Diwali ‘Dumb’aka!

It’s quite interesting that I’ve become a serious follower of movies in a very short span of time. I started watching movies a lot only after joining college, which was in 2007. I have never been a great fan of TV either. The only movies I was certain of watching on big screen were Super Star Rajnikanth’s. I’d be stating the obvious if I said that almost all families in South India, especially Tamil Nadu, make it a point to watch “Thalaivar’s” movies without fail. That reminds me of a status update shared by a very good friend of mine. Here it goes…

Difference between Shah Rukh Khan and Rajinikanth – “Shah Rukh Khan will do anything to make sure people watch his movies! People will do anything to make sure they watch Rajinikanth’s movies!!”

That’s the extent to which movies have influenced people’s lives. What we have to keep in mind is whether the said influence is negative or positive. To be frank, I’ve not watched even a single movie ‘first day first show’. I understand that quite a few of you would now exclaim, “Adappaavi! Really?? Waste po!” But I should mention that I’ve made significant improvement. I have watched both the Tamil movies released for Diwali this year – 7aam Arivu and Velayudham. This is a first for me.

While Velayudham didn’t leave much of an impact on me (sorry Vijay fans, I always try my best to speak only the truth), 7aam Arivu did – not because of how bad the movie is, but because of how good it could have been!

But still, one line about Velayudham will not harm anyone.

Azad (the original Telugu movie) + Assassin’s Creed + super hilarious dialogues = Velayudham.

Speaking about 7aam Arivu, the movie had a great concept, and the director, A R Murugadoss’ idea and the message are absolutely commendable. He has made a great effort to familiarise people to the greatness of our ancestors. But he has greatly failed in doing so. Now, here is my take on what went wrong in the execution of the movie.

But before that, I’ll say what the good things in the movie are. The cinematography and visual effects are amazing, especially in the introductory scene. The depiction of the 6th century Kanchipuram and the visual portrayal of Bodhi Dharma’s journey to China are proof for this. Veteran cinematographer, Ravi K Chandran has proved why he’s still one of the best in the industry. And I realised that more than two VFX studio worked on the graphics when the end credits rolled on.

And like I mentioned earlier, Murugadoss’ thought behind making the movie is really wonderful. Hope we realise the depth of the truth he wants to share through the movie and try our best to revive the glory of our motherland. I also appreciate Murugadoss’ boldness to speak about the Sri Lankan genocide of Tamilians, and he calls for fighting back against them. This, and the fact that he has spoken about the kind of threat China poses to India, are indeed bold moves. But the scene in which the Chinese threat is shown makes you wonder if the movie is a spoof or something.

Having said that, I feel Suriya’s efforts are also laudable. I was a great fan of Suriya. In fact, if you had asked me who my favourite hero in Tamil cinema was some three years ago, I’d have answered, “Suriya.” But for some reason, I started hating him after Ayan. I really can’t explain why that change took place, but I have a feeling that today’s Suriya is not the same Suriya we knew in Pithamagan.

However, he has put in tremendous efforts to justify his selection for the role of Bodhi Dharma. But I just can’t stop feeling bad that these efforts have gone in vain.

First of all, the movie’s fantastic story is accompanied by a poor screenplay. The pace of the movie picks up only in the second half, but by then, one half of the audience has left the theatre. I could understand that Murugadoss was desperately trying to say something, but he had lost his words midway. Only the first 20 minutes show some fragments of Bodhi Dharma’s life. Murugadoss could have either extended that particular part or interspersed many more scenes related to Bodhi Dharma within the movie. A non-linear screenplay would have certainly managed to hold the audience’s attention.

There are 6 songs in the movie, out of which only 2 justify their presence. Murugadoss could have done away with the other 4, or even 5, with the exception of The Rise of Damo. Speaking about the music, I think Harris Jeyaraj should stop composing. In my personal opinion, Unnaale Unnaale was the last movie of his which had some nice songs. No noteworthy songs have come up from him after that. He either reuses his own tunes or copies tunes from someone else. Yellae Lama is just a variation of Amali Thumali which is in turn a variation of Hasili Fisili. Yamma Yamma is just Anjalawith a slower tempo. I wouldn’t be surprised if he copies tunes from Srikanth Deva himself in the future.

Murugadoss should have laid more emphasis on the background score instead.I realised that presentation matters a lot in art only after entering the publishing industry. No matter how profound or valuable the message is, people still look for certain elements that would grip them tightly. 7aam Arivu does have a wonderful message to convey, but the way it has been presented brings a smirk to the face. Presentation is the main reason movies like Engeyum Eppodhum were well-received by the people.

Now the problem with a majority of the audience is they don’t look at movies as pieces of art. Especially in Tamil Nadu, a movie is more or less like a slice of the hero’s life. To them, 7aam Arivu and Velayudham are not two pieces of art. They feel it’s more like a Vijay versus Suriya battle. That’s why you continuously see the fans of both the actors fighting against one another about just the box office collection of the movies. Completely mindless and meaningless hero worship, I say!

As for me, I appreciate all arts and all artists, provided they are original. The audience, as a whole, should behave more sensibly and realize that movie stars are just human beings like everyone else and that they’re only as special as any Tom, Dick or Harry is. FOR GOD’S SAKE, PLEASE STOP HERO WORSHIP!

A poster for 7aam Arivu

Now, coming back to 7aam Arivu, I myself felt like leaving the theatre on several occasions. But it was the aforementioned thought behind making the movie and the fear of upsetting my dear friend that made me sit back and watch the movie fully.I had zero expectations from the movie, but as it progressed, I thought it was going to be a great experience. That’s the reason it was a serious disappointment. It’s the wastage of invaluable talent, time and effort that makes me feel bad.Forget the anti-Suriya audience, any sane and sensible movie watcher and art lover would agree with me that 7aam Arivu could have been a much better movie. Mr. Murugadoss, we appreciate your efforts and we’ll continue to support you. But be a bit more patient and think a thousand times before and while making a movie on such a great subject. Better luck next time!

Written by Vinay Kumaar.

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