Posts Tagged ‘Bala’

K_Balachander I have very few K Balachander films on DVD so I have to rely on my memory for most of these reviews. I’m yet to figure out how many of them I can write about without forgetting any of their most precious moments, so I’ll keep updating once in a couple of months.

Oru Veedu Iru Vasal (One House, Two Entrances): K Balachander is the greatest living Indian director. Maybe it’s my meagre understanding of Malayalam and Bengali films, but I just can’t think of a more suitable Indian to tell a story than this legendary director. I have watched Oru Veedu Iru Vasal at different points in my life. As a kid, I was perturbed by the fact that there simply wasn’t enough of comedian Charlie going around; I thought he was extremely funny and the magnificent cut-and-paste editing of the film actually got in the way of fully appreciating his humour.

As a high-schooler, I fell in love with the film for the music of the violinist siblings- Ganesh and Kumaresh – that did things to my ears that weren’t done since I first heard the theme song to that awesome old Doordarshan sitcom – Rayil Sneham. A couple of years ago, I watched it on Vijay TV and it left me breathless with delight. I mean, seriously folks…when done right, Tamil cinema can be fantastic. Apart from the man himself, men like Balu Mahendra, Santhana Bharathi and recently, Bala, Ameer and Sasikumar have done the genre proud with their complete nonchalance for the proven and successfully (repeatedly) tested.

Even song and dance routines don’t make idiots of themselves in Balachander films. oru veedu iru vaasal So, Oru Veedu Iru Vaasal is split into two storylines; in one, a forlorn musician cheats on his wife and impregnates his housemaid to disastrous consequences, and in the other, a single mom who works as an ‘extra’ in Tamil movies tries to give her a son the life that has eluded her. Acting-wise, everyone’s brilliant – Charlie and the rest who play broken down yet exuberant characters of the Kodambakkam ‘extras’ colony, Kumaresh, who gives sleaze a bit of class as the musician, and of course, Yamini. yamini Lovely, seldom heard of, preciously stocky Yamini. In this, she lives up to the pressure of being one of the protagonists in a Balachander film. In fact, her performance bears resemblance to the many of another fantastic actress – Saritha. One might argue that the transition between the two storylines could have lent itself to a bit more finesse, but then again that is a natural reaction, considering how truly great and subtle his films were during the Seventies and Eighties.

Orru Veedu Irru Vaasal was released in 1990 and if he had not made Kalki in 1996, it would have been the last time a damsel lit up Kollywood’s silver screen under the guidance of the impeccable Kailasam Balachander. If anyone has rapidshare links or workable torrents for this film, do let me know. 200px-Varumayin_Niram_Sivappu_dvd

Varumayin Niram Sivappu (Red Is The Colour Of Poverty): I cringe every time either Vijay or Ajith portray an educated youth beaten down by society and its flaws. They pull silly faces, shed glycerine, and horrifically pout their lips as though someone told them to eat garlic and French kiss the neighbourhood cat. Kamal Hassan, on the other hand, does it in a way that immediately drags you into the dark corridors of his life. Varumaiyin Niram Sivappu may not be as scathing as Sathya, but it is definitely a clearer dissection of the unemployment issue that once killed the middleclass-youth and the collective dream of using education as an means to an end. Add some very fine acting to the mixture and you get a thoroughly enjoyable indictment of society.

Like many have said before, Balachander can bring out the best in an artist…S V Shekar has never seemed cleverer with his comedy, Sri Devi has never looked classier and well, Pratap Pothan (much like Kamal pre-PMK) is a fucking genius, no matter who directs him. As if these weren’t enough, MS Viswanathan has composed some beautiful tunes for this film. The dueling Sippi Irukkuthu with SP Balasubramaniam and Janaki on vocals is yet to outlive its melody. Can I buy a meadow and lie down listening to music from Balachander films all day? Pretty please?

AgniSakshi_L Agni Sakshi: Saritha is one of my favourite Indian actresses. The restraint with which she shows her anger could have been stuff that many intriguing film dissertations revolved around. As for Sivakumar, if his son could be half the actor that his dad once was, well he would be deserving of the praise showered upon by everyone and their dog.

