Manimegalai, Subha and my problems with A.R Murugadoss
So, I caught up with this beautiful little movie (Engeyum Eppodhum) last week. Its been a while since it released and everyone I know had been asking if I saw it yet. I saw it a day before Ezham Arivu released and this is the reason I am attributing to me wanting to check out Ezham arivu first day first show paying double the ticket price on a week night. You see, Engeyum Eppodhum was produced by A.R Murugadoss – the same guy that directed Ezham Arivu. He had also directed this other movie called Ghajini quite a while back and I had serious problems with his sensibilities after watching that one. Ofcourse – in tamil cinema, when you say directed – that includes story, screenplay, script etc., etc., All in all, his sensibilities – the story, the script and the way he had conceived of plot points – reminded me of a student who scores 80% marks by manappaadam tactics (rote learning) but wants to show off as a naturally intelligent 80% mark scorer. I felt the plot points swung between complete suspension of disbelief, genuinely valuable messages and utterly foolish dialogues and situations – the overall feeling at the end of the movie was that it was inconsistent and mish-mashy of a bunch of borrowed ideas. Note that, I don’t have a particular problem with borrowed ideas – I just would like them to be worked with some integrity.
So, I had not been too interested about Ezham Arivu originally. All that changed after watching Engeyum Eppodhum. Here was a cute little movie, well written, very few contrivances if any, full of surprises and refreshingly clean of masala. (Not that I have a problem with masala, just not the pandering kind) If this guy had the sensibilities to produce this quality film, then surely something must have changed.
I realized after watching the seventh sense that I was quite mistaken. Not only was this movie the same template as Ghajini (girl who is a doctor/geneticist – chances upon a guy who doesn’t know his past/ancestry – a villian who is gunning for the guy without the guy knowing about it – small cute romance that has a twist ending), it was even worse than Ghajini in terms of execution. I had the same problems with this as I had had with Ghajini. Foolishness in dialogue and situations – Check (the introduction of the villian character in that whole Operation Red sequence for example). Valuable messages – Check (I liked the bit about teaching the importance of manjal/cleanliness etc., as science rather than religion in order to correctly impart knowledge). Complete suspension of disbelief (do I really need to spell it out? mesmerism, skipping on top of a 20 feet high bicycle, random songs, unwanted masala – I could go on and on). Atleast Asin was likeable in Ghajini. Shruthi had a good presence and a cute face but someone please help her with tamizh dialogue delivery. What’s with enunciating every single syllable.
But this blog is not meant to review either film. What I wanted to talk about was the two men characters – Kathiresan (Jai) in Engeyum Eppodhum and the circus boy Aravind (Surya) in Ezham Arivu in relation to the women – Manimegalai (an awesome Anjali) in the former and Subha (Shruthi) in the latter. Kathiresan was a complete cuckold with Manimegalai handling the reins of their relationship at all levels – their uncanny romance (which was still very cute btw), the proposal, the meeting of the parents, handling his work and coordinating stuff after the accident – she is the one in control all the time. Very similar is Subha who masterminds the meeting with Arvind, has her own agenda that she pursues until the end (it is actually very unclear if she is even attracted to him, one of the reasons why the romance does not work at all), has all the big dialogues while Aravind merely exists in the scene to channel the dumb audience (that the director thinks we are) by asking questions so she can explain every single thing in frustratingly pandering levels of detail and she is the one in control until the end – Aravind is merely put away in a water tank (apparently for some unfathomable reason sunlight cannot fall on him) when she takes care of every thing. Ofcourse he wakes up in the end and has a bruce lee fight sequence – but that is probably because Aravind is Surya and Kathiresan is Jai. And thank goodness for that!
What’s more, Manimegalai is definitely the aggressive partner – sexually and emotionally. Subha exploits Aravind’s physical attraction without batting an eyelid. The men are mere puppets in these two girl’s hands. This I thought was significant. Not because it pushes some pseudo feminist agenda. Simply because it is refreshingly different. Like how it was, watching the uninhibited performance of Reema Sen in Aayirathil Oruvan. Interesting times, these.