Kabali: The Review

Radhika Apte deserves nothing less than the National Film Award for that single scene in the second half of Kabali.Yes, it was a deliberate decision on my part to start with her and not The Superstar or Pa.Ranjith,but that’s not to take anything away from either of them.It’s not the first time that a female actor has held her own in a Rajnikanth film either.Remya Krishna did it aplomb in Padayappa.But then again Kabali is not the regular Rajni potboiler you have been used to.
Baradwaj Rangan of The Hindu went live on FB to speak about Kabali, i was a tad late to catch up and by the time i typed up my question he had wound up already.This was before i had watched the movie and i wasn’t hearing the best of things about it.I had intended to ask Mr.Rangan how Kabali compared to Sivaji, where a director of mass entertainers and a superstar came together as opposed to this movie where a new wave director just two films old, with a totally different style of filmmaking had to deal with the star,the actor and expectations of Himalayan proportions and to answer my own question,fairly well i would say.In fact i would go so far as to say that Kabali is the most significant Rajnikanth movie to have come out since Thalapathi.
Pa.Ranjith has bravely gone where no director has in recent times and has taken Rajni along too.Ranjith deserves a round just for accepting the challenge and unlike Shankar who aspired for long to make a movie with Rajni, Ranjith as he clearly states in his interview with The Hindu, never in his wildest dreams had any such desires simply because of the fact that his style of film making was rooted in reality and in stark contrast to the kind of films Rajni had associated himself with,for the later part of his career.
A few of the initial reports about the movie went on to say that it was a typical gangster movie ,a run of the mill revenge saga.
I for one felt that the movie is anything but typical considering the popular notion of what a Rajnikanth movie should be like of late,post the Baasha years to be specific.
We get to see Rajnikanth the actor after a long time in Kabali and Ranjith has tried to marry the elements of a commercial entertainer with his kind of serious cinema without compromising his core sensibilities as a film maker.There are quite a few metaphors too,the most significant one being the shot of the flock of birds flying across the sky in the scene where Kabali steps out of the Jail door, on his release after 25 years.The movie is not without flaws, most evident in the climactic showdown between Kabali and his villains and it played out like something reluctantly written for the masses and the fans.But Pa.Ranjith had to go ahead with the sequence i believe so that he could pull off his originally intended climax, which turned out to be his riskiest and bravest move as a writer and director,something as the urban legend goes, even Maniratnam did not dare to do.Ranjith has essentially shown us that there is more to Rajnikanth than a “Lakalaka” or a “Mwehhhh” and Kabali is nothing less than a rebirth for Rajni the actor.He reminds us that filmmaking is a director’s craft at the end of the day and star power and the audience doesn’t get to dictate the rules, all the time.#Magizhchi

The Expendables.

Nineteen, is the number of self immolations reported towards the cause of Telangana statehood between 2009 and 2012 if information on Wiki is anything to go by.613 was the number of suicides linked to the movement by 2011 according to Social Audit Control on Information Right ,a body based in AP.It was youngsters mostly ,students in their early 20s who chose to burn themselves up for the cause they believed in.The youngest in the list was a seventeen year old school girl and the oldest of the martyrs were in their early 40s.Regionalism of the most intense kind was the catalyst here,not religion or race.
I know little of their backgrounds but I wouldn’t be in the wrong to assume that these souls were definitely not the kith or kin of anyone in those plush chairs in the newly formed Cabinet.
But then that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work in this messed up world ,where ordinary human lives are considered expendable by people in positions of influence and power,ultimately the individuals on the lowest rungs of the “social hierarchy” are just means to an end literally, for the self obsessed champions of every rotten cause out there.I was perplexed for a long time by the fact that people could be driven to a frenzy of selfless sacrifice in the most terrible of ways, by impassioned orators with agendas and the ideas they instil but that was before Pokemon Go, if a game could do this to people, i mean to say.

How a raaga found me.

