The Long And Winding Bore

My favorite pastime is talking to myself. Not many people know this, but I am actually two persons in one: There lurks inside me this crass dude called Smith who thinks this blog is truckloads of bull and periodically tries to convince me to loosen up and go check out Kirsten Dunst pictures instead of writing stuff that no one cares about.

Last night, Smith wanted me to go to The Myth. It is a Jackie Chan movie starring Mallika Sherawat and Smith had read somewhere that Ms. Sherawat contrives to lose a strategic piece of her clothing in the movie for a split second. I wanted to go to Thavamai Thavamirunthu instead, because it is my strong opinion that movies like The Myth are best left to DVD players with pause buttons.

TearsSo I won, and we ended up going to Thavamai Thavamirunthu, directed by Cheran – the guy that made Autograph – and starring himself and a new girl called Padmapriya. After the movie, I had a pretty long conversation with Smith about what I was going to write in my review of the movie, and as we were wrapping up, he begged me to publish the conversation on this blog to provide people a window into his soul. He also wanted me to tell people that Xaviera Hollander is so much better than Raymond Carver.

Me: In fiction – both written and on film – details can mean the difference between good and great; between corny sentimentalism and touching poignancy. Descriptive details – she was beautiful, wide forhead, strong chin, pretty clothes, unsightly mole – are much easier on film than paper, a good director can reduce ten pages of Tolkien to a single shot. Narrative detail, on the other hand…

Mr. Smith: There you go again. Descriptive detail, Narrative detail. You bore me to death.

Me: Please, I hate being interrupted. Let me continue here. Narrative detail, on the other hand, is different. The reading audience has more patience than moviegoers, and will tolerate even digressive, detailed narratives better. The moviegoer has a limited attention span, and too much detail – man waking up, stretching, brushing, showering – usually does not go down well.

Mr. Smith: That’s coz people that read are fools. And yes, too much detail stinks unless it is a girl bathing. There is this movie in Malayalam where they show a girl taking a shower, and man it was very detailed and I liked it. Therefore, it is not like all details are bad. So,there you go.

Me: What’s your point?

Mr. Smith: My point is, the movie sucked. It was long, and the dude that acted in it kept crying. The girl was fully clothed throughout, and she was crying whenever he didn’t. So why don’t you just tell people that instead of going on and on about details?

Me: Aw, come on. A twenty word review on this blog? Scandalous.

Mr. Smith: Whatever. Go on and wake me up when you are done talking.

Me: Cheran’s Thavamai Thavamirunthu is a son’s tribute to his father. Rajkiran does an outstanding job as his dad that puts the welfare of his kids above his needs, and Cheran is the kid that never forgets how much his dad did for him. Once Cheran decided that this was going to be his premise, he look no further than Autograph: he took the movie and retooled it, using the same technique of a guy reminiscing about the past intercut with sequences from the present. The problem with the movie here is that it lacked the freshness of Autograph…

Mr. Smith: Wait, you mean you liked Autograph? Freshness? You are a mushy piece of…

Me:: Will you let me finish my sentences? I was going to say Autograph was corny, but it was the first attempt in Tamil cinema to move away from the traditional premise based format to something more informal.

Mr. Smith: Funny how you always use thirty words when all you needed was two. It was a Bad Movie.

Me: The problem with the movie was the length. It is obvious that Cheran wanted to make something that was deliberately paced, but deliberate pacing does not mean showing every single event in a sequence. When his wife delivers a baby in a hospital, the viewers know that the hero is broke. Yet Cheran has scenes of him not being able to pay the hospital, not having money to buy medicines, a scene of him riding a bicycle to try and borrow money and a scene of him coming back on the same bicycle without money.

Mr. Smith: That was terrible! How can someone watch a guy riding a bike for five minutes? Although I am pleased he didn’t wear Spandex. In fact, the movie was so boring, I’d rather have read your blog for three hours. Ha Ha!

Me: What else, smartass?

Mr. Smith: Why don’t you tell them how the dude managed to make his classmate pregnant? Or how she cries and cries for half the movie because of this? About how he tells his dad he could not face him after “defiling” a girl? Now, what the heck is that supposed to mean?

Me: Yeah, true. That was bad. Now please, get off the girl, and say something else.

Mr. Smith: Oh, I see. Let’s talk music.

