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Bye bye blogger!

I now have a home of my own - please change your bookmarks to direct you to my new location: Chez Moi.

Posted by DesiGirl 8:35 AM 1 comments  

Flashback: Mouna Ragam

'Mr.Chandramouli! Mr.Chandramouli!!'
To me, and possibly many others, this is the first thing that comes to mind, when we think of the movie Mouna Ragam. That name and Karthik's actions are embedded in my mind and are totally unforgettable. Arguably, one of Mani Ratnam's best efforts, Mouna Ragam is a classic example of Mani's work, a simple tale, well told. The lead actors do a fantastic job of it (I never thought I'd say this about po-faced Mohan) and it is, in my opinion, one of the best movies of my generation.

Revathy is a regular, young middle-class who's quite content to maintain the status quo of her life. But when her parents decide to get her married off to someone they deem as a 'good boy', she rebels by staying out all evening on the day the 'boy's visiting her house to 'see' her. After a spot of singing and dancing in the rain, she finally saunters in quite late, full of glee of having outwitted her parents. She gets the shock of her life when she finds the 'boy', Mohan, still sitting there, patiently awaiting her arrival.

Furious with herself, she decides to go for broke and confesses to Mohan her aversion to the whole arranged set-up, even passing some disparaging comments about herself to help him along. When he hears the same words he was rehearsing, Mohan changes his mind and his feeling about arranged marriage and agrees to marry her. Off they go to Delhi, a stone-faced Revathy determined to get away from her marriage as soon as possible. She shuns Mohan and his attempts to get to know her. To celebrate their first month together, he buys her some beautiful anklets. But she prefers an annulment and off they go to a lawyer to start the proceedings. The shocked lawyer tells them that they have to give their marriage a shot at least for a year before the courts can call it off.

Thus starts Revathy's sentence - or so she thinks. When asked why she hates him so, she tells Mohan of the boy she loved. The happy-go-lucky, rowdy Karthik, with a zest for life and a hair trigger temper, which frequently results in local fights and altercations with the police. But slowly and surely, the love of a good woman decides his fate for him and he makes his mind to turn over a new life. Knowing her parents would not allow their union, Revathy and Karthik decide to get married in secret. As she's waiting in front of the Registrar's office, Karthik runs up the steps later than he promised - but is shot dead by mistake, by the police.

When it becomes clear to Mohan that it is the ghost of a past boyfriend that is standing in between them, he decides to step back and lets his wife have her head. They lead separate lives within the four walls of their house, counting the days till the year runs out and they can be legally separated. But slowly, Revathy starts to understand her husband and unbeknown to her, falls in love with him, little by little. How they sort their feelings for each other and end up together is a story beautifully woven by the director.

There are some really funny bits in the movie. Revathy's attempts to teach her Punjabi neighbour Tamil is one of the most hilarious and memorable funny scenes from the annals of Tamil cinema. Showing her impish, naughty side, Revathy teaches her poor neighbour what he assumes to be polite words to impress his Tamil boss. When the boss visits the Sardar and says 'namaste, he is told poda dai, much to his amazement. He is then not-too-politely to sit down (okkaru da somberi). The eagerness on the Sardar's face as he utters the words, imagining him to be the epitome of hospitality, made me nearly wet myself in glee, the first time I saw the film.

The music for the movie is by none other than the Maestro himself, Ilaiyaraja. It has been so long since I actually listened to the songs but I still remember the tunes of every single one of them. My favourite of all of them is the slow Manram Vandha, where the haunting quality of the music seems somehow echoed in the movement of the car, as Mohan and Revathy drive on. The melodious Nilave Vaa is another good number, sung beautifully by SPB. All the songs in the movie are hummable and even after more than a decade; I can still remember the words and the tunes of the songs. You cannot ask for more, can you?

