Applaud, I'm a jackass


I've been a regular visitor of Kumudam.com for the last several months, mostly to watch interviews. There is a marked difference between interviews here and those you see in TV. Some of the interviews have been simply outstanding. Kutty Revathi, Mahendran, Nasser - (all offline) - and Thamizharuvi Maniyan are some that I liked the most. I was all the more excited when Gnani entered the arena with 'Gnani Pesukiren'. Gnani has had a left leaning approach to most of the issues he has dealt with in the past, so I expected his interview to be very incisive and sharp. And they were, for the most part.

His recent interview with director Ameer exposed what an immature idiot Ameer is. He not only refused to address Gnani's criticisms but also stifled the possibility of having a civilized conversation. Constantly getting into petty squabbles, it was a sad display of egomania. Because, Gnani eventually stooped low to Ameer's level (albeit only for a short time). Then I tried to find if anyone has blogged about this interview and landed on the video below (almost a year old).

Needless to say, Ameer's convoluted defense seem to find admiration among many who had assembled there (definitely among those who had commented for the video). The exchange reminded of some that we have had in this blog, but more specifically this. Just to quote a part of the exchage:
--quote--
Let's agree that 'Pokkiri' is a bad movie, then we shall discuss why it exists and what purpose it serves - that's where honest subjectivities creep in.
I'll quote what I said again,
"1. Pokkiri provides an escape from the troubled realities of the audience. kuthu songs lighten up their spirits. Movies like Pokkiri are essential for the smooth functioning of the society. 2. We cannot criticize it just because you don't like it. It's all subjective."
There are two syllogisms that don't quite flow together. The former doesn't warrant the latter. While Pokkiri may be 'essential' it's not "subjective bias" that leads you to criticize the movie. That's why I gave that example - a false syllogism that is widely used.
...
I haven't seen '300' yet, but assuming that Scott was right in his criticism (I don't know what value the word 'right' holds in these discussions) and if you contrast it with the movie's apparent BO success -- it may not say that 99% of those who paid for it are fucktards -- it does say that 99% of them are people who don't mind being unsophisticated fucktards for 90 minutes. People's willingness to take shit once in a while should not been mistaken as people value shit.
...
All art forms are subjective, but there is some universality that has evolved over time (much to our dismay). It's one of the "necessary evils" I suppose - but it exists. That's how we produce and communicate through art forms. Even the weirdest of artistic expressions won't appeal if the weirdness isn't visible - if it is limited just to the artist 's understanding of it. Of course, that brings us to the whole "do we consume how it's supposed to be consumed?" debate.
But in spite of all these complexities, I think it's intellectual dishonesty to say that "Mahanadhi and Pokkiri are good movies. It's just that I hate Pokkiri. But I'm sure a lot of others like it, which makes it no worse than Mahanadhi."
--unquote--

Yes, it's all been said several times over, but I still couldn't stop myself from flooding the video with comments.

It's interesting that people even tried to have this kind of QnA session with all these people present together. A melee would have been inevitable had this pseudo exchange continued a little longer. It was a major irony when Ameer mentioned Mahendran to drive a shallow point. If only he knew the things Mahendran had said in his interview in Kumudam (in spite of making some of the most decent movies in Tamil).

On a different note: I don't really find any difference between SJ Surya, Chimbu and Ameer (and probably hundreds of others whose interviews I haven't seen).

38 comments:

Subhash said...

It is clear talking about movies isn't his forte. He should stick to making movies, but he can't because he feels the urge to remind everybody of the berlin bear. I hate all his movies, except the first one.

Gnani baited him superbly in the interview.

The cinema industry also doesn't command respect because of assols like this guy, and also because the cartel is so visible and they have keep patting each other's back. This family thing is annoying me.

Maniratnam is great.

Suresh said...

I've seen two of his movies, first one and the last one. Mounam Pesiyathe swivels from bad to ok, in parts. Paruthi Veeran: you know how much I hate it. I think Ram was a bad movie (just going by the reviews that praised it).

All these morons (Cheran, Thangarbachan and now this guy) think highly of themselves just because they don't have half naked women dancing around bar stools.

Gnani is well read and well informed. He's been doing what he does for over 30 years. And this moron talks to him with an air of superiority because he got some bullshit award from Berlin; what a dumbfuck?

But of course, I hoped Gnani wouldn't laud Mozhi so much. I'm simply tired of the clean chit they try to give to the movie. It has all the conventional, manipulative elements that can be found in an 80s movie. (Well, never mind. I think I've trashed it enough already.)

You know what? I agree with you. No matter how much I hate his movies, I wouldn't cringe so much when I'm watching a Maniratnam interview.

PS. Did you watch the interview in kumudam.com?

Subhash said...

Yes, I did after I read your post. Gnani first set the tone asking him about his standards for a good movie and then pointed out that he felt Paruthiveeran didn't adhere to his own standards. It was all downhill from there. The highlight, obviously, was Ameer stating that a couple of thugs called him after watching Paruthiveeran and promised to turn a good leaf.

But Suresh, I won't blame Ameer really so much. He lives and breathes cinema and does live detached from reality. I don't think there are a lot of artists who can take criticism and can see the critic's point of view. I only wish he didn't talk so much and stuck to making movies.

Perhaps he sees himself as one of the hero's in his movies or the ones he admired in his childhood. It is possible.

