I hate these people, kind of


Although I don't have the luxury (ability) to sit and write fresh posts as of now, I do while away doing other random things. But this post is not only an empty filler - my last few posts - it's also meant to give a brief idea about where I stand about certain movies and movie makers that I may not be able to discuss in detail anytime in the future. This is another casual conversation with a very good friend. It wasn't supposed to be intellectually stimulating or inquisitive or whatever. I think we were in the mood to bash a few people and that's we did. Nevertheless, a lot of it is academically grounded and I stand by all of what I've said. Only that I may not engage in a detailed discussion in the comments section to defend everything - mostly because it's time consuming (and yeah, "subjective"). Rest is self-explanatory.

Edit: The exchange has been removed. I didn't ask my friend before I published the conversation and I think that was a terrible mistake on my part. To an extent makes me an untrustworthy person and an asshole. For that and just that, I sincerely apologize to my friend and to my 'better side' that I didn't care to respect when I published it. Thanks.

Note: An academic critique of a movie is quite different from conventional ones, try this one to get a rough idea. From the article,
Roja is not Mani Ratnam’s best film. It is not his only film that deals with politics, it is not the only one that won many state and national awards and is not the only one that is controversial. It is as flawed and fulfilling as many of Ratnam’s other, greater, better films. It is as ambiguous and paradoxical and as simplistic and superficial as his other classics. Yet, it is his most successful film till date and his only true all- India success...It can take on many forms, champion many causes, some more sinister than the others and can still be over-analysed in many an essay, this one included.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to draw comments or to show what's supposedly a characteristic of this blog - put down "popular figures" just for the heck of it. But you're welcome to reject this disclaimer. The exchange has been edited spatially to fit the margins better

32 comments:

Rastafari said...

Apparam?...

Suresh said...

..thupparom

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

Suresh, naan onnum sollala. I agree with most of your points. And I can't diss Mani rathnam anymore as much as hailing KH.

Moon said...

came across this blog sumtime ago..
well,i think u blog mostly bout movies and condemning ppl..shud change the title of blog to "Tamil Movie Negative Review"
life is not bout commenting others...it is about accepting evrything that comes our way..

be more optimistic and life would be happier...

just saying...nothing personal

Suresh said...

Thilak,

idhu enna maatram? :))


Moon,
In about 100 posts (actually exactly 100) there are 10 posts based on movies. And you think it's "mostly about movies?"
And yes, it is about condemning people, systems, practices, that's what I mostly do. No secret there. But I don't see what's wrong with it.
There's no such thing called a "negative review," a bad movie is a bad movie, and I have not "reviewed" any movie. I just talk about particular aspects--of the movie--that I did not like (and some that I did).
Life's not about seeking "happiness" in everything, at least for me it isn't. There's just too much "optimism" and "happiness" to blind us into a false reality. If you're "happy" with it, good for you. I'm not. And I'm sure a lot of us are not.

Hope you don't take it personally either.

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

haha, ungalakku theriyum, I like Kamal haasan. I would be biased if I defend him. I hate Mani rathnam, I could just bash him ruthlessly. so.. no comments!

Anonymous said...

Suresh,
Regarding your response to moon ie.

" a bad movie is a bad movie.. I just talk about particular aspects of the movie that I did not like...Life's not about seeking happiness in everything"

I'm sure you are aware that this temporal attitude of yours will undergo major changes every so often. What you liked yesterday you may not like tomorrow. People change, priorities change. If you have a family and four kids and finances are down the tubes and job becomes a drudgery and so on - which is the case for 90% of the planet - then life becomes all about optimism and seeking happiness and being less critical. You are not immune, life will eventually catch up with you too :)

When I see some of the anons breaking their mandai over what you say/write, I can very much empathize:) Perhaps you cannot, but then I can empathize with you too :))

One last wish - I wish you weren't giving so much importance to "academic grounding". Acads especially in the non-sciences, are most definitely nothing more than a variant of masturbation. I say this after a very long contact with professors & tenure and the whole shebang. There is a lot of freedom that comes with the insulated environment that is the ivory tower, and that freedom allows the participants to theorize and indulge in flights of fancy. A rickshaw puller or even a beggar has more credibility in my books than some hotshot Pol Sci professor, given what they undergo to make ends meet. Cultural goods ie. literature, movies etc. necessarily cater to the unrefined masses - the rickshaw pullers and the beggars. When Professors who derive livelihood from the income taxes of me & you and rickshaw puller and rest of the public, poke their heads into culture and want to write treatises on Roja, forget the humongous hypocrisy, it is definitely amusing at so many levels I cannot even begin to fathom.