Me: Sure. The music was pretty average…

Mr. Smith: Shut up, let me take over. The music was hideous, horrid and unpalatable. Some people cannot do slow songs ever. It was like reading Joyce while watching Will and Grace. Torture.

Me: Yeah, I think I’ll agree with you there.

Mr. Smith: Cool. So there you have it folks, Sucky movie. Too long. Too much crying. Bad music.

Me: In the interest of balance, I should say that the good things about the movie were, Rajkiran’s performance and well… At least I tried.

Mr. Smith: And when the critics try to tell you the movie was well-made and touching, please laugh.

I’d like to go on record that this review is not totally mine, and please don’t accuse me of snobbery. I love you all.

Cross-posted at teakada.

18 thoughts on “The Long And Winding Bore”

  1. Pingback: teakada
  2. Was planning to watch this movie. Now I wont 🙂 Thanks for the tip off. Guess it will be telecasted sometime mudhanmurayaaga in indiya tholaikaatchi 😉

  3. “It was like reading Joyce while watching Will and Grace” That’s the most perfect definition of torture I have come across yet 🙂 & Thanks for the warning. I read a positive “critical” review of this movie somewhere, and was planning to watch it. Am still smarting from ‘Me & You & Everyone Else we know”. Two critically-acclaimed works in one fortnight would have just killed me.

  4. Hey karthik, Good piece again.. But somehow the complete perspective on the movie is missing..
    Tell me, will it pick something at National awards this year? Probably, thats what cheran was aiming at..

  5. I don’t know if it will pick up any awards (it might) but it certainly doesn’t deserve any.

    As for complete perspective – I can’t think of anything to add 🙂 I’ll give you a hint though. On my cellphone, there is a crude version of Pool, and sometime after the long first half I started playing Pool and my wife was very interested in finding out if I beat the top score.

    The move was very repetitive, and that never fails to annoy me.

  6. Any emotionally-driven movie should suck the viewers in within first half an hour. Else the rest of the movie might stand out as a joke – the stuff you laugh at while it wasn’t meant to be. I understand that the repetitive ‘pool of tears’ tore u down to pool 🙂
    I see the blog community is atleast unanimous appreciating the movie for its ‘stand-out’ qualities though it was aimed to be an outstanding one!
    Will check out the movie with a towel and cell 🙂

  7. Bart, do check it out. And let me know if you liked it. Given my poor track record, this one will probably sweep the National awards, get nominated for an Oscar and beat Chandramukhi at the Box Office. And yeah, a cell is a good idea.

    I bought a cool Dell Axim last week, I should’ve taken it in…

  8. i saw the movie and have reviewed it, i did find the movie boring at point and painfully slow, but come to think of it, the movie isnt aimed at me, nor anyone who is urbanised and has the urban mentality. it is made for the gramathan. the only reason autograph ran was for the first half in the village, people from rural areas, those who grew up there and arent urbanised could associate with the life shown on screen.

    once again in this movie, its aimed at those who grew up in rural areas, in villages, and for whom the struggles shown are very real, its not meant for people like u or me. i don now whether uve grown up n a village or not, but from ur review i notice that ur highly urbanised.

  9. Vatsan, Disagree – respectfully. I loved Azhagi, and the first half of Autograph was bearable. I didn’t exactly grow up in a village, but Thavamai’s problem was not the setting: My dad, like most dads I’m sure – spent way more than his means to ensure that his kids got the best education possible, so I was able to relate to the movie ok.

    The problem with the movie was not the setting, or the plot or the characters – this one was the failure of a filmmaker to temper his desire to portray too much of everything; it was the failure of an editor to put his foot down and chop half the film away. It wouldn’t have been an Azhagi if this had been done, but it wouldn’t have been this boring either.

  10. hey karthik…
    arty directors get all the more arty with the sucess of each arty film.. This is one director who tries to capture relationships in a emotionally highlightend manner.. Not a realistic portayal..
    Autograph had that malaise.. I still remember, it was the last day of my college, our class guys had actually funded our idea of a class wide all girl movie, and we very all very enthu abt whistling at the hero’s entry .. and ended up having to console two of the ladies, badly affected victims of the tear-jerker flick.. Though it had a poigant style, every character except that of kanika(guest role) crying was simply too much of an onslaught for a sane mind… Since then, i ve decided to be doubly careful Cheran’s projects.. and ur review confirms i wasnt entirely wrong..Zanny presentation.. Say hi to Smith as well..