I have never heard of Gnani, because I don't read tamil so much, but I liked his interview.

Anonymous said...

perhaps you can take the time to tell the rest of us who is gnani, what is this "visible cartel", what "family thing" etc. Without all this backstory its impossible to understand why ameer is a jackass.

there is a rule in the gita which says men of action cannot be subject to rules thought up by men of thought.
meaning, you can't have thinkers like gnani commenting about doers like ameer. either you also become a doer & comment from inside the industry like vivek, or else stfu. btw gita doesn't apply to nonbrahmins, so suresh is clear on that account :) but subhash, you've read your gita forwards and back, you know when arjuna starts spouting intellectual nonsense on why he can't ethically kill drona and his cousins, krishna asks him to stfu and fight because doers aren't subject to thinkers' ethics.

nermai is a secure man's luxury. take away this gnani's secure job and cut off all his options save one namely being an assistant director on sivaji :) then automatically gnani will say, sir why don't we get the villian to rape that hero's sister, she's sitting idle anyway :) so it comes with the territory. ameer can go from prince to pauper in a second - if the aar kodi audience rejects his next movie, he is in the toilet. but gnani will still keep his job. one man's luxury is another man's necessity.

btw, it is crass, petty and tasteless to go to a celebration of mozhi & talk about sivaji. its like walking into your wedding celebration & talking about how your worst enemy stole your girlfriend. its not the time, not the place, so ameer was quite right in asking gnani to stfu. yes, ameer swallowed the bait, but gnani, if he is indeed a real gnani, shouldn't go around baiting people in the first place.

Suresh said...

Subhash - yeah, they had apparently called him right out of the theatre. I wonder how they got Ameer's personal phone number then and there.

Disagreeing with critics one thing, stifling it completely - especially in the cloak of giving clever reply - is another. This guy shouldn't be complaining about the "Tamil mentality" and all the bullshit (in other interviews). The least he can do is be like Dharani and be happy with the money he's made.

Anon,

If you have time, it will really help to watch the interview that I had referred to (not just the youtube video) in order to put the whole blogpost in perspective. Subhash's comment about 'baiting' also refers to the interview in kumudam.com.

About Gnani (a brief intro): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnani

I'll give a very brief account of what transpired in the interview and how it makes Ameer a jackass. After evading endlessly to answer what kind of movie he appreciated/aspired to make, Ameer eventually said "I would like make movies that don't spoil the people" (he said "makkalai kedukkadha padam"). So Gnani started pointing out the holes in Paruthi Veeran (how this ruffian's lifestyle is valorized and he's loved by a self deprecating woman character etc., and what kind of message he's sending across to the "makkal") and all he could say is - it ran for 375 days and got awards from Cyprus, Berlin and who knows where. (And yeah, add what Subhash has cited - about the thugs who phoned Ameer)

Had he said "my movies should make profit and that's the end of it", the discussion would have ended right there. Then Gnani might have said something like "you don't have to make money through garbage" and Ameer could have replied "my goal is to make money, I get to decide how I make it". That would have been a clever, honest reply. But no!

He's just like the Tamil masala movie hero: he wants to talk about Tamil culture to his woman in one shot and dance with his woman, only half naked, to Tamil hip-hop trash in the next shot.
You know what? I think I just realized why all those people left comments approving Ameer. These "people" don't follow logic anywhere - in movies or in real life.

Your classification of a thinker and doer is a false binary. Krishna is a lying egomaniac. I don't think people should listen what he says, especially in the Gita.

"nermai is a secure man's luxury" - I partly agree (I'm struggling to remember, but this line came in a movie, right? Which one is it?). But I don't understand how you think Gnani is more secure than Ameer. This guy has made 3 movies, they have all made decent - good money. If he doesn't get into production, I don't see how he'll end up in the toilet. He can ruin his career by giving two or three flops, but he'll still be left with the kind of money that Gnani will never be able to make.
Are they you then referring to a subjective sense of security? One that corresponds to individual aspirations, lifestyle etc? Because, then we'll enter into a complex philosophical territory. We'll then have to compare a penniless 'sadhu' with a billionaire entrepreneur and argue which one has a better sense of security and who's more likely to be honest.

I'm sorry to extend your analogy, but if somebody points the mic at you and asks "why do you think she married this guy here, instead of you?", everything unwarranted will soon follow suit. So the onus is on Yugi Sethu who tried to be smartass mouthing stupid factoids. That's what I had said I was surprised this sort of thing even happened.

Gnani mentioned Sivaji only to mean commercial/'masala' movies in general. Ameer didn't have on harp on it anyway. Besides, they are all movie makers and if they cannot even have the civility to compare and contrast two different movies, it's pretty telling about where they stand, isn’t it?

Anonymous said...

Suresh,
I think you are confusing honesty with naivete. Say you go to an interview & they ask you why you want to join the company, you can't say honestly, "Sir I just want the money"! That's not honesty, that's being stupid. You will have to concoct some story about why you like the company's products or how the company is aligned with your career goals or some shit. You know & they know & everybody else knows its for the money, yet all this hypocrisy is built into the system. No point asking for honesty here. If ameer says he wants to make movies that don't spoil masses, that is because that is what he is expected to say. No director will say I just want to make money, even thought every movie director or producer wants exactly that. Even Radha Mohan for that matter doesn't want to lose money.

