Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fading Façades

It feels like am almost on the verge of treading the beaten track, what with no blog posts for almost a year, and what’s the only reason? My son? How typical, right? That’s what all you guys and gals out there are mouthing mentally, I know. Well, I can even see a wry (rather triumphant) grin on a lot of faces that challenge my feminism and yea, there are an equal number of welcome back smiles. Anyway, this blog post is another birthing of sorts, if some of you can get what I am getting at. :)

Ok, in trying to steer into the unbeaten track, unbeaten, am gonna attempt things that I have never done before. One of them is writing about some of my facades, such as how I hate Gautham Menon movies (which I do, but only with some reservations), how I love shopping at the big malls, how I really do break down when I watch young moms beg on the street with very young babies, how I have a thing for very dark men (yes, dark men make my knees go weak and fair men don’t even stir me), and how I am the world’s biggest shallow, narcissist! I know by saying all this, I have miffed a lot of you out there, especially those of you who have had great ‘hopes’ for me or didn’t know me enough to have looked through the façade! 

Let’s look at the first façade. Yes, I like Gautham Menon movies, despite their clichés, their stupid nationalism, and chivalry. Let’s get to why or what I like about them. Firstly, he kind of somewhere manages to get the idea of ‘understated’ into Tamil movies. But, only kind of, because he really doesn’t make the cut; he’s perhaps too busy or distracted by the packaging, the beautiful locales, the doling up of his ladies (who are these very educated, English-speaking, all womanly women waiting to be swept off their dainty feet by rugged self-made metrosexuals in their bikes/jeeps and teaching them how to kiss! As if, kissing is something only a man can teach a woman), or panning his camera a wee bit on the higher side. Secondly, I believe he manages to create some sort of a ‘space’ for the woman, however flawed it may be. Yes, it’s quite nerve racking to see all these so-called independent women waiting to be kissed by this absolute male for the first time (Jo in Khaka Khaka) and all that. However, it was lovely to see a woman of 24 stay all by herself in a nice cozy apartment and also go out with male friends late in the night to watch a movie. Such touches can come only from a mind that believes in a truly ‘safe’ world where men and women interact as individuals with identities that go beyond the ones defined by biology. On the other hand, Gautham, it was a dagger straight to my heart when this woman was reduced to a lunch-packing housewife in one of the two endings. Now, you know, which one I chose. 

I know, a lot of you might do an internal eye-rolling, daring me to go on a similar rambling about another of his movies, vettaiyadu vilayadu! Mmm...I hated the movie totally, and this is no façade and I also don’t think it was a director’s movie at all; it was something that probably crawled out of one of the hero, Raghavan’s orifices!

Ok, now, it’s VTV’s turn now. I refused to watch it for a very long time only to stop an internal puke hemorrhage that happens to me each time I see at that illustrious son of a bear, Simbu! But, then, after NEP (neethane en ponvasantham), I took a chance just for the director’s sake. And, truth be told, it wasn’t very bad, actually. Perhaps, the authenticity of the shallowness in the characters appealed to me. I guess it takes some effort to deftly capture the depth of shallowness in characters like Jessy or even Karthik. Isn’t this how ‘real’ (or should I say, urban) love stories happen? Yes, there are problems like the language they speak in the film. But, beyond that, the movie is set in a certain ‘class,’ which is even more problematic. This legitimizes or rather essentializes the ‘success’ of love relationships to have them happen only within a restricted class (which is a just a sanitized version of caste). That’s perhaps why movies as these will never become classics like may be a Julie or a Bobby, which were also love stories that tugged at one’s heart strings, but yes, they got a little down and dirty! Something prevents Gautham from pushing the boundaries and he seems rather too happy to work within the confines of class. Me thinks, he works only for the paisa, and he goes just as far it takes to rake in the moolah and no further. After all, he’s not out to change the world or like a real artist shock it at least. However, what he effectively does is get all the single (unkissing; ugh! so catholic) women (we get your convent hangover, director) to not engage or interrogate their own independence, but wait for their princes in shining armor and slide without complaints into roles dictated by patriarchy and their particular caste. 

And, finally, NEP, the game changer for me! Firstly, yes, the setting gets straight As. Secondly, what was so endearing was the glimpse of female desire. Of course, it’s not really anywhere close to the real thing. The fact that the girl was in control of the relationship was nice for a change, but the pukey scenes/dialogues where he says I’ll only pay for us! (Barf! Who paid for her car that you drive around, dude?) and, yea, the faltu tension he so desperately tries to create after his brother’s bride-viewing actually seemed a wee bit comical! But, yea, something I liked was the fact that the heroine had two sisters, which is a welcome change to see in Tamil movies, where most of the houses will have only a boy-girl combination for siblings. And, yes, the sister bonding, something so precious and so incomparable and so rare was so deftly captured. Yes, it was simply irritating (read mortifying) to see the woman do nothing much than  wait around till the prince in shining armor could put away enough money to buy his horse to sweep her off her feet! Of course, it was unbelievable that one would carry a candle for over 4 years! I wouldn’t; not even for a month, especially after such a ghastly breakup! Despite all this, I liked the movie because the woman had some semblance of individuality and independence. 

So, ok, the verdict, I do like Gautham Menon movies, especially when viewing them in the backdrop of some milestone Tamil movies like Nadodigal, Sundarapandian, or even Sethu!

More Fading Façades later...

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