Theeran Adhigaram Ondru – Theeran Chapter One – A Riveting Cop-Tale

A gritty cop-tale without the trappings of commercial excesses is a rarity and the movies that come to my mind include:

Ardh Satya

Droh Kaal remade in Tamizh as Kurudhi Punal with Kamal and Arjun

Crime File in Malayalam based on the real case of the murder of a nun in a monastery

Kaakha Kaakha and Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu by Gautham Menon did a fair job but still had the song and dance routine in them. I am not going to speak about the Singham series as Hari and Suriya tested hearing capabilities with all the loud shouting though they were full paisa vasool hits.

Wednesday and Special 26 are other movies that come to my mind.

Last year, a debutante won the hearts and minds of viewers with Dhruvangal-16 that brought the good, old-school police-procedural to Tamil cinema.

As always, I deviate from the core topic, Karthi’s ‘Theeran Adhigaram Ondru’ made me sit up with its excellent trailer that spoke about a true-crime inspiration.

The actual case detail is listed here:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/operation-bawariaon-silver-screen-now/article20493784.ece

The movie has to cater to the needs of bringing in all categories of audiences and thus includes a cutesy romantic track between Karthi and Rakul. The the movie hits the gears. The story is about daring dacoities and murders perpetuated in farmhouses away from main cities across Tamil Nadu, especially in Thiruvallur District. As Karthi tries to uncover the case, some startling facts emerge that takes the investigative team across India.

Kudos to the director for doing his research and presenting a quick animated sequence about the Bawaria community.

Ten minutes before the interval starts the movie in its true sense and it is one thrilling ride till the end credits roll as Karthi, Bose Venkat and the remaining officers in the investigative team track down Oma and his gang of dacoits.

There is a sequence where the cops chase a dacoit on a bus. The dacoit jumps from one bus to another and is caught as he holds onto a rope and the cops hold him as the buses run on high speeds across the desert. There is a final shootout as well in a remote village that has been really well done.

Ghibran’s background score seems to be a bit too loud as in quite a few sequences the dialogue was not audible. It could be the theatre’s poor sound effects, so perhaps I could be wrong.

Do watch this movie, action-sequences itself are worth the price of admission and Abhimanyu Singh as the leader of the dacoits – Oma is menacing. Special congrats to the stunt coordinators as well.

Go watch it 🙂

Advertisements

Mukti Bhavan – In Search of Salvation

Mukti Bhavan and Masaan – now make companion pieces of sorts – Varanasi and the River Ganga playing a major role in both movies.

Mukti Bhavan titled Hotel Salvation for international releases is a powerful, poignant and bitter-sweet tale of the patriarch of a middle-class family and his relationship with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in his quest for salvation.

In Varanasi/Benares/Kashi – remains a hotel called Mukti Bhavan where those who seek their final journey find an abode. Our lead character Daya played by Lalit Behl is a 77-year old man who has lived a life, well-spent, he sees a dream that foretells his death and he decides to leave for Varanasi to spend his last days. His son Rajiv played brilliantly by Adil Hussain seems to work in some kind of bank or investment firm and is seen chasing sales targets. Rajiv’s wife Lata played by Gitanjali Kulkarni and daughter Sunitha played by the elegant Palomi Ghosh also add to the perfect portrayal of the slightly upper middle-class family structure. They own a car as well as a Bajaj scooter.

Rajiv manages to secure a fortnight’s leave and accompanies Daya to Varanasi and they check-in to Mukti Bhavan. The caretaker Mishra ji is  played by Anil K. Rastogi who has some brilliant lines – “Death is a process.” “The souls here reside within the body. Once the body dies what purpose does the soul serve here.”

At one juncture, Daya falls sick and everyone feels he will die. An elderly lady at Mukti Bhavan played by Navinidra Behl adds grace and charm to the tale, she quips – ‘I have been waiting all my life here to die.” Daya apologises to his son for scuttling his son’s talents and dreams of being a poet. Some real good father-son scenes and I am sure a lot of us guys will relate to these scenes. Daya survives, Latha and Sunitha also make a surprise visit. The 15 day period comes to an end and the caretaker says – ‘Register in a new name and continue to wait for salvation.’

