May 22 2013
Reviews for Udhayam NH4, Gouravam, Naan Rajavaga Pogiren, Ethir Neechal, Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal, Soodhu Kavvum and Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA are now online at the reviews site.
May 22 2013
Reviews for Udhayam NH4, Gouravam, Naan Rajavaga Pogiren, Ethir Neechal, Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal, Soodhu Kavvum and Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA are now online at the reviews site.
May 20 2013
It goes without saying that kids enrich our lives in many ways. But personally, one of the most rewarding among the many ways is the boost they deliver to our self-esteem by the simple act of looking up to us. I didn’t notice much of this with my daughter. There have been a few isolated incidents where she was very impressed with some act of mine but that didn’t happen often enough for me to notice it. But not so with my son. Maybe because it is natural for boys to have their dads as their role models or maybe because he is just more vocal about it, I can see that my son really looks up to me. And that is both adorable and uplifting.
As far as he is concerned, his dad is a superhero who can do anything. And the best thing about this is that it doesn’t take a lot to impress him. The simple act of opening a slightly resistant jar of maple syrup makes him see me as Hercules; answering the first few ridiculously easy questions correctly on Neengalum Vellalaam Oru Kodi puts me on par with Einstein; and making a simple pasta for his lunch transforms me into Chef Emeril. The innocent sense of awe that simple things like these evoke in him never gets tiring.
Accompanying this adoration is an implicit trust in whatever dad says. It could be an answer to a Math problem or an argument on the right way to do something. My son is always on my side and whatever I say is right(vedha vaakku!).
There is also an automatic admiration of whatever dad does. For a character speech he had to give at school as the boy in the Magic Treehouse series, we had to get him a pair of round-rim glasses. Unfortunately, the Sunday before his allotted day was Easter and all the handicraft stores were closed. My daughter and I went to the Dollar store and got some plastic, heart-shaped glasses which we cut and painted to make the glasses. They ended up looking pretty amateurish with rough edges and uneven thickness. But one wouldn’t have thought so seeing my son. He looked like he was wearing the finest, most elaborate costume and he wore it to school with pride!
A very enjoyable side-effect of this “superhero worship” is seeing it annoy his mom. His praise of dad’s minor accomplishments is many times accompanied by a put-down of mom’s and even otherwise, his rabid, blind support of me gets on her nerves. A recent incident is a case in point. Vendakkai curry is his favorite vegetable and he has always relished eating it, with mom making it at least once a week. When I made it recently, it came out pretty bad(I blame it on the poor quality of the vegetable though!). I’m usually easy on myself when I cook but even I wouldn’t call it tasty. But when I asked him to rate the dish on a scale of 10, he said “its a little spicy and so its 9.9″! When I then asked him – within my wife’s earshot of course – how he would rate his mom’s vendakkai, pat came his reply, “9″. If we lived in a cartoon, steam would’ve been blowing out of mom’s bright-red ears and her look made him change it to a 10 soon enough. But the damage was done and anyway, I was grinning too wide to notice
Its not gonna be too long before my son gets over this phase. But until that day comes, I’m gonna enjoy it and milk it for all its worth!
May 16 2013
Aside from being instrumental in Satyaraj’s ascent from minor actor to memorable villain(Nooraavadhu Naal, 24 Mani Neram), successful anti-hero(Vidinja Kalyanam) and popular hero(Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi), director Manivannan gave the actor one of his most memorable roles as an idiot-turned-scheming politician in Amaidhi Padai. The director and actor revisit the iconic character Nagaraja Cholan in this ’sorta sequel’ Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA. But even if we try to look beyond the film’s confusing timeline, it lacks both the solid storyline and the engaging drama of its predecessor, replacing them with generic political jokes.
Nagaraja Cholan(Satyaraj), with assistant Mani(Manivannan), has schemed his way in to become the Deputy Chief Minister of the state. His son Gangaikondan(Raghu Manivannan) proves himself to be following in dad’s footsteps when he weds a poor girl just for the political mileage it gives him. When a Swedish company wants to build a factory in the forests, Nagaraja Cholan orders the trees to be cut down. But the tribals, led by a lorry driver(Seeman), stand in his way.
