Kamal bikes through life

Kamal Hassan in Mumbai Express
[Pic : Vikatan]

After a week of being alienated from the kollywood world, I was hoping that this interview[need uid/pass] of Kamal for Vikatan would be a refresher. It was, it wasn’t.

Even as Kamal Hassan starts of the full-time promo for his latest flick, Mumbai Express, he doubles it to take on the group who are asking to give Mumbai Express, a tamil title. While this was the same with Sandiyar/Virumandi movie, he spoke about the issue just before the release of the movie. That was on his interview to Madan for Vijay Tv. This time, surprisingly, he is charged against them even before the music of the movie has been released.

As he opens-up on Mumbai Express, he details the hi-tech slums of Mumbai and the lifestyle of India’s business capital. Kamal as Avinasi makes a living by driving the dangerous circus bikes. While he is sure that there won’t be any issues to release Mumbai Express alongwith Chandramukhi, he calls the new generation actors to make peace. Ajith and Vijay, are you listening ?

If only hope the interview had stopped there. When our mindful(!?) interviewer touches on personal issues, Kamal tries to be comfortable but ends up being shallow and little arrogant with his answers. He probably should have chosen not to answer questions about his relationship with Gowtami and his divorce with Sarika. But then who wants to be dubbed as a snob in this senstive kollywood industry.

Especially when he conveys that he doesn’t comply with the marriage school-of-thought and when he substantiates his two marriages, they stand out to be silly. Sorry Kamal, better luck next time. But you chuck that out. I’m already expecting Mumbai Express to be release in April for two reasons. One for Kamal Hassan and two, Illayaraja.

80 thoughts on “Kamal bikes through life

  1. I for one didn’t feel kamal as shallow or arrogant. I could totally understand his concept of not believing in marriage and the role of women in his life (how he grew up with so many women around and how he needs them even now). made perfect sense to me. Probably we take his screen personality beyond that and expect him to think the same way as we see him on screen. may be i am wrong.

    also when these pseudo tamil saviors opposed kamals movie, I was thinking, Why kamal?. He is in great love with tamil and more concerned about its growth than any of those opportunistic politicians. I was also thinking that he is the guy who named his movies kuruthi punal, anbe sivam and other beautiful tamil names. I felt vindicated when he mentioned the same in his interview.

    If i were the dumbass ramadoss, i will ask kamal to join my movement for tamil, because i couldn’t think of another great warrior for tamil than Kamal.
    heck, i am not even a die hard kamal fan.

    Guru,
    how is seattle, having a great time ha.

  2. Hey hellboy/spidey

    I am already enjoying this hilly place. nice place.

    Given kamal’s way to interviews, he has been known arrogant. Many a time I never felt he was really arrogant or a snob. But this I certainly think he was. One, he could have escaped that question without being politically correct or he should have given it a complete go. I feel he was stuck inbetween and probably that’s why that part of answer stands out to be silly, for a person like Kamal. Ineed, I am a kamal fan, at first place 😉

  3. I find it odd that every Kamal movie creates pre-release controversy… Particularly odd are the last two… Vasool Raja generated controversy among DOCTORS! And this one, among Tamil fanatics.. when there are thousands of tamil movies titled in English being released every day… 🙂

    Someone has told Kamal that this is a surefire success formula (if the movie doesnt have anything else)… And I doubt that someone is Maniratnam!!

  4. I agree with hellboy. Arrogance is perceived. When a person doesn’t react the way you would have liked him to react, we brand him as arrogant. In one earlier interview Kamal had said “YOu will have to be Kamal to understand Kamal”. Perfectly right. We have no business to question his personal life just because he is a matinee idol. He has every right not to devulge whom he sleeps with every other night. I perceive his answers as a sort of exhaustion at reporters constantly troubling him with questions on his personal life. I read an interview of his sometime back when he quipped to a reporter thus “Do you think I think with my private parts ?” – give him some space fellas. .he too is a meek human. Cant you all see that he does not want to share his personal life with public and that it is perfectly reasonable of him to act so ? think buddies, think !

  5. Its no way arrogance.. those answers of Kamal Haasan. He is outrageously candid (think of the answer “ego” he gave as an one-word-answer for his break-up with his wife)…
    If candour is a virtue, Kamal is in Kollywood’s most virtuous!!!

  6. Swami, just come to think of it; Kamal’s movie titles raged controversies by difft set of people; but oddly all of them are somehow connected —
    Sandiyar/Virumaandi — Dr. Krishnaswamy — a caste-based political party leader;
    Vasoolraja MBBS — a section of doctor community raged up when Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss MBBS s/o none-other-than-caste-based political party mega-leader Ramadoss MBBS
    Mumbai express — opposed by a movement launched by Ramadoss!
    I dont want to sound like Ramagopalan or Gurumoorthy or VHP or RSS uphloding Hindu rights (specifically brahmin rights) to say that these people are opposed bcos Kamal is a ….
    but just wondering, if the coincidences are really so with so-called leaders(???) launching agitations on the movie titles–specifically Kamal’s!
    Would they care or dare something like this against big Tamil-kavalar Karunanidhi’s family television with channel names as SUN TV, KTV….?

  7. aaaha..Thalaivar photo superb aa keedhu 🙂

    I hate this media, when it comes to digging celebrity personal life. Third rated cheap stupid journalism. What the hell is going to happen to the world if Kamal has 3 wives???? Why no one is questioning anti-Hindu N Ram. He also divorced his wife, and later married a woman who has kids. Why no one asking anti-Hindu Ram about it haan?

  8. I think that kamal is overrated (i know his fans would disagree).True, he has given life to some amazing charachters on screen& given some heart wrenching perfomances, in his heydays. But, of late, he seems to b on a trip of his own.How self absorbed& out of tune with his audience did he have to b to think that such atrocious, pretentious, self-indulgent duds like alavanthan,,hey ram,anbe sivam& the likes would find viewers.And to think that he was condescending toward vasoolraja!!
    Agreed, any good actor would get the itch to try s’thing different after a while of routine flicks. But kamal’s sub-standard attempts were not good enough for the audience.And the audience recognise good work. A single failed attempt is understandable& can b forgiven.But repeated attempts to push, half baked goods, down the viewers’ throat in film after film is plain arrogance.
    With a rajni movie, at the least, u know u r gonna get ur money’s worth…. no pseudo intellectual bull that one has to sit thru.

  9. Aha ! Vasundra.. It is interesting to note the movies you have chosen in your list of ‘duds’. Allow me to explain everyone of them:-

    1. Hey Raam – The what if of the movie is “What if a man who has lost his wife to the Direct Action Day 1945 violence thinks that Gandhi is behind all his misery?” – what an amazing knot! See there are two ways of immortalizing a person – talking great of him. talking ill of him and then proving yourself wrong – the no no attitude Ramana Maharishi adopts in “Naan Yaar” .

    2.alavandhaan – ofcourse Kamal himself admits that he first wrote this as a story in 1978 and could make it a move only after more than 20 years – a third degree schizoid can now be treated. But he goes to explain beautifully the illusions such a person encounters. And he uses cartoonic expressions – first time I have seen in a tamil movie.

    3. The best of all – Anbe Sivam – The best movie I have seen for quite sometime! He tries to strike a beautiful balance between atheism and advaita and goes on to prove the best theist is the pure atheist. What a movie !!

    Ofcourse, Kamal has his flop side too. Take for instance Virumaandi – the core of narrating the same story from two different view points was pilfered from a 1950 Japanese movie called Rashomon (directed by the great Kurosawa). Kamal does pilfer – but who does not ?

    So, as a director, actor and a cinema-crazy person – Kamal does deliver his goods. It is the poorly educated audience that sometimes does not catch up with a genius like kamal.

    So, if Kamal is very bad at one thing sometimes, it is his guess of the pulse of the audience. The audience will deliver the verdict – but are they right always ?

  10. hey!
    I would like to add certain things here.

    Virumaandi pilfering from Rashomon is not exactly true (though Kamal does tip off the hat to Kurosawa). In Rashomon, that diff-perspective is the main theme and as to what actually happenned is left open-ended. None of the narrations is said to be right and others wrong. The movie’s main theme was to portray the intentional and UNINTENTIONAL way in which a person’s view blur’s the truth and the truth stays only for the instance when it happenned. Virumaandi doesn’t work that way. It goes on to tell Kothala Thevar was lying and Virumaandi was right. The diff narrations are mainly used to add dramatic change in the way user looks at the protagonist in the narration (there is a beautiful shot of Angela Kathamuthu increasing the brightness in the television). That Virumaandi doesn’t go the Rashomon way theme-wise by having the narrations from diff perspectives as a device used to show a man inside a criminal from full of minuses to some plusses (which we have seen in quite a number of movies, indian movies), lessen the movie (compared to Rashomon) and what its original theme was supposed to be(what was it? a plea against death penalty? as u mite never know who made it? i dont think so!)
    The movie works at a great level in exposing the lives & crimes of crimelords and their associates in a way which has never been seen!!!

