Write & Watch

Salesh Dipak Fernando

Tag: MOVIES

100 DAYS OF LOVE – DAY 1 – 50 FIRST DATES

50 first dates will remain one of my sweetest teenage memories. That was the phase when Adam Sandler was extremely likable and Drew Barrymore was steadily stealing our hearts with a string of charming performances. It is one of those movies which will tug your heartstrings as the two leads re-discover love again and again. I will let Lucy and Henry take over from here.

LUCY

Dear Henry,

I wake up every day not knowing what the day has in store for me. Is it a never-ending stretch or a never-ending happily ever after? I choose to embrace the latter.  Life has given me that rare chance of filling the blank spaces with traces of love each and every day.  I don’t have to yearn for surprises and sweet nothings. Every day is a surprise, a new adventure filled with the abundance of love.

Every day is a fresh start and a brand new attempt at re-writing our love story in a million different ways. I often wonder why you chose to hold on to me for eternity despite the fact that you have to start from the scratch every single day but then the heart seldom seeks a reason to hold on to love. 

I seldom have to worry about what my life has in store for us in the long run. For us, future is a myth.  It’s always one day at a time as we sprinkle our lives with doses of love.  I have chosen to embrace the surprises that life has in store for us between sunrise and sunset.

I know I will wake up tomorrow not knowing who you are but I will be waiting to make me fall in love with you again.

 

HENRY

Dear LUCY,

Life can be bliss when love manifests itself in different ways every single day.  I wait for that moment when your eyes for the day.  It reminds me that we just finished one single chapter in a never-ending love story. The best part I won’t have to re-visit the same chapter again.

I don’t have to re-live the same day twice and life will never be an endless stretch of boredom.  Beyond the uncertainty that awaits us each day there’s a strong thread of hope that binds us together. Our kid will never yearn for love for all the different dimensions of love will unfold within her as she grows up.

Someday I won’t be there and neither will you but the traces of love that we have left behind will remain as permanent impressions for the people around us.  Let’s hold on to each other and embrace the sunshine until sunset greets us together for one final time.

 

 

 

BAASHA

AN OLD FRIEND

‘’THE DIG WANTS TO MEET YOU”. For a brief moment Manikam’s eyes speak a different language. All the bottled up emotions conveyed through those powerful eyes. It’s an uneasy situation but he plays along like an innocent man filled with fear

The DIG waits in anticipation. Who is he going to meet? An old friend or foe or a stranger he never knew. The past flashes before his eyes as he taunts the stranger. How is your new Job ? He asks hoping to peel off the mask but Manikam doesn’t give it away. He retains the tone of innocence and acknowledges the person in front on him without giving too much away for us as an audience. We are left wondering the nature of their relationship.

 But what has always fascinated me as a fan was the next question. I hope your kids and wife are fine ? In hindsight it is nothing but a simple query but Manikam’s answer gives us the first hint of how lethal he could be if he wants to. He just answers I am not married yet which implies everything is the same as before.

Nothing has changed. He would not hesitate to re-visit the past if he wants to.
The commoner walks back like the king he once was even as the DIG flips the first page of a glorious past. The fear in the policeman’s body as that Iconic name is uttered. He’s long dead? Why do you want him now? Is he? Let’s wait and watch for the impressions of the past always come back to surprise us.

THE FIRST GLIMPSE

Baasha to me is one of the greatest commercial flicks of all times. A movie which would re-write the masala movie template. Ever since Baasha happened both Tamil and Telugu cinema has shamelessly thrived on pale imitations of our Superstar re-using the same post interval transformation again and again. Ajith’s vedalam is the most recent re-hash. I don’t know how many more we are going to see in the coming years. Where did it all begin?
That iconic discarded scene in Hum.

A dejected sister. Her aspirations of becoming a doctor shattered. The brother intervenes to alter a foregone conclusion. He doesn’t resort to melodrama or over the top dialogues. He begins almost casually teasing his unprepared opponent with Enakku Innoru Per Iruku. And then Suresh Krishna cleverly uses film negative to give us a glimpse of his dark past. The anticipation soars even as we yearn for a full view. In fact the entire film thrives on the clever usage of black and white film negative images to showcase transition and transformation. Cut to the present and the dynamics have changed. A shell-shocked opponent is rendered speechless while our Super Star uses subtle changes in body language to convey the character switch. If this isn’t acting what is ?