When I say gnani is secure & ameer is not, I mean the former has pretty much nothing to lose. Frankly, he is just a guy who writes some bullcrap in some magazine. People read it and forget about it. Honestly do we really remember which journalist wrote what in which magazine 5 years ago ? Like Raja Sen says, journalism in India, especially this sort of op-ed and film writing, is largely an industry of
hundreds of acres of nonsense newsprint
. You just write something provocative, people pay the 2 rupees & read it on the lunchbreak & use the paper to wrap the tirunelveli alwa. otoh, ameer is dealing in crores of rupees, a picture's success/failure impacts so many artistes & institutions, so you do whatever to make it succeed, nermai be damned. When a nermai-ana billion $ company like a google routinely hoodwinks customers by flaky ad-sense links, what chance this ameer stands ? He is dealing in some few million rupees, and recovering it is his responsibility, let him do whatever is needed.

I don't want to go into this doer-thinker paradox in the Gita. It'll take 100s of pages to convince you & basically you have to undergo some major personal situations like say death in the family or job loss or marriage or betrayal or some such shit for it to hit home & make sense. Perhaps subhash can explain it better, dualism is his forte.

Suresh said...

K,

I'll try to keep it short (because we are getting more and more tangential with our analogical reasoning).

Here's the problem: everyone knows how bureaucracy works. They know it's a lie, but they do it anyway. But the lie needs to follow a certain a logic and have some consistency with his/her baggage. One cannot say "I'm passionate about Java", when there's nothing on the resumé that suggests it. If you did, then the recruiter will call your bluff, just like Gnani did. You're right, may be Ameer's head is so far up his ass that he doesn't even know what the hell's talking about.

The other side is that, unlike how "people" understand the lies and redundancies within a bureaucracy, "people" don't seem to identify the lies spouted by these koothu-kara pasanga (evidence: the comments). If they had, they wouldn't have voted for MGR or have 25,000+ fan clubs for Rajini. So let Ameer, by all means, do whatever to make money. Let people like me spend 5 minutes and rant about how this guy is a phony - in the process the raise the collective consciousness of the world and bring peace etc.

It seems very superficial - from personal point of view, it is - but we have to leave behind some opinion about these things for the people who are looking for one through google. This post will now be an element in the random sample one would choose to form an opinion about Ameer.

I still think the thinker-doer duality is false and outmoded. They work only in instances and not as a behaviour laid on a continuum, either way.

Subhash said...

Anon,

You are a brilliant guy. Ok va. I don't know about any duality apart from the one that I read about in Physics and never have read Gita.

Are you saying Gnani shouldn't criticize Sivaji? Then they shouldn't be asking Gnani those questions. Don't they have an idea of how Gnani would respond? Did Gnani and his view fall out of thin air? To take your own logic, the guy with everything to lose (the industry that was represented by Yugi Sethu) shouldn't be asking questions about itself to a guy who has nothing to lose (Gnani).

What do they expect? Magnanimity?

Do you think Ameer's response makes any sense? He is contradicting himself, portraying himself as being honest by saying that he is in the film industry to make films for himself and then says that films are made to be watched by others.

Simple logic, brain, tact, all these things the industry lacks. And it expects every damn living being on earth to praise it to the skies.

It is obvious that they help each other, the industry guys, and hence they can come with really bad products and the viewers won't have an alternative. And the public back slapping and showing of affection towards each other may help their cause, but it is irritating to me.

Zero said...

Suresh.
I've not watched the Kumudam.com interview with Ameer. I am inclined to believe much of your post is a reaction to that interview. In any case, let me just comment on the Mozhi 100 day event talk.

Well, for starters, I clearly see where Ameer is coming from. Not that his response is well articulated or I concur with him about the film 'Sivaji' or on whether one can "drag" a successful film during the celebration of another successsful film. But, Gnani on the other hand seems to display the kind of self-righteousness that is all too familiar when talking about the "bad state of Tamil cinema." (Not that one must not express similar "feelings" about the "state of Tamil cinema" or anything. I've done so myself at times, but I am very much aware that I'm treading on murky layers.)

Firstly, I think there's a big leap between saying, "It's just that I hate Pokkiri. But I'm sure a lot of others like it," and, "Mahanadhi and Pokkiri are good movies. It's just that I hate Pokkiri. But I'm sure a lot of others like it, which makes it no worse than Mahanadhi"; likewise, between blaming the Tamil film world (those who're involved in making the films, that is) for the bad state of Tamil cinema and praising Tamil film industry to skies, to borrow Subhash's expression.

I don't think I can say anything more than "I hated/disliked Pokkiri." Lease of all simplistically explain why "good" films don't get made in Tamil cinema! That's an NP-complete problem as far as I'm concerned. (On that note, did you get to see Viji's 'Velli Thirai'? Personally, I connect to Viji's angst, not to Gnani's activist-like rhetoric.)

And, secondly, the point made by Ameer which you seem to dismiss as some kind of "old school of thought." There can't be a single consensus on any work of art, or form of art. Your almost apologetic note about Gnani's uncritical approval of 'Mozhi' is itself indicative of the same. Even as he refers to the critic circle as "so-called critics," Gnani seems to bestow some sort of exclusivity to them. And, of course, all through, he seems to take it for granted that 'Mozhi' is indeed a good film. But, I didn't think it was so good; thought it was just alright. So, if in the future 'Mozhi' also gets formulized as some sort of archetype for success ("critical" or commercial), wouldn't Gnani also be responsible for the then "bad state of Tamil cinema?"

