A Tepid Testimonial

Bhavna clutching an umbrella, Sunil clutching an underarm.

The boy: toughie, hired goon, bearded brute, all rough edges and bad acting, tall and dark and not so handsome.

The girl: heart that bleeds for all, assists helpless people cross roads, smooth and pretty and voluptuous and rich and pretty and smooth. Sigh. I mean, scratch the sigh.

How could they not fall in love? And how could he not turn over a new leaf, bringing a few oddball leaves along with him to keep him entertained at newdom? And how could their wedding plans not be rudely interrupted by her seeing him visit someplace not nice? And how could they not… well, no spoilers on this blog folks. By the way, for the record, this post is about a movie called Chithiram Pesudhadi.

“Ordinary plot,” you want to say, “hackneyed and trite, tried and tested (and failed).” True, we say, the movie is all that, but it has a little bit more going for it – it is disarmingly unpretentious and heartwarmingly earnest. The earnestness of a first time director striving hard – very hard – within his contraints to salvage something out of a mediocre script shines through every frame, drawing empathy from his viewers, and Chithiram manages to get off with sympathetic winces where another movie would’ve gotten a groan or two.

Kathir, Myshkin

The outlandishly named director of the movie – Myshkin – used to be called Raja before he decided to downgrade his name to something slightly less exalted and took on the name of the prince in Dostoevsky’s Idiot. Myshkin had possibly the worst start to his career one can imagine, when he had a chance meeting with director Kadhir at a bookstore. One thing led to another and Myshkin soon was assisting Kathir in some of his movies.

We are glad to report however, that Kadhir – the maker of such innovatively named masterpieces as Kadhal Virus (Love Bug) Kadhalar Dhinam (A Day for Love) and Kadhal Desam (The Country of, what else, Love) – seems to have influenced Myshkin very little. The only obvious influence we could discern was in the way they wear their hair, but even here Myshkin wins hairily handily.

Like most debutants, Myshkin has a lot of ideas. And like most debutants, he wants to use them all in his first movie. Chithiram Pesudhadi is crammed with a large array of fringe characters, each with a prequel, an odd quirk or two and plenty of screentime.

Most of that screentime is irrelevant to the central plot, but taken together the scenes add an element of whimsy to the proceedings, breaking up the monotony and lending an air of belivability. Like the friend of the former toughie, who angrily demands to know why the girl picked his friend over him and walks out of the restaurant in a huff, leaving his food untouched. And the other friend, who demands to know if he could eat the food thus left behind. Dry, mean, deadpan humor – just the way we like it. And while we are talking about good things, I loved the rather convincing backstory behind why the toughie was where he was when the marriage broke up. Old men have needs too.

When snotty people write book reviews, they usually enhance their review with a quote or two from the book. My ‘umble self, unable to diss the movie because it is all empathy for the earnestness of the director, will now “quote” scenes. And of course, it’ll put it all in blockquotes, so you can feel like you’re reading a book review.

Goons surround the toughie. Toughie’s expression changes from morose comtemplation to contemplative morosion. (He is quite versatile). He then walks to the farthest corner of the set, turns around and assumes the checking-if-my-shoelaces-are-off position.

Rowdy #1 is thoroughly confused by the sight of some same-sex ass. He runs forward to confront the offender and turn him around. He gets knocked out by a couple of lame ass blows that no self-respecting goon would fall for. In his defence though, this guy had just been blinded by a backside. I groan at my own alliteration, saving you the trouble.

Goon number 2 follows suit.

And so on till the scene ends.

If you are the sort of computer programmer who get a kick out of poor jokes, I would ask you to put the scene into a for loop that runs six times, but we don’t cater to that segment. So forget I said that and let’s move on to the next blockquoted scene(s).

There is this dude in the movie who sidekicks for the bad guy. He wears yellow all the time, and sings folk songs in return for cash. No pay, no song, never.

The yellow man is at a bar.

Two other people are at the bar as well. One of them heads to Mr. Yellow, and gives him money. “Sing!” he commands. Yellow demurs.