  11. Lazy aka Guru
    Lets see how his new movie turns out to be.
    Many of his recent movies has been inspired heavily by Hollywood films.
    I have given that list in my latest blog.
    Ofcourse we all agree that Kamal is certainly the best from India, but he also has his own inspirations and not all his movies are original

    K K Nagar Kirukan

  12. hemanth,
    “poorly educated audience…. gimme a break!! It is this “i’m too good for my audience” attitude that work against the likes of kamal. The same uneducated audience seem to comprehend the subtleties& complexities of a mani or a bala movie& make them hits. Since when has kamal started making movies only for the “highly educated& intellectualy superior”.If that is the strata he is catering to, then write a book& he can showcase all that he has picked up at the lectures& art workshops he attended abroad. One can copy a kurasowa, a fellini or a polanski in narrative styles, camera placements and techniques.But no amount of name dropping can hide the fact that kamal’s movies lack soul& fail to impress. His movies come out looking like ‘want to b all that’, but never all that.
    Being ‘influenced’ by european& japanese movies exhibited at film festivals is a good thing to do …. but when u copy them, try to make it palatable for us…. like how for example, mani ratnam does it. His ayitha ezhuthu was’inspired’ too& it was in no way a simple& linear narration. but the same audience got it.
    So Hemanth, “the poorly educated audience not catching up with the genius” is such a pathetic excuse to defend a guy who just doesnt deliver the goods.

  13. Kamal said “Actors belonging to this generation are shouting at each other on screen”. He conviniently forgot “Thamizhachi Paal Kudichavanda” swipe at Rajini!

  14. mm.. some hot discussion goin on here..

    Harish…
    I agree ur point on that “thamizhachi paal kudichavan’da”.. He could have definitely avoided it (and was it particularly on Rajini? or just like saying “naan thamizhan’da” kind which even vijayakanath and satyaraj do in every movie, or even by rajini with his usual “uppitta thamizh mann”? I am not sure). But otherwise kamal has been sane and that this came only in a song makes it a lot subdued. isnt it?

    and Vasundhara!
    If u thought Aayitha Ezhuthu was understandable and comprehensible with its non-linear narration, why do u find Virumaandi pseudo-intellectual, incomprehensible and adhi-medhaavi thanam. I ve generally found nobody has problems with Mani and call him these things. What was so lucid and paamara-kind in aayitha ezhuthu? I mean the way u said abt rajini movies. Are mani’s movies and rajini’s of the same kind then. obv no. So u accept when mani does it. but not when kamal does it… What is ur point?

    p.s. :- I liked Aayitha Ezhuthu too, with some reservations. Nowhere near his earlier masterpieces. found it in the same intellectual level as kamal movies u ve mentioned.

  15. Vasundhara –

    I am not taking a dig at you here. But I just could not understand Aayudha yezhuthu or what Mani Rantam wanted to say. His Dilse did not fare well.. What about Iruvar (despite the fact that the movie was based on the two most influential persons in Tamil Nadu).

    See, the movies of Kamal you quoted as examples prompted me to pen my reply. All the movies you quoted were carefully thought ones. Very well executed – the audience simply did not catch up with them.

    Also, I do very well admit that Kamal is making a big mistake – of making movies for such audience. He should have made these movies for a more literate audience. THat is where he makes mistakes, not very much in movies.

    Srihari – Virumandi is ofcourse not the same story as of Rashomon. But the idea to present the same story in two different perspectives was ofcourse pilfered from Rashomon.

  16. Hemanth..

    My point was Virumaandi’s only plus was not the multiple-narrations technique borrowed. but it was praised mainly for that device used deftly in the movie. that may be coz it was very new to Tamil movies. Again, only at technical level which it owes to Rashomon – Same shot in diff camera angles and same events happenning in slightly diff ways and totally diff ways etc. Still showing the protagonist in bad light due to some grossly erroneous narration (and assert in the movie that it is erroneous!) has been many times and so I felt it doesnt owe that to Rashomon.
    And, btw, multilple narrations technique has been borrowed from Rashomon many number of times that its no more called copying but just “using”! “suraj ka satwan ghoda”, “jackie brown” and so many movies before them have done that already and there is no need to call it pilfering….

    Nevertheless, Kamal definitely was inspired by rashomon… and was tipping off his hat rather than to pilfer this technique as it was all-too-well-known!!!

    I reiterate my prev comment…
    The movie works at a great level in exposing the rural lives & crimes of rural crimelords and their associates in a way which has never been seen!!! (missed out the all-important “rural” while editing my prev comment for a long time!)

  17. Srihari –

    Ofcourse, I admit virumandi has a lot more to it than just a mere “inspiration” from Rashomon. Not to forget the “jallikattu” sequence – many tamil movies have shown jallikattu earlier, only Virumandi made it this spectacular. More than that I was more than fascinated by the choice of the names of characters Kamal chose for this movie : Angela Kathamuthu, kothaalathevan, pey kaaman et al.. wonderful ones !

    Guys (Srihari and Vasundara esp):- I am no big admirer of Kamal or a Mani Ratnam basher. I just want to stay in the middle, trying to understand the best in their works.

    Recently during Maniratnam’s talk at Landmark, one person quipped:- you seem to draw a lot from Indian mythology – observing resemblance between Roja and “satyavaan Savitri” & Thalapathi and “Mahabaratham”.. Maniratnam himself admitted that it was true.

    Vasundhara, to cool you, I am a great admirer of the cinematography in Thalapathi. Some thing photographers call “silhoutte photography” and the general public “crap”.

  18. Vasundhara –

    And to add.. I dont understand why a person should make a movie like “Pithaamagan” – it was so sick a movie.. I felt utterly disgusted after seeing the movie. Ofcourse many aspects of the movie were commendable – Surya’s acting and the character framing of the villan – shown here as a slightly gullible person ….

    If you say Nanda was good – I would admit it.. Nanda was sort of a trend setter in photography which was quickly adopted by Mani Ratnam’s “Kannathil muthamitaal” – the use of wide-angle photography to show sea-sides..

    I want to start a debate here. Does anyone else felt sick seeing Pithaamagan ? or was it a truly great epic ?

  19. now that the comments section is goin too long, lazy is gonna sue us i guess!

    anyways, I too am not a mani rathnam basher man.. (watch Iruvar, Nayagan, Mouna Raagam and no one would be!) somehow but many times felt Kamal had been more ambitious artistically, at least in some cases.. but has not got the right recognition which mani seems to walk away with, so easily.. The prime reason being Tamil ppl always want to quote Mani as their prime director and Kamal as an actor. So when they see Kamal directing they feel he is doing something he has not idea about and thats gross misjudgement!

    u can take songs for example. Mani’s movies always had songs as a separate entity, however much intricately he wove it into the screenplay.
    what i mean, if u still see his songs they tend to be independent of the movie and in the movie when it comes its a distraction of the story with all beautiful locales and cinematography etc. take alai payuthey, roja and even kannathil.
    but songs in kamal movies has always been a revelation and their choices are not ‘understandable’ (so to say!) until u watch the movie. Kamal doesnt let the album alone stand as a separate entity (dont quote movies like Indian and likes as they are not ‘kamal movies’). Take Mahanadhi, Hey! Ram, Virumaandi, Guna.. anything. (forget Raamaraanalum from Hey! Ram as it gave away too much of morality and was not gelling well with the movie!)

    Hemanth!
    U dint have to tell me u aint a mani basher as well.. coz i found ur points valid and wasnt peeved at all. AE was lot lesser than what he has achieved in the past. I liked Virumaandi better and that was the best movie of last year (though the underdog “Iyarkai” won the national award for best tamil feature!)

  20. Kamal doesnt pull any punches when it comes to movie denouements. All his movie climaxes are framed the way he intends it to be, shorn of cliches and melodrama.
    Manirathnam films generally chicken out in the climax (Dalapathi,Roja, Bombay, Kannathil, etc). I almost get the sick feeling that he sells out and starts pandering to the audience instead of delivering his true artistic vision (if at all he has any!) Mani’s films are anything but complexities; they are simplistic to the core!
    Also, no-one can ignore the fact that Mani has directly lifted scenes from a number of Hollywood films shamelessly – So much for someone touted to be the best director in India! In that regard, I dont see an outa of difference between Mani, Mahesh Bhatt and a music director like Deva. Mani deserves as much criticism for plagiarism.
    Overall, I might be comparing apples and oranges, but Kamal is a much bolder and more honest filmmaker than Mani

  21. hi,
    I just tried to make a point that mani, rajni, bala,dharani make money out of most of their movies…why? ‘coz they entertain& isnt that what films r supposed to do? entertain

    I’m no big fan of rajni as an actor, but one has to admit he is fun to watch.I had never seen a rajni movie bfore, till my friends forced me to watch padayappa in theatre& boy! I was hooked. I was whistling with my friends every time he did his trademark “hasthamudhra”.There is an endearing sincerity about him, even in the most banal of scenes. Ther is never a “i’m gonna give an oscarworthy performance, so watch me” arrogance about him.

    Bala, is in no way a genius. But he makes up for his mediocre script with brilliant casting. He has this amazing knack of extracting striking& sincere performances from his actors. So many years, so many movies, but it took a Bala to make a mild mannered vikram to scream like an animal, a noshow like surya to speak thru his eyes & most surprising…laila to go beyond her smile& dimples. It is to bala’s credit that his actors r ready to let go of themselves& give s’thing other than the mundane. Isnt that the mark of a good director?

    Mani is so crisp& to the point.He never overstretches a scene, dialogue or an idea & ofcourse, his movies have an extra gloss,’coz he associates himself with brilliant technicians.
    With mani movies, u know u r gonna see s’thing u have never bfor seen in a tamil movie. He just doesnt dissapoint.