My film criticism professor once theorized that Pather Panchali was a better film than Sholay because if you go to any video store anywhere in the world, they will have a copy of Pather Panchali, whereas you will find Sholay only in video stores in India. This is the same "universalness" you keep bringing up. PP is supposedly so universal all cultures love it, Sholay so parochial only India loves it. I told the Professor that anywhere in South India & even in the North, you will have a very tough time finding a copy of PP, whereas you will readily find Sholay all over the place. The fact that 1 billion people like Sholay and don't care that much for PP means nothing from an acads grounding standpoint, but it means everything from a reality-based standpoint. If that isn't hypocrisy, what is ? Ofcourse the Prof conceded my point, but also told me I will never become a Prof like him :)

The critical consciousness that allows you to pan Roja and praise Iruvar, is not an objective grounded-in-stone template. Its just a reflection of your current mindset and acad environs moulded by whatever the critical society deems to be good taste today. That society will change, you will change, your taste will change, and then your choices will change too. Then none of this "good movie bad movie" will figure in your thoughts. It will be "ok I saw some movie & spent 10 bucks & 3 hours, now let me go buy butti paal for baby and do laundry for wife and math homework for daughter and so on " :)

There is a wonderful dialogue in Bhadrakali, I think it is spoken by Thengai Srinivasan - "Maavukku yeththa Bakshanam,
Bakshanathukku yeththa Ruchi, Idhu daan Vazhkai!"

Everytime I read your blogposts, that dialogue occurs in my mind unfailingly every single time! I hope you can track it down and put it on youtube, that will definitely be naatukku nalla sevai on your part.

ip

moon said...

Excerpt from anonymous:
"ok I saw some movie & spent 10 bucks & 3 hours, now let me go buy butti paal for baby and do laundry for wife and math homework for daughter and so on " :)"

this is the way it should be!
thanks for the 'backup' or brilliant mind of urs anonymous...

by the way,"bad movie is a bad movie"?? ... its only bad in your side....some might find useful values in those movies u labelled as 'bad'...
Anyway,the title suggested was due to ur recent interest not overall.... by the way,it was not interesting to read condemns all over the place and inappropriate words...
those who supports the opinion here...seriously,i have no comments....no comments.....

in da end its ur blog and u have the whole freedom to write....

May u find ur own way of happiness or wateva....

Suresh said...

Ip,

You've started with your non-sequitur arguments again. There's nothing new, we have had enough on this here and here in general.

About life "catching up to me": I've made my points in detail and quite clear in this thread, especially in this comment.

I'll say this again, life may never "catch up" to me the way you say it would. But sure, my attitudes towards people and products will change - the way it has in the last few years - but it's not likely to be in the direction you've predicted. Because, if it were true, we wouldn't have many grumpy old men complaining and every other thing in life. If I cannot be a post-modern intellectual, I'm sure I'll at least be a toothless grumpy old man. I think I'll be "happier" that way.

I can empathize with what they feel, but it's irrelevant. Empathy has nothing to do with how you feel about movie that is disconnected both from you and the person you are empathizing. The purpose of the critique is more or less the same as the product that's being critiqued. It's just that they cater different sets of people and have different agendas.


{{A rickshaw puller or even a beggar has more credibility in my books than some hotshot Pol Sci professor, given what they undergo to make ends meet.}} - This is what my friend was referring to as fetishizing the poor. The "poor." Because they are poor they gain a "credibility," an immunity - "oh don't you criticize the poor." All of us doing what the circumstances and environment allows us to do.

