Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not-so-short notes on Pachaikkili Muthucharam

Note: This is a modified version of a quick write-up on the film I originally wrote soon after I saw the film, but didn’t publish for reasons best known to none.

Gautham, in his latest offering has admittedly attempted making a “Balu Mahendra-meets-Quentin Tarantino kind of film.” Even a mere suggestion that a blend of those two eminent filmmakers’ style would result in such a horrendous film is enough to make one wince much. Refrainment from bombarding us with ramping shots and jump-cuts in general, and employing rather serene camera movements, whimsical fade-ins and fade-outs doesn’t automatically qualify as “Balu Mahendra style” of filmmaking.

The first half, on basis of which Gautham has taken the unintentional dig – or so I call it, is as meandering as it gets. Sarath Kumar and Jyothika alight trains, travel, talk to, and sit next to (the sheer number of shots of the two brushing against each other would serve as a lesson to film students), and develop love for each other. (Not to forget their frequent tiffs about paying bills at restaurants, and for the taxi-drives.) Let’s not get into the “Quentin Tarantino half.”
The few moments that actually work in the film – like, the scene with Sarath Kumar and Andrea after they get to know about their kid’s medical ailment, or when Jyothika teases Sarath Kumar saying, “illannaa, ippo dhaan thalai nimindhu paakkareengalo ennavo…” – are so unobtrusively woven into the narrative, in which, otherwise, each moment gets cornier than the last.
Dialogue in Gautham’s films has always touched horrendous standards, but, the dialogue of this film takes the cake. It is one thing to write wannabe-smart lines at the expense of naturalness, realism and suchlike, but it’s something entirely different to write supposed-to-be-keeping-it-real lines that no self-empathetic human being would utter at any moment of one’s life. In a standout scene, Sarath Kumar and Jyothika, coming after a secret date, are bothered by some hoodlums, Sarath stands up to the situation, fights them, (and is also hurt) and saves Jyothika. The lady picks up the man’s hand, looks at the bruise and asks “Enakkaagava?
[This line takes the top honour for the corniest line of the year, ranking alongside similar jaw-dropping lines from his previous outings like “Freeze!”, “Ilaavukkaaga!”, “Back home, they call it the Raghavan instinct!” I’ve been campaigning for this from day one, by the by.]

No prize for guessing that Harris Jayaraj’s background score must have been unspeakably painful. (The popular violin bit, which I liked until I watched the movie, is played vociferously, almost a dozen times, when the protagonist and the antagonist bump into each other.)
Jyothika doesn’t grate as much as she’s capable of, Sarath Kumar safely keeps out of any sort of “performance,” Andrea is ridiculously young for the role. The one who played the cab driver takes the top acting honours.

I don’t get Gautham’s films, but this is easily his worst film. I’d rather prefer an unpretentiously escapist fare like Minnale, which, in my opinion, is his most interesting work. (The readers may gasp.)