    Kamal’s movies tire me.They tend to b in ur face. Ok, we get it, u have a brilliant, never heard bfor idea…..but where is the brilliant execution of the idea? His efforts& cleverness shows in his movies.The tendency to let his skills as a writer/director show up in the narrative defeats much of the films’ purpose.
    Kamal movies r one man shows with the rest of the cast acting as mere props to make him look good.
    Kamal has bcome the Amithabh Bachan of tamil movies. Everyone knows he is too good an actor but doesnt know what to do with him, so they give him license to give over the top performances& do lengthy monologues& he ends up doing a caricature of his previous self. He needs to b streamlined by a good director.Look what a bharathan or a mani did with him in a thevarmagan& a nayakan.

    What is wrong if the cinegoers demand 3hours of unadultered fun& entertainment? Who cares how well thought out each scene is or how innovative& sohisticated the camera angles& cinematography is, if the content is bland ,mediocre& outdated? Did the actor/director connect with the audience… shouldn’t that b of prime importance?

  22. Vasundhara,

    Have you watched movies like meendum kokila, michael madana kamarajan, thenali, pammal sambandham, panchathanthiram, avvai shanmugi etc????? Are they not entertaining?

    And yeah, going by your definition, directors like mahendran are the worst and most boring eh???

  23. Vasundhara:

    I beg to differ from your point that films are meant to be entertaining. Few KB’s movies weren’t entertaining, even Satyagit Ray’s weren’t. But they had great content in them. The same goes with Kamal’s movies. Here I mean the ones which he scripted.

    Rajini, Dharani make money out of their movies, because they belong to a different genere of movie makers. Their movies take life to unbelievable heights into the world of fantasy.

    I hope you have watched Hey Ram. Wasn’t it a brilliant idea ? Wasn’t it brilliantly executed. Did it not capture the happenings during partition ? And what about Anbae Sivam ? It was the best movie to have hit the screens in the last few years. Did it not convey the wonderful message?

    As far as Mani’s movies, I would say that his movies are good in pieces and the climax is generally bad. And Auyutha Ezhuthu never reached the masses. It left the audience wondering what actually is happening. Same is the case with Dil Se.

    And if I am not wrong, Thevar Magan was scripted by Kamal and not Bharathan.

  24. Ahaa !!

    1. Maniratnam does shamelessly pilfer scenes from movies. His character of Madhavan in Ayudha Yezhuthu was taken from Marlon Brando’s “A Streetcar named desire” (fyi a 1954 movie, when our thagaraja bagavathar was singing 20 songs for a movie).. His other two characters were flicked from a mexican movie directed by gonzalo ( I will let you know the name of the movie a lil later).
    If you want to watch these movies become a member of Cinema Paradiso in Alwarpet (where incidentally mani too, is a patron)..

    2. Thevar magan was entirely scripted by kamal Haasan. The dialogues (esp the one which Kamal has with Sivaji ganesan) are superp. I watched this move over 12 times and will still watch it given a chance.

    3. If you want to understand Hey-Ram or the intricate details woven in to it, take some time to read a) A freedom at midnight by D.Lappiere and about Suhrawardy of Bengal and Direct Action Day 1945 , about RSS roots in Maratta country – A 70-80 year old history has been told very well indeed.

    4. Mouna Raagam was probably the best of Mani Ratnam and in my opinion still the best…

    5. If you want only huge family entertainers, you should be watching movies like “Kal ho na ho” DDLJ and movies whose abbreviations run to pages.. not the serious ones of Kamal.

    6. Ofcourse Kamal takes care to provide entertainers too . . rather he does an entertainer almost alternatively. Has Mani provided one comedy movie thus far ? And you call mani’s movies gross entertainers ??

  25. hi vasundhara!
    “Kamal movies r one man shows with the rest of the cast acting as mere props to make him look good.”

    Now this one-man-indulgence thing again!
    This is a idea conjured up by people to say that kamal is indulgent and doesnt let his co-stars perform.. what a strange thing to say! but whenever somebody accuses Kamal of this, I am not surprised as this accusation has been there here for a while..
    Revathi won the National Award for best supporting actress in Thevar Magan
    Sivaji Ganesan won the Special Jury National Award for Thevar Magan
    Nasser’s best performances came in movies like Thevar Magan, Kuruthippunal and Magalir Mattum, Avvai Shanmugi (Though, Nasser adds “thalaivaasal” to this list too!)
    Madhavan in Anbe Sivam
    Poornam viswanathan, the Paatti and other characters in Mahanadhi…
    Pasupathi in Virumaandi (look what has happenned to him now with characters like “Pattasu Baalu”)
    Even a Vadivel in Thevar Magan
    Each character was so well-etched. (Hey! Ram too. But in Hey! Ram, u might not find much of other characters coz the story is as Saket remembers it and it is his tribulations that is shown and that goes all too well with the movie!)

    props.. were they?

    And as far as the writing part is concerned, I would say apart from Kamal, Mani and Bala too “actually write” other characters and do not use them as props.

    Indeed, Kamal is indulgent… in his art and in his moviemaking. he himself admits this. As he himself mentioned in one of his interviews, An artist needs to be indulgent. Coppola was indulgent in making a 3-hour long Apocalypse Now. Scorsese in making a 3-hour casino. Not in such cheap things such as overshadowing the co-star..

    Cheers!
    Bye

  26. Good Srihari ! Your view was well presented.. Esp with Thevar Magan, Kamal’s character was heavily overshadowed by Revathi’s , Sivaji’s , Nasser’s ..

    Virumaandi was probably the first movie where the screen play was 100% written and documented before the movie was shot and very little changes made during the shoot.

    Tamil Movies have to improve in character, techniques and presentation. Kamal is doing his best in bringing things that we have never known before (right from his painstaking makeups).. We should appreciate the honesty and dedication this man has, in movies.

    And, how do you show your appreciation ? By watching and patronising his movies.. Only then will other directors be emboldened by the outcome a Kamal movie generates and change track.

    When literate masses like us shun radical improvements and “out-of-the-box-thinking” and reject Kamal’s movies because they were’nt as entertaining as those “ever-green-family-cum-comedy-ones” , then I can imagine how the villagers in Papparampatti and Karumathaanpatti would take them (albeit the movie depicting their life using state-of-art technology) !!!

  27. My two cents… In a way I agree with Vasundhara. Kamal sometimes seems to do more than what is needed. I would not go as far as to say its “overacting”, but sometimes his acting and other gimmicks take all the focus off his screenplay and the story which are technically the strong points of any of his own movies. His choice of co-stars also defies logic. I am not sure what Manisha was doing in Aalavandhan or what that song was for. As for the animation to express his schizophrenic tendencies, I am not sure whether it served the purpose. But I don’t think his movies are substandard, only that they are over engineered! Well, I think his intentions to experiment are honorable, but as the saying goes, it is crucial that you choose the battles in order to win the war. I am not sure whether Kamal does this. Every single movie of his, I can pinpoint a jarring note either in the movie, like I said above in the case of Alavandhan. Or as in the case of Virumandi, in his sound bites before Virumandi, he proclaimed that the movie was not about the death sentence. But right from the first frame when you had VR Krishna Iyer’s monologue, it seemed to be quite the opposite. These things have usually taken my focus off the movie. Kamal then ends up looking like a narcissist. In my view, he shld stop directing himself and let other actors act out his screenplays. In fact, my dream combo would be Rajini directed by Kamal!

    @ Hemanth: Your comment that about the educational background of the audience watching a Kamal movie is slightly shady. Does that mean that you are asking anybody without a college degree to stay away from Kamal’s movies…lol…Thats pseudo intellectualism if someone claims he or she can understand what a particular movie maker is trying to say just because they is more educated. Ya, the ethos might be a factor, i.e. a rich kid probably will not get the idea behind showing a beggar hunting for leftovers from a dustbin, but that shld not be attributed to intelligence of the kid in question…
    Btw…There was one huge discussion abt Pithamagan on this very blog as soon as it was released. So that debate would be redundant 😉 But I shld say this, Pithamagan for me was as overboard as an imaginary “Godzilla vs. Stanley Ipkiss” movie…If ever I meet Bala, what I am gonna ask him is that, while every other character in his movies seem to be perfectly plausible, where did he dream up Chithan!

    @ Vimal: What do mean when u says “All his movie climaxes are framed the way he intends it to be, shorn of cliches and melodrama”! A still un-acquitted criminal going on satellite (world wide) TV and proclaiming his undying love for his long dead girlfriend/wife and the TV anchor closing the programme with kind words hoping that the man gets justice. IMHO, that’s as clichéd as it can get. And Anbe Sivam, fyi, Planes Trains Automobiles. So much for the much touted honesty. And, by any chance, are you the same Vimal who left a caustic comment on my Ekam Satyam post sometime last yr. If so, man, u scarred me so much that i stopped posting for months after that.. lol…

    @ Lazy, thanx for boosting this discussion up. I missed it completely. This is actually turning out to be interesting. Usual suspects – Mani, Kamal and Bala dissected. hmmm..thats what i call interesting. Reminds me of that old Bala vs Mani thread, enna LG? But again LG, even from this discussion, something comes to my mind. Different ppl seem to have different yardstick for labeling an effort as a “copy”. According to me, AE and Virumandi are not copies, while Anbe Sivam is. Its basically a question of what makes two movies similar, the story or the technique. Anbe Sivam was a case of the former, well almost, while AE and Virumandi were cases of the latter. I think we need to get a clear distinction about this. When I was doing my engineering in UG, a lot of us used to just make copies for papers from journals and go to college tech fests. But once I came here, I have learnt that the right thing is to do is to submit original work and if you are inspired, include the inspiration in the set of references. My professor always said that if you are using concepts that are well known existing ideas, it is not a crime if you don’t include it as a reference. Rashomon is well known to every self important movie critic and watcher that even if a time comes where movie makers are required to list their inspirations with the credits, leaving Rashomon out would not be considered a crime. But hey, all this is IMHO!