Amaidhi Padai traced Nagaraja Cholan’s complete character arc from being the local idiot to becoming a wily politician to being killed by his own son. His wife(Sujatha) never bore him a son and he had only one illegitimate son(Satyaraj again) as a result of cheating a girl(Kasthuri). While Manivannan in Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA explicitly references Satyaraj’s earlier name and profession to let us know that it is the same character from Amaidhi Padai, the other character aspects don’t match since the politician has a legitimate son here and his wife is nowhere to be seen. This places the film in a bizarre place as far as timelines go and creates a disconnect right at the beginning. It also makes it clear that the film was advertised as Amaidhi Padai’s sequel just for the publicity since a stand-alone Manivannan-Satyaraj film wouldn’t have made any news considering the way their careers are doing.
Satyaraj’s bad nature is stressed to such an extent that he ceases to be a real character. As he, the Deputy CM, openly fights with the CM, asks for bribes, flirts with his assistants, insults high-ranking officers and orders hits, his character becomes cartoonish and the film loses all semblance of reality. On the personal side, the dynamics of his relationship with his daughter-in-law is built up to culminate in a situation that mirrors one of the most effective segments in the previous film. But the weak drama leading up to it and the other aspects surrounding it, like the about-turn of one of the characters, ensure that it doesn’t come close to having the same impact.
Its very clear that the story is just a thinly-veiled excuse for Manivannan and Satyaraj to satirize politics as they take shots at politicians’ greed for money and power, corruption, political party names and their flags, free-food schemes and scams. Some of these jokes surprise us with their directness and others make us smile. Still, the targets are easy and we’ve seen both of them, particularly Satyaraj, do this a lot. So their effectiveness is diluted. In fact, amidst all the sarcasm and nakkal of the duo, some of Seeman’s measured warnings, like the question-and-answer session he has with his friend about the ill-effects of deforestation, have a bigger impact.
With all the politics, the main story of the tribals fighting for their land is stretched out without much happening. The tribals are portrayed in familiar fashion when it comes to the characters, their costumes and their dancing and though the focus is on a select few, the romance and other emotions don’t really stick. It is only towards the end, when they decide to fight back, that the track shows some signs of life but things move to the other extreme with cinematic actions and loud melodrama.
Satyaraj slips easily into the character he previously inhabited many years ago. The get-up suits him and as always, the sarcasm gets an extra edge because of his trademark dialog delivery. He has another role but it is an unnecessary character that does nothing of note and he looks too old. Seeman gets another role where he gets to lament the state of affairs but goes overboard at only 1 place(a piece of dialog that talks about an Olympic gold in Archery). Manivannan does his job in front of the camera well enough with enough sly jokes, many of which are aimed at Satyaraj. His son Raghu Manivannan acquits himself creditably as Satyaraj’s son. Without any real romance, James Vasanthan delivers melody only in the tribal song Mala Mela…. The other 2 songs, Kannaadi Paappa… and Viraivil Vidiyum…, follow the usual templates for the kinds of songs they are – an item number and an motivational song respectively.
May 15 2013
National Parks are easily my favorite destinations when it comes to trips since within a reasonably small area, they provide many different landscapes and lots of opportunities to enjoy nature. So I was naturally thrilled when a National Park sprang up just 1 1/2 hours away from home. A few months ago, Pinnacles National Monument in the Salinas Valley was elevated to National Park status and rechristened as Pinnacles National Park. So it is now the closest National Park to home, beating out Yosemite, which is about 3 hours away. We headed out there after lunch last weekend with the cousins.
With only half a day, we naturally decided to pick the main, most popular trail in the park, the Bear Gulch trail. The hike started off pretty normally with a few shaded spots and some long segments under a very hot sun. The towering mountain provided a nice sight, the rocks allowed the kids to scramble on them and some small tunnels added some variety to the walk.
But the highlight of the trail was the Bear Gulch cave, a talus cave which is occupied seasonally by big-eared bats. For this reason, some sections of the cave were closed off (the entire cave is closed from mid-May to mid-July every year, which is why I was particular about going last weekend though we only had half a day). It was certainly a very unique experience hiking through the cave. It was big with large boulders, some of them standing precariously, and sunlight filtering through them at places(it reminded of the Guna cave at 1 point). Steps have been carved and railings added to create a proper hiking path but there were some tight squeezes and places where we had to crawl on our knees to get through. Some parts were pitch-black and a flashlight became essential to see where to step.