രണ്ടു പാട്ടുകൾ തമ്മിൽ സ്ഥിരമായി മാറിപോകാൻ തുടങ്ങിയപ്പോൾ ആണ് ഞാൻ curious ആയത് .ക്ഷണക്കത്തിലെ “ആ രാഗം ” എന്ന പാട്ടും ഒറ്റയാൾ പട്ടാളത്തിലെ “മായാ മഞ്ചലിൽ ” എന്ന പാട്ടും ആയിരുന്നു പ്രശ്നക്കാർ.പ്രശ്നം ഗുരുതരമായപ്പോൾ ഞാൻ ചികഞ്ഞു ,അപ്പോഴാണ് രണ്ടിന്റേയും സംഗീത സംവിധായകൻ ശരത് ആണെന്ന് മനസിലായതു പക്ഷെ അതു ഒരു ഉത്തരം ആയിരുന്നില്ല.വീണ്ടും പരതി,എത്തിയത് www.malayalasangeetham.info എന്ന ഒരു വെബ് സൈറ്റിൽ ,(brilliaint site by the way) അവിടെ നിന്നും മനസിലായി രണ്ടു പാട്ടും ഒരേ രാഗം ആണെന്ന് ,ഹംസധ്വനി .Turns out ,ക്ഷണക്കത്തിലെ “സല്ലാപം കവിതയായി ” എന്ന പാട്ടും ഹംസധ്വനി രാഗത്തിൽ ആണ് ചെയ്തിരിക്കുന്നത്.ക്ഷണക്കത്തു ചെയുന്പോൾ ശരത്തിനു കഷ്ടി ഇരുപതു വയസ്സ് ,it took me a bit more than 30 to barely manage to recognise a raaga .വയലിൻ എന്ന സിനിമയിലെ “എന്റെ മോഹങ്ങളെല്ലാം ” എന്ന പാട്ടു കേട്ടപ്പോൾ ഹംസധ്വനി ആണോ എന്ന് ഞാൻ സംശയിച്ചു ,ഇപ്പോഴും സംശയിച്ചു കൊണ്ടേ ഇരിക്കുന്നു…the point being, your raaga will seek you out one of these days ,it happened to me ,could happen you too ,serendipity ,they say.Raaga was just metadata they announced before All India Radio aired songs, until then.

Facebook Trends and You

Over the past few weeks, especially with the kind of incidents that have been “trending” in my field of vision literally, on the social media, Facebook to be specific, couldn’t but help wonder about the sheer number of decisions, rather opinions and stands albeit mentally,an average person is forced to make and take on a daily basis.There is this perpetual process at the back of one’s mind which scrutinizes the events that scroll left to right top to bottom, driven by moral compasses,ideologies and good old common sense or the lack of it.I’d say realising this is pretty much like finding greying hair ,its been there for a while and you happened to notice it in the mirror while shaving one fine morning.I wouldn’t have sat down and thought about it if it wasn’t for that Olympian who had a run in with a “Minister of sorts”.There is a barrage of information authenticity of which is shit-not for the lack of a more suited word -and you go about the whole act of reacting dutifully like a wind up toy.Idols turn morons and morons turn icons in the flip of a screen.This whole activity has to be exhausting and you do not know how it would mould you as a person from within over time.Yes, the media has thrown this at you for decades only this time its different because here on social media its in your own hands, round the clock and as Neo was told, “The Matrix has you”, already.
Wake up, check post, decide, opine, hate, insinuate, smirk, fume , prod ,peek, sleep ,Repeat.

On an Election Results eve.

കേരളത്തിൽ ഹിന്ദുവിനെയും , ക്രിസ്ത്യാനിയെയും, മുസ്ലിമിനെയും കമ്മ്യൂണിസ്റ്റ്‌ പാർട്ടി ഒരുമിച്ചു ഒറ്റക്കെട്ടായി നിർത്തിയ പോലെ വേറെ ഒരു പ്രസ്ഥാനവും നിർത്തിയിട്ടില്ല , albeit അവർ ഒന്നിച്ചത് പാർട്ടിക്ക് എതിരെ ആയിരുന്നു എന്ന് മാത്രം.
വിമോചന സമരത്തിൽ മുസ്ലിം ലീഗും ,NSSഉം ,കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭയും Indian National Congressനോട് ഒപ്പം ചേർന്ന് ആദ്യത്തെ തിരഞ്ഞെടുക്കപെട്ട ഗവണ്മെന്റിനെ താഴെ ഇറക്കി 1959ഇൽ.എന്തിനു,സാക്ഷാൽ CIA പോലും fund ചെയ്തു എന്നു പറയപ്പെടുന്നു .
ഭൂപരിഷ്കരണത്തിന്റെയും വിദ്യാഭ്യാസ നയത്തിന്റെയും പേരിൽ ആയിരുന്നു ആ മന്ത്രിസഭയെ ക്രൂശിച്ചത് എന്നത് ഇന്ന് പുറന്പോക്കിൽ വാതിൽ ഇല്ലാത്ത വീട്ടിൽ കിടന്നുറങ്ങുന്ന പെൺകുട്ടികൾക്ക് വേണ്ടിയും വിദ്യാഭ്യാസ ലോൺ തിരിച്ചടക്കാൻ ആവാതെ ആത്മഹത്യ ചെയുന്ന വിദ്യാർത്ഥികൾക്ക് വേണ്ടിയും നിലകൊള്ളുന്നു എന്ന് അവകാശപെടുന്നവർ ഓർക്കുക .
1958ഇൽ തുടങ്ങിയ ആ കൂട്ടുകെട്ട് ഇന്ന് മറ്റു പല രൂപങ്ങളിലും പേരുകളിലും നിലനിൽക്കുന്നു.#ചക്രവാളംചുവക്കട്ടെ !

