|Navarasa now streaming on Netflix
I like what the
Bard wrote about mercy in The Merchant of
Venice– “It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that
takes.” One of the nicest things about being human is the capacity for
forgiveness, especially when it is extended to those who are deemed undeserving
of it by a spiteful society. Bejoy Nambiar’s Edhiri tells the tale of Dheena, played by a superb Vijay
Sethupathi who finds a vent for years of suppressed emotions in an unplanned
act of violence and he is left broken to pieces by the crushing burden of
remorse. Interestingly enough, the short focuses on Revathi’s character as well,
who is directly affected by his actions and the climactic portion reveals that
she too is traumatized by the albatross she bears around her neck.
The storyline is
engaging and boasts some excellent performances from Sethupathi, Revathi and
Prakash Raj and yet, it doesn’t add up to an entirely satisfying whole. The gradual
unraveling of multiple layers of angst and agony feels a tad rushed, like the
characters would have liked a little more room to breathe…
Summer of 92: Haasya
Summer of 92 has the dubious distinction of being the worst of the lot. Based
on an incident from Malayalam actor, Innocent Vareed Thekkethala’s life, it is
supposed to be hilarious but it is anything but. Velusamy (Yogi Babu), a
successful comedian returns to his native village, is feted in his school and
delivers a speech that is supposed to inspire and tickle the funny bone. There are
stinky poopy jokes, lame attempts to pass off cruelty to animals as humor,
scribbling scandalous gossip on loo walls, and increasingly desperate attempts
to make the viewer laugh. Needless to say, none of it works and you venture a tentative
smile in relief only when the credits roll.
Project Agni: Adbhuta
Project Agni reveals that director Karthick Naren is a huge fan of
Christopher Nolan and his film is what you get, when you get your geek on and
spend way too much time poring over the auteur’s work and fan fiction churned
out in his honor. The result is a poor man’s Nolan film which is much ado about
nothing in particular. Aravind Swamy is a genius type named Vishnu who calls
his pal, Krishna (Prasanna) who is with ISRO to tell him about a major
scientific breakthrough. Incidentally his assistant is named Kalki. Clearly no
grey cells were severely taxed when these names were thought up and the same
can be said about the script though there is a lot of talk about the ancient
Sumerian civilization, aliens, the laws of time, conscious, subconscious, dream
states, etc. It is supposed to come together with an explosive twist but it all
fizzles out with a weak pop.
It is too bad
because Arvind Swami and Prasanna are remarkable actors who elevate this
material to a level of respectability it does not earn.
Vasanth’s entry is
Payasam which is an interesting title
since the sweet treat does not normally incite disgust or revulsion. So every
time the camera zoomed in on the delicacy bubbling away even as guests who have
arrived at a wedding are already drooling in anticipation as they wait for the
festivities to be concluded so they can savor it, I expected someone to throw
up into it…
It couldn’t have
been the easiest rasa to work with but given that one of the characters
portrayed by Aditi Balan is a widow who is looked at askance by some of the
guests for her “inauspicious” presence at an auspicious event, one can be
forgiven for thinking the film might zero in on the disgraceful treatment meted
out to widows. However, the story places the spotlight on one man’s (Delhi
Ganesh) jealousy over the good fortune of his nephew and his subsequent
actions. It is a weird interpretation that never quite sits right.
takes another stab at making a film about the Eezham conflict after the
unmitigated disaster that was Jagame
Thanthiram. This time around the results are much better though it is
doubtful that a rebel would spend so much time waxing eloquent about the “mannu”
they are fighting for. A small rebel faction with Master (Gautham Menon),
Nilavan (Simha) and a couple of others are in the hot zone when a little boy
crosses their path. He is determined to head into no man’s land in his quest to
find his little brother Velaiyan.
It is a dangerous
mission but Nilavan risks his life to help him. The twist here is touching and
Subburaj should have left well enough alone. Instead he tacks on a climax that
is supposed to tug your heartstrings but merely has you rolling your eyes.
makes an impressive debut as a director with Rowthiram, which is the pick of the lot. Arul (Sreeraam) is an aspiring football player who lives
with his down on her luck mum, Chitrama and sister, Anbu. In the opening
stretch a bullying boor is attacked with vicious intent by Arul and the film tries
to understand the boiling rage that drives this young man. Of all the films, in
the anthology this is the one with the most emotional resonance. These are
likeable characters who are doing all they possibly can with the wretchedness
of their situation. I only wish that the actions of a desperate woman who is
willing to do anything for her offspring had not been so harshly judged by the
film or said offspring.
Young Sree Raam (you
might remember him from Pasanga) does exceptional work here and deserves
special mention for more than holding his own against a roster of towering
deserves credit for not taking the easy route to conventional horror in
depicting Bhaya. Inmai is more ambitious in scope and gently explores the
terrifying tendrils of fear that takes shape from guilt, trauma and monsters
that lurk in the deepest caverns of memory. A moody, slow – burn of a short
that has some truly rousing and effective moments.
his teeth into a meaty character and is in fine fettle. Parvathy is not bad but
it is Ammu Abhirami (formerly seen in Asuran) who nearly steals the thunder
with her electrifying performance and those evocative eyes.
Thunindha Pin: Veera
After all the
emotional wattage which prompts you to take a breather between the shorts, Thunindha Pin directed by Sarjun has some
high voltage action against the backdrop of a magnificent forest. Vetri (the
intense and immensely talented Atharva) is an idealistic rookie who is gung ho
about finding himself in the middle of the fighting against the Naxalites.
Needless to say he is in for a rude awakening. The conversation between the
beleaguered soldier and his captive who refers to himself only as Comrade
(Kishore) who is a kingpin among the Naxalites is interesting and Kishore is
brilliant. But in terms of portraying conflicting ideologies and the men who
are driven by their passionate beliefs the film falls hopelessly short of
anything close to satisfying.
Guitar Kambi Mela Nindru: Shringara
Contrary to what a
lot of men seem to think, few women would take it as a compliment when an
aspiring suitor constantly likens them to their mommas. I wish somebody would
tell that to Gautam Vasudev Menon. And I would suggest he read Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex or Freud’s fascinating
insights on boys who are fixated on their mothers. Romance is supposed to be
his strength and there are a few surprisingly sweet moments here which harken
back to his best work but overall this film is a misfire.
Suriya is miscast
as a gifted musician who is all set to explode on the international stage. So
is Prayaga Martin who plays his love interest, Nethra and simply cannot manage
the reaction shots required to sustain a close – up. Karthik’s music with its riffs
on Beethoven and Ilaiyaraja is charming but it does not quite manage the feat
of conjuring the magic Harris Jayaraj’s did for GVM’s earlier work.
All in all, Mani
Ratnam and Jayendra Panchapakesan’s Navarasa
is not quite a delicious, nine – course repast but it does deserve props for
effort directed towards a worthy cause and some memorable performances.