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The more you see, the less you really know

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 by Blogpur

The reason Kamal chose to make Dasavatharam (and indeed a plethora of multicharacter films) is very interesting. I believe there are 2 significant reasons.

1) He has no charisma by himself. I love his efforts as much as the next guy, but seriously the guy doesn’t have the on screen presence to carry a movie by himself. Could you imagine him in Sivaji? Even the Shankar movie he did, he had to hide in order to be stylish. The plain fact is not many like Kamal as Kamal.

You seem to be referencing Vettaiyadu where he played a “weary cop”. I don’t think he did this on purpose at all. He wanted the cash so he gave the performance of someone completely disinterested. Surya was more stylish in the precursor. To be outdone more by a newcomer is something Kamal would not like, so he did what he did best make everyone forget all about it.

We’ve all seen PKS and 5thanthiram. Funny in parts sure, but even in that Kamal had to change his facial appearance and so on, just to differentiate himself. Do you see Rajini doing that? Before you all accuse me of sacrilege, no I’m not saying Rajini is better or anything along those lines, but I am saying Rajini has much much much more on screen presence, and whenever Kamal tries to emulate that sort of presence he falls flat.

The director of Chachi 420, (before Kamal had a falling out and took over) expressed similar opinions. I will try to get the article, been out of all this stuff for ages you see.

The other aspect is that Kamal himself wants to play all sorts of roles, he knows he can’t do them all properly, so he appeases himself by doing this.

2) Ever since Michael Madana... and surely even more so since Indian and Avvai Shanmugi, people expect every once in a while to be treated to Kamal’s versatility. The multiple role Kamal movie has come to mean a sort of festival, a deepavali of sorts. It is this goldmine Kamal is mining in the hope of it leading to further riches.


I also think it’s high time we cleared up some of the myths surrounding Kamal. For most of us Tamil film aficionados he represents one of the few director/actors willing to push the envelope, willing to experiment and who has a resume as varied as India itself. However I think the Kamal mythos has been propelled to heights unworthy of him by us as well.

Many in the Tamil film fraternity often relate to Kamal as someone who will bring them fame from outside the country. Kamal himself has expressed this sentiment on a few occasions. However the question needs to be asked in all sincerity, is this “title” justified? Just what has he done to declare himself the world hero? He may say he thinks little of the Oscar, but his songs (surely the most pitiable form of self flattery “Oscar duuram illai” – unless of course he meant his redoubtable producer who poured money at him like a priest would pour Milk on a lingam) and his constant egress towards that direction says otherwise.

In the Kamal canon, personally I find there to be maybe a dozen worthy films, surrounded by trash. There are many films in which his efforts have come to the fore (take Salangai Oli, sure he danced well and the film was above average) but is the film truly exceptional? Is it a masterpiece?

The Kamal snowball effect, which really has been propelled by NRIs who feel he is closest to Hollywood thanks to his loveable liberalism and his atheism. Kamal now stands for something better than he really is. Symptomatically, the expectations are sky high. Thanks to people like Philip Lutgendorf (and of course a search engine which shall not be named), Hey Ram has become a film worthy of study. To many this has translated into Kamal being a worthy academic figure. But is he really?

Hey Ram is a masterpiece no doubt. Aalavandan itself is good enough to escape being canonised as an experiment gone wrong. Anbe Sivam contains enough sappy red blooded (pun not intended) sentiment to work quite well to. Virumaandi contains astute direction but I just wonder if it would have been a real boon if someone besides Kamal had played the title character itself.

And that is the true indictment Kamal faces. There is no two ways about it. He is on a self funded ego trip here and has been for at least 15 years if not more. It is high time the Kamal of old returned. The one we saw in Nayagan who looked at that photograph of his daughter in Nasser’s room, moved his facial muscles ever so slightly and made us subliminally cry. Efforts like Vettayadu, while a step in the right direction, was for the wrong reason. Gautham Menon expressed (I think in your interview) that Kamal thought of them as a “group of boys”. What exactly does he think of himself then? A master auter who has scaled every pinnacle? A Kiarostami? A Kurosawa?