The scene closes out with the iconic Naan Oru Thadava sonna or so we think. But in hindsight the closure is attained when he steps out. He steps in and Steps out as Manikam. The brief transformation happens behind closed doors. The chairman doesn’t reveal the truth neither does Suresh Krishna. He keeps the glorious reveal under wraps until that awesome interval block.

 

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

There are numerous tales of theaters being torn down when the Superstar gets beaten up. I want to travel back in time to see the audience reaction for this particular sequence. It’s your  demi-god and the one you look upto and he is being beaten up. 


The interesting part – he isn’t forced into submission. He volunteers to be the sacrificial lamb on behalf of his younger brother. You want him to fight, to give it back but he doesn’t. holds back even as nature cries on behalf of us.

One particular line “Easu Pola poruma paru”. It’s vanity and a bit of indulgence but you don’t care. Even the fact that his innerwear changes colour with every frame doesn’t bother you as an audience. You yearn for a retaliation which never happens. 

The crushed glass piece in the hands of his right hand man, the silent glimpse of an aid from the past or the sheer helplessness of being mere spectators as the master retains his simple childlike smile. The entire sequence is done and dusted but yet again Suresh Krishna gives a glimpse of what is to come with a simple question. 

Do you ever get angry? And what happens after that is absolute beauty. The star answers with his trademark iconic laughter. A laughter which conveys a milion other hidden emotions. Is it even possible to do so but Rajini does it with so much ease. The calm before the storm.

THE STORM

One of the greatest achievements of Suresh Krishna is how he constantly brought out a perfect amalgamation of the actor and star who lies hidden within the Superstar and Baasha will always remain his greatest achievement. The fact that a discarded scene in the North found such a powerful voice down South is perhaps one of celluloid’s greatest Miracles and the perfect ode to those Commercial Potboilers down South. The fact that the same plotline has been re-hashed N number of times without much success is testimony to the charisma of the star. 

In hindsight Baasha works because of the way it successfully teases and taunts the viewers throughout the entire first half with carefully placed applause worthy sequences and best part is the way the negative is used to go back and forth and the film doesn’t even need it’s antagonist to make a statement who comes into the picture only in the second half.

A film always has liberties to tease, taunt and haunt the viewers until the big reveal. The reveal which could transform a Superstar into a Demi- God and a man of the masses. For most of the first half Rajini constantly shifts between a softer feminine side and the dominant alpha male with remarkable ease pulling the entire audience into the narrative. We are all prepared to wait and watch and when the wait is finally over it’s sheer ecstasy on screen.

The way the pre interval sequence pans out is an interesting lesson. He doesn’t come into the picture until that pivotal moment when his sister lands in his arms with blood on her face. The mask doesn’t come off on it’s own. It’s pulled out by force and he’s left with no choice but to retaliate and bring out the animal instinct within him. The mask transforms into a shield of protection as the Alpha male takes over. The tone shifts from mockery to bewilderment and awe as the volcano within Manikam explodes. Years of hidden fury is revealed as he utters “ Ulle Po”. How easily do those eyes shift from fear to anger in a split second? Hell breaks loose. Does it end here? No absolutely not. It’s the beginning. It’s payback time.And what a payback it is the wait is over for him and us as gives it back in the only way he can. The look of joy in the face of his comrades as they kiss his hand after a worthy duel is priceless. The king is back to claim his throne. Baasha is back. But there’s more to this tale than what we have seen so far.


The final flourish the grand finale to set up for the events of the second half. A flourish which continues to reverberate ever after all these years.


Lights fade, the noises die down as the Camera focuses on the Superstar and his fans alone. Everything else becomes inconsequential it’s him and us alone as the voice utters those iconic lines.
நான் ஒரு தடவ சொன்னா, நூறு தடவ சொன்ன மாதிரி.

Ah here it is! The moment of ecstasy and awe. A once in a lifetime amalgamation of the perfect culmination and preview as one of the greatest pre-interval blocks come to an end.