  28. Hey Anti, Quite a long comment after a long time. I do remember the Mani Ratnam / Bala issue.

    And well said on the copy/inspiration stuff. Liked it. Well said to the proffessor 😉

    Let me back out and the discussion continue.

  29. This discussion is getting along well!

    aNTi,
    Aalavandhan had many flaws. Agreed.

    Can u talk about the jarring points on all his movies as u stated..

    I really agree with u when u said, Virumaandi is not a copy where as, Anbe Sivam is a copy. Thats actually right! though, Anbe sivam isnt a replication “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, it still had the same storyline and scenes too.
    (nevertheless, I liked Anbe Sivam with some minor reservations!)
    AE is not a copy in that sense. But AE’s main plus was the device which it (i am a mani fan.. so i am not telling “shamefully”) borrowed from Amores Perros. Otherwise, the plot has nothing innovative in it and not much of the movie was executed well not to mention the sujata-mani-combo-now-cliched dialogues! what i mean is mani’s main objective dint seem to be the story but the innovative screenplay which is not original. We could tell the same about Virumaandi. But virumaandi had many other plusses going its way which i hardly found in AE..
    (btw, I liked Anbe Sivam with some reservations!)

    Compare the examination of youthful idealism’s gradual decay in Iruvar to what Mani did in AE…
    He saves it up for the last scene where Bharathiraja tells Michael (surya) that “Neraiya paeru idhu maari kolgai’oda inga vanthirukkaanga..”!

    And regarding the cliched-climax (the above one by Mani being a testimony to his botch-ups ONLY in few films – AE, Bombay, Roja – too optimistic), u quoted “Indian”.. “Indian” is shankar all the way.. with Kamal just donning the lead role onscreen. Vasool Raja is also not Kamal’s. (V.Raja is easily distinguishable from the class comedies made by Rajkamal production!)

    This discussion is about Kamal’s movies which doesnt include movies in which he had only acted and not participated in any other department.. (story, screenplay, direction, production). Otherwise, there is no objective in comparing him with Mani!
    Many a times, I ve found the main accusations on Kamal is because of the presumption that he is basically only an actor (some ppl say good actor!) and moviemaking is not his forte and he is just trying/indulging in it just as, say, MGR did in Ulagam Sutrum Valiban!
    Thts grossly untrue!

  30. Anti –

    I think you caught me in the wrong foot. What I wanted was the educated,literate mass should allow Kamal space so he can experiment. This is good for Indian cinema in the longer term. What is new today becomes a trend tomorrow. But for it to become a trend, you should patronise it. So some of Kamal’s movies will not appease the general public. But we should not ignore them only because it did not appease the majority. How else do you think you can bring in some radical thought to indian cinema ? And moreover, with movies like Hey Raam, it is no use watching it without a basic understanding of the happenings during partition. The villagers will not bother – they will dump the movie. But the likes of us ? we too behave the same way. We, by our verdict, tell film makers like Kamal that “out-of-box-thinking” is unwelcome.

    guys, if you know of another way to bring in ideas to improve cinema in India, please do share… I think Kamal is one answer to this problem….

  31. Srihari: Thats just what i am saying. How many ppl knew about Amores Perros till a film critic or someone who saw rushes of the movie commented about AE’s similarity with it? In fact, I saw both the movies and I know for a fact that a lot of people who told me for months that “AE is copied from AP” have still not taken the pain to see AP and btw are still toeing the same line, which pains me. So, if I were MR, I’d be proud of AE. Btw, if u had carefully followed LG’s blogs and quite a few others too, you’d remember that everyone said that “AE was copied from City of God”. I think one fine day, someone heard MR say that he saw a brazilian movie and was inspired. Konjam thuruvi paatha, that year, the nomination went to City of God, odane everyone said that. Then some asked MR and he probably said no. So they went back and researched for some more time and found that in the previous year AP had seen some buzz and it turned out that MR had seen AP. So thats how everyhting comes out. Illana no one would know and everyone would be going ga ga.

    Now, what i think are jarring? Manisha’s presence in Alavandhan makes me feel that Kamal was compromising, thinking that a single item song will satisfy the front benchers into whistling for 5 mins and let them forget the other substantial time that they spent in the movie. The animation was jarring considering that Kamal prodduced the movie and so he must have had some say in what hwas being filmed. I know he is far intelligent than a lot of ppl in Kodambakkam and unless he himself felt that it was a artistic way of conveying the character’s tendencies, it was mistake.

    Anbe Sivam – The disfigurement. I know the whole funda behind the accident etc. etc. But the facial disfigurement put me off. See, if u remember that sequence from Austin Powers when Powers is mesmerised by the sight of a mole in another agents chin, the same seems to happen. Ennadhan padathula nadanthalum, 2 yrs after the move, all i can remember is the disfigured face. Or mebbe that was intended.

    And I never quoted Indian. I used Virumandi, Alavandhan and Anbe Sivam for the reason that IMDB credits Kamal with the story and also cos these were three movies that I saw after coming here to the US. And I never mentioned anything about Hey Ram, cos it takes courage to do something like Hey Ram and it is probably in my top 3 kamal movies, hell, among my my top 5 list. But I think I liked a heavy movie like Hey Ram, cos I saw it after maturing as a person. If I had seen it in the theatre in India when it released initially, I’d possibly have hated it.

    And Srihari, contrary to what u say, I think Kamal has the mindset of a director trapped in an actor’s body. It is very rare that someone can do both at the same time without overdoing one part. Like I said, I would appreciate Kamal’s work better if he just directed his work, rather than try to do the acting himself. From a management perspective, I think he has problems delegating work.

    “Ferrari” Prabhu: There is a reason why I have liberally sprinkled my comments with IMHO’s… All my own opinion. So the answer to your qn is ME cos I pay the money to watch the movie. Well atleast i used to, when i was in India…..

  32. Hemanth,
    What is so ground breaking about`hey ram? Wife gets raped& murdered, husband seeks revenge.100’s of b grade tamil& hindi movies have been made on the same line.What makes HR different from them? Making Gandhi his revenge target? making partition period the backdrop? getting shahrukh, hemamalini… to b glorified extras?
    The scenes, dialogues, the goat, chained elephant, lizards, amateurish special effects, morphing are all supposed to b metaphoric. But who cared? One was busy getting over the shock of a very disturbing& violent rape scene, gruesome killings& riots. Why b so graphic? To tittilate or to bring in the front benchers?
    Kamal seems to b doing a lot for shock value these days….. why? not confident of his abilities as a director ?

    ” with movies like Hey Raam, it is no use watching it without a basic understanding of the happenings during partition. The villagers will not bother”…… Isnt it the director’s fault if he couldnt make the audience understand it in 3 long hrs?

  33. Vasundhara –

    A big grin went across my face as I read your reply !! I would not have cared more if a “paamaran”, a villager held this view.

    I do very well accept that the mass will not understand what happened to their country during independence. Very pathetic – we Indians do not know how we gained our independence. But how do we educate the masses on this piece of history ?

    The movie was not just about a rape and revenge following it. The rape was a catalyst that put Kamal on the path that Gandhi was behind all these. Then comes the misery that follows when such thoughts breed. Then at the end Kamal disproves himself and turns an admirer of Gandhi(you need a lot of courage to accept that you are wrong).. I did mention the whatif of the movie earlier.. why dont you think a few minutes on the whatif and draw up a story ? That is one way you can appreciate how much a writer would have thought about the story.

    Dramatisation – that is why we have films in the first place. Otherwise it would have just been a news reel… There was no over dramatisation (one on the lines of few hindi movies on LOC, Kargil etc etc ).

  34. Hemanth,
    I get a lot of”I’m cerebral” vibe from u…..lot of digs @ poorly educated, villagers, mass,pamara, disdain on ddlj type movies, not to mention a liberal amount of name droppings. I’m sure u watch movies by less ‘serious’ directors& enjoy it too. Y the attitude?

    I know that the movie was not just @ the rape. I just tried to make a point that the essence of the movie gets lost in the cacophony& the sleaze….. and that is the directors’ failure. Just like anti said, the grotesque face of kamal in AS, the blood bath in alavandhan, the violence in HR ……these are the things that stick. The conflict of saket ram, the preechy dialogues on globalisation, atheism, anti capitalism in Anbe sivam they all seem trivial& forced.

  35. Vasundhra – You hit the nail on the head, in your analysis (or lack there of) of Hey Ram!. You listed several features of the film then stated what most people think… “who cares?”. However, we are not talking about whether audience reads into a film or not. No, we are talking about Kamal’s credibility as a director.