Daya finds a friend and companion in Vimala, then Vimala dies and Daya narrates a moving obituary that he has written for her. Daya advises Rajiv to return to his regular life.

Do watch this movie to figure out what happens to Daya.

At times, amidst all the drivel and leave your ‘mind at home’ cinema that all the woods bombard us with – small little gems like these arrive and make us fall in love with cinema and real characters. By the time the movie ended, I was quite emotional, been some time since I cried after watching a movie; Mukti Bhavan makes me think a lot. My obsession with death, salvation and redemption continue. There are no answers, neither are there any new questions. Celebrate death, embrace it, that which needs to happen will happen.

Full marks to director – Subhashish Bhutiani for an assured, confident and meaningful debut.

 

The Keeper of Lost Causes – Movie Review

Title–The Keeper of Lost Causes

Language–Danish

Original Title-Kvinden i buret

Genre – Crime Thriller / Police Procedural

Directed by–Mikkel Nørgaard

Written by–Jussi Adler-Olsen

Screenplay by–Nikolaj Arcel

Starring– Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Sonja Richter, Søren Pilmark.

Release-2013

 

“The Keeper of Lost Causes” is the first movie in the Danish film trilogy titled ‘Department Q’. Based on the best-selling books by Jussi Adler-Olsen the movie is a throwback to a proper investigative police-procedural instead of the slam-bang-chase-two-sex scenes formula that Hollywood seems to have perfected. A routine investigation goes horribly wrong with two police officers shot dead and our protagonist injured badly and returning to duty after recuperation. The top-cop speaks to our returning cop stating that he will no longer be a part of Homicide squad and is being assigned to a new department – Department Q, which will dig through old cases that have not been closed and sort them out appropriately.

Left without an option – Carl Morck joins Department Q, which has Assad a Muslim cop who is jovial and focused and enjoys his work. The camaraderie between the two is brought out well as the movie progresses. Carl digs out a five-year old case of a young lady politician, Merete who had gone missing when on a ferry trip with her mentally challenged brother Uffe.

Carl and Assad painstakingly rebuild the case looking for answers, the movie builds its tension gradually and uncovers dark secrets and presents a villain that’s menacing and truly diabolical. Was Merete killed? Did she commit suicide as stated in the case=report? What is Uffe hiding? To find out all the answers, watch the movie.

Excellent adaptation of the book and full credit to the director for a job well done!

Mom – Thoughts on the Sridevi Starrer

The ‘Nirbhaya’ gang-rape case shook the collective conscience of the country. Across the country, candle-light vigils and protests were held and we all prayed that the victim would by some miracle of medicine and prayers survive; but it was not to be. Since the horrific and painful incident, we regularly receive news-reports of abuse, rape, murder and the vilest of them all – child-rape by perverted paedophiles. Every single time, the blood boils, the castrated rage finds outrage-outlet on one’s social networking profile and then everything is forgotten. Some friends whom I know are taking concrete measures by conducting safety-awareness and self-defence workshops, which are empowering women and young girls.

Get in touch with Janani – for more information!

I will get back to the movie, this is not exactly a review, so it will not follow the usual – starcast and technical crew details. Sridevi plays a Biology teacher with two daughters, one a teenager and the other about eight or nine years old. The elder daughter is gang-raped and dumped in a drain, the perpetrators include her classmates, a watchman and a goon. The girl attends a Valentine’s Day party at a farmhouse organised by her classmates and Sridevi grants permission with a bit of fear in her mind and all her fears come true as her daughter undergoes the unmentionable. Credit to the director to not slip into sleaze and show any uncomfortable scenes. The girl survives, is discovered, admitted to the hospital and a case filed. What follows is a true depiction of the blasted legal system that this country is left with as a remnant of our Colonial Hangover and how the suspects/accused escape with ease.

The rest of the movie details how the anguished mother avenges the traumatic rape of her daughter with a bit of help from Nawazuddin Sidiqqui who plays a detective. The climax happens in the mountains and Akshaye Khanna as the investigative cop has a good role too. Kudos to the actor playing the distraught dad as well. The girl who portrays the victim has also done a good job and I look forward to her acting in longer and meaningful roles.

A sad reminder of the times that we live in – vigilante justice remains the only solution!