Lastly, Kamal has to learn to accept and use the art of suggestion. The love making scenes with Abhirami in Virumaandi were cringe worthy. Perhaps I’m alone, but they were not in the slightest bit romantic, they were revolting. This isn’t to say the ones in Hey Ram were, but he’s aged and he has to accept that. The less you see, the more you really know. The less you do, the more you really see. Maybe at this juncture of his life, Kamal (atheist and all), should start adopting this mantra.

The Atheism Question

Thursday, August 02, 2007 by Blogpur

I don't think religion as portrayed by the media or certain fundamentalist groups has any relevance to what I believe in. Every politician when going to war instantly assumes the moral high ground by claiming that "God is on my side". No, God is on everyone's side. (Some would argue then that God is on no-one's side - not true; bit of Discrete Maths proves it ;) ).

Anyway I agree with your point about God being someone there to help us. I also believe that it isn't a one way street; if one wants God's help, one must also be deserving of it. How you wish to be deserving and what you feel to be deserving is a matter to you. I don't go out of my way to be a liberal thinker; I was raised as a Hindu, I am a Hindu. I don't need to be agnostic to feel superior or comfortable about anything. I want God's help and support, God wants my trust and loyalty. End of story. How you express it is up to you. Why should I give up the wonderful Hindu religion, all its culture and history, its humanity and diligence?

Sure there are drawbacks, as there are in any religion. Much of the problem tends to revolve around caste based prejudices. But tell me, in which country is there no casteism? Britain has it all too well (Peerage? Inherited Titles?), and so every other western country has it. I am all for the abolition of such prejudices; I am not for the abolition of culture, tradition and religious symbolism - whether they be physical, metaphysical or personal.

The most common beginning for atheism is when you question simple things like "where is God?" or "if God were really around maybe he should stop all the injustices", "there is no God because you can't prove his existence." This then leads onto critiqueing the different religions of the world and their different stances and viewpoints. This then leads to a subversive cycle of cynicism and rejection.

Personally I believe it is the height of arrogance to say God does not exist because one cannot prove it. Can one prove God doesn't exist? Good luck trying.

Then there is the old point about religion vs science. For years these two have been considered mutually exclusive. It does not take a man of Einstein's calibre to point out that this is a falsehood. The more one delves into the sciences, the more one sees God's hand at play and what a wonderful job God has done.

Religion also happens to be a point of interest for all war mongerers, politicians, terrorists, extremists, fundamentalists amongst others. Proclaiming God as the reason for the destruction of lives, culture, peace and prosperity is a great fallacy. Using God in such derogatory ways is not only symptomatic of the human condition, it ostensibly represents the least love in God of all the citizens in the world.

Using God as a vehicle to commit inhumane acts is not only against the law, it is against God. Those who condone it are not doing it for God or because they believe in God.

What Cup?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 by Blogpur

It just shows how fickle minded most Indians are when it comes to the World Cup. As soon as India packs its bags and leaves, gigantic companies are talking of doom and gloom in the marketing department (and it's about time too I say, after having brainwashed mindless Indians for 10 years on the trot, now Sachin's Boost "Energy Food" doesn't make you that good does it?) most Indians now don't watch the world cup or follow it in certain manner.

When exactly did the World Cup become India v "The World"? As far as I know, never. It was always about the world playing each other, which is still precisely what is happening. It's high time people in India and around the globe realise that this is an event where everybody participates and everybody has an opportunity. But nonetheless I wouldn't blame this on Indians, I'd blame this on the companies of India whose sole duty is to brainwash the masses. Every time an ad comes on TV, why does it feature a couple of Indians, plus some white men in a yellow costume? Surely they must realise that drinking Pepsi is not going to help you win over these white men in yellow uniforms (they surely aren't Australians)?

Why is India playing 22 matches against Australia in the next year? Well that one's simple, it's so the marketers don't have to pretend that those white men in yellow clothes are Australians. Now they definitely will be Australians. It so ironic that in a world cup where India left in the early stages, matches even now have "Indian Oil" and "Hero Honda" signs all over the ground. The sad reality is no-one in India cares any more and they big corporations have one person to thank for that: themselves.