    The film has multiple layers and ironies, involving three principal narratives, two of which are explicit and one implied. The frame narrative is ofcourse of the dying archeologist Saket Ram—a man who made his living digging through layers of the past—anchors the tale in the present (of the film’s release), at the turn of the 21st century. It also invokes (through the symbolic date of December 6th) the rise of Hindu nationalism during the 1990s as a potent force in Indian politics and the attendant increase in communal riots and massacres.

    The second explicit narrative is the flashback that comprises most of the film: a recapitulation of roughly a year and a half of some of the most turbulent and momentous events of 20th century South Asia: Partition and its aftermath, Independence, and the murder of Gandhi.

    The third and subtlest level of narrative is the Ramayana saga itself, both in its own basic structure and in its myriad reinterpretations, especially as a socio-political allegory. The film’s Ram, like the epic’s, is traumatized by the loss of his wife and sets out on a quest for revenge that eventually carries him across the length and breadth of India.

    Now perhaps what Kamal often implies stands true, not every viewer wants to be immersed in such a film – its heavy, powerful and definitely not entertaining in the way a pack of masala chips is!

  36. A personal standpoint on Mani’s AE, Bala’s Pithamagan and Kamal’s Anbe Sivam. Not siding anyone(no no, I am not referring to the actors/directors, I am referring to the comments contributors).

    AE – Subjective ending; typical Mani of lately. Subjectivity is never a bad thing, in fact, it makes someone think and remember the values(which the moviemaker is presenting) longer. Whats AP, and whos Tarantino; not all Tamil moviegoers experienced Pulp Fiction. A refreshing format, commendable, but the plot is rather weak.

    Pithamagan – Surya & Laila; good acting. Apart from that, nothing’s good abt this one. Wanted to leave the theater before the movie ended actually. That beastly creepy role of Vikram’s was a big turn off.

    Anbe Sivam – For an average Joe like me, it was definitely educational. Marx, Russia and socialisme. No, he(Kamal) didn’t sound too teacherish, the messages were all faintly conveyed. Thus, he had ample time to develop and work on the r/ship issues of AS’s various characters. And it was made all more poignant, by some sterling performances from its stars. And the song (Yaar yaar sivam..), it just goes on and on. Great movie this one, a brilliant effort by an artiste called Kamal.

  37. Lazy,
    Ithu over. Ellarayum ‘usuppu’ ethittu oorama okkanthutta.

    Anyways, Vasundhra – let me know how you as a director would portray rape, murder and the trauma inside a man who is an average citizen but is thrown in the midst of absolute chaos.

    By showing a woman with a torn blouse and unkempt hair??? lol – add a pottu which makes a long shovel like thing on the forehead???

    ROTFL

  38. It has been interesting reading up on all the conversation which is going on. What I am coming to realize is that all of us approach movies from different points of view based on experiences and where we are in life. We sometimes have to be privy of the fact that people watch movies for different reasons and they get different things out of it. Some things which I have always pondered include

    – Kamal is a good actor but when he directs, will it be better if he does it with another actor. That might give a different perception to the activity. Sometimes when the role requires a younger person and based on what we have seen him do through all his movies, the action and the facial expression becomes repititive and predictable. (And I am a big Kamal fan)
    – Mani Ratnam is good but sometimes he does not complete the story. His audience is only the cities. When he ventures out to make movies with one actor across multiple languages he fails as well as with songs. The reason from my point of view language really helps or criples a song and its tune. We also hold him to higher standards than others
    – Bala is good in flashes. I would give him more credit than being given. He gets a lot out of his actors and he has cast some good roles and the actors have performed it well. They have to be given credit for it. But the end result is that he is more of a tragedy person. I end up enjoying his movies but end up feeling depressed at the end of it
    – Rajini is a different breed. We never let him grow out of his role. We always forced him to be the angry young man. He tried to explore in his last movie with horrible results. I actually walked out of the movie half way as it was excruciating.
    – I think we should also give more credit to ourselves. We always hold ourselves to others standards. I am sure in the international movie business there seems to be a large borrowing of ideas internally within hollywood as well as from other countries. We always seem to hold ourselves of a higher standard than others and then punish ourselves in the process.

    The conversations here seem to be passionate and nobody here seems to go away with his opnion changed because they have made up their minds.

    As a Kamal fan, what I can say is that some of his ideas seem to be ahead of his time, some of its execution seem to be good, some bad and some horrible. He has to make up his mind whether he is going to be an actor or a director and at this stage in his life he should move over to doing character roles and also directing and making movies which make you think. Anbe Shivam did make me think. Some of his comedies are good but I am sure that there are young actors who could use a good director to show him the ropes.

  39. Hemanth, I got your point and you know what, I am starting to think that catering to a particular segment by making a cerebral movie, that requires some background knowledge of the subject, is perfectly justifiable. But in the past a number of film makers have gone past this, by just including scrolling text accompanied by a voiceover, giving viewers the background as the movie begins (like AB’s voiceover for Lagaan). Have noticed this particularly in a number World War II movies. Mebbe doing something like that would help take Kamal’s ideas to a wider audience. But on the flip side, other audiences might take this to be a dumbing down of ideas, if he does not get it right! Its a thin line, but a gamble worth taking i think…

  40. Srini, I don’t think that we as audiences are to blame for Rajini being the way he is over the last few years. My room mate feels that this is the same phase that Amitabh Bachchan went through around Shahenshah. He feels that Rajini lie low for sometime and then come back with a changed image more suitable to the 53 years young man (lol) that he is. I might actually want him to do something like Dharmadurai now. He became like this when he became bigger than his movies and the directors willing to direct him are newcomers compared to his 25 odd years in the industry. Unless someone like KB (higly unlikely) or MR does something starring Rajini, I dont think this status quo is gonna change. OR, as I fondly hope, Kamal gets a screenplay and approaches Rajini to act for him.

  41. Lazy a question for you…..

    Why in the holy hell is Bala being mentioned in the breath as Kamal, Rajini and Mani????

    Motion 1 of a Lazy+Tamil movie fan : Henceforth any references to Bala either in the comment section or in the main posts will be spaced apart from a reference to Mani,Kamal and Rajini by at least 5 posts.

  42. IMHO , Mani is the most skillful director in TN.But ,i also firmly believe Mani is a half-baked creator.there is a difference between a creator and a director.Mani is a great director and a poor,half baked creator where as kamal is a great creator and a not-so-good director.But still,we should give them the time and space for improvement.

    If kamal is poor in “executing” the excellent screenplay he pens ,mani is poor in his story stuff.HIS STORIES LACK CONVICTION,HONESTY.full of excuses….. like for eg..

    Roja— Common mans point of view abt Indo Pak
    Bombay —Common mans POV
    Dil Se— same as above
    Kannathil –Childs POV

    this is sheer escapism.except Iruvar,none of his films are bold and honest.he jus hides behind this “common man” mask and makes a mediocre movie with all sensational stuff.

    come on Mani,give us a break!! frame ur stories with some conviction and passion.i know u have great passion for filming.show the same love and passion in ur stories.

    As Anand(mdeii) said sometime back,if u want to tell something,tell it fully. dont go for half baked,unconvinced and therefore unconvinsingly attempts.

    i like mani.expectin a lot from him!!

  43. To call any of these directors/actors intellectual is a shame! They are all doing the same job, they plagiarise and tamil’ize it. They just do it in varying degrees, in some cases easy enough for the viewer to notice and sometimes a bit more subtle. These directors – MR,Kamal etc copy from international (japanese, european, american) movies whereas the others copy indian movies :). Makes them no more intellectual than the others.I would actually agree with vasundhra about rajni – atleast he does not give you the intellectual crap BS and says what it is! Tricking audience into believing its a new concept/idea is worse than admitting its a stolen idea and taking credit for making an indian version of the movie.

    plagiarise

    v : take without referencing from someone else’s writing or speech; of intellectual property

    If you do not reference the work but use it like it’s yours, it is plagiarising. There are no ifs and buts, just varying degrees of copying. Thinking back, a lot more tamil movies used to be original when these directors did not have access to non-indian movies! Now it takes a while to know which ones have been plagiarised.

    and yea – add me onto the list of people who hate Pithamagan.

  44. Nilu, Point taken. But then Bala entry to tamil filmdom is considered to be a breath of fresh air. I hate to accept it, time and again. Many a time, Bala’s films seems to me like a cynical rehash of Mahendran’s film.

    Now, I am certainly creating a debate here. This comment goes only to Nilu and hence don’t develop on this and bring me inside the debate. I love playing the audience 😉 But great going guys.

    I am also trying hard to reply to kdot’s comments on Mani being half-bakes sometimes/manytimes. Let’s see if I can hold-off untilt the end.(smile again)

  45. Virumaandi Just a note on this, basically the climax was no different from Asterix & Obelix v.s the Romans.

    “with movies like Hey Raam, it is no use watching it without a basic understanding of the happenings during partition” –
    so to watch “The Gladiator”, how much history I should read?.

    Nice to see many here agree with me on “The Emperors new clothes” AKA Pithamagan.
    wasted 3hrs for this pos.

  46. Sriks: The essential difference between the Gladiator and Hey Ram is that, for an Indian, Hey Ram strikes much closer to the heart than Gladiator, with Saket Ram being much more Indian than Marcus Aurelius…So while Gladiator does not make you think, Hey Ram certainly does and makes you react in ways that Gladiator does not!

