Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Try-wind-rum Lodge

Disclaimer: I don’t qualify as a critic, for movies or books (by any stretch of imagination) primarily for two reasons.

1. I do not take a neutral stand for my likes/ dislikes (rather than terming them good or bad), preferring the good old binary method.
2. I am not an expert on either books or movies. I watch movies for entertainment and read books to improve my language.

Any views mentioned on this blog are totally personal and not meant to question or demean the work of the artist.

“The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore.” – The Rain

I love watching movies. I watch movies across various genres, in various languages; English, Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil (specific to actors/directors and with sub-titles). In this post, I have decided to stick to my roots, and talk about Malayalam movies over the last couple of decades.

In the early 90’s, most Malayalam movies were of primarily two categories; movies with lead actors portraying angry young men in family dramas and secondly, typical Priyadarshan brainless comedies (currently chartbusters in the Bollywood arena). The success of both genres was overall high, strong storylines encompassed with subtle scripts and original jokes.

In the dawn of the new millennium, the ageing heroes of Mollywood (inspired by Marvel Comics & Rajanikanth) grew from ordinary to super-heroes. The actors generally survived 3 hours of rampant villains, and goons were sent flying across the screen every other minute. Moreover, each movie had its fill of song-and-dance sequences. You could stay rest assured that the hero would get his girl at the end of the movie. On the other hand, our B-grade industry picked up speed and served up the fantasies for most male mallu adolescents.

As time went by, the sparsely populated cinema halls provided an opportunity to discover new realms. Younger directors, schooled in the technicalities of film-making stepped in to experiment with vibrant scripts. The change was immediate, and welcomed by the famishing movie buffs. Like a whiff of fresh air, movies with daring scripts (Chappa Kurishu, 22 fk, etc.) engrossed viewers and held them to their seats. Mollywood found its way into multiplexes across metros and became a weekly fixture for new releases. The web of age-old movie making rules were broken and the experiments continued its foray into new, unseen dimensions. But over the last year, the exceptions have ended up creating new rules.

Let me elaborate. The new set of films had provided a glimpse of our future societal environment. It had surprised and prickled our emotions. But, familiarity breeds contempt (at least in my viewpoint). The subject of the movies was centered on a lifestyle influenced by the West. Extra-marital affairs, divorcees, womanizers – the central protagonist’s role was similar. Disturbingly, the content of some of these movies provided viewers with a license to accept the storylines as part of our culture, and future. Vulgarity and abusive language allowed spectators a shot of adrenaline and multiplexes drowned in the thunderous applause. Somewhere down the line, in an effort to maximize creativity, we had overstepped the lines of balance.

Trivandrum Lodge is one of latest entrants in this genre. While some critics have termed the movie as “Different, bold, well-scripted, well-directed and with good performances," I could only describe the movie as repulsive. It starts with a conversation between two “modern” women who describe their relationships. One finds her “epitomy” (guess she meant epitome) in an uneducated, filthy rich husband while the second is out to “fornicate with independence” after her recent split. Moving on, we come across the two lead male protagonists. The former, a desperate and dumb (yet smart) sexaholic plays “Man Friday” to the leading lady (Miss Fornication) while the latter, a widower - believes in the essence of love, and yet commends on his mother’s ability to handle multiple extra-marital affairs (while explaining to his dad, who transforms from an idealist to an opportunist over a few scenes) as business deals. Add another couple of testosterone charged males, a prostitute, a pimp, and also a blooming love story between two children who romance like teens. Not to miss out on the beep that sounds after every abusive word has been heard.

Perhaps, this is true after all and happens behind every closed door. But, with due respect to our culture and upbringing, I find it hard to digest and accept this as our society today. I might be living in a state of denial as the secluded frog in the well, but we could really use better themes to portray in our movies.


A humble request from a movie buff.

“Conscience is the guardian in the individual of the rules which the community has evolved for its own preservation.” – Somerset Maugham

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