Monday, May 21, 2007

Unnale Unnale

Unnale Unnale has all the trappings of a good movie. An attractive lead pair, good camera work, nice costumes and catchy songs. It also has that polished look that audiences increasingly seek.

Perhaps Tamil cinema is swinging between two polar opposites : the rustic, stark, vulgar at one end and the urbane, sophisticated and sleek at the other end. Paruthiveeran belonged to the former category. Every shot in the movie screamed out the words "We made a a rustic movie". There is such a term as Hollywood reality - this consists of attempts to make things more real than they actually are. To me Paruthiveeran was an attempt to show our own rural culture as exotic to us. It's bloody irritating. Not that the film lacked seriousness or genuine moments. It certainly had some great moments.

But Unnale Unnale belongs to the category of the sleek movie. Directors making such movies do not care about rural centres. 50 days in theatres like Satyam is about enough. Audiences want to come with their families in a secure environment, see the movie, and get the hell out. Any attempt to disturb them through "art" usually meets with failure. So directors like Jeeva when they get a cash cow like Oscar Films, milk it to feed their own reputation as sleek directors with finesse and sensitivity.

At the centre of Unnale Unnale lies a fundamental problem. There is no story per say. This wouldn't be such a fault in the hands of a great director. Except that after choosing to helm a project with no story, Jeeva relies on plot intricacies too much. Jeeva would have you believe that every man and every woman are the similar. They are gender stereotypes. Men flirt, laze and take life easy, while women doubt their men. Has Jeeva heard of bra burners?

Actors if they were Greek gods would not be able to save this movie. Vinay with his peculiar pauses and hand movements is nevertheless charming. So are the women, though neither of them have any scope to perform.

Harris Jayaraj has composed some great songs, but some of his background music is lifted. I thought I heard Jon Bon Jovi at one point.

I think movies like this, which seem benign, that do the worst damage when it comes to reinforcing gender stereotypes. It's the average patriarchal movie, which states its claims clearly at the outset, that is actually harmless.

The climax was different. When everyone thinks that Sada would get the guy, the director does a ulta. But is the gender conflict between the prime characters resolved? I think not.

Does candy floss entertainer mean hare-brained film?