  47. Kdot: Isn’t a movie a reflection of the maker’s opinion? I would look at the way he has shown whatever he has chosen to show rather than point fingers. And i think he has done it quite convincingly. Each of the movies u have mentioned is unique. Because no one has chosen to represent the issue from the POVs chosen by MR. And that makes them unique. I can count atleast 4 or 5 movies that looked at the Indo-Pak issue from a military point of view and one or two that looked at it from a terrorist’s point of view. That is what makes a movie like Roja unique. And you claim that taking that POV is a escapist’s attitude? I beg to differ….

  48. nilu,… I meant, why always the rape of a hapless wife? why not the murder of a father or a brother? Does that make the trauma &pain any less? In HR, a lot has been added for sheer sensationalism. kamal shows an eagerness to showcase all his tricks in one go. He has stretched himself too thin. It would have been better to show a little restraint. Knowing where to put the full stops, the commas, the semicolons would have done some good for the movie.

    Kamal has the mindset of a commercial director….he wants the gorgeous heroines, 6songs,shahrukh, the gore& the violence. But then he also wants the critics to applaud him for the artistic& intellectual content of the movie. But he just doesnt show the know-how to pull off that perfect balance.
    If he wants his movies to b the subject of innumerable discussions on “its’ multiple layers, ironies, subtleties& subplots” , then y not join the likes of Adoor& satyajit Ray?. But then, their ilk doesnt feel the need to add commercial elements to distract one off the main theme.

    The question is not whether u chose a heavy,thought provoking & relevant theme for your movie, the question is if u managed to convey the essence of your subject to an audience who didnt read your interview in a glossy magazine, bfore watching the movie & therefore missed out on the prologue.

    And about the audience not understanding the historical background…..y always underestimate the viewers? They r a lot who has no problem understanding the complex texts of a ramayana or a mahabaratha. And it takes a college degree to understand the trauma of a recent partition still fresh in pple’s mind? If the historical background in the movie appears hazy to anyone. then it is the directors failure for not putting it in the right perspective

    No one doubts kamlas’ capabilities.But the failure of most of the recent movies that has kamal’s name associated with it, as a writer, director or actor (HR, AS, alavandhan) should mean s’thing. How long is he gonna blame the audience’s low iq bfore taking responsibility for failing to connect with them. Branding all things kamal as the work of a genius, when there are better talents, is just not right.

  49. LG: Ellam onga sagavasam dhaan 😉

    Vasundhara: Yeah, balance, that seems to be what Kamal lacks. One thing he has to understand is, the only thing that can connect to every segment in the audience is humor, which i think why some of us are finding fauly with Alavandhan or Hey Ram. And which is why MMKR will forever be a classic. So if he wants to be appreciated by everyone completely, he shld stick to slapstick comedy. Btw, he has an amazing comedy sense… Illana, he shld accept that he can only target one segment, effectively that is, either the front benchers or the balcony….

  50. to begin with, i am YOOOOOOOGE kamal fan, so there will be an apparent bias. and i am not going to point out to who said what for there is too much to quote. so my comments are based on the gist of things i inferred.

    a) to the person who asked why kamal cannot be a adoor gopalakrishnan or satyajit ray and stick to making a movie bereft of commercialism, i ask how many of the 1 billion + indians have seen all of their work?? how many of their movies have had a glorious run all over india? time and time again, kamal has voiced his opinion that he does not believe in differentiating between art and commercial cinema and he wants to bridge the distance between the two. that is why none of his attempts are purely arty or truly commercial. he wants everyone to see the movie and he wants everyone to appreciate the movie. and personally i agree with that. there can be only good cinema or bad cinema. you cannot be sub-dividing cinema to suit each person’s individualistic needs. even commercial movies are good movies if they can entertain you for the length of its duration. commercial success is another thing. so judge the movie by what it is intended for, to entertain you or provoke you or scare you etc. don’t give my man made distinctions of art cinema or anything. in fact, some of the arty movies in foreign languages are the most tittilating of the lot, for under the guise of artistic interpretation, their use of sex is blantant and unnecessary.

    b) for the person who said the only thing they remembered of hey ram is the brutal rape scene and nothing more. who is to be blamed for that? kamal or yourself? while the rape scene was brutak and shocking, it was not tittilating. rape is brutal and that was effectively conveyed. not one person would have ever felt anything other emotion than disgust. if you could not get past that scene to appreciate the movie, kamal cannot be blamed for that. for me, the scene where the blind girl calls out for her father as he lay dead before her or the shot of a carriage of dead bodies rolling were more poignant than this. the other person who said that anbey shivam makeup was only thing they rememebered. again, it is a prop. nothing more. one needs to focus more on other things than superficialities. that is not again kamal’s fault. in a movie called frida, salma hayek plays a disfigured woman. no one talked about her make-up, they only talked about her performance. so how you evaluate the product is how you will rate it. that is not the product’s fault.

    c) i am always riled by this common complaint that kamal is not totally original. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING INSPIRED as long as a blatant copy is not the end product. no matter which of his movies are inspired, the end product is not a blatant copy. take avvai shanmugi, while the concept was the same, the movie was totally different. i had a whale of time watching avvai than i did doubtfire, not because i am a kamal fan, but primarily due to the side plots involving gemini ganesan and manivannan. who is not inspired??? i don’t see anyone demanding a.r. rahman to compose a song totally free of any existing ragas? in fact people gloat on how he craftily used a raga in his song. in the movie world, one can only utilize the navarasas and make movies. so you are basically working within a fixed framework. and in india that frame work is even more rigid. if we have people creating a commotion over a movie’s title, you think they will keep quiet if one makes a movie like secretary or a movie like all about my mother?? no way. so when you ask for the movie makers to think outside the box, one cannot be totally creative and original for while the mind can run loose, you cannot always put that onto film. btw, who amongst us are extremely original in everything we do?? if originality was the most important thing that YOU the audience crave, then we should have never had the string of ddlj inspired movies that became equally successful. hollywood is remaking internal affairs, a good chinese movie with leo and matt damon. how totally out of ideas they must be huh?? even kaakha kaakha was supposed to be remade by hollywood. look at this another way. they see these movies and want to recreate the same albeit suitable to indian tastes to let them also enjoy a good movie story as the original. if YOU are able to see the original movie as it stood and make it successful, no one would remake it. but you dont for that is not your taste.

    d) for those who think kamal tries to cram too much into his movies. YES he does. and that is a common fault with any creator. excess. sometimes it works beautifully, sometimes it does not. that cannot be always construed as a negative. you just have to judge each movie separately. take the use of cartoons in alavandhaan to depict gruesome scenes. so many people thought it was an idea of excess. but if he had shown the scenes as is, someone would have again complained about why manisha should have been killed and how they could only remember that. that was a good concept to sanitize the gory scenes to make it more palatable for it looked more like a cartoon than an actual murder taking place. also, in conjunction with use of 2-d cartoons, there is a movie called dangerous lives of altar boys that came out in 2002, which uses the same technique. alavandaan came out in 2001. reverse inspiration anyone???? i would prefer a lot of stuff crammed into an almost satisfying meal compared to a wafer thin movie with a story of nothing. but that’s just me. others on a diet would prefer the wafer obviously.

    e) for the people who think the only reasons hey ram, anbey shivam bombed was because kamal did not deliver the goods and the audience KNOWS HOW TO RECOGNIZE A GOOD MOVIE, i am sure a movie like kutty had a glorious run at the box office and a movie like thiruda thirudi was a flop. right? the bulk of the audience that go and watch a movie are the masses, and they only want an entertainer. nothing more. paisa vasool bas. even mmkr that people say is a great comedy flopped at the box office when it was released. didn’t the audience know better? NO. the audience does not know better. and that is common through out the world. and that is why a crappy movie like the pacifier brings in the moolah at the box office compared to a relatively much superior movie like be cool. so don’t pin the blame on the movie makers. the audience taste is fickle and it changes its tune as quickly as it pleases to do so. mass entertainers tend to do much better than anything else. one cannot do a movie about the elite and the social structure of the same for it will not connect with the common man. the movie could be great, but it still will flop as the common man’s entertainment needs lean towards item songs than anything about marxism. so no matter how many flops kamal has, it does not mean his movies were bad. it is almost always that the audience does not think it was entertaining. when we get to the point when the common man can appreciate a movie like mahanadhi, then we can start blaming kamal solely for his flops.

    f) as for kamal’s arrogance perceived or real. when someone makes a judgment about a person based on his personal life and not professional live, any answer he gives will seem like arrogance. could kamal be arrogant? most definitely. he is extremely knowledgeable in his profession of choice and it is but common for such people to be arrogant than others. but how can one gauge it by replies to questions asked?? by that measure, aishwarya rai is extremely arrogant, going by her letterman appearance. even rajini can be perceived to be arrogant whenever he shoots his mouth in the political area. what is perceieved arrogance btw? when kamal gives a fitting reply (as he may think) to someone, he is arrogant? is not the reported arrogant to think he has the right to drag kamal’s personal life into public?