 

On Appa – On Failure and Ending this Charade

It will be Avani Avittam tomorrow. The usual ceremony with the associated prayers and rituals will be done. The holy three stranded thread the ‘yagnopavitham’ or ‘poonal’ will be dutifully changed. Like the past six or is it seven years now; no appa, no namaskarams, no separate vadhiyar. Like a lot of other tasks that a distraught son and a grieving and weak mother do; this too will be a task done to propitiate the various Gods that reside in some strange dimension!

I have lost count of the number of times relatives have passed sly comments at our predicament. I have lost count of the number of marriage proposals/alliances that have been shot down because in the eyes of prospective in-laws; a drunkard, irresponsible, chronic liar’s progeny can be no different and will only bring doom and despair.

At 36, I have lived long enough to see how the dynamics of social interaction in reality and social networks work. I have seen love stories turn in to tragedies, arranged marriages turning into success stories, love marriages turning into bitter divorces and variations and combinations of all possible results. This is not wallowing in self-pity, this is the realization that people treat you for granted, call you names behind your back, mock you, spread rumours, create fights, all to satiate their own egos.

I have always believed in counting one’s blessings and looking at the brighter side of life. But the way life seems to stretch forward and the relentless pressure to wear a mask, stay happy, put fun-filled and positive quotes on social networks, find purpose in life, work toward it; everything seems to be one massive lie and serves no definite purpose. My inability to find my purpose in life continues to daunt me. What purpose do adherence to scriptures and rituals serve? Like one automated robot this charade continues.

I have thought a fair deal about this before penning this down. Someone I knew personally, young, vivacious and vibrant; a social butterfly of sorts; died. She boasted over 7000 friends on Facebook over 2000 followers on Instagram and led the so-called charmed life. She died of a drug-overdose and at her funeral ceremony, only a total of seven people other than her grieving parents appeared. This came as a rude shock to me. Where did all those friends – real and social go? Why do we do, what we do? My day-job requires me to handle multiple corporate social media accounts and I can’t run away from there. But I do have a choice, all the random drivel posted here and on my personal accounts, I can control that for sure! I can stop pretending to be the intellectual literary snob, the cineaste, the music enthusiast, shutterbug and all the other carefully chosen adjectives used to describe my foolish self!

This ends here – now! I need to get a life – a real life. Hope to meet you in the real world and exchange thoughts.

This post will remain here as a testimony to all the foolish words written here till date.

Let there be light!

A Conversation with Mr. Y. Rajan

It seemed like any other day; the usual ablutions and chores and getting ready to board the train to the city that would take me to office; like every other working day! The station was unusually crowded and I decided to wait with other people all awaiting the train. In the distance, I could see the suburban train making its way gently down the tracks and approaching the station. I was preparing myself to get into the Vendors compartment; it was spacious and offered standing space when compared to the regular compartment, which would be jam-packed in the early morning office rush hour. It was then that I heard a voice, “Mahesh, wait, your time will come!” I turned around looking to see who it was that was speaking to me in a cryptic tone. I could not spot anyone whom I knew and before I knew it the crowd on the platform rushed forward to find a place in the train. I had lost my moment and let it go as I saw people getting into the already crowded locomotive. The voice repeated – “Mahesh, good, the next train will be here in five minutes; get into the third compartment!” Now this was turning perplexing and I was wondering if someone from college had turned up and decided to play a prank on me. I then wondered how I could think that way; as everyone had left for their own safe pastures and built their own destinies forgetting the band of brothers that had remained such a powerful force in college.

I dismissed all thoughts and decided to read the newspaper till the train arrived.  The voices continued – “Mahesh.. compartment three!” The previous night I had been reading a horror tale and I guessed my mind was working over-time and I was hallucinating. The next train came as communicated and for some inexplicable reason I walked into coach three and guess what it was empty. Never in all these years of train travel had I found an empty coach in an EMU local during the office rush-hour. As I made myself comfortable at the window-seat, the train resumed its journey and before it would pull out of the platform; a man boarded the compartment. He was tall, clean-shaven and dressed in black despite the overpowering humid heat that made one sweat uncomfortably!