Once outside the cave, a steep flight of steps took us to Bear Gulch reservoir. It was a scenic place with an abundance of dragonflies in many colors fluttering about.
The rocks surrounding the reservoir provided a nice backdrop.
The area also gave us a look at the pinnacles that give the park its name. They can be reached via another trail, something for another day. After resting in the shade for a bit, we headed back the same way. We found the caves just as thrilling this time too.
Since we had some time left, we started on the Condor Gulch trail, which promised some nice views of the mountains. While the trail was 1.7 miles, an outlook 1 mile away was our target for the views. But we didn’t even make it that far. We turned back a few minutes into the trail since it was really hot and the sun was behind the peaks, which meant we wouldn’t be getting any clear views – or photos – either.
If you live in the Bay Area, Pinnacles National Park is a perfect destination for a day trip. Personally, with more trails to hike and another cave to experience, I’ll definitely be going back.
May 13 2013
Tamil cinema has recently seen a mini-resurgence of sorts with young directors, armed with good ideas, new and/or willing actors and small budgets, delivering movies that tackle new genres or put a fresh spin on an existing one. Debutant director Nalan Kumarasamy further boosts this resurgence with his Soodhu Kavvum. A delightful dark comedy that reins in the dark aspect, it delivers laughs, thrills and surprises in equal measure.
Das(Vijay Sethupathi), with new friends Kesavan(Ashok Selvan), Sekhar(RJ Ramesh Thilak) and Pagalavan(Simhaa), and his girlfriend Shalu(Sanchita Shetty) by his side , comes up with a kidnapping scheme that nets them good money without placing them in danger. Seeing the efficiency with which the group carries out their kidnapping, one of their victims, a businessman, wants them to kidnap Arumaiprakasam(Karunakaran), the son of an honest minister Gnanodhayam(M.S.Baskar). Though this means breaking one of the key rules of their scheme, Das and his group are tempted by the money offered and decide to go for it.
Though kidnapping is no fun matter, Soodhu Kavvum makes it entertaining by making the kidnappers a very unusual bunch. Their back stories, the funny conversations they have(Ramesh Thilak’s first rant is a riot), their resourcefulness and their principled approach to the crime make the group fall somewhere between the usual bumbling criminals and the professional crooks. This makes us laugh at them when they fail(as when they try to kidnap a young sportswoman) and cheer for them when they win(like the moment when Vijay picks up his first ransom). And the way Sanchita is made part of the picture adds a dash of the whimsical to the proceedings.
But the film doesn’t abandon smarts for the sake of laughs. Surprises(what the group encounters when they go to kidnap the minister’s son), thrills(the way they collect the ransom) and hilarity(a misspelling on a very common note) go hand-in-hand as the story keeps moving with no lag. After the main story kicks off with Karunakaran’s kidnapping, the film cleverly uses him as the catalyst for subsequent happenings. Since we don’t know much about him, his character is a mystery and so his decisions and actions take the story in some surprising and unpredictable directions, right up to and including the climax.
The film moves more clearly into thriller territory post-intermission. The laughs are still there but they are more scattered and of darker variety(some of them happen, for instance, during a thrashing session the protagonists endure). What keeps us hooked though is the tight screenplay as it goes through many interesting twists and turns. The tough situation the protagonists find themselves in is created well and the addition of a ruthless police officer(a stone-faced Yog Japee) raises the stakes. But through all this the screenplay proceeds smoothly without ever feeling contrived. The single contrivance at the end – involving Yog and a misfiring gun – is a tad disappointing but it is surprising and wacky enough to fit the movie’s tone and not damage its credibility.
Vijay Sethupathi, who has become the go-to hero for the directors fueling the aforementioned Tamil cinema resurgence, plays the criminal with a laid back sensibility that is likeable. But the standout is RJ Ramesh Thilakan who gets the biggest laughs with his expressions and dialog delivery. M.S.Baskar is able to play the serious role convincingly while Karunakaran’s expressions keep us in suspense about his actual character and intentions. Santosh Narayanan’s soundtrack fits the tone of the movie with a slick and catchy background score and raucous songs like Come Na Come… and Mama Douser… co-existing with the 60s song-like Ellam Kadandhu…. For a change, the dream songs Kaasu Panam… and the Vijay-Sanchita mini-duet are surreal and actually dream-like.
