Talking Movies: Mass-ter plan
The writer muses about the new releases this week, and the impact they would have on the career of their protagonists
Sometimes, all it takes to transform a career is a scene… one single scene. For Nivin Pauly’s career in South, the scene that did it was the one in Premam. It was where he went from being a likable actor to an actor you wanted to be like. The scene in question comes at the beginning of the second phase of George’s (protagonist of Premam) life. By then, director Alphonse Puthiren has finished setting you up for the surprise. It’s a subtler form of what Baasha did in its first half, whose protagonist constantly talks of his aversion towards conflict only to turn out to be a veteran of it. Premam’s first segment serves to establish its protagonist, George, as a wide-eyed innocent boy, eager to fall in love — only for Alphonse to blow you away with the seemingly aggressive college student he turns out to be. There’s an emphasis in the use of black, as George emerges with his friends, violence in his mind and swagger in his walk. With those three minutes, Premam did to Nivin Pauly’s career in Tamil Nadu — and South India arguably — what an earlier film, Neram, failed to. Of course, it helped that Premam was a lot more than just those three minutes. So, yes, Richie that’s releasing today is a big deal. Its director Gautham Ramachandran seems well-aware of the hype surrounding Nivin Pauly, and has, more or less, sold the promotional material with slo-mo shots of the actor, while he struts about with carelessness, spitting paan. The big question is, will Richie do more for Nivin Pauly than his previous Tamil film, Neram, did?
Remaking a career
There’s one actor, who I suspect will be more anxious than Nivin Pauly today: Sibiraj, whose Sathya is out today. The actor will hope that he can finally move on from being a familiar actor to a successful actor. He hasn’t quite been able to capitalise on the momentum built by the success of his comeback film, Naaigal Jaakirathai, whose director, Shakti Soundar Rajan, has incidentally scaled up and gone on to bigger things. Sibi’s last two films — Kattapava Kaanom and Jackson Durai — haven’t particularly set the box office alight. You can see why he must have done those films though. Kattapava Kaanom was about a missing fish, and the subject of a pet must have seemed appealing, given he was fresh from the success of a similar subject. Jackson Durai, meanwhile, was by a director who’d made an impressive debut with Burma, and was a horror film. And as Tamil filmmakers of the last decade will tell you, when all else fails, horror rescues. Unfortunately for the actor, it didn’t. And so, he’s now resorted to a remake — of the Telugu superhit, Kshanam. Sibi will certainly be hoping that Sathya recovers some lost ground for him.
Match made in heaven
There’s something about sports films. Something about characters who are willing to risk everything for some fleeting applause, for vindication of self-worth. Something about sporting encounters that test not just mental strength but also put the bodies of sportspersons through hell. And when these films are based on real sportspeople, there’s greater curiosity in learning the lesser details of their lives, to experience the illusion of living alongside our icons. What’s Sachin Tendulkar like when he’s on vacation? How does MS Dhoni react in the dressing room when he gets out? The last two years have seen films on both these stars and given away answers to some of these questions. The sports film releasing today, however, isn’t about cricket. It’s about two tennis legends who shared a famous, all-consuming rivalry. Borg vs McEnroe by Janus Pedersen has had tennis fans slurping in anticipation for a while now. Borg’s ambition, McEnroe’s famous temper. Game on.