"To put food in the table"; "to make ends meet"; "You got to pay your rent" etc are clichés that carry no relevance to discussions like this. So let's not get into that.

Just because a scholar is an "ivory tower" cocooned in a "safe" academic environment his/her criticisms on the sexist/racist/nationalist nature of a movie does not lose it's validity. Whether or not the "poor" get cancer, it's essential to see what cigarettes are capable of doing. Minimum wage to health care the "ivory tower" has a lot contribute to the "poor." So the tax payer is not paying for nothing. If the "ivory tower" has the most minimal contribution on the "poor's life, the reverse is true as well (in terms of the money they actually contribute to academic research).

This is just a misguided argument that you always make. If critiquing movies is waste of time or even hypocritical why offer those courses? Why fund those courses? Let's cut it down to medicine, engineering and other more "essential" departments.

As much as I like to agree that there are ethnocentric and biased professors in the academia, I refuse to take your word for how he supposedly differentiated the two (PP and Sholay) or the conversation that subsumed it. Given my knowledge, however limited, about your tangential, non sequitur and selective addressing of critical points, I'm not willing to go with your version of what actually happened. If you can, please link me up to the guy's critique of PP. Let me see if that's how he underpinned his arguments.

About my critical consciousness: refer first paragraph.
You have nothing but condescension to offer. There's no reason to believe that I'll get married, let alone have two children. But you would rather throw out those assumptions because statistics is on your side. This sums up pretty much everything that you say - the fundamental flaw in all your arguments - irrelevance (that Bathrakali dialogue included). In your view, your personal life dictates how you enjoy stuff like movies, music or even food. If that's how you are, fine, good for you. But don't speak for others.

There's no point in discussing anything with you, really. You don't understand most of what I say, or pretend like you don't. You never address points by points but make non sequitur and flawed analogical premiss. Almost like "punch dialogues" - it sounds sharp but makes no sense. Examples: "it doesn't matter if you care about the poor, but do the poor care about you?"; "Whether Suresh believes in evolution is fucking irrelevant. Does evolution believe in Suresh ?"

How about this?
"innaikku setha naalikku paalu, idhu dhan vaalkai!" "--appo batchanam?" -
"adhuvum dhan" -
"--adhu seri, thooo"

Moon,

I'm glad you found your match in IP's comment.

Yeah, I thought it's understood - when I say a movie is bad, it's obviously from "my side". If people can make manure out of excreta, sure they can fine "useful values" out of anything, why not?

It's unfortunate that this blog/post doesn't cater to your expectations. Thanks.

GasquetFan said...

I love Maniratnam.

GasquetFan said...

I mean his films.

Anonymous said...

You seem to be stressed out, so I won't bug you.

But just a clarification - anytime I say "you", its just a placeholder for somebody with your stance, it doesn't mean literally you. So when I say that life will catch up with you, or that your taste will change, I'm talking about the generic someone in your place who thinks that way. You might very well turn out to be post modern intellectual. But generally speaking, a person in your age/time/environs will end up in the state I described, simply because like you said, stats are on my side :) Remember, I was you once. So were umpteen million Indians. Everybody goes thru this phase - this isn't condescension, just observation.

Also whether I think Prof is useless or critique is useless doesn't really matter - I may think they are useless today, but tomorrow if I enroll my children in those very courses, my view might change :) On these things, I'm very flexible :)) Sheer hypocrisy.

I think it was Martin Gardner who said solipsism is a nonissue only with math. Two plus three is five whether humans exist or not. If human doesn't exist, two dinosaur plus three dinosaur is still five dinosaur :) But other than such very few rigorously dispassionate fields of study where results are true regardless of human intervention, every other field, especially all of the arts/culture/philo/eco & most of engg too btw, is very human-centric. Results are arrived upon with temporal consensus. Relativism rules, and time changes all. But two dino plus three dino is still five dino :)

ip

Suresh said...

GF,

Not surprised.

Ip,

I'm fine as long you want to address specific issues that are pointed in my posts. And in this post, there are few. So I understand, there's little to "discuss." But why bring on the same moot points that we've masticated over and over in several other posts?

