Friday, April 15, 2005

Twinkle Twinkle Superstar

Though I had mentioned in my earlier post that I do not readily subject myself to two to three hours of visual and auditory torture, I seem to have been doing a lot of that for the last week or so. A case in point is today, when I watched not one movie but two – one after the other, sitting alone in a theatre.

For those of you who may be mystified by my inexplicable behaviour, let me hasten to explain – April 14 saw the release of three films, and I get paid for reviewing them. And there’s nothing I love to do more than collect papers with Mahatma Gandhi’s picture on their face. It was this thought that steeled me for three hours of watching the superstar, sitting alongside hordes of fanatical fans.

I’d watched the Malayalam original, Manichitrataazhu in 1993 as a nine year old – not once but several times. I fell in love with the movie, and was scared shitless by Shobhana’s national award winning performance. In fact, Shobhana signed me an autograph which said ‘Nagavalli’ after my mother told her how scared I’d become. So, as far as Chandramukhi was concerned, I expected something much worse. But P. Vasu surpassed my lowest expectations by making a frame-by-frame retake that was infinitely worse than the original.

In the original, Mohanlal, playing an erudite psychiatrist, walks in to the movie just before the intermission. But we can’t have that with superstar, can we? So we see our America educated psychiatrist knocking people around like they were feathers in the first scene – wearing the same white trainers he wore when he was an auto-driver in Baasha.

It was then that I saw the fanaticism that defines a true Rajni fan. Rajni mouthed an inanity after the fight was done - an inanity so inane that it would have made anyone with half a mind barf. But then, to my surprise, this young chap behind me screamed out a reverent ‘Thalaivaah’!

As to what they called ‘comedy’ in the movie, the less said the better. Vadivelu’s comedy belongs to pantomimes staged for the benefit of three year old retards. But, alas, his comedy is foisted upon an audience comprised of several adults. (The fact that they seem to love it casts a shadow over my own sanity, though!)

I mean, I love a good laugh as much as the next man (and the man next to him as well). But I find it difficult to laugh when, say, trucks splash mud on Vadivelu’s face. The only thing I find funny about the completely contrived situation is how Vadivelu looks so much better when his visage is covered by a layer of mud.

As the movie progresses, the story becomes more and more like Manichitrataazhu, except for a mindless stunt sequence where Rajni proves he can fly too. But the hitch is – this makes the movie worse. I shed tears of sorrow as Jyothika tried to roll her eyes and scare the world, Prabhu tried to cry and got the theatre rocking with laughter instead, and Rajni stuck a French beard on and screamed ‘Lakalakalakalaka…’ with his tongue out!

Talking of Jyotika, she has just enough acting talent to comfortably fit into a teaspoon. In addition, my classical dancing skills are just a little better than hers.

When she dances next to Vineeth, a trained classical dancer (and just about the only person in the whole movie who actually acts), she seems about as nimble as an obese Punjabi truck driver. But I’ll hand her this – she’s as adept at raising her eyebrows and looking stoned as the DPS girl is at mouthing funny dialogues as she chokes on whatever she was choking on.

In the theatre, the superstar fan club began to grow eerily silent with the passage of time.

After having started very enthusiastically with the devout call to their thalaivar, the blokes began to quiet down a bit. By the time the intermission was on, they began to make risqué remarks about the ads playing. By the time the movie neared its exciting denouement, the aforementioned luminaries decided it would be more fun to make fun of the hero’s English pronounciation – which they did, calling to hand resources of ingenuity I never expected them to possess.

It was a tired and drained self that walked out of Mayajaal to grab a bite to eat before Mumbai Xpress began to play. As I walked back in, I espied the exceedingly vocal blokes lounging by the entrance.

One of them looked at me in surprise and asked me, ‘Hey, weren’t you with us for Chandramukhi?’

‘Yeah!’, said I, trying hard to bring an expression of joy onto my face.

‘Have you come to watch it again?’, he asked me, his eyes almost popping out of his sockets.


I shouted this out loud enough to cause a couple of seedy looking chaps to turn around and give me a gentle smile of approval.

He looked puzzled as he bade me his goodbye. I wondered why.

It was then that I realized I’d forgotten to don my green shirt, red cargos, pearly white sneakers and twenty buck sunglasses.

P.S: I forgot all about Nayanthara. She’s there as eye candy. Her role lacks substance, but she doesn’t, not by a long shot – hoo boy! =P~

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