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Thamizh Talkies: The great shows in our reach- Cinema express

Thamizh Talkies: The great shows in our reach

The writer is a content producer and art curator

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Published: 23rd January 2022
Promo stills of Afterlife and The Tragedy of Macbeth

It has been almost three years since the pandemic took over our lives and movie-watching has not been the same again, right? Every weekend, I used to have at least two films to watch (one of which would be a relatively small-budget film with box-office promise). Now, we have films releasing on OTT platforms or select screens (depending on lockdown rules) which create a buzz based on potential. Today, monetary success of a film is calculated not just by theatrical collections but also by OTT numbers. Master, Karnan, Sarpatta Parambarai, Doctor, Jai Bhim and Maanaadu are examples of films that stand for a mix of theatrical and OTT success, breaking barriers not just in the Tamil space but crossing borders to become most watched films in more than 200 countries. There is no equivalent to watching a movie on the big screen, but in times of lockdown, one has all the time, and one needs options. 

The word, ‘options’, has an altogether different connotation on OTT, where we get to see films and series from other states and countries alike. The 3rd season of After Life on Netflix in which Ricky Gervais shows what it is to take a handful of not-so-successful people (read ‘losers’) living in a small town and centres the story on a grieving man, surrounding him with dollops of misanthropic humour that spring from add-on characters. It has a man handling an emotional bereavement, along with his daily routine, say ‘walking the dog’ (some great montages set to splendid music), and doling life philosophies on a cemetery bench. After Life does not tick any box of what makes a series ‘binge-worthy’—in fact the opposite, given that it’s not a crime series or a successful biopic or family drama or romance. Yet, it stood with me and that is good storytelling… much like the new, splendid film on Apple TV, which breaks conventional rules of filmmaking: Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. Cinema purists would not agree to place any other version of Shakespeare’s dark drama alongside Kurosawa’s, but Coen owns his Macbeth much like Denzel Washington who in many scenes reminded me of our own Sivaji Ganesan. Coen laces his film with excellent black and white cinematography that drenches you in Scotland fog. The scene transitions and eerie musical score work like a bridge between cinema and theatre with an unpredictable staging of the climax. This is how a known material becomes all new in the hands of skilled filmmakers. Denzel with shoulder shrugs, grand gait, elaborate, good use of hands and impactful dialogue delivery made me wish for such an epic performance from our current actors as well.

A series on Netflix that has hit a home run for me for the actor first and then the writing (by Manu Joseph) is Decoupled. Madhavan hits it out of the park (our Indian Ricky Gervais for sure!) playing Arya who has a caustic opinion for every situation. Arya is an ‘outsider’ to all normal scenarios that inhabit the world of Indian marriages and society life. He is the Indian misanthrope whose views and high IQ lines are needed by no one. Manu Joseph creates engaging episodes which lead Arya to dig his grave deeper and nothing can be more satisfying than seeing a fellow human being suffer his ‘stand up on the bench’ moments. Humor for us in most circumstances arises only from someone else’s pain. Not taking our own life (or our neighbour’s life and wife) too seriously is good for our mental health. Decoupled leaves you with much wisdom and wit which, like with After Life (or our own lives) is what we need the most today.

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