I understand you were not talking about me personally. So when I put myself as an example I want you to be open enough to think of others the same way (hence the 'grumpy old men' example). I'm sure you were me in some aspects, and I'm also sure that I'll be in you in some aspects when I reach your age, but as I've often stressed our fundamental ideologies don't change unless it's severely flawed or if the environment that holds them is.

Sure, everything is relative. But rape is still deplorable.

sk said...

despite the hate i have for Maniratnam for trivialising issues (he should stick to love themes), he is arguably the best director in terms of getting the best out of his music director and cinematographer. Now, don't tell me: throw in enough money, you get the best. No. I don't have to tell you, technology is just a means and not the end. The end lies inside the creator. So just having the latest Panavision doesn't make you a better cinematographer. that tech brilliance is what makes me bear his movies. As far as he being "the best director", there are far too many assholes who are just as half-baked as him. makkal theerpae magesan theerpu

adhu seri.
eppo kamal-a kizhikkara podcast?
i m waiting for that.

sk said...

aprom innoru vishayam, you had said KH can't cry without going over the top.

Please enlighten us upon that in your podcast.as in how to cry naturally.

Suresh said...

No SK, I don't like his work mostly on a political level. I appreciate many qualities of his movies. In spite of all the shortcoming-mostly conceptual-I would rate all (except Pagal Nilavu and Thiruda Thiruda) his movies above 4/10. I have been able to sit through almost all his movies (except Kannathil Muthamittal). Something that's become a challenge if you're watching a movie alone.

Like you say, he is pretty good at the technical side of things. Even the item numbers are more arousing in his movies - I mean, I really thought M'Sherawat looked sexy. Thanks to his zooming angles, the song was quite "hot."
He's talented, there's no denying that (just like Kamal is). I have problems with very specific aspects of what they do. Doesn't mean I don't respect their abilities.

And I would still put him way above Cheran or anyone from the new "creative" bunch in Tamil cinema (there are better directors in Hindi though).

There are several people (on screen) one can show to demonstrate why/how Kamal overdramatizes. Mohanlal to Nasirudeen shah and numerous western actors. I don't have the time, illaina I can edit and splice relevant scenes to make the different obvious.

GasquetFan said...

Vishal Bharadwaj comes to my mind. And there is Sudhir Mishra. If you want to see a technically superb movie with a clever plot. There is Suparn verma who made Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena. And there are scores of them who do very good work in Hindi.

Cheran, Ameer, Thankar Bacchaaan are a joke. They aim for Cannes always. They should just show the movie at Cannes and spare us the bullshit.

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

I think Lal, Nshah and the western actors come with their own baggage too. They have their own drawbacks and histrionics, the 'trait' along with them. Almost every other actor fail living up the roles completely and you just have to look throughout their filmography for their best as well as the worst. While all those actors are no virgins, Kamal is certainly not a whore. I agree he has his own disadvantages but the others are flawed and over hyped in their own way. Truth is, none of them can claim to be better or more 'real' than the other. But I do realize, KH has his share of over dramatization.

Now I hate MR but that doesn't mean he is any lesser. I hate his movies. Mani rathnam may not be a Vishal Bharadwaj or Sudhir Mishra but they can't become a MR. Similarly, there are significant number of people who may find pseudo-intellectualism and lack of honesty in both their works (Omkara or HKA). In their view, MR's works are better. So here comes the cliche, 'opinions change'. Here comes another, MR can't do a SB and in the same way, Mira Nair can't do an Iruvar.

Finally, it's high time we all realize that, we come up with preconceived notions or rather programmed(by external factors over the years) to be biased. We keep writing blogs/articles against them. Thats how the whole system works. From a nihilistic point of view, it's all pointless. But lets be pragmatic and live up with different views.

@Ip,

It's Suresh's style to critique a movie from his view. There are many other critiques who have their own set of ideas or theories to hail or diss the products. Does that mean, critiquing is not allowed?

If that's the case, No products are allowed either?

