two eras. There may be a few other loose bridges in the industry but for the industry to completely shed the hues of the past era, Kamal will be the last frontier to conquer.
Very few filmmakers or writers have the guts to reveal the main plot within the first 30 minutes and then with complete confidence on their screenplay & directorial abilities, they hope to make the rest of the movie interesting for the audience. Uttama Villain clearly falls into this category, despite the shrilling struggle it faces to get the audience glued to their seats during the first 30 minutes.
We all know Kamal Haasan is a brilliant writer and sometimes he is too good a writer for the average viewer. There is so much of the plot that gets revealed during the first few minutes – the aging superstar with a drinking problem, his superstardom, his unhappy marital life, his son with teenage troubles and scanty respect for his father, his father-in-law who is proud (in a controlling sort of way) of making his film career a successful one by making him a super star, his innocently obsessed wife who is too naive to not love him for his real self, the manager and his loyalty to what the manager & the father-in-law see as the perceived good for his career assuming that it is naturally good for him as well while completely ignoring the person in him, the doctor who doesn’t hide the fact that she is a secret lover who will always be a shadow in his superstardom & will never have an opportunity to stay in the front, the almost Kamal-KB real-life like mentor-disciple relationship, his first lover’s tragic past and then the two shocking news that he receives that sets the tone for the rest of his life (and the movie). That’s a lot to get across in 30 minutes or so.
Quite interestingly, the writer and the director really take up the challenge of doing complete justice to the remainder of the movie after they got through the first 30 minutes or so with some bumps.
I was very skeptical of how the 8th century folklore part would work but to my surprise, I walked out of the theater with pretty positive images of that part. The writing, the dialogues and the acting were all top notch. Unfortunately, the humor which is finely and quite brilliantly sieved throughout this thread (the 8th century thread) may end up being appreciated only by a selective few audience who are familiar with the nuances of the language and have a sense of appreciation for subtle and intelligent word play. The fan of such language & humor in me hopes that it gets appreciated widely. Because somethings simply deserve a wider audience.
Kamal Haasan, the actor definitely has worked hard to bring different shades to his acting – in both threads. Even as a 21st century, aging superstar and a father struggling to come to terms with his life’s reality & the bleak mortality of his life staring in front of him, he knocked some scenes out of the park with much needed subtlety. The 8th century Uttaman character was right up his alley, even though he may not have played a character like this before. The humor, the slapstick persona, etc. etc. – He devoured it all and delivered it well. The supporting cast, right from K Balachander to K Vishwanath to Andreah to Pooja to to Urbashi to Nasser and everyone else, had something to leave their impressions on in your memories. I was a little uncomfortable with KB’s dialogue delivery at the beginning, but the he kind of blended with the flow after a while.
One hard pat on the Ghibran’s back. The soundtrack of the album which was released in March had won many a critic around the world but the background score highlighted why he is in Kamal’s good books already and why he is being repeated successively by the man. Job more than well done!!
Ramesh Aravind certainly carried the burden of somehow pulling off a tough project like this and for the most past, barring a few sequences, did an extremely commendable job. Even though you have a strong script writer with you, executing the vision of the script as a director is not the same. So, again, Well done Ramesh.
I couldn’t stop thinking of the weirdly strange “contrasting coincidence” that the movie ended up having with real life. K Balachander’s character shedding tears for the imminent end of his beloved disciple was a perfect summary of the opposite of what happened in real life.
Call it a premonition or a simple urge to have KB act in his movie – Kamal Haasan certainly knew and knows nothing is immortal. As he has always rightly said, we often fail to celebrate those who have made an impact on our lives and those who have made a difference in whatever field, when they are alive. We often end up doing that after they are dead.
With Uttama Villain, Kamal Haasan almost did the right thing. Almost.
How he would have wished for KB to have watched this movie FDFS!!