BAASHA

 How do you define Swag, Style, Magnetism and Energy ?  Is it even possible to merge all of these in a single frame to give a different shade to a forgotten past ? That’s what happens when our favourite don decides to reveal himself. Even as his own sibling bombards him questions Manikam retreats to reveal the untold secrets.

He closes the door of illusion to re-open the real world.  His world which was forged on the foundation of friendship. And just when he thinks he could thrive in this world with his dear friend and family.  Fate forces a re-vamp and thrusts him into the limelight by pitting him against an unlikely enemy – Mark Antony.

And to win against his all conquering opponent he needs a dual identity. An identity which could effectively merge two personalities into one and give him the aggression that he seeks.  Mannik Baasha is born – a voice for the oppressed. The crowd has a new leader to root for. A leader who put an end to the reign of terror and signal a new dawn.

That moment when the negative fades to reveal the real person  is when the euphoria begins as SPB goes full throttle with Baasha Paaru. The command and poise in the walk of our favourite hero is still unmatched.  A never before seen celebration begins. A celebration which would last till Kollywood decides to wind up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I HATE DIRECTOR BALA

 

Bala – A master in discovering stories filled with melancholy and loss. He gave us Vikram , Suriya and brought the best out of plausible actors. Remember Sangeetha’s star turn in Pithamagan. As much I loved him in his earlier days. I hate him now. And whenever his movies play on TV they make me cringe. I will tell you why.

For a long time, the masses have been quite dismissive of the power of the visual medium to tell compelling stories. Stories which could make your jaw drop, stories which could make you think and stories which could take you on a trip to fantasy land. Very few film makers have mastered the art of finding the right balance and give the audience a wholesome experience. Bala was one such filmmaker who could do all the three within his template. I adored him for what he was but I shun him for what he is

It is very sad to see a film maker succumb to narcissistic temptations. Narcissism is fine. Kamal does it, Vikram does it but a creator owes his audience some breathing space.  You don’t shove a masturbatory product which hardly sells or makes the crowd root for you. The audience deserve some empathy too.

Take Naan Kadavul for example. We do know what lies beyond the simple act of begging on the road but is it necessary to explicitly show everything that happens behind the scenes. I almost felt like Vomiting in front of the screen. That was strike one.

And then came Avan Ivan. What the fuck was that?   It seemed like a half-baked attempt at redemption. The worst part was cheating Vishal that he could actually be a fine actor. That scene where he brings out the Navarasas in his face was unintentionally hilarious   Strike Two

The third strike was inevitable especially when the film turns out to be an ode to gloom and doom. You don’t walk into the cinema hall for a doomsday prophecy.Red Tea became Paradesi and my eyes turned red with anger.

I am done Bala. I am done with you. Even the small flame of hope that was lit up within got extinguished by itself. I am sorry I no longer fit into your world and I bet most of us don’t.

Farwell my favorite creator. It’s time to let go. I fucking hate you.

 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF VIJAY SETHUPATHI

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I never intended to post this one but the Memes haven’t stopped. What is so wrong with Vijay Sethupathi doing 8 films a year? The trouble is most top heroes do only 1 film a year making it an industry norm but have they been successful in delivering a quality product with that 1 film is a huge question mark. If that one particular film doesn’t work it’s a huge burden on the hero and his choice of films. Multiple films give a hero the required breathing space. 

There was a time before the late 2000’s when our top heroes did multiple films a year. It’s a prevalent norm in the Malayalam film industry where even Superstars do 4-5 films a year even today. Then why do we mock a hero who consistently delivers in his multiple avatars. Didn’t we love Vijay Sethupathi as the no nonsense cop in Sethupathi ?  Even in Iraivi he was impeccable as the prey in a flawed premise. Ka ka po saw him lift an otherwise ordinary film with his usual charm. Dharmadurai was all about second chances while the recently released Aandavan Kattalai impressed all of us with it’s inherent simplicity. 

Isn’t it time to celebrate an actor who has been versatile with his choices. There’s another facet which we conveniently ignore. Almost all his recent choices have an incredible supporting cast with some outstanding performances even by actors who fill in with small roles. It’s a welcome shift. At a time when we are conveniently falling prey to hero worship by celebrating mediocre films where the hero is the alpha and the Omega. Vijay Sethupathi has managed to break all the prevalent industry norms without being noticed.