    g) kamal is a narcissist?? HMMMMMMMM? YEA. just like rajini is also. just like vijay is. just like sharukh is.and for all those who say, that he is a narcissist, if that was true, no other character would be memorable in any of his movies than his. but that is never so. like someone mentioned, vadivelu in thevar magan was just as memorable as sriram abhayankar in hey ram to madhavan in abey shivam to abhirami in virumaandi. he cannot be a narcissist if all of these people also shone in his movies. narcissism is necessary in the movie industry for only then can one move beyond a flop to work on the next movie. if not, he would have been finished ages ago. too much narcissism is bad, i agree. but in the movies, he has directed, being hey ram and virumaandi, i cannot see anyone else filling the role as effectively. so as long as he plays the character effectively, what is there to complain???

    h) lastly, i always believe that people love to hate kamal for they just cannot accept him as he stands. they want him to cater to their terms of entertainment and he does not. they want him to bow down to their assumptions of what is a good movie and he does not. probably, that is why people always praise a rajini movie for its simplicity, though it is always preachy. kamal never preaches nor patronizes the audience. he does not say stuff like, “pomballaikku adakkam mukiyum” or whatever the line in padaiyappa was. no one talks about the remakes vijay does or the extremely formulaic movies ajith and the rest of them do. it is almost like kamal is hated for wanting to do something new. wanting to present something new. let it be makeup, let it be use of metaphors, let it be story telling concepts, at least he is trying to be different. not just claim that the movie is different when it is the same wine in a new bottle. the same person who touched upon adoor’s movie claims kamal’s movies are pseudo intellectual in content?? adoor’s movies are too. why the differentiation? so many people did not get the climax in sixth sense. was it shyamalan’s fault or the fault of the audience?? likewise for hey ram, whose fault is it if one could not grasp the concept? everytime i see it i notice a new facet about the movie. someone complained manisha’s presence in alavandaan was an item number and that was cheap???? like no other actress has ever done that or no other movie has it? either keep a common standard for judging everyone or dont judge at all.

    cheers

  51. kamal bashers,
    Plz go and watch ‘mahanadhi’ if you havent already done so.
    Now if you are some1 who loves ‘ayudha ezuthu’ kind of supposedly intellectual movies only, forget it.You cant appreciate kamal.
    Last point. Kamal is one of those ppl who is never on the middle ground as far as fan opinion is. Either he’s liked or disliked. For instance, like sourav ganguly. Hence, i dont find it surprising that almost everybody has a prejudice for or against him. Cannot say the same about any other actor down south. That in itself is a tribute.

  52. well, i just read what i wrote and i realized that it pays to proof read your work. so excuse all the typos and all.

    cheers

  53. The discussion or the lack of discussion is stark as the discussion goes. I started reading these comments this morning and I tend to see that we have very strong opinions and are not willing to give the other person a shot.

    plagiarise is such a powerful word and it is not a light threat. I would beg to differ that there are very places where a new film is thought of and constructed. Some of it is very new and thought provoking and I end up seeing these movies western or indian from directors who are new and who have not be immersed in the movie industry and in thus cannot think clearly. I would say that every one extends peoples work in that way.

    About Kamal, one has to accept that given the right director and the right role he is able to accomplish a lot and make people think and feel. That cannot be taken from him. About roles he has created and stories he has developed, one probably cannot say that he has not pushed the envelope in a way. Sometimes the execution is what is lacking. Comedies are easy to do – not writing them but if you have a sense of timing and Kamal has that in great amounts, he is able to accomplish it. Other actors also do it. Moving from an actor to a director is a leap. We have seen many ones like Nasaar for one who has failed in the leap. Kamal has succeeded in some and failed in others.

    When he directs himself and others in a picture of himself, I feel that he does not see it from a different perception of being the non actor. In that way not only the actor acts but the director just ends up appreciating his own work. I still feel that he could become a better actor if he lets go and lets either other talented directors work him or work talented actors in roles created by him.

    Is he of an egocentric nature. He has accomplished a lot and he feels and sometimes thinks that he can say his mind. Sometimes it gets read the wrong way because the person who is listening might not understand, does not want to understand and will not give him the benefit of doubt. The question then becomes to Kamal is it okay to argue and be arrogant or lower key and try to bring a change in peoples thinking. Do we need to change people perception in small ways or do we need to do a major change. Major changes are much more harder.

    The other thing when people react to actors and to Kamal is that they potray his personal life to the movies he makes or acts. The actor is not separated from the human being he is. We do a good job about someone who is in the US like a Tom Cruise but not to someone in India.

    About oppurtunities we cannot blame the actor for not trying. It is easier not to try and change people perceptions like what Big B did and later through his various mishaps did. The Big B from my point of view is probably a better actor now than he was when he was young even though all north of the vinday friends would lynch me when I say that.

    It would be really interesting to see if Mani and Kamal work together. Is it egos clashing or are there no scripts. Why does not the new directors like Bala take him up on it.

    At the end of it, it is execution. You might have a great idea, a great approach but if you cannot execute, it shows and kamal has done it as a director a number of times. The question begs to be asked is he critical of what he does. Does he have anyone who tells him sometimes the emperor has no clothes or partial clothes and the most important is is the emperor ready to listen.

  54. Experimentation. It looks like movies which we are talking a lot about with great passion are all experiements

    Bala in his various adventures
    Kamal in his directive ventures
    Mani in his attempt to tell story differently.

    It looks like that they are trying to experiement. It is also so much fun to go against the current than write another comedy or boy meets girl story. Some of it succeeds, some does not but with everythign some one learns and in the end result is we are better as a movie watching people

  55. Does one want to go to the movies to be entertained as a time pass or as something to think and reflect about. If all movies are comedies or love stories with good endings then where is the reflection

  56. Vasundhra,
    In case you did not realize a movie is what people pay to watch. If you were talking about what people dread to live – that is called life.

    Jokes apart – murder of a sibling or a parent does not quite have the same impact as the rape and murder of a dearly loved spouse or a darling child. But whether it does or not – it is a story and who are you to question that?

    And please read your comment again. Apart from not having the punctuation in the right places(pun intended and all;)..), what you state is just plain opinionated statements one after the other. Nobody is here to argue with your pet peeves,which we all have.What we are here for is to appreciate art. However subjective and meaningless the whole exercise might be, logic does help a little.

  57. i do agree that one must only look into the movie as it is and not as it should be.

    but then,if a filmmaker is taking a movie about some issue,then he must take some effort to address the issue.yea,u could always make a “Life is Beautiful” or a “Roja” ,but not always.

    plss do tell me,why the heck does Roja needs a kashmir or Kannathil, a Srilanka. Or,for the sake of argument i accept that these are needed and part of the script.but,if u choose them without even caring to address the issues,then it is jus sheer escapism.jus to create cheap sensationalism!!

    im no way telling that kannathil or Roja is a bad movie.i love them.but,kannathil would have been a brilliant film if

    * it totally avoided the Srilankan issue and made it a more domestic film about “adoption”.

    *or if it had dealt with the Srilankan issue with some passion ,with some conviction and without any fear.

    it dint do either of these two.and these,i think r the reasons which prevents Mani from being a
    good to a great director.What it had r those stupid,half line short sentences about arms dealings and faint dialogues like “these problems will be solved duuring the time of Amudha” bla bla (Remember the dialogues between Madhavan and Prakash Raj??)

    SPEAK OUT MANI!!!!BAKE THE BREAD FULLY!!

  58. Whoa!! From half-baked Mani to over-baked Kamal and finally a completely baku (!!) Bala, this comments section has been an amazing guilty pleasure to read so far! 🙂
    Keep it coming Folks!

  59. Vasundhara –

    Complex stories like Mahabarata and Ramayanaa ??? hahahahah .. okay these were fed to you with your pappu mammum and thachi mammum from age 2.. not partition, direct action-day, suhrawardy, navakali massacre, RSS and the likes.. So kamal tries feeds them to you with popcorn and pizzaa.. with a generous topping of rape and arson .. take it that way !! (I am sure you are mature enough to stomach that)

    I shall step back and enjoy the comments for a while now..

  60. Kdot: Regarding “* it totally avoided the Srilankan issue and made it a more domestic film about “adoption”.”

    Would love to hear what your views about the “domestic” scenario would be. Let me do a bit of that for you here. Consider this typical real life scene (I read about this issue in the Hindu sometime ago and live like a couple of streets away, so I know this is a real problem there).

    Place: Mothilal Street, T-Nagar
    Family: Similar to Amudha’s in KM, the typical Appa, Amma, naaikutti types.
    Sitation: Amudha is left on the roof of a car parked haphazardly outside the gate of Madhavan’s home.

    Indha situation la padam eduthalum, I bet you will pinpoint a zillion issues that were not addressed. I could tell u that in such a situation, MR shld adress the real life conflict between the ppl living in Motilal street and the shoppers who park their vehicles hapahazardly on this same street with scant regard for the residents. At this point of time, that is a major issue for these residents. So shld MR highlight this? Wouldn’t such a issue trivialize the point behind teh movie, which is Amudha…

    I know that this is taking the example too far, but according to me, KM was about the gal and not about her biological mother.

    See, IMHO, a potrait does not just contain a face, usually it contains a background to. So when u get your potrait done, u pay the artist to paint your face properly and not the background (well, not completely atleast). In KM’s case, the face was Amudha and HER issues pertaining to the absence of her biological parents. The backdrop was the Sri Lankan conflict. The perspective is from the childs, not the biological mom’s. Andha perspective was handled properly la?