Of course, all this is not to say that I object to Gnani bashing up 'Sivaji' or his bringing in 'Sivaji' into the discussion. But, I do disagree with Gnani's "passing the buck" (so to say, much as I hate to use that expression) to filmmakers, studio bosses, critics or what have you. He goes on to eulogise "honest" filmmakers as against "intelligent" filmmakers and so on, conferring a "sacred" image to those filmmakers who are "honest" instead of being sly enough to capture an audience. I'm just reminded of RGV's remark about "making films from one's heart." (He said that he'd rather make films from his belly.) Why go so far, let's just see how impatient we get when filmmakers like Cheran, Thangar Bachan wax eloquent about how their films are "honest" or "made from their hearts." Not only is Gnani off target when passing judgement on the "honesty" of filmmakers and critics, but he's overrating palpable "honesty" itself -- by saying that these people are otherwise intelligent enough and are capable of making good films if only they were "honest."

P.S.
1. I haven't seen the film Pokkiri. I've used it for example's sake. (Of course, I presume it'd have sucked big time. That much of prejudice, we all deserve, I think!)
2. And, for god's sake, Ameer didn't win the Golden Bear! (The day that happens, I think I'll die of heart attack, possibly on a glad note that I'm not going be subjected to listen to an already insufferable Ameer posing with the Golden Bear statue.) 'Paruthiveeran' got a special mention or something, which must have been like saying, "you know what, your film sucked, but we thought we should give you something!"

Anonymous said...

btw suresh, this would have made a fantastic podcast! honestly if you can get 4-5 ppl to debate this on your podcast that will be a real service...i'm guessing your average tamil reader can't decipher what's going on in this chain of comments, but will certainly listen to y(our ) podcast and respond.

zero has pretty much sunmarized my stance. everybody's free to criticize ameer or anybody else, but this mozhi celebration wasn't the right forum, and in any case, such criticism has nothing to do with the dismal state of tamil films. Its like a parent yelling at his son saying the guy isn't good enough to add two numbers, in front of all his other classmates, and suddenly expecting his child to morph into a euclid. at best the child will get defensive. you certainly can't blame ameer when somebody says he is intelligent but not honest...if he is really intelligent he will get defensive. that's what happened. so a guy is defensive, he will naturally make mistakes & trip up on some logical fallacies & you and this gnani ilk want to have a laugh at that ? isn't that pathetic ?

gnani's admonishing will not result in anybody becoming a better filmmaker. its just a rant & it puts people on the defensive quite unnecessarily. the whole interview was quite hilarious & like suresh, i'm quite amazed the whole thing even took place, was caught on camera, aired on TV etc. idhuve periya sadhanai.

Industry is just bunch of people trying to scratch a living out of the dust. Nobody in industry "expects every damn living being on earth to praise it to the skies" like you claim. People are thankful they have work, & then they're scared that tastes will change because audience is fickle, so they won't have work. So its a pretty dicey place to be in. Its not a 9-5 secure job with nice paycheck, nor a fluff job like film journalism where you spout whatever nonsense to sell papers. Its literally walking on a tightrope. I've had the unfortunate occasion to meet several yesteryear stalwarts who have fallen on such rough times they are living in shacks & renting out their homes to make ends meet. This isn't safe and secure by any means. Your average director will get say 4-5 lucrative films under his belt, then he loses his touch, or audience defects, or whatever, and that's it, end of story. He can't keep working until 55 and collect his 401k & socialsec paychecks & medicare and go golfing like every american. Its a majorly fucked up industry, so hats off to whoever's got the balls to stick it through. Instead, putting them on the defensive & laughing at their logical errors is quite silly.

Nor is it true that "the industry guys help each other and hence they can come with really bad products and the viewers won't have an alternative ". If only it was that simple :)

The real motherfucker is your aar kodi audience. For every mozhi that breaks even, there are 99 mozhi's that don't. Many of them you don't even hear about, they are literally half-completed, in the cans, and then producer walks out & its all over. Why didn't the audience, if it cares so much for quality, support those other 99 flops ? And why does every commercial manage to atleast recover its initial ? So what is in this audience that causes them to support that trash ?

So your simpleminded filmmaker makes a simple calculation - statistically, my commercial will recover initial, so let me make that first. That's what Prakashraj has been doing. He has done 100s of trash commercials as an actor. Now suddenly his conscience is pricked so he hands some pocket change to Radha Mohan to make quality films, one of which happens to click, and suddenly everybody is supposed to sit up & applaud ? Who is the real jackass here ? I see 6 crore jackasses.

And what's with all this servility ? "Radha Mohan cannot make a sivaji, Radha Mohan has nermai" etc. Why so much obsession about another man ? Let him make sivaji or not make it, why the fuck do you care ? Watching this sort of ass-kissing makes me cringe.

Let people make what they want. Nobody has to give a report card to gnani. He has no locus standi. I think this passage merits reiteration - "Gnani is overrating palpable honesty itself."