May 09 2013
Director Vasanth has had very strong entries in both the romance and thriller genres with films like Keladi Kanmani, Rhythm and Aasai. But his last two films in both those genres, Hey! Nee Romba Azhaga Irukke and Satham Podaadhey were disappointing. After a long break, he makes a comeback with another romance Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal, where he spins three different love stories. Two of these stories do hold our interest but the bigger disappointment is that the director doesn’t do more with the concept.
As the title clearly lays out, Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal is comprised of three love stories, each of which plays out in a different landscape. In the first story, which happens on a hillside, we meet Varun(Vimal), a Chartered Accountant, who falls for Anjana(Lasini) and woos her incessantly even as her attitude towards him borders on dislike. In the second, which takes place in a seaside town, Mallika(Banu) develops a liking for Guna(Cheran) but learns that he has other priorities in life. In the final tale, which happens in a city, Harris(Arjun), a swim coach, and his student Divya(Surveen Chawla) are in love and he has very high hopes for her swimming.
The Vimal-Lasini segment is the film’s weak link. The subtlety in handling drama(as in the scene where Lasini’s dad responds to Vimal’s proposal) is welcome but the love-at-first-sight thing has been done to death and Vimal’s approach feels like he is stalking Lasini rather than wooing her. Vasanth himself can also be blamed for the segment’s ineffectiveness. I’m not sure if his intention was to make the segment seem youthful or make the proceedings more suspenseful but he adopts a few techniques(not introducing Lasini for a while, showing us something and then making clear what led to it, quick edits, etc.) while narrating it. But they only serve to make things more confusing and reduce our involvement with the characters. The segment’s end feels arbitrary and rushed but it does correct some of the key problems from before.
The other two segments fare much better. Banu’s feelings for Cheran are developed in a believable fashion and the interactions between the characters feel natural. There is also an effective red herring that helps introduce suspense and then surprise us. Similarly, the relationship between Arjun and Surveen is depicted well as they move between being coach and student and being lovers. This segment also has a good surprise and the surprise is much more effective since it is revealed after the segment(it feels like applying this technique for the other two segments would’ve given some symmetry to the segments and made the film’s end that much more effective).
Vasanth has some interesting concepts that make the film interesting but unfortunately, they don’t amount to much and so seem little more than gimmicks. For instance, he narrates three different tales but they never intersect or have anything substantial in common. He establishes thin connections between one of them and the other two but never does anything to corroborate them(for instance, Vimal launches into the third story by saying that the only person who understood him was his friend Surveen, which makes it strange when we don’t see a single scene of them even talking to each other). Similarly, he sets the love stories in different landscapes, highlighting the fact clearly through captions. But the landscapes play no part in the proceedings and the stories wouldn’t have to be changed if the places they take place in were switched or if they all happened in the same landscape. So the settings offer little more than a change in scenery.
Arjun takes on another role far away from his Action King persona. He looks too old to be romantically paired with Surveen but is convincing as he inspires her as her coach. Surveen possesses the litheness needed to be a swimmer and brings out the combination of vulnerability and determination. Cheran is more upbeat than he usually is while Banu, having slimmed down since we saw her in Thamirabharani, is cute and likeable. Vimal doesn’t fit the casual, flirty type and his pursuit of Lasini is more irritating than charming. But Lasini is natural as she rebuffs him and conveys her changing feelings well. Aaha Kaadhal… is the best of Yuvan Shankar Raja’s songs though Kaadhal… is equally catchy as it plays multiple times. Mazhai Mazhai… is picturized aesthetically while Vasanth’s son Rithvik showcases his dancing skills in the fun Stop the Paattu….
May 06 2013
As an actor, Dhanush has taken on some challenging roles in recent times but as producer, he has stuck to a safe route. His first production Ethir Neechal brings together two crowd-pleasing genres – the romcom and the sports underdog tale. The latter has its issues and doesn’t work as well as the former but overall, the result is a light-hearted, feel-good film.