The Indian media, a great monster of an organisation does nothing more than fan the fires. When we see pictures of Indians burning effigies of Chappell and Tendulkar, who knows if that is an actual physicalisation of the hatred burning inside all Indians or whether it's a cheap shot at winning a few more points in the ratings war because surely terms like "LOC: Love of Cricket" and even more stupid terms like "Team India" don't help? (I just wonder whether in a state championship "Team Tamil Nadu" v "Team Maharashtra" will bring in the crowds?)

The BCCI have delivered a performance based pay system on top of a base retainer. That's called a pay based performance system, not the other way round. Restricting the number of ads you can do? Yep that's gonna help your batting and bowling! Bringing in Ravi Shastri and BKV Prasad as coaches? Perhaps the BCCI misunderstood, the Indian team needs a coach, not more players to coach.

But you sit down one day and wonder what's the point of it all, India will still lose more often than they win, India will still dissapoint when it counts most and Indians will still blindly believe a media so stuck up themselves that they need laptop but need a pen to write on it - oh and all this has to be on screen!

So what is the point? It's when you see performers and their traits like VVS Laxman's magical flourishes, Ganguly's sheer determination and guts, Tendulkar's genius, Dravid's relentless selflessness and Kumble's relentless enthusiasm. For the happiness they have brought to millions world over, they can be forgiven for not performing in the world cup.

Since India's no longer in it, perhaps the Indian media better rename it to something untactful like "WC: What Cup" or even better "WC: Who Cares?" Because most Indians certainly do not.

The Tale of a Warrior

Monday, January 22, 2007 by Blogpur

All that needs to be said. Let's see if he can keep it up. He will.

Another Series, Another Series Loss

Sunday, January 07, 2007 by Blogpur

What is it with India and clutching loss from the jaws of victory? Other teams may lose matches and series but they either get slaughtered or are just plain unlucky, but India is a different case. They are just plain Indian. The attitude is just imbibed all over them. After a stunning and incandescent win in the first test (after being absolutely slaughtered in the ODI series, no less) India let it go as they are so capable of.

Still there are some positives which will stand India in good stead. Firstly, it wasn't a 3-0 whitewash. That in itself is something of a reprieve after going down exceptionally distastefully in the ODI series. Secondly, the resurrection of certain players. It is no secret that I am an unabashed fan of Sourav Ganguly. Whether his performances (which yielded him highest scoring Indian for the series) is just a single entity or will flow on from series to series is still yet to be seen. I believe at least 40% of Ganguly did what he did to prove himself to the world more than to save the team, although his last innings of 46 reminded all of us what a player he can be when he sets his mind to it. Staunch defence, gutsy batsmanship and incandescent strokes.

Zaheer Khan (another one of my favourites) has resurfaced for the better of all and sundry. He can now go on his way to becoming India's spearhead once again. Sreesanth had a good series, lets see how long it lasts. Kumble again proved his mettle and although some say he let India down in the final match, I say give the man a break, just because he does get 5 wickets an innings on average in the last 3years, you can't expect him to. He is after all human.

Sachin Tendulkar has now been promoted to VC (ODI series against WI). Now I realise that this maybe mainly due to the fact that if they give to Ganguly it will cause all sorts of repurcussions and we don't even know if Ganguly will play well. Still I felt Sachin should have gotten the axe along with Sehwag. For how long do we have to keep saying he is the best batsman in the world when Brett Lee outscored him last year. Frankly it's getting ridiculous and rather embarrasing.

Probably for the world cup Sehwag will be back (India has never been so liberetarian to ditch a conservative selection for such a big series) and I also believe he should be there. Sounds hypocritical considering I just launched a scathing assault at Tendulkar, but the difference lies in the fact that Sehwag is out of form for some time, not for 3yrs.

Lets see how it goes against WI. If India play to their ability, it should be a walkover. But then playing to their ability happens once every 10 or so years.


"This isn't right, this isn't even wrong." - Wolfgang Pauli.

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