Life shows no mercy for the weak. Cognizance about everythin has become mandatory to survive. Get a piece of everythin that life has in the offering ! i share all that i know to help others know what i know. we stay together , we survive. welcome to candor corner. know. share. survive. always with candor, Praveen Chandar

Friday, December 7, 2007

Does Evano Oruvan Work ?

Hi people,

I guess this is the first time I am reviewing a Tamil film on my blog. Well, I have got more than a few reasons for that. First of all, this is one of the most anticipated movies this year from actor Madhavan. The film also has a lot of interesting trivia backing it. It is the first film being produced by Abbas Mastan and Ram Gopal Varma's K Sera Sera productions in Tamil. This film, made on a shoe-string budget, is a remake of the commercially successful and critically renowned Marathi film by the name "Dombivilli Fast" directed by Nishikanth Kamath who has also directed the tamil version. It was quoted earlier that it was Madhavan who urged the director to remake the film in Tamil and that the director too felt that this film would work only in Tamil, next to Marathi and Bengali, owing to the fact that movies like "Paruthiveeran" and "Mozhi" have become commercially successful here recently. This is a heart quenching news for all the Tamils. I happened to see the film today, first day first show in a not-so-posh theatre in my town, simply to get the hang of the reaction from the audience of that strata of the society that has been depicted in the movie.

The movie, sans songs, dance sequences, or choreographed action sequences, is a very sincere attempt in showcasing the plight of a normal man, the way he perceives his society, his tolerance, his temperamental turbidity, his undying thirst to do something about the wrongs he explicitly sees happening around him unstopped, and the angst that builds up in him which eventually ends up rendering him violent and totally against the very ills in the society that had agitated him all his life. The movie is very realistic in its depiction of the events that unfold, and in the emotions that are portrayed. Madhavan has essayed the role of his career. You could confidently say that, more often than not, Madhavan does not appear to be the star you know in him. And it also helps the movie succeed in what its meant to and aspires to be.

In the original version, Sandeep Kulkarni was not a popular hero, more because he looked like a common man and he could effortlessly find himself lost in the many faces we see in the railway station or the crowded banks or bus stops in the city. Madhavan's efforts in unlearning his 'Hero' image shows and it does pay off in getting his character across without a trace of his on screen image. It is Madhavan who has penned the dialogues for the tamil version with Seeman's supervision. The dialogues are crisp and hit straight into your senses. The movie is linear and does not boast of any extra-ordinary camera work or mindless editing you find these days. The movie does really good for itself without any song sequences and also the background score, at no point, gets jarring and is kept to minimal at most places.

Seeman, as inspector Vetrimaaran, fits the role to a 'T' and executes the character with flawless perfection, depicting the helplessness in not being able to react to the ills in the society that he not only sees around him, but also consciously bolsters with guilt. His reactions when he receives the shoot-at-sight order to gun down Sridhar Vasudevan ( Madhavan ), shows the level to which he has truly imbibed the character's angst in him. His dialogues mostly rest on guilty lamenting. The scene which has Madhavan, at the zenith of his outburst, retiring to the depths of his uncontrolled and self-instated nightmarish rampage by confiding in a street artist one night, takes tamil cinema to heights it had not visited in the recent years. The monologue, directed at the Lord himself, delivered so eloquently and angst-ridden by Madhavan, captures one of the most beautiful character sketching (or rather etching) in cinematic history. This is definitely the actor's finest performance to date, about which he can always walk the streets head up.

There is nothing really negative to write about this movie or its intent. All the reviews would have banked on the same points that the film is very sincere, very realistic, must watch for all those craving for a real dose of realism and stuff like that. Everything they say is true, very much. So, does the movie really work ? Does the movie strike gold at the box office ? Does the crew manage to get the message across ? I came out of the movie hall with a heavy heart, not because the movie touched me with all its realism ( the movie does something different to you), but because the movie will fail to strike a chord with the audience. The movie simply lacks even the minimal sheen to keep the audience engrossed in the film. We're not talking about skimpy models doing a raunchy item number, or songs shot in exotic locales that have nothing to with the film or action sequences that remind you of Keanu Reeves and his Kung-Fu boys, but we're talking about getting the audience listen to you by simply making the narrative a little more engrossing by employing subtler measures unlike the more explicitly commercial methods mentioned above.

The movie simply does not heed to the requirement of a basic movie goer down south. A movie that is commercially released has one sole intention that cannot be denied- to sell its story. And it makes no sense to argue saying "These people don't listen to good stories". Any movie-goer sits in the hall, not for free, and not even for a nominal cost, but for a whopping average price of INR80. And, he is definitely not there to not listen ! It is quite easy to make a film that can be relished only by film fanatics and those residing in the field professionally or those elite few who appreciate authentic cinema. It is not easy to get a story across to a majority of the people and still have it critically acclaimed. I would say the film is 'too expensive in its thought' for a layman to buy it ! The film simply does not help or encourage the viewers in any way to keep their attention screwed to the screen. The editing, again, is too real (too many silences and pauses) to hold your attention incessantly.

The movie fails to achieve what many other international films of this genre did. Some of them like Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver which depicted the angst of a Vietnam war veteran who retires to driving cabs in the night to kill his sleepless nights, which eventually turns him ultra violent in unleashing his wrath against the flawed society. Taxi Driver worked for distinct reasons. The first one being the milieu of film making the American society was exposed to at that time. The public were already served many such films and the genre was not all that new to them. So it was no surprise that a movie like Taxi Driver went well with a majority of the viewers that also pronounced De Niro as one of the greatest actors of his time. Secondly, Taxi Driver worked because it had some chilling moments like the one in which he spends a dozen minutes talking to himself in front of the mirror, who can forget the lines "you talkin'na me??". And scenes depicting the effect his loneliness would have over him when we see him cruise through the dark streets while he watches the evil in all its glory, unstopped and even invited, the scene that shows him buying fire arms telling you there is more he has to convey, or rather wreak on his oppressors, and scenes like the one in which he confronts with the young prostitute played by Jodie Foster asking her to go to school or the closing act when we get to sees his anger go uncontrolled as his fire arm blazes through the very souls you wished to see apart, all these add subtle commercial value to the film. In my words, I wouldn't call them commercial, but necessary ingredients that make good story telling.
And, ingredients that help the viewer stick to the screen, and play with his emotions. And it calls for deft writing to achieve such results on screen and intensive deliberation on fabricating the shots. Few luminaries in the industry have achieved this blend of critical and commercially successful products like Mani Ratnam, Ram Gopal Varma and Raj Kumar Santoshi.

A film maker is basically a story teller. A story, whether powerful or not, genuine or not by itself, can be told in many ways. A film uses a visual medium. Using the nuances and cutting edges visual media has over its counterparts to your advantage in telling a story is where your skill lies in packaging an idea. Evano Oruvan is simply one of the best stories you would want to keep listening to, and also wish to tell your friends or share with your children. But, the story very sadly falters in the way it is told. If the director aspired to make a beautiful movie that he can always take pride in, he has undoubtedly succeeded. But, if he thought the movie would get his message across to the audience he has delivered it to, he has failed, and very sadly. Very few would want to listen to a story told this way. And fewer would come back to listen to it a second time.

Praveen Chandar.