Monday, November 25, 2013

கலங்கரை விளக்கம்

0 blesses 'n' curses
  On November 24th 2013 one of my childhood fantasies came true. When I were a child, my father and mother would take me to the Marina during Sundays. I fondly remember the days when the Marina's shore would be so long and we would be endlessly walking towards the mirage that are the waves. With not even one fourth of the way through I would ask my vertically challenged mother to pick me up and carry me. She, with all her might would carry me halfway through. I would get restless with a sea of crowd blocking my view of the ocean and ask my 6 foot tall father to lift and place me on his shoulder to give me a towering view above the rest. It was always fascinating for me to get a towering view of the ocean.

While going back I would notice the tower structure standing tall and would ask my father to get me up there. He would say we cannot go there and I would cry like a bitch till he bought me "kuchi ice" from the local vendor. I then grew up to realise that it was restricted for public viewing. The towering view of the mighty Bay of Bengal remained an unrealised dream. This emotion was further heightened on seeing Vijay in Ghilli hanging out with his friends in a replica of the lighthouse bulit for the movie. Every time the 12G/11H bus would turn left after passing the V-House bus stop, I always wonderhow it would be it, if I got up the elusive structure.

To my delight, the Government recently opened the lighthouse for public viewing. I was very much excited and planned a visit to the lighthouse with a couple of friends. The queue to enter the lighthouse resembled that of a queue during "Vaikunta Ekadesi" at the Tirupathi Devasatham in T-Nagar. Everyone wanted the piece of this marvel. We stood there for over an hour and it was nearing the closing time of 5 pm.

We were probably the last batch they would send. We got inside the lighthouse compound and found another queue for taking the elevator to go up the lighthouse. I just couldn't wait and took the steps. Since I live on the 3rd floor in a elevator less building I somehow could manage to climb the stairs without much difficulty. Within just a week of its opening the scoundrels had scribbled their names on the walls of the steps. They were etched with their bus routes, their favorite actor names and even the overused heart-teen made an appearance. It reflects the kind of dreadful society we live in, who don't value the importance of preserving monuments such as these.

  Three quarters of the way through, I took a peek from the windows. The view of the ocean was breathtaking. I then hurriedly climbed to the top. I almost lost breath. A guy stood near a room and shouted "Innum oru mAdi dhAn Erunga sAr". I pulled my breath back and made the final climb. The place resembled my balcony, fully grilled to make sure that no one would fall. It was like we were viewing the world behind the bars, as if to re-enforce that we have no control on the events unfolding before us and we are just spectators.

The crowd was maddening and uncooperative as one would expect. I muscled my way through fellow humans and got to the observatory. The view was very contrasting. On the right side, there were worn out filthy TNHB quarters and dark sea. The waters looked heavily polluted and nothing like the blue that one would expect of an ocean. The left side was filled with wonderfully painted buildings including the IG office, which was the nearest and a fabulously maintained Marina beach till the Napier's Bridge, where the couvam immerses itself into the Bay of Bengal. 

The right side view from the lighthouse

The left side view from the lighthouse

I was standing amidst two extremes. It was like a scene that of people who were left behind on the development race on the one side and a flourishing array of Government offices, commercial establishments and educational establishments on the other side. I then looked down from the from the lighthouse and noticed how puny a thing we are compared to the all powerful nature. People looked of the size of that of an ant, a mere dot in the cosmic ocean.

The view as I look down from the lighthouse

The waves were rushing in and hitting the shores as the ants rejoiced in the momentary pleasure. I was living a dream. All the people around me were invisible, it was a blissful state of me alone and the ocean. Only thing that was visible were the palette of blue painted across the shores.I could endlessly watch this over and over again with gusto. But I had to move on to let others live their childhood fantasy and left the place. 

The palette of blue appearing as the waves hit the shore and people rejoice

The moment I climbed down and came out, I saw quarrel and a stampede that is typical of our public who were denied something and reality came rushing down to give a tight slap on my face.

Mad rush at the entrance of the lighthouse

I looked up at the Lighthouse, one last time and then left with a feeling of fulfillment that I had finally got close to the fairy, my fairy, "The Chennai Lighthouse" 

The view as I look up at the lighthouse

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Initial thoughts on Irandam Ulagam

1 blesses 'n' curses
  First of all this not a review. A review is something which is done after carefully observing everything in a movie. It should be of service to the film maker and not be a mere guide to the movie goers whether to watch it or not. Only that will elevate the art. Let us set that aside for some other day. Mine is just an impression of what I thought as I was watching and after watching the movie.

The film started off with Arya telling the tale of love in two different worlds. Usually the characters in a Selvaraghavan film has lots of detailing and have shades of grey. But in this movie he has failed to do so, as it is totally unclear as to who Arya actually is, a mathematics professor or a Surgeon or a social activist. It is also unclear as to whether it is a hospital or a home of disowned people and children. We are constantly being bombarded with the patients acting so jovial with Arya around and he pretty much has free access to everywhere in the hospital, even the operation theatre. Overall, the whole love portion and everything about the first 50-60 minutes of the movie is a bunch of cliches wrapped up together conveniently. Right from the kind hearted lover boy, paralysed father to the extremely witty friend. Heck even the "boy chases-girl ignores-girl falls in love" is there but only with roles reversed.

The other world references are also very cheesy and very very convenient. It also has the share of its own cliches. The kind hearted women who created the world, the evil camp which wants to slay the "Amma" and the trademark "crying foul about women" song. the protagonist is constantly being challenged "hey can you catch the lion" and "Hey can you climb the mountain" and guess what, he effing does it. All this reminded me of when my friends used to ask me to touch my nose with my tongue or some weird tricks with my finger to show I am great.

I wonder why people there, don't respect women but seem to respect Amma, *tada* who is a woman. The creator also seem to be blissfully okay about everything and is so defenseless against puny evil people just like "The King" in a chess game.The motive for taking away "Amma" isn't strong either. Also the use of foreigners seem to be very off putting. I can see why he did that. May be he wanted the other world to be weird or simply he could not afford to travel to exotic locations with a total Indian cast. The whole sequence of rescue back "Amma" seems very amateurishly written and only invokes laughter. 

The film's writing is flawed on so many levels that I cant cover all of them in this one post. It seemed like a rough first draft with so many cliches that I just could not bear beyond a point. I can't fathom why a director who gave Aayirathil Oruvan would produce such a bucket load of rubbish in the name of love. AO had its fair share of flaws but it was creatively so mind boggling for me. The graph, the film took from a treasure hunt to a historic fiction still mesmerizes to date! Here is a guy who showed a historic race like Chozhas in such a different way and he gives THIS? 

If I HAVE to say some positives, it is very tough to make a movie like this. You can write "The whole cavalry gathered around him and he fought chivalrously" but how do you present it on the screen? It is totally different ball game. I felt the depictions of the other world were very well filmed, my respect goes to the director of cinematography, Mr Ramji. The concept of the film is very new to the Indian film industry or perhaps world cinema. 

To my eyes these are just baby steps made by one Mr. Selvaraghavan to a new paradigm. A mother when she see her child walk for the first time, just claps and becomes happy. When it scribble something with a crayon, she encourages by saying "Look what we have! A future artist" But we all know that is not the truth. Selvaraghavan's "Irandam Ulagam" is one such attempt.

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