In fond memory of C.S.Hariharan Senior
(Contd. From Part I)
The basic premise is as simple as they come – Rich man’s brother plots his downfall. While escaping from the brother’s pursuit, rich man’s wife gives birth to 4 sons under the refuge of a good samaritan. The brother orders the children to be killed. In Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs fashion, the person assigned to the job undergoes a change of heart and abandons the children instead of killing them except one of them whom he adopts himself (Michael). One reaches the rich man himself (Madan), the second grows up in a Paalakkaad Brahmin cook’s house (Kameswaran) and the last of the quartet is Rajan or chellamaaa surukkamaa Subrahmanya Raju for short (sic).
A neutrino size break at this point. All the foregoing is encapsulated in ONE TITLE SONG SEQUENCE !! This begs the question, why would the makers of the film compress what took one-third of Amar Akbar Anthony’s screen running time into half the time it took to formulate and type the previous paragraph ? Because………there were too many goodies in store for the audience and why waste valuable time on what is merely a foreword.
Catch my point ?
End of neutrino size break. Years later, Madan has completed an MBA in England (not the USA), Raju is a fireman, Kameswaran assists his father in his wedding catering service and Michael is a small time hood. The brother of the rich man – Madan’s father – and his son (played by Nasser) are still plotting his death. They run his car off a cliff and make it look like an accident but he survives. The bad news is he goes mad in the process but the good news is he is reunited with his wife who went missing years ago.
Interesting sidelight, the actors who played the rich man and his brother are also brothers in real life.
The events which bring together the 4 sons after they’ve become adults forms the rest of the plot – not story – P..L..O..T.. A story can put you to sleep………..
Kamal is first and foremost an ace writer. The intricate, unflagging plot, show cases Kamal’s script writing skills. One segment flows seamlessly into another segment, linking up seemingly unconnected settings and events even before you realize it. The James Bond school of script writing’s influence is strongly in evidence here. Kamal had applied it quite successfully 3 years earlier in ‘Vikram’ – a screenplay that Albert R. Broccoli would have been proud of – a spy hideout and chase through the most unlikeliest of places, an agraharam with a crescendo ending in a movie theatre while the Films Division news is going on. The Films Division newsreel headlines an event in the land of Salaamiya (the chase is immediately out of our minds) which in turn sends the hero on a different trail.
Catch my point ?
Kamal carries on the good work in the script department here. You never get the impression that any part of the film is a set piece. During the entire journey, the manner in which the brothers cross each other’s paths, literally within yards of each other yet remain blissfully unaware of each others’ existence is so well thought out – there is always an invisible wall or character forming a bridge between the brothers which is never crossed.
A case in point is the scene where the Pathani moneylender browbeats Raju into paying up his dues . It ends in the moneylender being taken by surprise flinging a plate of fish from the verandah which lands on the next Kamal character to be introduced, Kameswaran.
It is at this juncture that dialogue writer Crazy Mohan bristling at the non-striker’s end with a long period of inactivity fires the first salvo with a barrage of Paalakaad lingo “Kathrikkai Kashnaththa vitterinjaa yellaam seriyaapoachchaaa ?” which forms the meat of the movie’s comedy (more on that later)
Similarly, Madan’s cousin (Nasser) sends 2 small time crooks on Madan’s trail. They follow him, and Madan’s giant valet Beemboy (Praveen Kumar of Mahabharat fame) from the airport. When they lose his trail, Kameswaran comes out of nowhere on a scooter with his helper, Varudhukutty on the pillion seat. The script teases the viewers repeatedly in this fashion by bringing Kameswaran tantalizingly close to the crooks surveillance car till you realize you’ve been unconsciously holding your breath like the car’s occupants. Ofcourse, Crazy Mohan signs off the scene with “Anga oru Adi aal….Inga oru podia al. Pala sizela adi aal vechchirukkaanda…Dei ivan jagdjaala killaadidaa….”
The James Bond influence is visible in other departments also. Madan’s sidekick Beem Boy, to whom he delegates all the heavy work in typical MBA fashion, is a desi version of the Bond comic giant villain Jaws, played so well by 7 foot tall Richard Kiel (In ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, Jaws lands up in the middle of the ocean after a failed chase to kill Bond and when waylaid by a shark retaliates by biting the shark !! ). Only there is huge touch of Big Moose’s innocence in addition to his brutish strength.
In the early days of animated cartoons, due to the astronomical cost of producing even one cartoon short, Walt Disney ensured that there were no lulls between the gags. The script had to be relentless till the very end.
The same principle is applied here. Not a snip of film is wasted.
The movie takes a dig at practically everything , most of all, Tamil cinema itself. Raju on the phone with his paramour Shalini asks her what dress she’ s wearing and she replies ‘Black and White ‘ and he replies ‘Appo Naan Colorla release aaidrayn’. The Peyar vechchallum song pokes fun at the frequent dress changes in song sequences but takes choreography by the scruff of its neck into the next century. Shalini (played by Khushbu) is baffled and even conveys her astonishment at the speed of the dress change while the song sequence is on.
There’s even a dig at Doordarshan also. But the cardinal principle is obeyed here also – viz. NO Wastage of screen time.
Beem is watching cartoon network while eating a banana – his Pluto-ish expression belonged inside Cartoon network not outside. In exasperation, Madan asks him “Beem, why don’t you watch something else – give some food for your thoughts ?” (an oblique reference to Beem’s swallowing the banana. Beem replies in all sincerity “Doordarashan Paakkavaa boss ?”
While Madan is on the phone and absent mindedly watches the TV, his attention is violently diverted to the screen as he finds out that Manorama and Roopini have pulled a fast one on him and Roopini is not a blind cripple.
Bottomline, even the Doordarshan dig moves the plot along.
Catch my point ?
End of Part II
(To be Concluded)
Next Part : The Wizard of Ohz