This is Karthik's best performance ever, I think. Under Mani's skilful guidance, he curbs his tendency to overact and turns out a beautiful rendition of a rowdyish young man, who turns over a new leaf willy-nilly after falling in love. Revathy, as always, plays her role to perfection. She is such a fantastic artiste, with the most expressive eyes and one immediately empathises with her, first with her aversion to the arranged marriage, then her feelings for the boy she loved and lost, her initial anti feelings towards the husband foisted on her, her impish nature as she teaches her neighbour Tamil and finally, the growing love in her, for the man she married. A superb portrayal by a consummate actress. Mohan has never been a favourite of mine - I never felt this was a man who could act but this once, he proved me wrong by playing the role of a patient husband beautifully.

The movie tackles a subject that, funnily enough, still holds our culture and society in sway - that of arranged vs. love marriages. In a deeper level, the movie also deals with the difficulties involved in sustaining any relationship and the gentle strands of love that slowly bind people together; even without them realising it. It is an utterly romantic story and Mani has told it superbly. A must-see movie for any good movie buff.

Posted by DesiGirl 7:12 PM 2 comments  

Movie Review: Pachai Kili Muthu Charam

Gautham Menon, of 'Minnale' and 'Kaakha Kaakha' fame, has come back with a venture soon after the success of his Kamal Hassan starrer 'Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu'. The new flick is called 'Pachaikili Muthucharam' and has Sarath Kumar and Jyothika in the lead, with newcomers, playback singer Andrea and model Milind Soman in the cast as well.

Venkatesh (Sarath Kumar) is a regular middle-class bloke, works as a sales man, regular family - one wife (Andrea) and one son. Reasonably happy home life except for the fact that the son has acute juvenile diabetes. This pulls the couple apart physically and there we see the first chink - lack of intimate relations. One day, on his way to work, he sees fellow train traveller Geetha (Jyothika). Soon enough, they become buddies and chat about their lives. As they sit in a cafe, swapping family deets, for some strange reason, Venkatesh tells her he has got Rs 8 lakh in his kitty, for medical emergencies as his son has juvenile diabetes. From the word go, it seems like Geetha is in the driving seat where this relationship is concerned. She is quite keen to take this friendship to more intimate levels and one day, urges him to book them into a room so they can be together.

They go to a resort on the ECR and as Venkatesh continues with his self-doubts as they prepare to cross a no-go zone, they hear a tap at the door. He opens it and thug Lawrence (Milind Soman) comes barrelling into his life. Lawrence quickly puts two and two together and learns that herein lies his golden goose. He beats Venkatesh senseless; ties him up rapes Geetha and takes leave of them, after taking their cell phone details. Venkatesh wants to go to the police but is stopped by Geetha, who'd rather not face up to the day's happenings. Soon after, she gets a phone call from him, extorting for money. The calls don't stop till all the cash Venkatesh has kept squirreled away dwindles to nothing, at which point, Venkatesh comes clean to his wife. This breaks up their family and he vows to get his hard-earned money back. He starts an investigation that turns up some startling results. How Venkatesh keeps his vow to get the money and his peace of mind back forms the rest of the story.

The film starts off rather slow and when you travel up and down Chennai with Sarath Kumar and Jyothika on the trains every day, you wish Gautham would get a move on and speed things up. But once the movie picks up though, it becomes quite interesting and once we come across the twist in the tale, it becomes a real promising movie. Though I kept wondering why in hell's name would the man tell an acquaintance his bank balance, no matter how much he lusts after her or why the hell didn't they just chuck the cells, thereby ridding themselves of the burden? The latter doubt sort of gets answered as the plot develops and I reckon the former is played out so it links to the plot later on as well. But the execution of it leaves some doubts in some minds.

Despite these niggling flaws, I rather like this movie - mainly for the rather mature and clean approach to extra- marital affairs. After the glorious singing- dancing-overblown saga of KANK, I should take my hat off to Gautham for handling this sticky subject so well, especially in view of the ultra conservative Tamil cinema. Nowhere was it crass, vulgar or shoddy. Of course, he draws the line by making sure the protagonists don't actually 'do the deed', thereby making the bitter pill easier to swallow, I suppose.