That's the crux. Gnani doesn't seem to know what honesty even means. Villian raping hero's sister is honest - that is what a villian, a bad person, will do by definition. A nonbrahmin singing nila kaigirathu in carnatic ragas is patently dishonest. A physics prodigy who fights elections & turns down an opportunity to study abroad and can singlehandedly battle goons & survive bullets is patently dishonest. Frankly, every rathnam character has many more shades of dishonesty than a cheran character. Cheran's characters are stock stereotypes, but atleast they are honest. Mani manufactures some fantasy type urban romantic gung-go hero & tries to equate them with everyman, that's a patently dishonest hollywood trick. If you want brutal honesty with no compromises, you'll end up with stuff like salaam bombay - then your aar kodi audience will get up in unison and walk out within the first 5 minutes. So the real dishonest motherfuckers are your aar kodi audience. If you really want to admonish somebody, go yell at them. Not at some idiot filmmaker who's trying to survive in some hellhole industry by doing whatever it takes.

Zero said...

Anon,
Just a few quick points:
1. I did NOT say Mozhi celebration wasn't the right forum. On the contrary, I said (twice!) that I don't find that objectionable at all. I don't see filmmaking fraternity as "one family" or myself as one of their "protectors." I am not at all sad that Ameer was pushed by Gnani to make fallacious arguments. :)
2. I didn't comment on whether Gnani's admonishment will result in something good or someone becoming a better filmmaker. I'm often told that I'm very harsh in appreciating films myself, not "kind" enough considering the "soozhal" and all that. But, hey, that's me, and I've my own judicious reasoning with with I offset the way I access any film. (In short, constructive criticism isn't something that I expect from someone in a fundamentalist sense.)
3. I don't know who is "the real culprit." I don't even think of this situation as if there's one.
4. My point with respect to "honesty" and "vision" is that the "honest vision" of an artist itself could be unworthy for me. And, I don't consider "honest" in absolute terms (nor does Suresh, I am sure), and don't rigidly object to any kind of compromise in a filmmaker's vision. Like Truffaut said, an auteur (director) should *use* the commercial apparatus and make what he wants to make. But, many when slotting of various genres of films as "commercial cinema" seem to miss the point.

P.S.: I'm not saying Gnani is totally snobbish towards any commercial film. (I've been struggling to listen to the Kumudam interview for a long time now... (What the hell is the problem in streaming with sites like this? Don't they just enough to emulate what Youtube is doing? I've heard some bits here and there.) Gnani does suggest that he wouldn't bash all commercial films but only those which attempts to achieve commercial success alone. But, there's a whole lot of subjectivity there. 'Aboorva Sagodharargal' can be indubitably referred to as a commercial film, but there's a lot that interests me in it. And, there's not much in the film that would "help" or "correct" society. So, there.

Subhash said...

Anon,

There it goes. zero has responded. First answer my question. Don't you think that a guy with everything lose shouldn't be bothering a guy with nothing to lose?

So tell me what was the need for that question by Sethu? and if you were Gnani, how differently you would have answered? Analysing Gnani's response is one thing, because he did make the statement that Mozhi is a honest movie, which is laughable, but saying he shouldn't criticise is equally laughable.

Your contention that filmmakers aren't to be blamed is like the logic my friend was talking about when I told him about an escort who was studying in a college. He blamed the guys for forcing the girls to do this thing. It is funny.

Zero said...

Pardon the typo errors in the last comment. I wrote that one in a real hurry.

>>I've my own judicious reasoning with with I offset the way I access any film. (In short, constructive criticism isn't something that I expect from someone in a fundamentalist sense.)<<
I meant to say, I've my own judicious reasoning with which I offset the way I access a film. Which is to say, like everyone else, I also try to be "reasonable" -- what I think is reasonable. And, of course, it should read, "constructive criticism," quote unqoute. A critic doesn't have to necessarily consider the hurdles that a filmmaker faces, and always come up with something "constructive" about a film instead of panning it. The filmmaker after all, has to still "do the right film" -- to invoke Gita to convey where I stand -- in the eyes of the critic for the latter to appreciate it.


>>Like Truffaut said, an auteur (director) should *use* the commercial apparatus and make what he wants to make. But, many when slotting of various genres of films as "commercial cinema" seem to miss the point.<<
I meant to say, many critics, by slotting various genres of films as "commercial cinema" and so on, seem to miss that point.

Anon,
I do agree with you on some counts, but not all, as I've noted in my previous comment.

Suresh said...

Zero (and partly to K),

I agree with you. I haven't been a big fan of Gnani's self righteous approach to the issues he deals with, either. He also carries a 'structural social welfare' like moralism to guide his assessments - in cases I've noticed (ex: in the same interview he expressed that actors smoking on screen affected the people and artistic freedom should be employed "responsibly"). I side with him only when it coincides with general critical analysis.

Speaking of Mozhi function: as I mentioned earlier, although not as strongly, I didn't like Gnani's rating of the movie either in the interview or the function. I also admit, "nermai" wasn't the choicest of the words to describe or distinguish one filmmaker from another. It would, however, make some sense if we understand "nermai" as integrity and not as honesty.