Both Rajini and Kamal have constantly advocated the 4-5 films a year philosophy with KAMAL leading by example by completing films in 30 days. If a stalwart can do so why can’t the younger breed follow suit ?

Before you mock Vijay Sethupathi for his line up of releases. Let me remind you one thing Our Superstar Rajnikanth did 25 films in one year when he was at his peak. I see nothing wrong in an actor’s attempt to explore various genres and at the same time fill his pockets while at the peak of his powers.

You needn’t applaud him but atleast don’t try to pull someone who is trying.

 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF MAMMOOTTY

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I just sat through the pathetic Kasaba and it raised a lot of questions within as a die-hard Mammootty fan.  The subtexts within Kasaba are so cringe worthy that I found it nauseating. I agree not every film has to have a message. But if the intent was to give Mammootty a stylish makeover why not do it with a good script.  And when an actor of Mommootty’s stature endorses such degrading themes it leaves a lot to be desired

Why does an actor of his calibre resort to mediocre films every now and then. It is definitely not the lack of scripts for Malayalam cinema regularly proves itself by churning out one good film after another. I agree the depth of the good old days is missing but still it’s top notch when compared to other South Indian Industries. Is it the lack of charisma perhaps ?  No absolutely not. The screen presence is still very much intact.

I relished Pathemari which showed us a glimpse of the Mammootty we had lost. He was the one who first embraced the new wave of Malayalam Cinema with Pranchiyetan and the Saint but after that he submerged himself in a sea of substandard films which were made just for the sake of Satellite rights and commercial gains.  What was the need to kill an extraordinary actor ? Since when did he become just one among the pack. 

There was a time when Mammootty and Mohanlal were unstoppable. But Mohanlal has cleverly blended with the times constantly re-inventing himself in excellent films the recent Oppam is a fine example. Mammootty on the other hand seems to have stalled himself. No this isn’t a comparison statement just the anguish of a hardcore fan who clings on to the hope that re-invention is just around the corner. I hope so. I desperately hope so. 

With the charisma still intact there’s a lot more Mammootty has to offer to Malayalam Cinema and I believe it’s never too late to re-kindle the old flame which made him a fine actor.

 

ME AND THE BLIND SIDE

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All of us have that one movie which we must have watched the maximum number of times. For me it is “THE BLIND SIDE“. It was popular alright. In fact it was so popular that when SANDRA BULLOCK took home the OSCAR for best actress the critics dismissed it as a popular choice award.  I strongly disagree

On the surface it does seem like a showy, over the top film about a black kid being welcomed in a white family. But there’s more to the movie than what meets the eye. The movie disturbed me. It showed me that benevolence has a life-changing effect. It’s the first morning after the Tuohy family welcome Big Mike into their house. The initial apprehension is very much evident and beautifully captured in just sentence “IF YOU HEAR SCREAMS CALL THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER”.  

The movie grows on you slowly as each and every member of the family warm up to Micheal Oher. The viewer gets a glimpse of both the sides – the rough neighbourhood and the posh yet juvenile upper class who question the acceptance of Big Mike. It is a deep film yet the message is very subtle. There’s just enough warmth to make it a thoroughly enjoyable family film.

It also answers the question of choice. Though the Tuohy’s give him everything the most important decision of his life is his choice. There are questions to ponder. But choice triumphs over compulsion and the relief  and happiness is very much visible for the viewer.

And then there’s the curious case of Sandra Bullock, an actress who is a powerhouse when it comes to showcasing vulnerability. Yet this precious talent was wasted in one bad film after another. As a fan it irked me. THE BLIND SIDE gave her a new lease of life. The entire film rests on her capable shoulders and she delivers with absolute ease. No over top emotions, no makeup or prosthetic to enhance the performance. She conveys her stubbornness with just her expressions aided by some cleverly written lines.

As the end credits rolled some questions lingered. Why is it so hard to practice benevolence? Why is it so difficult for people to give love? Benevolence can change lives and bring about a lasting impact if it becomes an everyday habit.  

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