Balachander is intense as hell in Agni Sakshi. The role he has created for Saritha is truly one of greatest characters written for a female lead. saritha-mukesh The story follows Agni, a righteously tortured and insecure young lady, and her descent into middle-class madness, along with her husband (a strong performance from Sivakumar) and his family. But don’t expect to see domestic abuse, dowry hassles or random cherries popping, the stuff that drive this woman crazy is…well, just watch that scene in which she blows her top at her sister-in-law’s place over a baby-shaped candle and you’ll understand why words sometimes play poor ventriloquists to certain emotions. Saritha is so unbelievably good in this role that I presume that one of two things must have happened…she must have either gone temporarily insane during the shooting of Agni Sakshi or director Balachander has actually worked movie magic. No prizes for guessing.

sindhubhairavi Sindhu Bhairavi: I’ll get this out of the way, this film has music that you should run over something furry and bubbly with a lawnmover to get your hands on…everything from Naan Orru Sindhe and Padariye Padipariye to that drunken folk song (Thanni Thotti) that Sivakumar sings during his many moments of alcohol-fueled depravity. I have a soft corner for the film Sindhu Bhairavi because I watched it many eons ago with my grandpa when my folks were busy with somebody’s funeral. Mostly I remember my grandma telling him to switch it off because it wasn’t ‘chinna pasanga padum’ and like any self-respecting scoundrel, I made sure I watched the entire film. For what it was worth back then, it got me hooked into the decadence of music and lust. Sushani performs like she has never before; she proudly holds a candle against the darkness, in which Balachander has immersed her character. Shockingly, even her crying looks mature and plausible (if you aren’t shocked, you simply haven’t seen enough Tamil movies).

As the tortured artist-adulterer Sivakumar is pretty convincing too. Most of all, we should give props to two of the most underrated actors during the early Nineties – Janagaraj and Delhi Ganeshan; both exude all sorts of subtle class and graceful silliness respectively. Did I tell you about the music? Oh I tell you, the music.

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Firstly, click here to read the worst review I have ever read. Read it for shits and giggles. The writer’s perception of cinema is so fragile that I fear that even a mere dip in web traffic for his article might give him a severe case of diphtheria. I guess this is what happens when people attend classes to learn how to appreciate cinema.


I watched Naan Kadavul at Udayam theater yesterday morning and it dam near thrilled me to bits to see people walking out of the theatre, shaking their head in disgust. Some of them looked like deer caught in the headlights on the highway. Those who managed to sit through the film walked away, mouthing obscenities at director Bala and the decay of Tamil cinema. Few men wearing nice clothes proclaimed aloud that it was pretentious and likened it to Dasavatharam.

I am glad that most people I know didn’t like it. It’s nice to know that there are so many people out there unable to grasp the logic of Naan Kadavul. Too bad they so proudly wear their badge of ignorance; that sort of takes away a lot of pleasure I had in knowing that society is not perversely insightful enough to make sense of it.

Granted, alot of things could have been different; I will be the first to admit that. The brutality seemed a bit excessive at times as did a few of the scenes (the police station shenanigans) and yes, I was truly shocked by Illaiyaraja’s sub-par tunes. At times I even felt that the costumes and accessories seemed too French-y New Wave to bear a sense of realism in the film’s context. It certainly wasn’t Arya’s best performance either (he was better in Paatiyal). See, actors portraying exaggerated characters or those who are not within the scope of public perception have it easy when it comes to performing on-screen. Anything gesture they make can be labeled as ‘character eccentricity’ and subsequently (and unfairly) be rewarded with a National Award. That’s why I don’t understand why Vikram won the award for Pithamagan when Surya clearly deserved it more.

Pooja, however, killed it with a seriously good performance. As did Devaraj, Rajendran (this man rules on so many levels) and Azhagm Thamizhmani.

Despite it’s flaws, Naan Kadavul ended up being a harrowingly brilliant film. Bala has created a work of art that strings together little fragments of spiritual consciousness and social intellect and drowns them in a muddy pond of depravity. Granted, it could have been executed with a bit more finesse, but I am not complaining. I can only appreciate Bala for ignoring the polished packaging (Anbe Sivam) that gives intellectual acumen a more mainstream appeal in Tamil cinema. People have talked about the film having such a large disconnect with the audience, but I guess that speaks more about Tamil Nadu as a society rather than the film itself.

I also firmly believe that it wasn’t Bala’s intention to send the masses on a guilt trip by shedding so much blood. Believing such tripe would be akin to comparing cannibalism to Aghoris-ism. Naan Kadavul is not one of those teary-eyed films which distract the viewers enough for Mr Iyer to say, “ayyo pavam, our world is so bad, no?” and then ask Mrs Iyer to pass the mashed potatoes. No…no…no. Naan Kadavul is not about showcasing the brutality that deformed urchins go through either; even though the sheer enormity of violence might hint otherwise.

It’s purely incidental that you aren’t thinking about the mashed potatoes. Don’t blame Bala for that.

If you have been living under a rock, click here to read Nan Kadavul’s storyline and such.

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