Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vazhakku Enn 18/9

Not a review - Some random thoughts.

 Vazhakku En 18/9 (VE) ends with an epic climax - Jothi splashing caustic acid on a police inspector's face in the court premises. The scene symbolizes, in addition to many other connotations, the well-channelized angst of a commoner towards the system (law & order and the judiciary). This is quite characteristic of the late 70s and 80s Indian middle cinema of say - Mrinal Sen, Govind Nihalani or Shyam Benegal, wherein the common man questioning the system had frequently been the central theme. One such instance stand out for me - almost forty years back, Shyam Benegal's Ankur (1974) ended with a scene that is marked as the beginning of Indian parallel cinema. It had a young boy pelting a stone at a glass window and running away as the sound of the shattered glass resonates in air. It was remarked as the first stone of resistance against the casteistic and feudalistic setup of the neo-socialist India (of the 60s). VE definitely makes a more harsh statement - with acid.

VE vividly reminds us of the ground reality about the "existence" of two Indias - of the have's and the have-not's, the privileged and the underprivileged, the rich and the poor. The political and social institutions of the country have always been the center of conflict between the classes. VE features two love stories, both of them confluence at some point in the judicial system.

My last point would be on the so called disintegration of the "existent" ethical/moral fabric. It is very easy to point fingers or to moral-police, being critical of the technology or the next school going generation but that would be a terrible shortsightedness. To be brutally honest, for somebody who completed schooling just seven years back, I was shell-shocked to see that school going boys use mobile phones and film their girl classmates. I tend to think that there has been this disconnect between education and character building, somewhere in our schooling system. While our system will keep churning out engineers and mathematicians, the sociological aspects of our education badly needs some repair.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Love metric

"Aambalaikkum Pombalaikkum" track from the tamil movie "Kazhugu (2011)" offers a metric to appreciate the state of affairs of romantic relationships in a society - the number of suicides (resulting from "love failures"). The more the number of suicides, the better it seems.

Shocking it may be, the lyrics actually read ...

காதலெல்லாமே ஒரு கண்ணாமூச்சி
இதில் ஆணும் பெண்ணுமே தெனம் காணா போச்சு
காதலிலே தற்கொலைகள் கொறஞ்சே போச்சு 

Our cinema always relished opportunities to idealize/idolize human emotional exchanges like boy-girl romance (Vikraman films for example), marriages, friendships (Thalapathy, Karnan for bromance), brotherhood, fatherhood, motherhood, thaai-maman (Kizhakku Cheemayile quite obviously) etc. This usually rendered a lot of scope in beefing up the melodrama and the hero delivering monologues romanticizing whatever that came on the way. They did demonstrate a definitive framework/blueprint on how any relationship should look like. While it can be argued that they are reflective of the collective ethic of the society, I have a feeling that our cinema always went overboard. 

Limiting our discussion to only the boy-girl relationships, it would be interesting to observe how our cinema is going to evolve portraying them from here on. We agree or not, there is already a certain degree of "westernization" or we may call it "pseudo westernization" in place, in our societies (well may be, the metropolitan cities only or the IT sector only). This might gradually change the way we perceive relationships and at some point our society (as a whole) will come to terms with the existing notions of "true love" and "successful marriage". In a land where Lord Ram, Devdas and Ambigapathy are the folklore, there is a certain fixation with the current values system espousing ideas like "divine love" and the whole "kallanaalum kanavan" discourse (for marriages). These simply result from the fact that we tend to give more importance to the status of the relationship  than to the happiness of the individuals who are a part of it. NO, I am not judging which one is better - Just read it as an observation.

As the society evolves, our movies will evolve or the other way around is also possible. Two recent movies will settle the discussion i suppose. First - "Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya (2010)" idealised the relationship, it pretty much romanticized the obsession. Second - "Leelai (2012)" set in Chennai IT circles, the protagonist is quite a girl-chaser and dabbles with many a relationships before settling into one. 

A very confused post I would say, I was lost analyzing the relevance and political correctness of stuff I mentioned. I think if somebody gets a bigger picture of what I have been trying thus far, that should make my day.