Thanks to my considerate cousins, who willingly accompanied me to both these movies on two consecutive days, I was able to keep under control my growing anxiety (which increases exponentially if I keep missing new Tamil releases, very close to the feeling of appearing for an exam without having studied all the lessons).
I don’t think I have disliked a movie in recent times as much as I disliked Yaan – and this might be because I made it a point to not watch Anjaan. I quite like Jiiva, and after watching him on TV talk in earnest about his movie on the day of its release, my cousin and I impulsively bought tickets, and I went against my disposition of ignoring big budget action extravaganzas. Yaan was remarkably tedious, from beginning to end. The characters were caricatures, I just couldn’t accept them as real people, whether they were trying to be funny, cute, emotional, angry, or in love. In fact, the biggest disappointment of the movie was, until the interval, I did not realise the leads were actually in love. He sees her outside an ATM, he chases her, he chases the business card she gives him, there are some songs including a popular Gaana Bala number that would have been better off had he himself appeared on screen, a lovers spat that was difficult to believe, and a sudden turn to serious events such as being a drug mule and being caught in a country with a name that sounds as though someone lazily thought of it and couldn’t bother to rethink (Basilistan). We have to somehow buy into this love that Jiiva and Thulasi share, and later when he asks for her hand in marriage and her father dismisses him as a lazy boy living off his grandmother’s money; we are tempted to sympathise with the father figure, and the hero’s righteous anger almost seems laughable. And when he decides to accompany an autistic boy to Basilistan just so he can earn some money, and in the process they get caught with the drugs that the nefarious travel agent stuffed in their bags; we find the heroine blaming herself for the situation he finds himself in. In all fairness, she asked him to find a job, not specifically a job that involves chaperoning future man-servants to some country supposedly in the Middle East. And when all her dialogues in the second half of the movie are variations of this self-flagellation, I feel more restless. We are subjected to more songs that we can’t recall minutes after they are over, and some long action sequences in beautiful locations, the movie finally comes to an end. The only time I felt any extreme emotion was when I was woken up from my power nap during the movie.
After Yaan, Madras seemed like the elaneer I drink after I voluntarily walk in the hot sun. The first half was exciting – with a interesting setting that seemed alive – the football matches, the boys who dance to hip-hop, the waiting around a hand pump, the best friend whose character was more complete than Karthi’s character itself, the one member in the group of friends who is a loose canon, the songs that didn’t seem awkward, the political angle, I was even able to tolerate the female lead even if she came across as a bit too polished in comparison to her surroundings (though I kept thinking how Anjali might have done this role – it is so much easier to imagine her saying “Ippo innaa venum onakku?”). But as in the case of many other similar movies, things unravel a bit in the second half. I felt the same way I did after watching Naan Mahaan Alla (coincidentally another Karthi movie). Why is there suddenly so much violence? Did they wake up and decide they needed to shoot these one-versus-many fight sequences that drag on forever because a hero isn’t a hero unless he wins a fight where he is outnumbered? However, as though to make up for this, there was a thrilling chase/fight in the first half, that had my heart beating a little faster than usual, I only let out a breath after I knew none of the good guys died. Why couldn’t the whole movie have been this way – familiar, believable, but still engrossing? To the movie’s credit, I remember several images from the movie: the way the blood spreads over the much feared wall, the fear that Karthi feels when he thinks he is being followed and that his stalker is the one giving him all those missed calls (when it turns out to be the girl, we cannot help feeling relieved and amused), the intimate way in which the friend’s marital life is portrayed (you think he is going to be violent with her, but maybe theirs is that kind of passionate love).
People tell me often – Oh we should never ask you, you don’t like any movie. I want to tell them – That’s not true! Maybe I like movies too much. When they ask me how a movie was, I want to tell them about how every dancer in the background in the song Kannamoochi Yenada from Kandukondein Kandukondein wears a dhavani which is a slightly different shade of green from the person adjacent to them; I want to tell them Santhanam’s comedy track wore me out; I want to tell them I wish Parvathy Menon would get an award for Mariyaan simply because she wasn’t just a woman being paid to look pretty and dance in the movie, she actually had a personality; I want to tell them Mysskin might be somewhat eccentric and maybe he made Mugamoodi only to annoy those who watch his movies, I want to tell them I wish Goutham Menon would stop making all his love stories strictly adhering to the at-first-sight template.