Veyil – good but not still there
This is yet another realistic movie from Shankar’s production. Coming after “Kadhal” it didn’t satisfy the high expectations but was still quite good. After these reviews by Balaji and B.Rangan, I don’t want to repeat much of the same thing and hence would touch upon whatever I felt strongly in this.
Being a movie where the protagonist is a theatre projector operator, the first half of the movie with its depiction of romance between the lead pair was one of the best I had seen in some time. Movies are an integral part of Pasupathy’s life and he growing up is shown through the movies of those periods. The romance is also tightly linked with movies, starting and ending due to it. It was excellent in the way director chose popular movie songs as a background for some romantic moments. In fact there were so many references to movies that I thought the film crew must have spent considerable effort to find them and fit them into a timeline!
The theme itself – how society treats failed people – was different and it could have been developed much better. The characters were very realistic and it was interesting to see how even with in the same family different people react in different ways to Pasupathy’s return home. The title “Veyil” is justified not only because hot sun is what causes the first twist in Pasupathy’s life, but also because many characters in the movie seem so hardened like any thing exposed to hot sun. Some of the songs, especially those in the first half were really good.
Despite this the movie doesn’t feel great. One of the main reasons could be that over the past few years there have been excellent realistic movies like “Thavamai thavamirundhu”, “Kadhal”, “Autograph” and “Azhagi” and coming after all these movies “Veyil” seems to be a bit too inspired by all these. Though the plot is quite different, many of the scenes seem to create a feeling of ‘déjà vu’ for people who had seen these movies. The other main reason is that the second half is way too melodramatic. We are supposed to empathize with Pasupathy’s character, but I could hardly do that. This should have had a treatment like “Azhagi” in the second half – where the audience would feel the tragedy without any melodrama. Also, there seemed to be one too many ‘folk songs’ inserted into the film and these don’t help in the sagging second half either.
In the end what could have been a great movie ends up being just good. As an aside, it is interesting to see that “Veyil” has no literal English translation. Literally it is only an extension of ‘sunny’, but has the directly opposite connotation. If ever there is a proof required for how languages reflect the life and culture of where they developed, this would be that.
Pudhupettai – Daring and different
This movie is extremely commendable for at least two reasons. First, probably for the first time I see so much of dark humor used in the movie. Right from the beginning, where Danush’s along with his accomplices confide about their troubled childhoods and then when his senior accomplice rates him for his first kill, till the end the movie is laced with an incredible amount of dark humor. Despite the strong part humor plays in Tamil movies, dark humor is of course rare. Probably, this was just a bit too much for many people as I think dark humor doesn’t gel that well with our instinctual moralities – at least until we get used to it. At least that is what I initially felt when I read novels like “Autumn of the patriarch” which had humor in the bleakest of the situations.
Second, I really like the movie for being brutally cynical about our political system and its nexus with criminals. Probably this might more be because I am myself more cynical these days. But still it is refreshing to see one movie exposing criminal – politician nexus and ending without that often farcical ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ climax. Some of my friends where feeling that this was far too cynical and the situation can’t be so bad. I too thought so, but then I remembered that I am from a state where a chief minister was voted back to power despite the cases against the person being so strong that the corruption which took place was open secret. Of course I don’t blame the voters – they had little choice. Despite all this the state is known to be one of the better governed in this country – so I can only imagine the political situation in other worse off states.
Having said this, the movie had quite a few flaws. For one, even I felt that dark humor was overused when in the climax, the villain and the hero (who is of course as bad as the villain) who is out to kill him, have a chat, share food and hero consults him on how to kill him painlessly! Also Sonia Agarwal’s character was left loosely hanging. I did read something in some reviews about her having a crucial scene in the second half, but think it was trimmed off by the time I watched the movie. The movie was very stylishly shot, with various techniques like mood colors and even split screen shots. However I felt this was another thing which reduced the impact of the movie. First, in a movie with so many abrupt twists this confused me a little by diverting my attention. Second, I felt that the seriousness of the movie was undermined by these. The movie looked more stylish than raw and disturbing. I still remember that in “Pithamagan”, the camera perfectly suited the dark and serious mood of the movie. Probably this cinematography should have been less stylish and more ‘raw’.
Anyways with all its flaws, this was one of the honest looks at politician – criminal nexus and it was indeed sad (though not surprising) that it was a commercial flop.“Pattiyal” would have replaced “Veyil” in this list, except for the fact that I like movies with good theme more than stylish movies. And I didn’t like “Imsai arasan…” that much, probably because I saw it in a bad quality VCD. Of course, “Vettayadu vilayadu” was a pretty ordinary movie except for its lead pair. Overall 2006 seems to be a pretty bad year for Tamil cinema (at least in terms of quality of movies). Hoping for a better 2007.