But yeah, just like Suresh critiques different movies, Ip keeps critiquing Suresh. It was fun and sometimes thought-provoking to read both your posts(and ideas). Please carry on.

Anonymous said...

Thilak,
I know & trust Suresh on a personal level, no conflict there. Other than general edification & personal entertainment, my interest in engaging in these discussions is very simple -

I believe that litcrit ie. a western framework composed of deconstruction, attempts to find layers of feminism,sexism,paternalism, post-colonialism, structuralism, ecocriticism - you know all the usual suspects you learn in any standard litcrit 101 class - I learnt them and hopefully you did too - I believe these tools are inapplicable to analyse popular eastern ( more specifically, Indian )cultural artificats.

This is not something I came up with day before yesterday while high on pot. It is a standard running commentary that has been going on ever since Indian books/music/movies got noticed from a pan-Indian audience. The standard argument goes thusly - Indian cinema is ultimately just "cinema from India". So we can apply standard litcrit & figure out what its about. The rejoinder goes thusly - Indian cinema is not really cinema from India - it is actually a consumer product from India - like toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc. ie it caters very specifically and very narrowly to its target audience ( ie. the unwashed 1 billion plus consumers ). It caters specifically to them by sacrificing certain "universal" traits we have taken for granted in rest of the world, and instead, providing precisely what the consumer wants.
Since our consumers want song/dance/fight/masala, we provide that, regardless of whether that makes good cinema or not. Because the focus is on the bottom-line, not on aesthetics. This is the only reason out of some 180 odd countries on the planet, India has the most profitable film industry (on PPP basis). ROI is huge in Indian film - ppl routinely invest between 50lakh-25cr & make multiples. These figures are simply unknown in rest of the world - your average Hollywood film costs 40mil to make, between 30-60mil to market & 7 out of 10- films don't recover costs. These days the batting average is even worse - something like 20%.

In India, the situation is vastly better - and that is simply because we don't give a fuck about what real cinema ( from a dramatics/litcrit pov ) means. We don't care whether rest of the world actually understands our cinema or thinks it is silly/funny, we just cater to our local 1 billion consumers, who happily go on consuming every weekend. Forget rest of the world, even within our own country, we don't care what the neighboring state thinks - producers in Bombay are constantly puzzled as to how plump/fat/obese women with huge thighs and bust are so popular in Andhra & TN, when the standard Hindi heroine template is lean & taut. But Andhra doesn't care about Bombay, Karnataka doesn't care about TN, Kerala doesn't care about anybody - where else can you have aged flabby fat ppl like Mammooty/Mohanlal commanding crores ? Everything is fine as long as it works locally.
Koothu paatu ? Fine. Villian darkskinned, hero fairskinned ? Fine. Educated woman vamp, rural woman sweetheart ? Fine. In this manner, we have carved out dozens of consumer-friendly rules that don't jive with the universal notion of what cinema is/ought to be.

There are a couple of textbooks where what I said above is explained in much greater detail - 100s of pages && 1000s of examples. When I studied these things, the reference was Kishore Valicha & Chidananda Das Gupta. These days I don't know - ask the current crop of dramatics/mfa grads. The analogies at times are very amusing, both from Profs & industry people. For eg. Chidananda writes that going to Indian movie is same as going to a picnic - ppl want some comedy, some adventure, some emotion, some drama, some nostalgia - you know, all the usual junk that we package into the movie. So you can't just tell a story with few characters - you have to add all the masala & stir nicely, otherwise the customer will reject the dish. Similarly, there are industry ppl like say Kamal, Ghai, Bhatt, or even our local Gangai Amaran, who explain differences between Indian & Western cinema in rather brutish, but often very honest fashion. The short and simple explanation is - we make what we make because it is not really cinema , it is just a consumer product catering to the LCD. So when high-class consumer like you/me/Suresh trashes a Shivaji for theatricality or Kamal for overacting or MR for dumbing down politics, or whoever for whatever, those arguments are necessarily in a huge vacuum. We are arguing in an echo chamber for our own pleasure. They carry no relevance, even remotely. We all know that fully well, & yet we indulge in it - primarily for timepass purposes :)

Enough said.
ip

Anonymous said...

