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March 22, 2013

Someone asked me recently:

‘Why should Kamal have to make such a complicated picture like ‘Vishwaroopam’ spending huge sums of money and risking it all the way?!  Why can’t he dance and sing romance songs with heroines in Swiss Alps and Europe ?!!!’

‘and what is this story all about?   why is he showing america problem ?!!!’

To which I had no answer!

A friend of mine who watched ‘Guna’ years back told me she was done with Kamal who she believed had evolved into a narcissist and nothing more.

I am not sure of that because I am a huge fan of Kamal Hassan basically.  All his black and white pictures are classics that i never get bored of watching even today, thanks to repeat telecasts in various tamil tv channels.

I did somewhat think like my friend when ‘Vikram’ was released.  In this one, Kamal wanted to do something different and failed miserably falling flat on his face.  The so-called sci-fi was a cruel joke exposing his half-baked knowledge in the field of cinema.  And science!

But he got it all back somwwhat as we saw a reformed KamalHaasan  in pictures like ‘Devar Magan’ and ‘Virumaandi’ lately which were his in-house productions.  Because these were not definitely Mani Ratnam’s or K. Balachander’s.   So these are like epic films for him.  One gets the idea therefore Kamal is best in home turf, rather than in alien set-up frankly!

When I saw ‘Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu’ which was a runaway musical hit, I got a similar feeling like my friend who was disgusted with ‘Guna.’ V.V. to me is yet another messy attempt in trying to convince the world audience how sophisticated and slick Kamal could do pictures.

I was annoyed with ‘Dasaavathaaram’ because we all know what a self-professed atheist Kamal is.  None imposed any ideology on him anyway.  So, why is this contradiction called ‘Dasaavatharam’ and for whose benefit?  The picture ‘Dasaavatharam’ is an expose’ on what a devout vaishnavite Kamal seems to be at heart, even though he denies it in public.  So are we the audience fools?  Whether Kamal is an atheist or not is not the question.  But as an artist why can’t he be honest in his profession?  By all means, Kamal is entitled to make a work like ‘Dasaavatharam’ but someone of his stature should make pictures of what one truly believes in… so if we go by that simple logic, where does that leave Kamal in after ‘Dasaavathaaram’ happened?

So this is the change that I cannot accept with the new Kamal since 1990s.   This new Kamal Hassan is self-contradictory in every step he takes, every move he makes.

‘Vishwaroopam’ that way to me is another narcissist creation of his.  As the movie proceeded i was convinced of why Kamal made this picture.  Everyone who watched this picture is amazed with Kamal’s universal hollywood appeal and versatility in cinema, but i am of a different view.  Somehow i am allergic to those like Kamal Hassan and Aamir Khan these days because there is one thing about making commercially successful pictures; but there is another thing,  totally kinda weird that someone would want the gratification of knowing and planning in advance of getting into history books as ‘who is who’ of tamil or hindi film industries … somehow that’s the way i see it…  And as for Kamal Haasan, he is there already with or without the kind like ‘Vishwaroopam.’

In pictures like ‘Virumaandi’ and ‘Devar Magan’ i could see a natural Kamal, not the faked, whose love for cinema was evident  frame to frame.   I adored ‘Sathi Leelavathi’ for the magnanimous hero that Kamal was who let Ramesh Arvind don the lead role while pairing up happily with someone like Kovai Sarala which no other hero in bollywood/tamil cinema will be big-hearted enough to do.  Hats off Kamal for this one single exceptional work of yours.  You acted a real hero!

Now what has happened to that Kamal Hassan of upto 199o?  And the Kamal of the b & w era?

All i am trying to say here is, even if he can manage to make a picture which looks just like a hollywood blockbuster and succeed like never before, somehow it does not connect!  Because a V.V or the current ‘Vishwaroopam’ has no relevance in this part of the world .. ok may be a little ….

Returning to ‘Vishwaroopam’ now,  I can’t help wondering:

1. Why editing is so bad these days in Kamal’s pictures.   Senseless censorship (ofcourse).

2. Why court controversies with every release.  Is this some kind of cheap publicity gimmick?

3, Why the melodrama in press interviews.  Initially i agree i was carried over but later it all came down to onething:  how we the audience were being taken for a ride.

4. Why the RAW official has to work so much to stop terror attacks in America.  Don’t we have enough in our hands in india?

5. How kamal, the RAW official and the dreaded talibans reach America in the first place???  Obviously there is lot much explaining that kamal has to do.  how did kamal manage to get out of Af-Pak?

Really Kamal, if RAW could be so smart, India today would not look so pathetic in the eyes of the world nations!  Am I that gullible that you think you can get away with saying, a tamil speaking RAW agent would actually penetrate the taliban stronghold and have a peek at Osama ??!!  Just who do you think you are ?!

6.  And finally the smoothness with which Kamal introduces homosexuality in ‘Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu’ and extra-maritals in ‘Vishwaroopam’ needs a special mention.  What a way to  showcase the taboo subjects  in an inclusive manner palatable to a conservative society like ours.

Sophistication and slickness of pictures must hardly be the only yardstick to measure the quality of any picture (which was anyway possible thanks to the technical assistance from hollywood studios).  The plot, the characterizations, direction, screenplay, dialogues all these   must have their mainstay first over cinematography or other such technical superiority.   This is the time-tested method to assess whether a picture is good enough and worth watching or not so far as i know…

While ‘Vishwaroopam; will go down in tamil cinema history as one of the best, slick, sophisticated films ever to be made, some of us like me will remain skeptical always about the clueless pictures of zero consequence, sorry!

PS:  loved the kathak part best.

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