The “Jugaad” Culture.

A general disregard for safety is what unites us as a people more than anything in this part of the subcontinent.Its evident in all walks of our lives,in the way we go about business on a day to day basis as if there’s no tomorrow,from our homes to the way we drive on our roads, ride our trains and buses,the way our kids get to school. Yes,its true that we are forced by the government machinery and the system as a whole to make do with makeshift infrastructure.”Jugaad” is what we live by.But that doesn’t explain the mob psychology which assumes that its okay to overlook the risk factors even in situations where safety should be a prime concern.The loss of three lives in a manhole in one of our cities is still fresh in our collective memory but we know for a fact that the way the manholes are accessed hasn’t changed a bit.If a guy falls off a coconut tree you will look for another guy to do his job.If a tree that was ominously looming over a road falls and crushes a school bus,the school moves on and buys a new bus.If a boat capsizes no bridges are built, nor are they going to stock any life jackets,come to think of it we live in a world where you have a life jacket under every seat for something that flies in the air but you don’t have that for something that floats on water.Something’s wrong with us for sure.
Personally i obsess with worst case scenarios when i find myself in situations over which i have absolutely no control, even more so when there’s family around.I recall how i was thinking of ways to escape, once when i found myself inside a popular temple in Kerala jam packed with devotees on a day when the deity was being paraded ceremonially around the sanctum sanctorum atop elephants and in case they ran amok,i decided that jumping into the well that was next to me was the only option available.Faith has a way of forcing the best of us into places where salvation somehow matters more than reason and sense.Maybe that explains how amidst the blame games, even before the dead have been buried we still can’t decide if we should set off the fireworks or not in the next big event where we also display our heritage and culture by giving wild animals who would otherwise be roaming free in the jungles where they belong a chance to carry us on their backs and thus be blessed by our gods in absentia.Well,how hard is it to take a decision when the body count is still on?And to sum up ,to implement safety regulations the authorities would do good to at least spell it right,to start with.

Daredevil S02: Thoughts.

Around the same time DC pitted two of the most popular superheroes of all time against each other on the big screen, arch rival -in true comic book tradition-Marvel did the same with two of its lesser known characters on the new frontier that online video streaming is.DC already has some catching up to do with Marvel in terms of box office records and ” universe building “, now they have another battle to wage.The Netflix Daredevil Series Season One was a reboot that would have made Nolan proud.(I’ve no idea why i said Nolan because personally I believe that it was Sam Raimi who kicked off the whole superhero genre reboot frenzy with his Spiderman trilogy.Nolan blazed the trail that Raimi beat,I think.)It’s an interesting coincidence that Ben Affleck played Daredevil in that rather unimpressive movie version.But Affleck who faced considerable flak unfairly, right from the time his name was announced for Dawn of Justice can find comfort in the fact that the Batman of the Dark Knight Trilogy would be remembered as the Nolan Batman rather than the Bale Batman , as opposed to the Keaton Batman because it was essentially a director’s show to the core. Ben Affleck with his chin and grey hair did justice to the Frank Miller version in the looks department at least if nothing else, mostly because the Snyder movie had too much to do in too little time.
In Daredevil Season Two , Marvel brings in The Punisher with an origin story that stays loyal to the current trend backed by a compelling performance from Joe Bernthal.The graveyard monologue is proof enough for Bernthal’s raw talent .Elektra makes an entrance too. There’s even a passing reference to Jessica Jones,hinting at a parallel universe apart from the cinematic one.Daredevil basically shows us what good writing and decent performances can do for stories that would otherwise be just nonsensical.