I didn't dismiss Ameer's reasoning completely; however, it should be noted that it's a line of argument that is used to duck under any kind of criticism. To point one more contradiction in what Ameer said: if he thought that there are no good movies or bad movies, why does he want to flaunt his awards? An Orwellian irony. (Or complain the nobody appreciated it.). That's what I'm getting at. 'They' seem to live in dual realities that are divorced from one another.
Your point about how Gnani tries to exclude himself from one of those who bring in subjective biases but try to construct an objective ideal is valid too. I think he was a little less canting in the interview than in the function. But then he would probably argue (if he admits to this criticism in the first place) that "there are various levels and good and bad. First let's get to a 'bad state' where movies like Mozhi is commonplace and work further from there."

I have quite surprised that almost none is willing to say what K and I have said several times (and many of us, including you, I presume, wouldn't have problem doing). I don't understand why there is a visible restraint in criticizing people (whatever makes "people" - part of the population, a mental state, a particular discourse etc.). The same goes to criticizing lack of talent. Gnani himself plays it really safe by saying everybody is capable if only they are willing - which is nothing short of a big lie. Like you've pointed out, "honesty" or "from the heart" doesn't always deliver. Gnani probably doesn't want to think of Hitler as an honest Nazi.

I saw Vellithirai (pushing aside any criticism of the movie per se), and I thought some scenes were good. I identify Viji's angst as far as the on-goings within the movie industry is concerned.

PS. I haven't really tried to find what kind of "awards" he Ameer has "won". I've just been going by what Ameer himself has claimed. Maybe I should find out what kind of "awards" these are. Thanks for pointing it.

K (anon),

Ameer getting defensive isn't some response to some accusation that happened in the heat of the moment. That's why I've been asking you watch the interview if you have time. This guy, when he's probably most composed and not drilled by some guy, still believes and feels whatever he said in the Mozhi function (and other interviews). I'm having an irritated laugh at it because this is not a particularly individual trait. You'll find most of his contemporaries arguing along the same lines (riddled with logical fallacies).

About the film makers' supposed precarious position and all that:
K, we have had this exchange several times, even in this blog. I'll just link to one of the comments that close to your point.
As Zero has said, a critic (or a consumer, connoisseur etc.) need not necessarily take into account the environment to assess a product for what it is. Take a food critic: he/she looks at the plate, the way it's presented etc. Then she takes a bite, finishes the dish and writes a review about that particular dish*. Now where do you think should he write about how poor the chef once was or how he struggled to get his diploma or how he managed to cook this dish amidst great opposition in the kitchen? You'll, however, find these details when someone's writing a biographical piece on the chef.
At the risk of being wordy, I'll give another analogy: 1.Nike makes really good shoes** 2. Nike exploits third world labour to make more profits.
I think you'll agree that assertion two has no bearing on assertion one (and vice versa).

Even though you hijacked what Zero meant, I have no disagreements with your explication of how "honesty" works within the realm of movies. Or how the movie makers have to struggle to keep it going. I have interacted with a few myself. Nevertheless, my criticism of their movies -whether it's in place or not - would not change (and I have at no time excused the "people's" role in all of this).

*,** - In both cases, let's keep aside the argument surrounding how one comes to the conclusion that he/she does.

PS. A podcast wouldn't be a bad idea, but logistics and scheduling is a major headache.

Anonymous said...

Suresh, more & more I get the impression you want people to live like an automaton ie. be perfectly consistent & logical at all times or atleast within their framework of lies. Frankly, its neither necessary nor actually possible, except for maybe very few people like yourself. Most if not all humans are dangerously flawed. Why should ameer not flaunt his award while simultaneously believing there are no good or bad movies ? I see no contradiction in that.
There is this theory in finance that precise stock picking is counterproductive. Now that is the theory. So that is what is taught in the classroom. So one day a very rich investor came to the school. The Professor approached him & asked what stocks to pick. He said, don't you believe that stock picking won't work, isn't that what you teach ? Yeah, he said, but that's for the classroom :)

That's the thing. Despite my belief that poor people are no less happier than the rich, I still strive to be rich. Why ? Well, why not ? Its just too easy to be poor. So also its just too easy to be a critic. What your gnani & raja sen & brangan are doing in their 30s I have done in my teens. You go to any upscale icse boarding school in any metro in India, you will find many teens who write much better and are much more informed about movies & cross-referencing them with litcrit & european schlock & Lacan & narrative theory. But instead of doing those things full-time, we do it during some year-end competition for kicks, & rest of the time we were studying, so we can make the big bucks & go abroad etc. Just writing these reviews & have binary opinions about integrity vs intelligence etc., that is just too easy. You are merely throwing words around. So don't kid yourself. This Gnani is not some intellectual heavyweight we should all kowtow to simply because one morning he woke up & decided there was some arbit division between intelligence & integrity. He hasn't actually done anything. But all the filmmakers in that function, they've all done something. Something crappy, sure, something good, maybe, but still, they've done something. I've done that too and its incredibly hard. They aren't sitting idle stringing words around & baiting people, that's just juvenile. Certainly the doer figures much more highly, on any criterion, than the placid thinker, who in this case merely has to wrap his prejudice with flowery rhetoric to make his point. If you read the Gita they put it across much more succintly. But the doer, any doer for that matter, is certainly owed some magnanimity, because by definition he is doing something. These Gnanis really have nothing to lose by virtue of doing nothing, so fuck them. That's how it stands in my book, and I don't have to be logically consistent or objective about it. If you don't feel that way now, I wager you will when you start making seven figures, I say that with no patronizing or condescension.
Here's something that might be of interest to you - http://passionforcinema.com/india-in-cannes-hum-panchhi-ek-dal-ke-in-short-film-corner/

20,000 Rs for 9 minutes of footage seems to be the going rate for a shoot in India. Now writing a review for that 9 minute movie won't cost you 2 paisa. But the guy who made it, what of his vision & labor & least of all, the 20,000 rupee ? So fuck the 2 paisa review. That's where I stand. At best you can say I like x, I don't like y. Every viewer has that right. Commentary beyond that, as in x is objectively good, y is objectively bad, maker of x is intelligent but not honest etc., is completely egregious & should be booed in my books.