Acting-wise, I would say Milind Soman has done a good job. The makeup helps - there is no model peering out of the familiar face. He looks every inch a thug and behaves like one too. Though he does make the usual error of mistaking shouting non-stop for displaying rage, he still turns out a fairly good performance. Jyothika surprises me - there was a time when I thought she was a duffer. But she has been maturing leaps and bounds over the years and in a tragic way, she manages to churn out really mature performances just when she has bid adieu to the career. Oh well! There's nothing to beat quitting while you are on top, is there?

The music score is by Harris Jayaraj and this is slowly becoming a regular combo, rather like the Mani Ratnam - A R Rahman deadly duo. Though not all of Harris's songs are instant hits, he is still a good composer, rather along the lines of Rahman. He understands the nuances of background score but at some places, he misses the mark completely, with overly loud shehnai playing mournfully in the background, with no connection to the dialogues and situations. Having said that, some of the songs are really catchy. His staple, Carnatic music singer Bombay Jayshree sings a melodious number, Unakkul Naan. Though her 'Vaseegara' from 'Minnale' will always be my favourite Jayshree-Harris tune, Unakkul Naan is quite melodious and hummable as well.

All in all, it is an okay sort of a flick - can sit through one time. Unless you are, like me, major anti-fan of Sarath Kumar and need other distractions, you could do worse than sit through this one.

Related link: My interview of one of the Gautham Menon's assistant directors to this movie, Meghana Karthik.

Posted by DesiGirl 11:06 PM 1 comments  

Movie Review: The Illusionist

It has been quite a while since I saw a film that blew me away but last weekend, I saw one that did just that. I went into it with no expectations, no idea who the actors were and came out absolutely gobsmacked.

I am talking about The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton. Adapted from a novel titled 'Eizenheim the Illusionist', the movie opens in this dingy theatre. A man is seated on this rather bare stage, dressed in his shirt sleeves and straining in concentration. There's a hushed silence as the crowd watches him with bated breath. Within minutes, a wisp of smoke-like substance is seen a few feet away from the man's fingers and an excited lady in the audience shouts, 'It's her, it is her'. A crowd of policemen stomp down towards the stage and the Chief of Police walks on to the stage and arrests the man on the stage. That was when we learn that he is Eisenheim, the master Illusionist.

Inspector Uhl, who's conducting the investigation then makes his report to the Crown Prince Leopold, who commands the Inspector to find more proof implicating the illusionist. The Inspector starts with the man's background and we are taken back into the childhood of young Eduard Abromovich, the son of a cabinet maker, growing up in the Viennese countryside. His first brush with magic, according to some, are when he came across a magician sitting by himself, under a tree. The magician, after doing a few sleight of the hand tricks for the young land, vanishes into thin air, along with the tree! The young boy is smitten and practices magic tricks. His father is a cabinet maker, in the employ of the local Duke, whose daughter Sophie falls for Eduard. Of course, this is frowned upon by everyone and the Duke's men caution Eduard away from the blah blah. But one evening, whilst in Eduard's secret lair, they hear the guards approaching and panic. Sophie urges Eduard to make her disappear but try as he might, he is unable to do so. The guards come in and take her away and that is the last we see of young Eduard.

He reappears many, many years later in Vienna as Eisenheim the Illusionist and we learn that he has been travelling all over the world, ending up in the Far East, where he is reputed to have learnt even the Dark Arts. After his first trick, wherein he speeds time up so a fully grown orange bush bearing fruits springs from a pip in front of the audience's eyes, the Crown Prince wishes to see the performance. When Eisenheim asks for a volunteer for his next trick, the Prince kindly volunteers his lady friend and therein Eisenheim comes faces to face with his childhood sweetheart. Though the lady is reputed to be the future wife of the Crown Prince, Eisenheim and his paramour resume their relationship and pretty soon, the Prince comes to hear of it. Along the way, the illusionist also pisses Leopold off and they have a regular tiff going.

