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Driving the message too hard
May 25, 2004 12:57 AM 3730 Views
(Updated May 25, 2004 12:57 AM)





I thought of writing a review for this film because my views are somewhat different from other reviews I have read elsewhere. I have observed the other reviews to be either excessively critical (mainly from the media) or excessively adulatory (mainly peer reviews). This is not the usual review in that it doesn?t have a story outline or character sketches.

First the good things about it. This is a good film from Mani Ratnam , viewable at least once. Despite the different style of flash backs, I didn?t find the film to be either confusing or sagging at any point. In fact the way in which three stories are merged makes viewing more interesting. The climax is perfect and Mani finally restores the realism that is somehow lost in the middle.

The climax shows that nothing much is really done because these four people are elected, but it is a good beginning. The casting is perfect, with the probable exception of Esha Deol. Though there was not much of a role for her, she somehow looked unconvincing in that too. All the others had done very well. The dialogues were very good and all the encounters between Surya and Bharathiraja were too good. The cinematography was also very good, with refreshing angles.

Now coming to the flip side, I think the movie tries to drive the message, that students should come to politics, too hard. In fact , Mani tries so hard that his much acclaimed realism is missing in the scenes after the flashbacks. Already it is hard enough to believe that there could be anyone like Michael, who is academically brilliant, stronger than a goonda and socially conscious. In addition to all these he also mouths some interesting dialogues about hormones and XY chromosomes, which some would consider as a reductionistic way of thinking and which in any way doesn?t go along well at all with his socially conscious and altruistic nature.

Madhavan?s character is more realistic. Arjun looks realistic exactly until the point he announces that he is ready to contest in the elections. This when no body else is ready ! I could have accepted him supporting the election work or something like that, but this is too much. And Trisha?s character ! She says she came back to Arjun because ?I realised u r not going serve some white fellow in US, when I saw ur face in TV as standing for elections?.

Come on ! This is too much to expect from a normal, fun loving girl. In fact for many of todays girls, I would expect the opposite ! The dialogues are good, but at some points they try to hammer the message too hard. For instance ? Michael says ?..if all of us end up as software engineers and people who sell soaps and colas, then our country would be governed by such people only? ? this is no doubt very good, but here only I became sure that Mani is trying to hammer the message .

There is nothing wrong in hammering a message (for instance ?Vedham Puthithu? does it quite effectively), but it should be convincing. Also, why there is so much violence in the film. It is as if, Mani tries to say only people ready to cause and bear such violence should come to politics. Though this may be right in many cases, this is not the right way to give this message. Thus because of the violence, characterisation of Michael and abrupt change of heart of Arjun and Mira, the strongly hammered message is still unconvincing.

Also interestingly, quite unlike Mani, he leaves some things unanswered, though we can get some answers after thinking about it ourselves, like the reason for Inba not going along with his wife after killing his brother. But the one thing I still don?t understand in the movie is, why the politician Bharathiraja says he?s lost his minister post ? by that time even Michael has not been attacked ?

It is appreciable that Mani has given a entertaining, as well as meaningful film, but it would have been a master piece if only he had taken care to make the message more subtle and convincing.

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