Juvvi said...

Anon,

Your concern for the doer is touching.

Well, to me it seems there is a market for opinions too. And Gnani, brangan are using it.

You seem to be getting too self-righteous like Gnani.

Suresh said...

K,

There are too many contradictions in your argument to argue against. But the bottom line, from what you've said, is that you go by your 'book'. And I'm so not buying it. I think it's best to end this exchange here.

Just to clarify: Gnani is not just a film critic. I thought you went though his wiki page. So he's as much a so called doer as any "doer".

PS. I'm not a fan of any individual or hold anyone in an exalted position. Gnani is no different.

Anonymous said...

If you thought Ameer was arrogant, check this out. (comment #22 by Gautham in particular)
http://www.desipundit.com/baradwajrangan/2008/06/05/interview-gautam-vasudev-menon/

Suresh said...

haha, what a clown? This guy takes his wannabe upscale image a little too seriously, doesn't he?
{{The cop saying freeze in KK was approved by many cops with whom we discussed the screenplay. }} - Right! I'm sure "many homosexuals" approved being represented as misogynistic bisexual psychopaths; many women approved to being shown as powerless rape victims; and...you see where this is going. So much for seeking "approval"!

{{Oh yes, you have, the last film i borrowed from you was called ‘ i give a damn about you’..}} - that's why he did not browse through comments in blogs and reply their comments. See, that's some guy impersonating the actual Gautam Menon. He wouldn't say such childish things - they are reserved for his movies.

Suresh said...

Just to clarify: I have nothing against arrogance per se. It's only when someone says something totally vacuous and act like they've said the most intelligent thing it's infuriating.

Mahesh said...

Waiting for Dasavatharam review !

Subhash said...

Mahesh,

Suresh is also waiting for someone to load the torrent of the movie.

Suresh said...

You said it. Only that I don't download Tamil torrents (unless it's a rare 'classic'). I'm waiting for it be uploaded in one of these part 1, part 2, part 3 split upload sites. Usually it takes no more than 3 days. paakalam.

I don't know if I have ever "reviewed" a movie. As one of my friends put it: "ni eppo paathaalum script'aye attack pannittu irukka!". edho oru elava pannit thola'nu solreengala? Besides, I'm not sure if I want to do a roast of this movie given even some of the Kamal fans are trashing it (and I feel my "roasts" are a bit passé).

I didn't expect this movie to be any good. I left my comments a month ago, when the trailer was posted in youtube (let's see if anyone can guess what my ID was - it's fairly straightforward). I'll probably use the comments space on some vetti post to thrash it (after watching, of course).

Ananthoo said...

hey Suresh..am waiting for u to roast dasavatharam..i saw it..its lousy (thats an understatement, believe me..its just a movie made by n for himself to massage his ego!in the process even make ups show lousy..aiyoo..i can bet it, even when u said so after that trailler, u wud not have expected such bad scene!

Anonymous said...

http://nrimaami.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/dasavatharam-for-dummies/

suresh ..what do u think about this post and about dasavatharam the movie ..would be interesting to hear ur podcast on this topic.

Suresh said...

The comment (the forwarded mail) is total bullshit. Chaos theory could not have been twisted any worse. I just downloaded the movies, endha latchanathula irukku'nu paakren.

Anonymous said...

Did you watch the latest "gnani pesugiren" with director Myshkin? In many ways, it was very different from that of Ameer and I was impressed with Myshkin. I will now have to go back and watch his "Anjaadey". But I thought you would find it interesting.

bhuvanesh said...

just reminded me of Ram, director of Tamil M.A. He comes across as a decent unassuming person from whatever interviews i ve seen of him. Once, to a question from suhasini, he replied casually that he too once made the mistake of thinking that Mani ratnam films were the best one can get to watch in Tamil. shd have seen her face!!!

Suresh said...

Yeah, I saw the interview a couple of days ago. It was pretty good. He said a few things that were as honest as it can get.
"muppathu kodi roobaaila padam panna vendiya avasiyame illa, moonu kodi roobaaila olukkama padam pannaa podhum"
"correct'a third act'la oru ponna kondu vandhu aada solli audience'a ukkara veikeradhu - adha vida oru porukki thanam vera edhume kedayadhu"

He made a very strong point: in spite of all the "commercial needs" of a movie, a director can cleverly handle the aspects by presenting them aesthetically.

It brings back Gnani's assertion about directors having some integrity. Although its potential to bring decent stuff on-screen is debatable, we can safely say that such directors' movies will at least have somethings that are way better than the rest (ex: less heroics for the "hero").

Of course, it should be mentioned that Mishkin's movies don't entirely reflect the person he seems to be. His movies are alright in parts, but as a whole they live in exaggerations, over the top scenes/acting and scenarios. It's an amalgamation of cliches, cheap gimmicks and coat of realism. It has, in both cases, stopped short of having the potential to be a decent movie.