A very good post , with full of reality.but no one said these things before. I feel,u exactly said what i really felt about maniratnam/

Thank u so much suresh :))

P.S to thilak :-

A respectful anon

Suresh said...

Thilak,

All actors/directors have their 'baggage' but that's not an excuse to put them all in the same league. It defeats the purpose of critiquing. Let's not bring in polar extremities to dismiss the basis of critical analysis.

If there is something called "real" then we can most definitely claim one is more so than the other.
If Chimbu is on one extreme and N'Shah is on the other, Kamal is somewhere between the two. Sure, he's closer to N'Shah than to Chimbu but there's a clear difference in terms of their ability to bring out the depth of a character without resorting to exploitation of mediocre yet overwhelming appreciation.

"He is good at what he does, and he is good what he does - don't compare the two". Thilak, this is the age old BS argumentation that has been propagated. It's almost like saying "he's good at having 30 arrears and he's good at having 85% aggregate, so don't compare them." Like I said, this perspective defeats the purpose of critiquing. Even apples and oranges can be compared in terms of which one provides more nourishment, more vitamins etc. All products and producers have a (or more) common ground(s) for comparison.

It doesn't matter whether MR can be VB or SM. It's about VB's products vs. MR's products. Which one is more realistic (if the basis is real), or funny or authentic or honest or grand or brave or political or critical and so forth.

Take this for example:
The closest MR has got to showing real swearing is 'kundi' and 'kusu'. Can he use the equivalents of what was used in Omkara, ever? If you don't have the guts to do it why even venture into it? He wants to show us a bit of "realism," so he inserts a kundi. Just to give us that effect -- "aah! Kundi! MR is full yadharatam" a mediocre young movie-goer would say. mannangatti!

"The audience is not ready for it yet"; "Tamil movies are watched by families"; "politicians in TN would have burned down the theatres and broken his house"; "there would have been a mass blackout in all TV channels effectively flushing the movie" - if these are the excuses he's going to give, mayiru don't even try. Spare us the kundi and the kusu as well. Make it all white like you always do. enna mayithukku yadhartham vengayam'nu show kaatra?

Even Mira Nair isn't all that consistent - I hated KamaSutra, stupid woman exotified India like the west hasn't it done it enough. I kind hated her for that. That's not the point though. Even if I didn't hate MR I would still rate him below the 3 directors mentioned. He's a wimp who cannot get out of his "optimism" mannangatti shell. He hasn't done that so far, he probably won't, ever.

That's the best thing about harping on and on about the same thing. After a point there's only one side that is left with better assessments (plus some unsolvable subjectivities). I wonder if anyone can give a better explanation for what Yuva or Guru represented. Let them not evade it by saying "it's our preconceived notion" or "it's your bias." If it's any of that, let them demonstrate it. While I cannot explain why I hate Jothika's face, I can very much explain why I hate her acting. The same goes to Gautam. When I say "I hate Gautam" it's not an irrational bias. I have perfectly logical reasons for that. Subjetivity comes in only when I'm irked by his wannabe dialogues and pretentious scenes while the college going teen is in awe with the same nonsense.

Nihilism is not about defeatism, Thilak. The pointlessness that nihilism refers to is from a very macro perspective. It cannot be used as an excuse to dismiss tangible systems that exist among us. At least not always.
So writing a post about why I don't like MR has a point to it - at worst it's serves as a reference point to where I stand right now. At best it serves as a node for likeminded people to connect and reflect a larger existence of the same reality - something that has the potential to pervade itself. If possible affect what it concerns.

Ip,

I'll address just a few points from you last comment.

{{I believe these tools are inapplicable to analyse popular eastern (more specifically, Indian )cultural artificats.}} - These tools may not have been applicable during a period when the products weren't not consumed in a western, bourgeois framework. But as the products that are supposedly made for the "LCD" are also consumed by the "educated" and "critical" audiences - people who don't consume/experience it the way the "LCD" does - the critiquing style, however irrelevant to what it was supposedly meant to serve, is very much applicable.

