Thanks to Shankar, master of the vigilante movie, RDB does not shock ‘n awe you with its plot. The mistake would not be in loving or hating this movie, but in taking it too seriously. Let not the fluffy camerawork or light-hearted writing in the first half fool you even for a minute. If you were not incensed & “affected” by the number of corrupt ministers killed in cold blood by the Vijaykants & Sarath Kumars, then you should not care about the style of retribution in RDB either. Accept it as just another revenge drama, albeit shot with more refinement, and you can avoid the brooding after (either over the movie or the money lost).

PS: I’m still recovering from that damn viral fever which could explain the attempt at rationale. Maybe in a week, I’ll be crying into a pillow over my lost seven dollars. Or choking up everytime I hear a fighter plane roar by. God! I hope I get struck by lightning if it’s the latter.

30 thoughts on “On RDB”

  1. Manoj, tell us a movie which you really liked, past or, present :-) All I see you and Karthik(etcetera) doing are bashing up any desi movie that comes your way.

  2. Why me :) Ok, in my defence, here is the list of Tamil movies I liked last year:

    1. Kana Kanden
    2. Kanda Naal Muthal

    And since you said past or present, I’ll name Azhagi and Pithamagan here as well.

  3. Vijay:
    Ditto Karthik for my list of 2005 movies. In fact, I’ll add Kaadhal to that list . I would have loved to watch Mohanlal’s Thanmaathra while in India but didn’t find the time. That sounds like a movie I’d love.

    As for movies of past, I love most Crazy Mohan/Kamal Haasan comedy ventures, with Kaadhala Kaadhala being my favorite. Amongst more serious ventures, I still like Mahanadhi (inspite of that climax), Raja Paarvai, most of Kuruthipunal, Iruvar, Johnny, Batcha (purely as a Rajini fan) and some Bhagyaraj movies. (I have to watch Uthiri Pookal again to find out if I still like it).
    My favorite Malayalam movie is Thoovaana Thumbigal. I also like Nammukku Paarrkkaan Munthiri Thoppugal, Dasaratham etc.

    I still look to Bala as the director of the future for Tamizh. If only Vikram had toned down his gorilla act, PitaMagan would’ve been awesome. But I still liked it. and I hope Selvaraghavan finally comes of age with Pudhupettai.

  4. get well soon! this is so brief. i guess my question is — is it as mindless and headache-inducing as anniyan? is there any thought in it at all — or is the whole freedom-fighters-of-yore thing a cheaply-used gimmick?

    ps. you liked iruvar???? that was one of the worst movies i have ever seen! majaa was better than iruvar.

  5. Manoj: Amen to you brother.. amen!
    Concur with most of your movie choices, though I havent seen Thoovaana Thumbigal. Have seen Namakku Paakan Mundhiri Thoppukkal and Dasaratham though, courtesy my pop and my cousins! Shahji Karun did some good stuff….

    Manoj/Karthik: Did you guys catch Azhagiya Theeye?

    Jevya: Whoa.. timeout.. Maja was better than Iruvar.. Or am I so sleepy that I can’t sense someone’s sarcasm?

  6. Anti,

    I liked Azhagiya Theeye quite a bit.. but that was circa 2004. And agree with Manoj: Bala and Selvaraghavan are the directors of the future in Tamil…

  7. Bala ‘somehow’ fits into the list, agreed. But Selvaraghavan?…with his lame ‘Kaadhal Kondain’ and even more lame ‘7/G…’
    But ‘Pudhupettai’ looks promising…let’s c.

  8. no sarcasm — i think iruvar had some cleverness in it (the song picturizations esp) but the story dragged and was poorly structured, the directing was really amateurish . for all its cast of characters, it’s emotional/stylistic palette was pretty monotonous. at points, it had its ambitions but i found it boring (which i’d also say abt nayakan). imajaa was frothy fun.

  9. OK, now that you have listed the movies which you actually liked, how about reviewing them in your blog once in a while? :-) Same with music. (although I cant blame you much there because I seem to mostly hate present day Tamil film music too) Karthik especially picks up obviously bad movies like Karka kasadara, which are sitting ducks and shoots them down in his blog. Whats the point? I expect better discernment than that from a guy who prides himself in reading the best literature has to offer.

    BTW, regarding your choices, Kana kanden – am a little surprised. It wasnt bad but it wasnt great either. The climax was usual and I thought the movie deteriorated once the intentions of Prithviraj was made clear. After that it became a little tiresome and veered towards being a routine masala movie.. Havent seen Kanda naaL mudhal yet.
    Kaadhal was good – will have to see if Balaji sakthivel makes another film.

    Pithamagan – Vikram was over-the-top and that spoiled the impact of the movie on me. Bala’s Nandha was a better film with a short,shocking climax although a tad unrealistic.

    jevya, Maja is better than Iruvar? Huh..thats exaggerated criticism on your part. Anyways, its apples and oranges comparison. Iruvar wasnt meant to “entertain” you the same way Maja was. And if you liked Maja, you’ll probably like Saravana better :-)

  10. Vijay,

    Writing reviews for movies you liked, but didn’t love is a difficult thing to do. When I watch a pathetic movie like Karka Kasadara, I feel inspired to write about it, primarily because I can have some fun writing about it. I must’ve watched 80% of the movies made last year… and I only choose to review the ones that

    a) I liked a lot
    b) are bad enough for me to have some fun reviewing them..