I don't know the Katradhu Tamil guy. It was one of the most regressive movies in recent times. I wanted to podcast on it. I will discuss it along with Anbe Sivam and all those movies that present a half baked understanding of class struggles and how they are different from true red movies like Kan Sivandhal Man Sivakkum, Ezhavadhu Manidhan and even Varumayin Niram Sigappu (in spite of its mild overdose of dramatics). Only that it's been a very long time since I say Kan Sivandhal and Ezhavadhu Manidhan. I don't seem to be able to remember the dialogues that well.

Anonymous said...

Dei, ezhavathu mandian ??!! How old are you ?:) btw i saw that film a year or two after release on its straight-to-afternoon-doordarshan slot :) i remember feeling distinctly impressed by the use of a lot of silhouettes & shadows...btw your favorite film Aval Appidi Thaan also heavily uses underlit scenes...wonder if you paid attention.
This Mishkin's rise from rags to riches is quite dramatic...prolly based entirely on that 1 chartbuster meen song. I listened to some of his interviews on vijaytv. The guy came across like David Dhawan. DD actually started out doing very serious shit like editing Mahesh Bhatt's Arth. He was a very good film theoretician. But then he consciously drifted to commercial Govinda masala...I dunno why. Mishkin's knowledge of film theory etc has little to do with what he puts on screen for audience consumption. On koothu songs & item girls, he said he preferred 1 navel but not several:) "Oru thoppil okay, thoppil thoppil thoppil not okay" :) He was quite blase about commercialization. I think the average Indian audience does that to you. Otherwise you get tagged as art-house chap & then career is on a straight line to the shithouse. Take that 7th man director...unless i'm mistaken, he now runs a film school for prasad in chennai...he's the dean, & the mentor for sudhish kamath :) btw sudhish once posted some long snippet from that chap.

interesting you mention varumayin niram sivappu. the ending where kamal becomes a barber was lifted from my uncle's ( dad's brother ) novel bournvita vum pazhaya sorum or somesuch. KB wrote to him asking for permission & he ofcourse gave it. he now runs a film society in rajapalayam :) the last i met him, he narrated his screenplay featuring a small boy who sells sudermani jatti in salem bus stand to get money to pay for funeral of his mom :)) i was thoroughly flabbergasted & said it has no chance.
this art-house crowd is quite interesting. on one hand their portrayal of indian milieu is very accurate. on the other, the persons themselves are inevitably what arnold calls girly-men...very non masculine in their behavior.

you should really watch anwar. incredibly accurate portrayal of present day india...commercial starcast...cannes award winning director ...it had everything...both critics & audience buried it because it told a "negative story". there's dialogs like "i have begun to hate india" ...and it bombed badly. very sad.

watch anwar before you do the podcast. guarantee it'll affect you majorly :)

Suresh said...

{{Otherwise you get tagged as art-house chap & then career is on a straight line to the shithouse.}}- hahaha, adhu seri.

Yeah, I remamber the Bournvita background that you mentioned a year ago. Of course, mathavangalum therinjukattum.

Like I said, I saw Ezhavadhu Manithan a long time ago. Once the whole movie in Doordarshan and then about 6 years ago in Sun TV (or Raj TV) in one of those programs where they play the movie for 20 minutes. Kan Sivandhal got more repeats in Doordarshan, so I'm sure most 23+ year olds would have seen it at least once.

Anonymous said...

Dei Suresh, watch this right now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewz6w1irdEE
at 7min.
also @8:55min.
unga deep feedback upon this deep dharani saar odanne expected :)

Suresh said...

Dharani is above all of us. avar solradhu dhan kareetu. If I ever make 15-20 crores, I would ask him to spend it on his kuthu paatu + punch dialogues movie and double my money.

Anonymous said...

Found some material, very coincidentally while browsing youtube.

sample -
Why is Madhan so obsessed with "makkal's" purported "rasanai"?
He, in his condescending tone, clearly indicates that he thinks people's sensibilities are below par[1]. Why then isn't he not criticizing the very people? No! That would be counter productive, wouldn't it? Effigy burning to ransacked offices, the last thing Vijay TV needs. Fine, at least be open this bloody obvious intimidation by the "makkal".
[1] - a debatable notion. But I think "makkal" are mostly idiots, as MK would say often.

That too with subscript square bracket 1 etc ?! Dei idellam thevaiya ? Then I write something very simple like tamilnadu = 6 crore jackasses, ppl yelling at me ?!! Same thing that I've said, you've said ages ago, except with subscript & superscript. From now, I am going to cite many of my own quatations using various symbols for various gumbals :)

Anonymous said...

Di karuvaya.. Ne enna achieve panni kilichutta nnu karuththu solla kilambitta.. crowd serntha lecture pannuva.. thaniya vatha ajakku vela pannuviya...

Ashwini said...

Hey suresh dont care abt any anonomous post or comments...u rock always..dont lose self confidenceat any point of time..u r born to achieve..all the best.

Aryan said...

Hi Suresh! what about Kuselan. I am waiting for your roast! A+

Anonymous said...

Guys, I do not know if you are still using this blog. here is gnani's latest move. Please visit this site: www.kolamcinema.org

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