{{So when high-class consumer like you/me/Suresh trashes a Shivaji for theatricality or Kamal for overacting or MR for dumbing down politics, or whoever for whatever, those arguments are necessarily in a huge vacuum. We are arguing in an echo chamber for our own pleasure. They carry no relevance, even remotely.}} - To carry my point further: what I/we do here is obviously not relevant to those who cannot even get online or read English. There's an obvious structural limitation to its relevance. It needs no mention. But it's very much relevant to everything else that exists on par with what I do - at least the hundreds of bloggers/readers who praise what I criticize and vice versa.

When a blogger praises MR for showing "youth power" in Yuva or "national unity" in Roja (instead of concerning himself with the butti paal or the maths homework or the project deadline, if I may add), I feel it's very relevant to do the opposite.

When consumption isn't constrained within mundane modalities, why should the criticisms be?

When the way we consume things have become more "westernized" the way we criticize it will follow the same rule.

Given that life is nothing more than a time pass I don't see why it's weakness or a supposed indicator of the uselessness of what we do. As if living 70 years and having kids or preserving forests and saving tigers is useful. When there is no goal ahead of us, when there is no preset agenda to fulfill, our existence is the best/worst time pass of all. So let's not use it to somehow weaken the significance, however trivial, of what we do. (We: all those who indulge in critiquing, slamming, comparing, politicizing, problematizing, deconstructing, doing whatever the hell that seems pointless to the rest.)

So let's not hijack the nature of the criticism by quibbling about the purpose of the criticism. Discussion on whether APJ is a good president is different from whether or not we need a rubberstamp position like that of the president. They are two different things.

@anon

Thanks. You're welcome.

GasquetFan said...

haha.. Suresh podhum. Pavam MR. Lets say MR has good understanding of the cinematic medium, but bad understanding of the societal structure or is relatively dishonest or whatever. The thing is I know this already. And I don't think I care as long as he shoots beautiful films. And he lets his characters talk less, unlike Balachander.

Anyway, did you watch Sudhir Mishra's previous films? They all revolve around subjects he experienced or was atleast a bystander. Thats why he made them well. Chameli was an aberration. But MR is like pocket encyclopedia. He is not personally affected by any of the issues he makes movies on. So he doesn't care. He made movies about stuff he read or watched on TV. It requires that much more effort and that much more intelligence to be on par with Sudhir Mishra for him.

And one of the important reasons I like MR is because he displays in his movies the same indifference I have for any of the issues he makes a movie on. I don't care about eelam tamil, nor about kashmiris, nor about muslims who were killed in Bombay. I think he wants to maintain his distance from emotionally involving himself in their plights which is what shows in his films. The god is in the detailing, definitely. And thats why MR will never be great. But he is always a touch away from greatness. May be he doesn't even want to be great.

I liked Hazaaron Khwa.. not because it was authentic and made a great social statement of the 70's india. I liked it because all the trivialities fit into the story so well that I don't have to notice it to enjoy the film. Comparing SM and MR is not like comparing 85% guy and a guy with 30 arrears. It is like comparing someone with 90% in field theory and someone with 99% in Engineering Drawing.

GasquetFan said...

And thats an electrical engineering graduate speaking. So nothing against the civils.

Suresh said...

Subhash,

That example wasn't to say that MR and SM are in two extremities. It's just to put down the cliche "he's good at doing that and he's good at...". The example shouldn't be taken to mean anything beyond that.

I think you've differentiated the two reasonably well. I don't care about the bomb victims or the terrorists either, but I expect a certain honesty, some depth, some nuance when someone ventures into those subjects. I don't want to be taken for a shallow poseur who cannot see through what he's showing. It's the difference between a magician and a psychic.

When a magician does magic I appreciate his skill in fooling my eyes. But when he takes on the role of a psychic and expects me to believe he's got supernatural powers, I not only lose respect for his skill but despise him for his dishonesty. That's what MR is, for me - a con artist.