Saddled with a name that makes him the butt of jokes wherever he goes, the film’s hero(Sivakarthikeyan) changes his name to Harish and immediately sees things take a turn for the better as he meets Geetha(Priya Anand), a school teacher, takes up a new job and moves to a new locality. But as his name change creates new problems, he feels the need to achieve something substantial. So he signs up for the Chennai marathon and begins training under Valli(Nandita).
Siva’s name – more so, its shortened version – is the source of some easy laughs as the film gets under way. But to the film’s credit, it doesn’t bank only on this, which veers close to double entendre territory at a few places. Siva’s wooing phase is both cute and funny with the film delivering an equal number of visual gags(like his intentional delay in dropping off his neighbor’s son at school) and funny lines(mostly courtesy Satish, who plays his friend) as he tries to impress Priya. Laughs peak in the wedding scene where his past catches up with him in multiple forms with his evasion of multiple chasers being well choreographed(though Satish’s deaf-and-dumb act is the scene-stealer).
The film makes an abrupt shift in genre after Siva enters the marathon. His reasoning for signing up isn’t very convincing but its nice that its not an out-of-the-blue thing since the seeds are sown much earlier, during his school years, in the middle of all the comedy about his name. But the shift in genre does not translate to a similar shift in tone. The film doesn’t abandon comedy completely and there are some good laughs during his training sessions(for those who’ve heard the soundtrack, the biggest laugh comes during the Unga Aayaa response in the title song). But with both Priya Anand and Satish mostly out of the picture, the opportunities for laughs are pretty limited.
The movie does abandon comedy completely during Nandita’s flashback. The emotions and sentiments here are simplistic and involve stock characters and the story it tells isn’t compelling either. The movie continues in the same mode even after it exits the flashback. The staging of the marathon at what looks like a real-life event gives it a realistic touch but that is soon lost after the cinematic acts the other runner indulges. So the race itself doesn’t have the emotional impact of the similar race in Haridas.
Sivakarthikeyan puts his awesome comic timing to good use. He has an innate likeability and his subtle style of comedy allows him to turn serious convincingly towards the end. Priya Anand just has to look sweet and does that well enough while Nandita has a more serious role(there is a cute cameo at the end that ties in to Nandita’s previous movie). Satish, playing the role Santhanam would’ve probably done if the film was headlined by a big-name hero, gives Siva good support and the two make a good pair trading quips smoothly. Boomi Enna Suthudhe… is picturized with an easygoing style that goes well with the song’s tune. The same goes for Nijamellaam Marandhu Pochu…. Velicha Poove Vaa… is a standard-order duet with a dressed-up Siva and Priya dancing in some picturesque locations. The title song, with its fun start and motivational paras, plays well as the visuals mix comedy with scenes of Siva’s training. Dhanush lends his trademark energy to the kuthu number Local Boys… with Nayanthara giving him company.
May 01 2013
In all his films so far, director Radhamohan showed us that his strengths were subtle humor and low-key drama. He surprised us with the hijack thriller Payanam but even in that film, the portions that worked best were those that included those two aspects. So its surprising that for his latest film Gouravam, he has chosen a subject that prevents him from incorporating them. That eventually doesn’t turn out to be a big issue but the lack of suspense regarding the film’s central mystery is much more damaging.
When his flight to Chennai is delayed, Arjun(Allu Sirish) takes a detour to the village of T. Vennur to try and locate his college friend Shanmugam. He learns that Shanmugam, who belonged to a lower caste, eloped with Rajeshwari, the daughter of the village bigwig Pasupathy(Prakashraj) and the two haven’t been heard from since. After going to Chennai, Arjun returns to T. Vennur, determined to find Shanmugam’s whereabouts. His friend Venky, Shanmugam’s cousin Maasi(Kumaravel) and Yazhini(Yami Gautham), who is working as a junior to a lawyer, help him.
With the village’s caste divide evident as soon as Sirish steps in, the film invokes tension right from the beginning. But Radhamohan is able to inject some humor into the proceedings even amidst the tension. Kumaravel is able to express the state of affairs in the village with a few laughs and Sirish’s meetings with Yami Gautham have some light moments also, even if most of these come courtesy Sirish’s friend. The humor naturally becomes more scarce as the movie proceeds with not many opportunities for lightheartedness as Sirish and his friends endure many hardships as they continue their search for their missing friend and his wife.
