Tamil Features

OK Kanmani Unreview: Picture Perfect

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“I want to marry her,” he said.

We were in a city bus in Coimbatore. The girl was a fellow passenger. She was hot.

He had seen her for all of five minutes. But it didn’t matter.

I understood what he meant by wanting to marry her.

He wanted to have sex with her.  Amit Verma, of course, said it better.

*****

Sipping_BirdIn OK Kanmani, Mani Ratnam gets that out of the way. Quickly. A whirlwind courtship, phone numbers exchanged, and then this.  Sending the protectors of Tamil culture into a tizzy, no doubt.

But as it happens, the camera gets awfully shy. Exploring various objects. But none of them is a dippy bird.  Thank heavens for small mercies.

 

Once that’s out of the way, and only after that’s out of the way does she ask. Do you really like me?

He does.

*****

Picture perfect. Each frame carefully crafted, each transition beautifully thought out. The right people in just the right spots; the camera positioned exactly where it should be.

Shot in Mumbai, and pretty much only Mumbai.  Mumbai is a city in India.

No shots that showcase the wonders of the world here. No hearts flying out of mouths.

The songs, the background score; the camerawork, the editing; the costumes and the cast.  Polished and beautiful.

Maybe too polished.  An aging Carnatic musician who’s losing her memory and the heroine sing the beautiful Malargal Keatten.  Her husband watches with tender admiration. Poignant, until the percussion starts up from nowhere.

The song is beautiful, perhaps too beautiful for the situation. A little raw imperfection won’t hurt.

*****

 Meanwhile, Vairamuthu digs into his store of algorithms.

I asked for a little, you gave me a lot.  I got lost in different situations, you came in various forms to rescue me.

Malargal Ketten, Vaname Thanthanai.

Thaneer ketten, amirtham thanthanai.

And then, an existential question. What do I need to ask for to get you?

Hmm.

Hmm.

Abhishek Bachchan?

 *****

Neal Stephenson is a personal favorite. Among other things, his female characters are pretty awesome.  But they are the exact same kind of awesome in every book.

Until you realize it is the same woman. Different names, different times, but the same woman. And that’s not a bad thing.

Just like it is not bad with Mani Ratnam.

Two characters. A boy, a girl.  The boy barely talks. The girl talks enough for two. The boy has integrity. The girl has chutzpah. And so on.

And he throws the same two people into different situations. The girl gets married to another boy in Mouna Raagam. She rescues the boy in Roja.  Here, she lives in with the boy.

Dulquer Salmaan does a better imitation of the boy than anyone else.  Nithya Menen is no slouch either.

*****

What isn’t so hot is the (by now) familiar trope of having the younger couple being inspired by the perfect older couple.  You can’t have the same two characters AND throw them into the same situations.

Even if the older couple are as wonderful as they are in this movie. A subdued Prakashraj – the sparse, white moustache a lovely touch – and a dignified Leela Samson. There is an entire movie in there somewhere.

Made me wish my parents were like this.

Or maybe not. They’re far more entertaining now.

*****

There were more people than seats in the theater.

*****

Alzheimer’s sucks.

*****

There is no attempt to equivocate. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Both don’t like commitment. So they live together.

*****

If you read the Tamil media, they’ll have you believe living together is like a giant non-ending orgy.  Get up, have sex. Eat breakfast. Sex. Office. Sex. Lunch. A little (non-sex) work. Sex. Dinner.  Sexxxxxxxxxxxxx…………..

Just so they know, it does not work like that.  Live in couples don’t really have sex after breakfast.

*****

 This Supreme Court judgment? Made the whole movie moot, methinks. You make a movie about people living in because they don’t want to be married.  Then the court says, nuh uh. They are married.

*****

Picture of Dippy bird : Wikipedia.

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