“But why Mr. Yellow? Aren’t you a sucker for some good old fashioned green?”

“I am normally. But today is a special day. My girlfriend died this day that age.”

“Oh!”

“And she died of jaundice, which is why I wear yellow all the time.”

Half the audience awws, the other half laughs. It was either an outstanding example of deadpan humor, or an incredibly corny flashback. The jury is still out on this one, as it is on the rest of the movie – while the press has been overwhelmingly positive, the box office hasn’t been very kind. Yet. And in that same vein, this reviewer’ll give it a lukewarm thumbs up, because:

1) He wath ambiguous about the movie.

2) He hath Ebertian delusions.

Chithiram Pesuthadi is written and directed by Myshkin and stars Sunil and Bhavna.

14 thoughts on “A Tepid Testimonial”

  1. Caught that yellow guy’s gaana song on TV. It was different, and may be he will come a round (as we say in Tamil) in movies

  2. Hmmm.. good. I ve been meaning to watch this flick for sometime now; will catch it soon.
    Talking of being unpretentious, simple and humorous, instantly Azhagiya Theeyae springs up in one’s mind. But, I guess (opinions made through promos and teasers) this wouldn’t come close to match up with that one!

    and yeah the song is quite a rage of late, most probably coz of that man’s antics!

  3. Karthik, so you are back to blogging for quite some time now. Didn’t notice 🙂
    Looks like you are the first blogger to review this movie. Wanted to read on this.. Will book the tickets once the movie peeps in this city..
    Do you know what, I read in Sify that since the movie was good though it was a washout in the first release, Oscar Ravichandran has gone ahead and is doing a second release in all theatres with more publicity.. Lets see..

  4. Gosh, Karthik – a thumbs up? Even a lukewarm thumbs up is a bit much for this movie… Didn’t know how to react to the following scenes, and so ended up laughing (a tad hysterically, I might add):
    – hero making mince meat of goon by placing goon between car door & slamming said door over and over again
    – the exquisite i-don’t-know-what when the heroine who dreams of a bed-coffee-making-husband ultimately ends up with a guy whose favorite line is “sava adichiduvan di” – I can just picture mornings in that household.
    – a big dada who is ruthless and powerful, and yet lives amid bananas – hundreds of them. And why bananas for heaven’s sake? Michael Lonsdale’s character in Munich cooks on the side, assorted goons from the Sopranos run restaurants – our man sells bananas?! Just the perfect “food” connection a mafia boss needs.

  5. DoZ,

    I was thinking about it too – I think the movies I watched after this one made my review kinder than it should’ve been. I did like a few scenes here and there, and that’s about it, and the dad doing what he did had a very realistic ring to it. He was old, single, and I was impressed that they risked showing the other side of a goody-goody dad.

    The “SavAdichidvenDi” part was horrid, but I’d like to believe the banana selling, cell phone talking, scary looking villian role was a very clever spoof. It was rather funny, didnt you think?

    My revised opinion is a flat thumb now.

  6. Overall I felt that this was a very unprofessional movie – my roomie said it looked like it was the director’s film institute project movie, and I agree with him… People lumber about, the camera keeps jumping between them, the stunts are ridiculous, etc.

    Having said that, I think Aadhi was some sort of critical point for me. Since that movie, I’ve come to enjoy these crazy movies as crazy movies… With this one, as I said, I was laughing 🙂 And yeah, after reading about your “thermodynamics” & “anonymous email” movies, I can see how this one might have felt so much better in comparison.

  7. Karthik,
    Make your thumb a little more flat please. Or, even better, put them down. A flurry of sick flicks could numb one down, alright.
    But yeah, the dad-thing was done well. Though I almost guessed it, the way it was portrayed evoked immense sympathy for the man within a few frames instead of bad-man-ing him.

  8. The bit about the Bad Guy with the bananas was very confusing when I first saw it. But after watching the kind of humour prevailing throughout the movie, I realized that it might be part of an in joke if you’re in on it. He is surrounded by “palla kollaigal” (banana bunches) and his job is to perform “pala kolaigal” (many murders). I chuckled and that was the end of it.

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