He walked straight up to me and smiled and said – “Hi Mahesh, glad that you made it!” It was the same voice that I had heard a few minutes ago! I was positively scared now and pinched myself to make sure that I was not dreaming. My next thought was this was some prank show shoot that was being arranged by some local television channel and I was the victim for the day! I smiled back and said – “Hi! Do I know you?” He replied – “Well you do! You have been asking yourself a question lately – I am here trying to answer it!” I tried to check if there was a small camera or microphone on his black silk shirt but could not find anything. The train stopped suddenly; I stared out the signal was glowing red; an express train crossing perhaps!

I turned back at the man trying to place a name to a face and recollect if this was someone from the past, another lifetime, perhaps! No, nothing registered in my mind and I continued to speak to the man – “What question? Sir, I don’t know who you are and how did you know my name and how could I hear your voice in my head; were you at the station?”

“Ah, Mahesh, you have too many questions; can you shut your eyes for a moment?” Now this was creeping me out! Was this some robber? All I had was my well-used phone on me, some money about two hundred odd, the trusted silver chain around my neck and a book in my bag and of-course my lunch. Now why would a robber target me for all this! Lo and behold, for some inexplicable reason my eyes closed! The voices returned; and try as much; I could not open my eyes they seemed to be stitched tightly shut!

“Mahesh, I am Rajan – I am Time, your continuous questions, pathetic writing on your blog in the guise of desperate verse, all pondering on the inevitability of death and the misery of life are just pure torture. Do you think anyone wants to read your drivel about an existential crisis? Do you think you are the only one with problems? Yes, I know it has been a hard life, a struggle, lot of failures, wrong decisions, unfair misunderstandings; I know; but for the love of God snap out of it! Your death is not going to be so soon and mark my words it won’t be an easy one. Stop writing drivel, stop all this self-pity disguised as blog posts and pathetic all-knowing philosophical hogwash on Facebook and Twitter. Stop making a bloody fool of yourself. You will die, when I will want to get you! So open your eyes now and goodbye!”

The train resumed its journey with a sudden jerk. I opened my eyes and there was no one in front of me. Mr. Rajan had vanished without a trace. I felt my trouser pocket, my phone was in place, I felt my shirt pocket, my season-ticket and money was there and a new addition, a black feather was in the pocket. Well I am no ornithologist but the feather seemed strangely alien; smooth as silk the central spine was blood-red in colour. The EMU eased into the next station and I saw a bunch of familiar faces enter the compartment. I was relieved, this wasn’t a dream or an elaborate prank. I felt a strange sensation as my mind replayed the voice of Mr. Rajan telling me – “You will die, when I will want to get you!”

The train increased its speed and as I stared out of the window I wondered, what would this whole episode mean???

Status Update

I sought pardon,

For my sins,

In lives gone by,

And this existence.

I found refuge,

In temples, mosques,

Monasteries and churches.

In mountains and caves,

In rainforests in the heart of darkness.

Rituals and ceremonies,

To appease the higher power,

Whichever name you choose to ascribe.

The tests and struggles that everyone faces!

Either makes them stronger or breaks them down.

Every single time when I hit trough bottom.

I fought, for I believed, I had a chance.

An obligation to survive, because I was accountable to my mother.

To make her world and life as happy as possible.

Today, as I observe her in a drug-induced stupor.

We fight ailments known and unknown.

I am powerless to help her,

All I can do is to take her to hospitals.

Follow medication and diets as prescribed.

Still there is no clear solution.

No proper answers, the battle,

For a good night’s sleep,

Was lost long ago!

I keep my eyes shut tight.

But the ears remain steady,

Waiting for the slightest moan or cry.

I don’t know what I have turned into.

A robot who mechanically,

Continues to go about his chores.

My employers have been patient.

Helping in anyway possible.

Friends, a handful, call or message.

Fragments of a family scattered around the world.

A few good souls still keep in touch.

What lies next? I don’t know,

The charade of positivity,

Of hope and good things,

All remain mere masks.

I hope I find answers.

I hope things change, for the better.

I have just one reason left,

To continue this struggle.

As that reason too, disintegrates,

Bit-by-bit, cell-by-cell.

The tunnel of darkness,

Seems to beckon me.

If tomorrow comes.

We shall meet again.