  11. Hey dude,
    The world is too big. And there are times when one tends to boo reality- an implication of the aforesaid statement. Having said that, focus shifts to the movie. Tear-jerker, agreed. Too long, agreed. Slow pace, agreed. Senti and emotions in surplus, agreed. That is, High dose, agreed. Follows the disagreements- The movie is not for people who relate to it but for the ones who identify themselves with the characters in it. Portray too much of everything?! Oh yeah, it had to be that way. Get out, say “nice movie,machi” and forget TT was not the director’s motive. Inspite of the “Blade thaangala”, “padathukku ‘kanneer’nu peyr vechirukkalam” talks, if it makes one son feel guilty or make one father feel “Atlast,man,someone has got the guts to voice for me”, thats >enough. Best movie? Nope. Best story? Nope. Best direction? Nope. Best Music, Ofcourse not. Best Actor,Yes.(Rajkiran deserves it. After all,try substituting Sivaji in his role and one can imagine the outcome). But, may be, TT will get all the above awards and a lot more. You know our jury. Thats not the point. When a high-tech-idea-suttufication bore like ‘Ghajini’, nothing-but-shit ‘Majaa’, image-build-up ‘Sivakasi’, kaadhula-poo-suthifying ‘Chandramukhi’ (no offences,Rajni fans;I was also one, till ‘Thalapathi’) can become super hits, TT has all the rights to be considered a good movie. Cheran places his entire movie on ‘what he believes in’. The long and winding bore is worth a watch, for nuances of the following sort: “Manasu apdidhaanpa aasapadum. Aana,kashtamnu vandha nammala mundhikkittu azhum”. Emotional crap sucks. (Emotional crap) minus crap,with a purpose doesnt. Corny? LOL. Zoom in.

  12. inlivenout, I’m think you agreed with my review, right? Lukewarm, sorta, just a bit… maybe? But you threw me off at the end – I guess your argument is that there are other sucky movies that did well, so this one should do well too.

    But I’m not sure why this movie sucked any less than Sivakasi: Is it because the director “tried” to be “different?” I’ve had many comments in this vein, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why Majaa or Sivakasi are any worse than this movie…

  13. Karthik,you got me wrong in the comparison part.Who cares a damn about TT or any other movie doing well or not?I brought in the comparison of other movies coz I felt meaningful cinema seems to be a ‘past’ thing.

    Lukewarm?Ofcourse not.If I had written a review,it would’ve been worse.I have seen enough of hubby-listenin-to-wife-sayin-tatabbye-2-parents n son-wrongdoing-learnin d hard way-dad n mom mannichifyin-living happily ever after,stuff,I dont want one Cheran to tell that to me.The point is not about ‘tryin’ somethin ‘different’.But to throw the truth at the viewer’s face and tell him,”You dont wanna believe it.But its reality.Your opinion doesnt change it”.I liked his guts to keep on taking subjects that is taboo not to the society but to the individual.He could’ve chosen a far better way to show it;but,the moment a director decides to hit hard,he tries the ‘heart’ and forgets the ‘mind’.Mediocrity.I dont blame him.He just gives the ‘mass’ what he wants to in the way they want it.He is too much in love with his creation that he forgot to look beyond it.The movie is worth a watch,for that love,and nothing more.

    PS: Majaa,Sivakasi,Chandramukhi. I havent watched any of them.

  14. “He just gives the ‘mass’ what he wants to in the way they want it.”

    inlivenout,What do you mean by Cheran caters to the mass? Now, I can think of Sivakaasi as catering to the “mass”, but how in the world is Thavaamai catering to the mass? If anything, Cheran is known as a filmmaker who has a strong conviction in what he wants to say and how he says it. That explains why he refused to trim the film down or insert item numbers. Lengthy or not, boring or not is subjective. I have read many reviews where the movie seems to have struck a chord somwhere in the viewer’s heart. Many seem to identify with characters and situations in Cheran;’s films, (just like how Karthik feels many would identify with or would have seen Raymond Carver’s characters). But Cheran is not one who gives what the mass wants. He is a guy who talks straight from the heart and thats a refreshing rarity in the tamil film world.

  15. Vijay,read that line once again.”what HE wants to in the way THEY want it”.Its meaning is a helluva lot of different from what you have perceived.

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