    And, sadly enough, none of the “good” 2005 movies moved me enough to make me write about them.. By the way, I did write about Pithamagan here.

    Books in general inspire me more… and I have this soft corner for them that prevents me from writing about the bad ones. In the end, my blog (and Manoj’s blog) is an avenue for me to have some fun and it is important to really enjoy what you write about if you want the fun to last. So I pick things that I enjoy writing about – books, bad movies, really good movies in that order.

  11. Oh, and one more thing: You seem to concede that most Tamil music today is bad. That’s how I feel about Tamil movies – there is the odd, rare movie that’s worth the price of a ticket but most of the rest is trash. And I don’t want to write reviews that say good acting, decent camerawork, average music: there are hundreds of magazine reviewers to do that.

  12. Karthik, I understand the mentality that bashing is fun. I even enjoyed one of your humurous takes on a bad film. But it can be done by anyone too -the hundreds of magazine reviewers that you mentioned. In fact there is a site where they bash EVERY hollywood film, hilariously, but their actual star rating gives an indication of what they actually think of the movie

    I understand your priorities now, I guess my priorities as a reader are a little different I guess :-) I expect insightful analysis on films once in a while, especially from people with good exposure to literature who can identify and appreciate more, the symbolism, surrealism and other visual techniques. I missed your earlier Pithamagan review which I read now while typing this, and your quoting of Jayakanthan’s story in the review is precisely what I am talking about. With exposure to both Tamil and English literature, you can draw such parallels and similiarities which others can’t. My comments are mostly out of angst and not meant to be any sort of serious criticism of your blog. Hope you take it that way.
    (I also liked your writeup about Uravugal Thodarkathai song and how it moved you. In fact that was probably the first writeup that I read in your blog)

    Manoj, sorry for having this discussion in your comments section :-), but whatever I said earlier for Karthik mostly applies to you too. When you can identify and write well about bad music and bad films, I feel you must be capable of writing about what really moved you too. If nothing recent moves you, you can even take up an old film or an old Ilayaraja album and write about it once in a bluemoon. Just a casual suggestion.

  13. Vijay, I understand too. Unfortunately, there is only one Pithamagan every two years.. … I was talking to Manoj about this sometime back, and I am at a point where I am tired of writing ‘funny” movie reviews. I guess at some point, I will stop .. and only wait for the really good movies to review. I am sure Manoj doesn’t mind our discussion here – at least we are not calling him names.

  14. Jevya: Headache-inducing? I don’t think so. Cheaply-used gimmick? Unintentionally, yes.
    One could draw parallel with a Shankar movie in that RDB also sets the stage with realistic characters (that is, if you think getting drunk & jumping off a building is something you can relate to). But nit-picking apart, it does make an attempt to make you relate. But the actual act of retribution is where Shankar goes off on a tangent with his larger-than-life protagonists. In a way, that’s shankar’s way of rooting the audience more into reality by saying, “You can never do this, but I know you wish you could”, whereas RDB tries to falsely make you think that killing a politician is something that you could do. Seriously, if I thought I could explain this better, I would’ve made a post about it. But this is only good enough for a comment. Barely. :)
    I think I liked Majaa more than some other Maniratnam movies, not Iruvar.

    Anti: And Amen to your Amen, bro! And I liked ‘Azhagiya Theeye’ a lot too. My favorite line to quote from that movie remains, “Tamizhnaatile mattum thaanda, xerox copy-kku koode kai thattuvaange”. Makes me chuckle always.

    Muthuvel: Maybe I should have also included the disclaimer – “Provided both dierctors mature in their story-telling abilities”. It’s their treatment I like. Very refreshing. Which is why I think they could be better directors in the future.

    Vijay: I’m glad you worked it out with Karthik. I really didn’t want to have to stop a bloodbath here. :)
    As for me writing about good movies, the honest answer is: Where’s the fun then? Plus, I wouldn’t know to write about a good screenplay/script, camera angles, cinematic grammar etc. (I love movies like Amelie & Rushmore, but can never really explain why). But like many, I sure do know when they screw up all the above, which makes it easier to write about. :) As for music, I honestly think the Tamizh music scene is doing better than the movie scene. 2 good songs in an album is a far more frequent occurence than 2 good movies in a year.

  15. “I think I liked Majaa more than some other Maniratnam movies, not Iruvar.”

    well, which ones?

  16. Damn you Jevya! :)
    Alright, I’ll bite. I’m not a Maniratnam fan. So lets just say, other than Iruvar (and his song picturisations), I don’t think too much of the rest of his work (esp. the horrid writing). Not that he sucks or anything, just that he is not all he is made out to be. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and all that.

  17. “Not that he sucks or anything, just that he is not all he is made out to be”

    and what has he been made out to be, that he ins’nt?Mani, unlike Shankar, rarely ever talks to the press and lets his movies do the talking. The “horrid” writing that you talk about is actually being done by Sujatha for Mani rathnam, for the past few years :-)

  18. heh-heh this is why I damned Jevya. Didn’t really want this to turn into a discussion on Maniratnam. Sorry, but I’ll take a raincheck on this, Vijay. :)

    Hey…glad you agree B(K).

  19. I’m alive and well, anti. Just taking an extended break. :)
    Atleast Bosey has resumed blogging. Hopefully for atleast a few months this time. Always nice to see you back, Anand.

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