Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Broken Crown

I was a bit sceptical when I came to know about the Tamil remake of Kireedam. It was definitely not a typical Ajith storyline, or a regular Tamil movie storyline for that matter. The story, a tragedy, was all about the dreams of a youth being shattered by circumstances.

The original film had many luminaries of contemporary Malayalam cinema. Lohitadas penned the story, Sibi Malayil directed it, S Kumar cranked the camera, capturing brilliant performances from Mohanlal, Thilakan and Mohan Raj as Keerikkadan Jose, an extremely-hated on-screen baddie in Malayalam cinema.

I had seen the butchering of Manichithrathazhu in the hands of P Vasu in Chandramukhi twisting the entire story to boost the role of Rajinikanth. In the original script, Mohanlal’s character appear just before the interval. And the story was heroine-oriented. The performance by Shobana is a benchmark in acting. Same was the case for Kireedam. Mohanlal won his first national award for his role in the movie. And the story was a tragedy.

Tragedies or realistic performances are a strict no-no for the mainstream lead actors in Tamil, although I agree that youngsters like Amir would come up with a Paruthiveeran occasionally. But in that instance, the hero was a newcomer and the crew had the guts to go on with the script. You can’t even imagine going to get the date of a star like Vijay for such a subject.

Kireedam, which means crown, had a similar theme. It starts with the disciplinarian police constable dreaming about his becoming a police officer. The youth, all prepared to take up the tests. But fate plays foul, in the form of  a fight with a dreaded goon, an accident. He beats him down, and the village crowns him as the official rowdy of the locality.

Unable to face his father and always chased by the goons of the beaten dada, the hero sees his dreams shattering in front of him. He loses his career, dignity, and his love. The villain’s thugs aim the hero’s family. Then he takes the big decision: to end this once and for all, either by dying or killing. In the climax, he murders the villain. The transformation from a police-aspirant to a criminal  is complete, as he surrenders before his weeping father.

This storyline would be a perfect misfit for the Tamil mainstream cinema. Here, the hero doesn't run for his life. He single-handedly battles 100 goons, all armed with sickles. He kills the villain, but never surrenders to police. He gives a heavy-worded, high-pitch speech in the climax and walks off with the heroine. And a fan-driven star like Ajith, who has not gone for variety in his choice of roles for years (even Godfather/Varalaru was a disappointment), was not expected to choose such a climax.

But the reviews were encouraging. The story was changed to suit the Tamil Nadu milieu. The role of the heartbroken father was safe in the hands of Raj Kiran. Ajith did a decent job in the role of Shaktivel. And the climax was not changed. I was really happy to see Ajith taking such a decision. Rediff.com slammed the movie but said, "Ajith has to be commended for his courage in essaying a loser's role, not done by stars of his stature." Indiaglitz.com lauded the movie as "a sensible and sincere attempt at realistic entertainment."

But this is the hero-worshipping Tamil movie industry. Nothing can happen to our hero, even if he goes on killing the goons. Sify.com reported a day before: "Ajit’s Kireedam climax has been changed on the request of audiences and fans of the actor. Now the climax has been re-edited, with a "positive ending," and will be screened in all theatres across Tamil Nadu from Sunday (July 29) evening. In the new climax, hero Sakthivel (Ajit) after killing the notorious criminal wanted by the police, a voice-over with the Madras High Court in the background says that Sakthi is pardoned. Later he gets a medal from the President of India and the film ends with a shot of Ajit coming in police uniform and saluting his dad."

Positive ending! Pathetic! The whole beauty of the movie was how it ended. The original climax was a five-minute emotional time bomb. The hero’s cry was not dramatic at any point. The plea made by the father character (Thilakan) was chillingly authentic. Everything was so realistic, and I sincerely wished that to happen in Tamil. Had it happened, it would have been a bold move by Ajith.

But popularity weighs more than performance in Kodambakkam. Unless you have a gutsy hero or producer to back up, the directors will continue to be marketers and the "stars" will never turn real actors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

dats a nice piece of writing from u ji. keep up the good work. looks like a writing of a professional movie reviewer.-kriti