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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Pithamagan
As I said earlier, a very violent film. I think Guru and Kingsley would be able to give a more comprehensive review. I want to talk about some points that I find interesting. Bala definitely has to be commended for deliberately disregarding certain stereotypes and conventions. The women in the movie are devoid of any sex appeal. They way they behave and the way other characters interact with them, smacks of an almost conspicuous decision to design them so. Reared on conventional cinematic narratives, it is a relief to find somebody deliberately cheating the audience of any of this. Another palpable directorial decision seems to be in keeping away the related �class-crossing-romance-and-the-related-conflict� standard. Certain things that most movies are entirely built around are not even lightly discussed in this film. Bala is one person who seems to do that regularly. But the avoidance of conventional (and sometimes important) causatives has gone to the extent that most characterisations seem exaggerated and artificial (esp. Chittan and Manju). Character motivations are mostly missing or incomplete, but the audience can still lap it up. Plot holes are glossed over as the audience desperately seeks to excuse the filmmaker just because he has given them so much entertainment. And entertainment? It is directly funny, nothing dark or ironic about the comedy. The violence: almost all of it is staged comically, yet by the sheer magnitude of what is shown, it is everything from numbing to cathartic and sometimes revolting. (A lot of people in the audience were laughing during such scenes: but peer pressure of being singled out for �sensitivity� seems to have prompted most of the loud cover-up guffaws from the younger crowd)
I am sad to note that despite having trained under Balu Mahendra, Bala�s editing decisions seem to be close to pathetic: technically unsound with bad cuts and ugly ramps.
And if anyone says Vikram has acted well, I can definitely disagree. There are certain advantages of working with a written script. A good actor can read the script and find our where it lacks in character motivation and design his/her performance suitably. That is why they give awards for acting, not for crying or laughing at will. I do not know if it the absence of a script or the eagerness to perform, but the Chittan character is uncharacteristically fake and pretentious. But as I have said earlier, the audience can be very forgiving (and sometimes inanely lauding) if the director is very giving. Let this not be misconstrued as a thumbs-up for Vikram�s acting or Bala�s characterisation, for when Bala makes his next film and if that seems to be even slightly flat in exposition, he will go the Mani Ratnam way when it comes to the mass audience.
Why is Pithamagan a hit? Where this movie lacks in motivation (cause), it makes up for in exposition (effect). Shots are well staged. It is a violent movie that has no social purpose. This movie simply seems to be a portrayal of strange characters in truly a �Bala� sense. An aesthetic effort that does not try to be didactic at all: what can you take from this movie? I just hope it isn�t any of the animalistic gore. A movie definitely not to be seen with the kiddies.


8:51 pm

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