Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review - Shyamaprasad's Ore Kadal



I had been waiting for ‘Ore Kadal’ to release; right from the time the news about Shyamaprasad’s new movie based on Sunil Gangopadhyay’s novel ‘Heerak Deepthi’ started doing its rounds. Lot of things happened in between: Controversies involving novelist Subhash Chandran and Shyamaprasad, association of KR Meera in the script – but finally, the much-awaited movie released. Essentially ‘Ore Kadal’ analyses the intricate nature of human relationships through an in-depth portrayal of four complex and emotional characters. Making a movie that can belong to any contemporary time period/geography is a challenge of its own. Shyamaprasad can be proud of achieving just that.

Mammooty plays a renowned economist Dr. Nathan who does not believe in any emotional relationship, and trusts that his mind is not to be bound to any specific individual or liaison. The careless debonair of an alcoholic intellect and the overwhelming guilt of being dispassionate, looms over the character of Dr. Nathan. Mammooty portrays the divergent images that take his mind between a rough unemotional exterior, and a warm confused interior, with ease. Meera Jasmin plays Deepthi, a mother and housewife who has the strings of her mind being pulled by the isolation that she despairs to leap out of. Deepthi has a gentle psyche that brightens on the unexpected love it finds, moves into a frenzy as it evolves through lust and reaches a devastated stage where she is caught between the passions in her relationships. As a person who thought that Meera often goes over that narrow border between acting and overacting, I should acknowledge her phenomenal performance in 'Ore Kadal'. At times I feel that the class of an actor is not in expressing strong emotions for short durations, but is rather in displaying the subtle tenacity of light emotions with consistency – Meera has done just that. If she could win Urvashi for T V Chandran’sPaadam Onnu: Oru Vilaapam, this should be a cakewalk. Ramya Krishnan does a fantastic job as Bela, a very mature character. She acts as the alter ego of Dr. Nathan, which acknowledges the weaknesses of Nathan’s character and tries to let Nathan observe it. The bottomless melancholy of grief from the hard times of her life shines through the hazel eyes of Bela, through her occasional glance here and a short dialogue there. In a cast jaded by superstars, Ramya does her part without a lot of drumbeats and applause – quietly going about her job and all the while exemplifying that her acting skills stands much taller than item numbers. Naren stars as the husband of Deepthi, a normal middle class person who tries to make ends meet for his family and at times is reduced to be a mere spectator as the drama of life evolves.

For a movie that has most of its screen time indoors, the scope of impressing the people through camera work or technical gimmicks is almost negligible. Azhagappan accomplishes the near impossible - Using the light as a delicate background to the movie’s theme, and presenting some exquisite visuals. Editing a movie that moves between four diverse poignant characters, without the observer experiencing the turbulence of impulsive transitions requires a lot of skill, and the efforts from Vinod Sukumaran are laudable. The art direction and costumes made sure that the negligible space in Nathan’s flat was exploited to set up the careless slapdash attitude of his character. Unlike the so-called ‘mainstream’ movies, the music of 'Ore Kadal' had released devoid of ‘noise’, but it truly takes away the cake for being the vital part of the movie. Ouseppachan might have just made the best music of the year, especially handling the tough job of composing 4 different songs in the same raga ‘Subha Panthuvarali’ to match the moods of the movie.

Shyamaprasad has returned with a bang after his 'Akale', which did not strike the right chord with audience. Although Shyam has handed over the accolades to his remarkable cast, the movie is essentially teamwork – A rhythmic coordination of a team striving for perfection. And for that to happen, we need a director who has a lucid idea about his theme and an approach to let his audience perceive it. As a director, there are umpteen occasions where he could have slipped off that narrow ridge, and fallen into the deep gorges of overemotional melodrama, lust or vulgarity. Shyam stays away from all of it, distances himself from forcing any judgment on the viewers and most importantly facilitates a rare opportunity for the spectators to come up with their own verdicts on the deeds of the characters. I felt couple of glitches in the movie when common sense gave way to continuity, but then - what is perfect? Dealing with such a sensitive thread of infidelity and betrayal, which often presents that thin line of morality to the viewers, is a colossal challenge by its own. We see a director’s shining signature that was displayed with ease in Peruvazhiyile Kariyilakal and Agnisaakshi reaching its pinnacle during ‘Ore Kadal’. Be it in that symbolic frame that occasionally interludes to cast the image of a secluded electric pole where a lot of power lines meet & disperse to new directions, Be it in the revelation that there is a ferociously lashing sea of ‘Self’ between the shores named ‘You’ and ‘Me’.

The crowd expecting an outright 'masala' entertainer seeing the cast lines of Mammooty and Meera might be disappointed – as I could guess from the cat calls in the theatre. But, I regard a movie worthy if the mind lingers with the visuals and characters of the movie for days. 'Ore Kadal' has been so enticing that we could see ourselves standing next to Nathan & Deepthi, wandering in that dim apartment trying to reach that narrow frame of light through the balcony - all the while trying to come up with a conclusion on these complex yet amazing characters. That is exactly what I call triumph of a director and zenith of recognition for a movie.

Verdict – Recommended, with Two Thumbs Way Up!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chickens Run for TV air time

In the interview with a Rediff correspondent, Ronen Sen (Indian ambassador to US) had made the statement “The agreement has been approved here (in Washington, DC) by the President, and there (in New Delhi) it’s been approved by the Indian cabinet. So why do you have all this running around like headless chickens, looking for a comment here or comment there, and these little storms in a tea-cup?”.

The statement was obviously aimed at the news correspondents who twist the facts to increase the circulation multiple folds.

The fun starts now: Guess who got so hurt and was all tears about the headless chicken?

Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader and former minister made this comment – “Today the ambassador has said in a statement that those who are opposed to the deal are headless chickens. We have demanded such an ambassador should be recalled,"

Well…This comment by Sushma did not come as a surprise since her chief focus as a minister was on banning a few channels in the pretext of maintaining ‘the so-called’ ethics and spoiling the name of national awards by giving it to na├»ve performances of Anil Kapoor/Saif Ali Khan (Kamal Hasan, Mammootty and Nasseruddin Shah might have dumped their Bharat awards when they saw the news), when the National Information and Broadcasting industry was being shredded to dumps.

But what surprised me was when comrades like Prakash Karat/D Raja did not even glance through the essence of Sen’s statement and start crying aloud with a kerchief on their hand about chickens. People like us who ‘ve read Marx and Engels with respect and has soaring regards to their ideologies, have no much choice but to despise the state of the ‘new-age’ leftism which gazes for just some ‘air’ time in the controversy hungry news channels.

If Sushma/Karat/Raja read between the lines and assumed that they were THE headless chickens, then I should appreciate that their self-evaluation is quite a matter of fact. Who else will waste the 22-lakhs/hour rate of running the parliament for such an amateurish self-appraisal?

And I hope that the actual headless chickens would not file a case against the three for bringing their name to disrepute. :)

P.S -> This post is not aimed at analyzing the content of the agreement or on discussing any views regarding the authenticity of the agreement. Its directed at these ‘politicians’ that make a mockery of the parliament time when there are far more important things to be looked at in India, than their ego.