One day when the Prince is drunk, he confronts his lady love, who states she's leaving him for Eisenheim. An angry tussle ensues, at the end of which, a horse carrying the limp body of Lady Sophie is seen exiting the scene. This is when the movie actually starts. I do not want to let on more about the plot details and spoil it for you but it was a real gripping movie, one that will stay in your memory banks for a good while.

The camera work is astounding - the sepia tone makes it easy for us to transport ourselves to the early 1900's and the scenery is breathtaking. Cinematographer Dick Pope has made Vienna of the 1920's look glorious. I am normally not a fan of the flashback kind of movies but this one transported me to pre-World War I days and I loved it!

Amongst the actors, Paul Giamatti as Inspector Uhl does a marvellous job. Edward Norton is quite decent Eisenheim as is Rufus Sewell, as the Crown Prince Leopold. But the real hero in my opinion, is the camera and the man behind it deserves a major pat on the back. The movie ticked a whole lot of boxes for me and is a must-see.

Posted by DesiGirl 6:30 PM 0 comments  

Movie Review: Thiruvilaiyadal Aarambam

Good hearted male lead, with the honourable intentions of making a name for himself in the world. Dad refuses to lend him money and give him a leg up as son tends to while time away by drinking with his mates and getting into gang fights. Statements of 'get the hell out of my house and never come back' are uttered on a regular basis by either parent. One day, like all our movie heroes, our man too takes one look at the female lead and falls for her big time. Yes, he is 'in love' with her without even knowing her name.

After seeing her big brother beat the rowdies who came a'sniffing around baby sis, hero adopts the novel approach of asking the brother for his sister's hand. Understandably, this pisses the brother off, who sends hero packing with a flea on his ear. With this starts the 'thiruvilaiyadal' (or divine play). The hero makes the girl fall in love with him and whilst they paint the town red, big bro sees red and sends for him to scare him away. Hero stumps him by accepting money from the brother for staying away from his sister. Thus starts the barter system and when his family learns of this, they are aghast and kick him out of their house for good.

Hero now has the dosh to start his business, which he does and becomes a roaring success. On and on goes the movie till the end, where it all ends happily for all parties concerned.

Dhanush plays the role of the male lead, with Shreya as his opposite number. Other notable members of the cast are Prakash Raj as Shreya's brother and Mouli & Saranya as Dhanush's parents. There is nothing new or interesting in this movie. Same old tripe, boy sees girl, falls in love and does a variety of stunts before everything ends on a rosy glow. There is nothing new or exciting about this venture. Of course, thousands of Dhanush's fans disagreed with me and made this a hit! Go figure!

Posted by DesiGirl 9:55 AM 0 comments  

Please tell me I am mistaken about this....

Was on a random web trawling sesh, yet again, when I came across this bit in

Sibling rivalry: Saif & Akshaye Khanna

The prolific Abbas-Mustan admit their new film entitled Race has the biggest star-cast they've ever worked with. "It has Saif and Akshaye Khanna as brothers who are trying to out do each other."

And Saif is thrilled to have finally signed a film that gives him a chance to dance with a new co-star. "I'm absolutely looking forward to working with Akshaye Khanna. A new co-star is always fun. Akshaye and I , and Abbas-Mustan and I seem to come different worlds. It would be an interesting mix of different sensibilities.I'm sure the results will be rewarding."

Abbas admits he signed them together because they've never worked together. "Saif has never been seen in a role like the one he'll play in Race. And Akshaye Khanna too has been cast like never before. But what interests us as filmmakers is how the combination will excite the audience."

Forgive me if I am mistaken, but didn't Saif and Akshaye act together in 'Dil Chahta Hai'? *puzzled*

Posted by DesiGirl 5:42 PM 0 comments