Gouravam’s biggest problem is admittedly no fault of the director and arises from the inescapable publicity surrounding a movie these days. The driving force behind most of the movie is the suspense about the whereabouts of the couple. It is built up quite well with the diligent efforts from Allu Sirish and his friends, the inevitable dead ends and obstacles from Prakashraj’s family. But with the cast and crew of the movie revealing the subject in all those pre-release interviews, the fate of the couple is quite apparent early on. So the suspense is ineffective and only serves to make us restless.
There are absolutely no surprises as the movie winds down. The way in which Sirish solves the mystery is telegraphed early on and after that, the flashback unfolds along predictable lines. This makes the film’s final portions very anti-climactic. But even if we overlook the lack of surprise, the climax still feels weak since the lack of direct involvement of a key character is disappointing and lessens the impact of the happenings.
Allu Sirish protruding jawline gives him a permanent scowl and as a result, his face isn’t very expressive. Thankfully he isn’t given a full-blown romance but more emotions would’ve helped the scenes where he faces Prakashraj and his son. Like most North Indian heroines, Yami Gautham doesn’t fit in and doesn’t make much of an impression. Prakashraj is dignified and uncharacteristically downplays his character while Kumaravel is natural and makes us wonder why we don’t see more of him. Mannadacha Pandhu… is catchy and has some nice lyrics too.
Apr 30 2013
2013 has been pretty lukewarm when it comes to films from our big-league stars with only 2 releases – Vishwaroopam and David – so far and no further releases planned for the summer. But the year has been packed with smaller films, most of which fall somewhere between an event film and one that arrives with zero expectations. 3 such films, all of which come with some good expectations attached to them, are releasing tomorrow.
At the top of the list is Ethir Neechal, Dhanush’s first production venture that stars Sivakarthikeyan and Priya Anand. Though the director Durai Senthilkumar is a newcomer(he did work as an assistant to Vetri Maaran), the film’s other aspects have resulted in good hype for the film. One of them is its hero Sivakarthikeyan, who has made a very successful transition from TV to film. His comic timing and dialog delivery have earned him many fans and both his films as hero, Manamkothi Paravai and Kedi Billa Killaadi Ranga, have been BO successes. If the trailer is any indication, he is in a more serious mode this time around and it will be interesting to see how he carries it off. Priya Anand will be seen in Tamil after Nootrenbadhu while Nandita, fresh off the success of Attakathi, is also in the film. Dhanush and Nayanthara increase the star power with their dance for a song.
The other aspect that has helped the pre-release expectations is the film’s soundtrack. Anirudh has proved that 3 was no fluke with another hit soundtrack. The title song starts off in raucous fun mode before slowing down to turn into a motivational number. Local Boys… is hardcore kuthu though the voices of Dhanush and Velmurugan seem a bit soft for the song. Boomi Enna Suthudhe…, though sung well by Anirudh, follows the same template as songs sung by Dhanush in Mayakkam Enna. Dhanush and Anirudh do well with Nijamellam Marandhupochu… while Mohit Chauhan and the always-fabulous Shreya Ghoshal sound good whether they are singing separately or together in Velicha Poove Vaa…, a soft and beautiful duet.
Tomorrow’s second release Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal is being looked forward to primarily because of its director Vasanth. He has given us two great mature romances in Keladi Kanmani and Rhythm and he is returning to the same genre with MPMK. Unfortunately, his last two films, the romance Hey Nee Romba Azhagaa Irukke and the thriller Satham Podaadhey, weren’t successful and its been 5 long years since he directed a film. So MPMK will probably decide if he still has it in him or if he will henceforth be known only for his past glories.
The film can be considered a multi-starrer at least for its heroes. Arjun, who has been playing some interesting roles lately, steps back into romance and is joined by Cheran and Vimal. But their heroines are a lot less known. Bhanu, who was introduced with a lot of fanfare as the next Nayanthara in Thamirabharani but barely made a splash, returns to Tamil while Surveen Chawla and Lasini make their debuts. Vasanth has always brought out the best from his music directors – and he has worked with many of them – and he re-teams with Yuvan Shankar Raja, who delivers one of his best works in recent times. Aaha Kaadhal… is one of the most beautiful and melodious numbers in recent times and has been sung fabulously by Nandini Srikar. Neha Basin also does equally well in Kaadhal Endhan Kaadhal… while Mazhai Mazhai… is smooth and catchy. Unakkaagave… seems a bit too slow for Yuvan’s off-key singing while Blaze’s rap adds some zing to the otherwise soulful Padapadakkudhu….
