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Posts Tagged ‘saritha’

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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Click on the first link after searching for “Top 10 Actresses” on Google and you’ll find Jenifer Lopez looking back at you. Apparently she’s on Forbes’ list. The second URL (www.top-tens.com) has listed Gillian Anderson (X-Files) as the greatest actress ever with the website’s readers giving their expert opinion on the selection. “Her all acting is very very awesome… i love her,” says one such opinion. “She is the actress more sexy in the TV,” says another…in FULL CAPS too.

The third one features Hollywood Reporters’ Top 10 Highest-Paid actresses and the fourth URL is an arbid Kollywood fansite that has even a more arbid list (Kadhaal Sandhya? Really?). The fifth link that Google offers is perhaps the most sinister of all the ones in the first page. The fiendishly perverse minds behind the “Critical Critics” website have released a list of Top 10 Actresses with the Sexiest Lips.

The keywords “Top 10 Actors” coughs up a more dignified gathering of luminaries. Gael García Bernal, John C Reily, Benici Del Toro, Don Cheadle, Hugo Weaving and few talented others get the nod in the first five websites post-Google search.

1188377985_eihi-shiina_as_psylockeIt also occurred to me that not once before have I accidentally stumbled upon a list of top ten actresses that did justice to its presumptions about their acting talents and that did not include the god-awful Halle Berry. Why don’t more writers make lists of their favourite actresses of all time? Is the World Wide Web of cinema misogynistic? Well, probably not…but it certainly is an idiot for not paying a more prominent tribute to the great actresses of cinema. Shame on you, Google search engine spiders. Shame on you.

On a personal note, I have not seen enough foreign films to have too strong of an opinion on the innumerable wonderful actresses that star in them, so I thought it would be befitting to stick to the mainstream. Due apologies to Ok So Ri, Eihi Shiina, Yeong-ae Lee, Leonor Watling, Kelly Reilly, Martina Gedeck, Lorraine Stanley and Vanessa Bauche.

My list of top ten favourite actresses

magnolia-0001Julianne Moore: This one’s a powerhouse. Give her character a bottle of Prozac, put her in front of the camera and watch the magic happen. Grab a copy of The Big Lebowski, Boogie Knights or Magnolia for further evidence.

Chloë Sevigny: Chloë is the most underrated actress of our generation. Mostly only known for her role in Boys Don’t Cry, Chloe spent the mid-Nineties and thereafter starring in Harmony Korine utterly messed up and depraved trilogy of films – Julien Donkey Boy, Kids, and Gummo. Not the most revolutionary films of that decade, but still passable enough for people to take notice of this fantastic actress. She even found her way to two Lars Von Trier films.

Maggie Gyllenhaal: The fact that she single-handedly undid the damage done by Kate Holmes to Rachel Dawes’ legacy is merely an icing on the cake. You don’t have to watch Dark Knight to see how good of an actress Maggie is. Try Criminal, Stranger Than Fiction, Secretary and Donnie Darko.

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Ingrid Bergman: If you don’t know why…don’t come back here.

Naomi Watts: Her performances in Under the Lighthouse Dancing, Assassination of Richard Nixon, 21 Grams, Mulholland Drive, I Heart Huckabees did what a combination of drugs, therapy and electricity failed to do. Make me forget the pile of crap that was King Kong.

Angela Bassett: She’s the quintessential African American actress, I think. The southern Ying to Jada Pinkett’s metrosexual Yang. Look no further than Boesman and Lena, Ruby’s Bucket Of Blood, and Strange Days.

Sridevi Kapoor: She’s Jackie Onasis, Meryl Streep and Bo Derrick all rolled into one. I haven’t watched any of her Hindi films (with much prejudice, I might add), but the classic ones she starred in with Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth are quite enough for her to stay on this list for a long, long time.

2006011205590201Saritha: She is my favourite actress from this side of the globe. And she comes in a close third to Kamal Hassan and Pratap Pothan for redefining Eighties’ Tamil films as performers. Watch films such as “Kalyana Agathigal”, “Achamillai Achamillai” or “Sivappu Sooriyan” and you will see how comfortably close Kollywood came to discovering it’s silver screen Virginia Woolfe.

Tilda Swinton: She takes roles very seriously. Even in the abysmal Constantine, her illicit rage against God seemed very intense. It’s almost criminal how awesome she is in Thumbsucker, Love Is the Devil and The War Zone.

20779969_images1540786_3_angelica-houston-grifters_lAnjelica Houston: I don’t feel entirely comfortable saying it aloud, but yes… Anjelica Houston is probably my favourite actress of all time. I would go so far as to say that her role in Crimes and Misdemeanors was the finest performance ever by an actress in a supporting role. Proverbially speaking, that’s not all she wrote. She carved a place for herself in pulp fiction by starring as Mrs Addams, won enough respect from Wes Anderson and Woody Allen for them to cast her in some of their finest films and more recently, gave a stellar performance in Clark Gregg’s Choke.

Choke on that, Catwoman.

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