Anonymous said...

wow ! ..wonderful comment suresh

" When a magician does magic I appreciate his skill in fooling my eyes. But when he takes on the role of a psychic and expects me to believe he's got supernatural powers, I not only lose respect for his skill but despise him for his dishonesty. That's what MR is, for me - a con artist."

Dhool..

GasquetFan said...

nee sonna ok thaan. I like this con artist though.

ramanan1976@yahoo.com said...

Correct. Mani Ratnam would be a great ad movie maker. He conjures unrealistic situations and outstanding characters... but most of those characters are cartoon-like.

I like his brand of comedy though. (Chennai based light nakkal... I wish he does a movie like 'Slackers')

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

@Ip,
Wow, It's an interesting read. I don't know much about Critiquing. But I do know, that these arguments don't necessarily have to be in a Vacuum. I don't watch the movies to nitpick. But I've got into that phase these days. Yeah, we do everything for a timepass but I think you'll agree with what Suresh says about it.

@Suresh,
Nope. I wasn't against your ideas. I agree to most of it. I just differ in the 'consumption' part from my taste which is obviously not as expansive or open-minded.

" there's a clear difference in terms of their ability to bring out the depth of a character without resorting to exploitation of mediocre yet overwhelming appreciation."

- Yeah, I agree. But then, to manipulate different audience and do products for them is condemned, is it? The century of self- Deja Vu. But just like GF's admiration for con-artist, I seem to have a fervor for KH's works. I can see why you would place him below NShah. I am sure you would have seen Sparsh and Raja paarvai, I believe KH was on par with N'shah, if not better. yeah, I know you rate KH's old movies and performance more. I am not denying that you might find his recent movies not as good as those realistic roles. KH tries to do a role and he is pretty good at exploiting different audience. I was generally pissed that you don't rate KH as high as N'shah :((

But then, I realize why you don't.

"He is good at what he does, and he is good what he does - don't compare the two".

No Suresh, what I meant to say was, some people seem to have theories to rate MR's works more than VB's, MN's or SM's. It includes those who actually are hardcore critiques and high profile filmmakers. BUT I didn't say, "Dont compare them". I am a sucker for comparisons. I was trying to say, critiquing differs and people are allowed to choose/buy someone's ideas more than the other. It was for Moon's comment above.

"'kundi' and 'kusu'" - haha..Appropriate Analogy. But MR is extremely intelligent and manipulative, some people believe he is one of the best directors ever from Indian film industry. I sometimes laugh my ass off when I hear that. I understand how bad his fans feel when I criticize his works. adhukku yenna panna moodiyum!

" At best it serves as a node for likeminded people to connect and reflect a larger existence of the same reality - something that has the potential to pervade itself. If possible affect what it concerns."

Count me in. I can connect with your views. Keep it on mate.

You can't deny that, Nihilism is useful for Escapism :))

You seem to busy these days. Any thesis on its way?

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

@respectful anon,

neenga yaarunga? ungala yenaku theriyumma. respect your 'respectful attitude' unlike some of the other anons.

GasquetFan said...

It seems you are getting many comments these days and invariably everything ends on a predictable note. like thilak's last comment.

'your opinion yours, my opinion mine'. Don't you think its time you closed down the blog? :-)

Anonymous said...

hi GasquetFan

" 'your opinion yours, my opinion mine'. Don't you think its time you closed down the blog? :-) "

No one is here to change the other's opinion.Infact, discussing these things shows the mentality , and how things are at different ends. Some times, knowing other's opinion make us to understand them with an empathy.

You know there are " NO RIGHT things...and NO WRONG things"

hi thilak,

Thanks for ur respectful reply :) by the by, ennai ungalukku theriathu.

Zero said...

Whoever said Mani Rathnam strives for realism in his films! His films are never stark, brutally honest, or even utterly realistic -- nor is that his intent, but, on the contrary, upbeat and buoyant; which is never a problem by itself in any sense.

Of course, there's the sheer naïveté of his pan-Indian, political films (not to forget the cop-outs in the climaxes), which has been really discussed to death before; suffice to say those were his weakest films.

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