Soodhu Kavvum’s hype is strongly related to the recent streak of its hero Vijay Sethupathy. Long hovering around in the sidelines(Wiki lists his first appearance as an uncredited extra in M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi), he has stepped into the limelight recently as the go-to hero for new directors tackling brave new genres. He was noticed in the National Award-winning Thenmerku Paruvakkaatru and last year’s big hit Sundarapandian. But his career really took off after that. He was terrific as he was alone on screen for most of the film in the horror thriller Pizza and then struck gold again as the young man who loses his memory and is blissfully unaware of whats going on around him even as his friends scramble to conduct his wedding, in Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanum. Those two films have given him the image of a hero who shows up in interesting and unconventional small-budget films and from the trailer, Soodhu Kavvum appears to be another wacky venture right up his alley. Sanchita Shetty is the heroine. Santosh Narayanan has delivered a soundtrack that sounds as unconventional as the film seems to be. Come na Come… and Kaasu Panam… are both almost rhymes with some trippy interludes and funny intros. Mama Douser… is a curious but heady mix of jazz music and local Tamil slang and is sung with wild abandon by Andrea. Ellam Kadandhu… is a very authentic-sounding 60s number in tune, music and singers while Sa Ga… is a very different composition sung well by Divya.
While we didn’t see any new releases on Tamil New Year’s day, which used to be a prestigious release date, the usually quiet May Day sees 3 movies releasing this year. Let’s hope they all do well and give the box-office a much-needed shot in the arm.
Apr 28 2013
I received the biggest surprise in quite some time on Friday when I saw the above photo tweeted by Bharat Bala, director of the upcoming Dhanush film Mariyaan, which has music by A.R.Rahman. Yuvan clarified things when he tweeted that he had recorded a session with ARR and sung a song for the film. Since I thought – like most Tamil film music fans, I presume – that there was silent enmity between Ilaiyaraja and Rahman, this team-up between ARR and IR’s son came as a very pleasant surprise.
It is no secret that Yuvan has a large number of detractors when it comes to his singing. His raspy voice, lack of pitch and breaking voice at high pitches make him a weak singer who I doubt will make it past the preliminary rounds in any of our television singing shows. Granted he has used those aspects to his advantage in many songs. Songs like Needhaane… (Sarvam), En Kaadhal Solla… (Paiyaa) and Thaakkudhe… (Baana) were terrific numbers that his voice seemed perfectly suited to. But there is definitely only a particular type of song he is capable of singing and versatility is not his strength. One only has to listen to Neethaane En Ponvasantham’s Saaindhu Saaindhu… to understand how unsuited he is to singing slow, melodious numbers.
With his singing, its no surprise that Yuvan has so far sung only his own songs and under the direction of his dad. That’s why ARR selecting him to sing was such a big surprise. Rahman has had his share of complaints for using non-Tamil singers in Tamil but those complaints were for the poor diction by the singers rather than their singing. Even when we were irritated by Udit Narayan’s murder of Tamil, we could never deny the power of his voice and singing. So ARR’s move to pick Yuvan can be seen as the biggest validation yet of Yuvan’s singing.
While Rahman has accepted Yuvan’s singing, I’m wondering if ARR’s fans will be similarly accepting. I’ve noticed that ARR fans are by and large anti-Ilaiyaraja. The reverse is not true. Ilaiyaraja fans, in spite of initial misgivings due to feelings of loyalty, have grown to accept ARR and enjoy his music while ARR fans see Raja as old-fashioned and are critical of him. This feeling has extended to Yuvan also and the strongest detractors of his singing usually turn out to be ARR fans. I’m sure that these fans will experience very mixed emotions when listening to the song they deliver together.
Any soundtrack by Rahman is hotly anticipated and Mariyaan’s soundtrack is no exception. With Yuvan’s inclusion in the album, there is no doubt that one song in the album will be even more eagerly looked forward to than the others.