    The Sri Lankan issue is important, but how important is it to Amudha, the school going pre teen? From her perspective, her mom shld come to her regardless of anything else in the world. Which is why maybe MR chose to gloss over the issue. If the story had been about the Nandita Das character searching for the child, then I would want the Sri Lankan issue addressed carefully.

    iyengarkatz: The issue about the item dance is not about the presence of item dances in Indian movies, but only about its presence in what Kamal otherwise thought out as a cerebral movie. The idea of showing schizophernia is itself new to our cinema. But by including a item song, he killed his chances of that getting noticed properly. Ofcourse I (since i brought it up, I think) am against item songs everywhere, but more so, in what I perceive as a intelligent attempt to handle a topic that has not been dealt with previously. That to me seemed to be like a compromise, a ploy to push the movie into the minds of the front benchers and make them think they got their money’s worth, which i think they’d have gotten anyways if the effort that went into that song had been used effectively elsewhere.

  61. wat i mean *domestic* is a movie like “mouna raagam”.and i do agree 100% that the face is painted perfectly.but if the backdrop had been addressed better,then i guess it would have been a flawless movie.im not pointing fingers.all i am saying is –it could have been a far better movie.

    Kannathi could have been taken from Nandita’s POV or Madhavan’s. Though it is taken from the kids POV ,i dont complain at all. All i am saying is that,maintain the same tempo.If u want to take that movie from Amudhas POV,keep that tempo going all the time.What is the need for the pseudo-intellectual dialogues between prakash raj and madhavan regarding arms makers deriving benefits from wars,developed countries hidden intrest in these wars bla bla…WHy all these??why not make it simple??

    all im saying is ,leave this “nunipull meyara” attitude.either say it fully or keep it as simple as a “Life is Beautiful”. FOR THE SAKE OF SUBTLETY,DO NOT COMPROMISE ON THE CONTENTS!!

    and precisely for this reason alone i liked a Mahandhi or a Hey Ram better than a Kannathil or an Iruvar!!and this is why i feel kamal is a better creator than Mr.Maniratnam PERIOD

  62. Kdot –

    Kannathil very surely had MR in two mindsets. He ofcourse wanted to touch upon the Srilankan Issue as part of his famous series on terrorism. But he was too afraid,reluctant to go as far as he went with Roja or Bombay. Again a half-minded attempt.. ingayum kaal vekkaama angayum vekkaama .. That was probably why the issue was portrayed from a child’s perspective. The dialogues between prakash raj and madhavan also helps understand that he was like a cat on the wall..

    In one of the articles of sujatha under “katradhum petradhum” – he touches upon a scene in Kannathil which did not find a place in the movie – a dialogue between amudha and prakash raj on “why this terror?”. Sujatha gave the dialogues verbatim ( I dont remember them all).. Had that been included, it would have exposed a bit of Mani’s mind about Tamil Nationalism and Sinhala Chauvinism , but might have triggered other controversies too – probably might have rubbed the radical tamil groups within India and elsewhere in the wrong way … I dont know..

    If anyone else had read that particular article, why not throw some light on what would have gone in Mani’s mind to remove that part (apart from the fact that including the bit would have made the movie longer) ?

  63. yea i did read that article…it is in ambalam.com
    and i became furious after reading that article…the scene that was removed was a conversation between prakash raj and keerthana after those bullet fires in Subramanium park. it was like keerthana asking a lot of questions like why all these fight happening…and prakash raj explains abt the guerilla war fare and stuff. and finally,keerthana asks this cute question..”guerillana enna, kuranga?”

    that scene for me is all about the childs POV. and Mani cut off this scene bcos “time is not enough to acomodate that little scene”!!

    i know he must have removed this scene after a lot of thinking and finally compromised and cut it down. kamal would never have done that.either he would have included that scene and thereby increasing the screen time of the movie or else he would have cut short that “Sundari” song!!

    thats it people!!

  64. Kamal, Mani. Amazing people with amazing talent. If not for them, we all will be watching movies from K Balachandar on how one guy fell in love with his next house maami’s chithi ponnu, who incidentally happened to be his sister because of the manmadha leelai his dad performed 20 years ago.

    Or amma sentiment, thaali sentiment, disco shanthi dance, emotional drama movies from P Vasu. Chinnathambi was a successful movie and it reached the masses. So does it mean that Chinna Thambi is taken as a benchmark of a super movie??

    You never know what you have, until it leaves you!!!

  65. anti,

    there were two songs in alavandhaan featuring manisha as far as i remember. one was her africa kaatupuli song, which was no way an item song and was necessary to introduce her and her profession in the movie. the other was the interlude singing in the rain style dance that featured both kamal and manisha and that really was not an item song in the true sense of the word. so which is it? and as i said, kamal has always wanted to pull in everyone and has many a times put in commercial masala scenes for that sake alone. but i really cannot see where and how the song in alavandhaan was picturized as an item song for the masses. the song picturization of the interlude bit was more upstream or contemporary than actual item songs like manmadha raasa or sirichi sirichi. in all of his interviews, you can sense that kamal does not view his movie as an intellectual movie or a timepass movie. he only wants to make commercial movies that consists a lot more than mindless formulaic content. besides, his preference of item songs is again story based. he was against the sirichi sirichi song in vasoolraja mbbs and so it was picturized on prabhu. but his mumbai express has an item song. so it is not about taking focus away but to make sure that you put out some mass hooks to keep focus at the movie. that is how i look at it though. and i am against crude, vulgar item songs. but if it is shot aesthetically i am all for it. i feel more strongly about the lyrics in item songs than the dance.

    cheers

  66. Anti: What I would like to know is how much of Anbe Sivam is directly taken from Planes, trains…?Are they both thematically similar or is it just the narrative thread (Guy misses flight, has to put up with weirdo, etc..) of the original that Kamal has used as inspiration?
    Have you seen the original yourself or just simply shooting off the mouth based on claims by others?

  67. Saravanan: I have seen Planes, Trains & Automobiles. If I have not, I would not even take its name up here, since that would make me no different from the lots of ppl who havent seen Amores Perros and would still like to say that Ayitha Ezhuthu is a “copy” of it. So I am not shooting my mouth off. I am simply not prone to that….

    What do you mean by “thematically similar”? However, you have chosen to explain what u mean by “just the narrative thread”. So, going by your explanation, Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Anbe Sivam share the same “narrative thread”. But what was your point? And could you explain what you mean by “thematically similar” as opposed to “the same narrative thread”? Would appreciate an example….

  68. Thalaivar Kamal is popular in the United Kingdom as well…..I work in Cardiff and there is a small Indian community here and this is a small paddai for Dr. Kamalhaasan. One man who dares to do things differently, adopts different techniques, not always a box office man. Can be equated to the likes of Tom Hanks. Fair enough there are other good actors as well. The only irony is that Rajini is also part of Kamal’s history i.e. he is also acting during Kamal’s time apart from that we feel the only competition for Kamal is only kamal himself. Potruvar potratum, thoothravar thoothratum…remember that.

    K – King
    A – Admirable
    M – Master
    A – Amazing
    L – Luck

  69. Still waiting for thalai’s Mumbai Express – just can’t wait for the audio to release. Anyways did u guys see the movie ‘Black’ – amazing movie. Great performances from Amitabh and Rani Mukherjee. Only Kamalhaasan can replace Amitabh in that role – this is for sure. Anyways hope our ulaga nayagan comes out with more path breaking movies.

    Regards,
    Badri

  70. hi to kamal hassan sir i like ur every movie and spicaily like ur action and ur comedy flim in ur a world best actor i think ok u have to do more nice flim we r waiting for ur more flims ok u have to do one action flim

  71. kamal is a legend in indian cinemaa.. who can forget movies like mounram piraii… 16 vayathinila…segapo rojakal… the difference between kamal and other so called actors in india … rajinii.. he started this since late 80.s … he is poor and week in the first half… in the second half he becomes rich and powerfull … barat..panalaram. rajathi raja.. back then .. now .. muthu .. arunachalam… padayappa.. wel every1 agree he is not the great actor.. but even his comdedy is same like innocent witty comedy every fin moviee… kamal’s comedy… kameswaran in MMKM is different … than PKS r panchathanthiram.. r pushpak…r thenali .. avvai shanmughii.. all diff facial expressiona and accentss and diff kind of comdedies…. bottom line…. when u c a kamal hassan movie u dont c kamal hassna u c great characters like chapani.. chaplin chellapa in punnagai manan.. u c a nayakan.. u c athi in kuruthipunal.. u c virumandii.. u c kamaesvaran in MMKM.. u c sakethram in hey ramm…. nanndu in alavandan.. vijay kumar in mahanadhii… without kamal there is none of these charaacterss.. and these character is diff each facial experssions r diff .. accents r different .. there is nothin common in all these characters… let me c rajini.. muthu padayappa veera arunachalam bhara unzipalli manithan.. they all the same….. bottom line.. the great actor like kamal hassan makes u c the characters and feel the charcter… but when u c rajino movie u c rajini and not the character… kamsl hassan proved himself as a n actor par excelence.. anyu1 in world cinema can act like himmm…he is gonna rake over the direction like strom.. he is gonna exceed directors like manirathnam .. it is kamal he is talented and skilled… i dont c any director doin a movie llke hey ram includin manirathnam,,/.. kamal the best actor in present and best director of the futuree

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: