Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam

After over a year of its release, I finally got around to watching Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam. Thanks to A, for waiting to discuss the movie with me until I watched it (and for tolerating habits such as “If I am thinking of watching a movie, I will not read about it until I have watched it”).

KTVI opens with scenes that are very random. The first one is a post-apocalyptic setting. We see Vishal holding on to debris and barely staying afloat after a tsunami wreaks havoc. Vultures are flying about, and in the distance he hears a child wailing. He swims to her and tries to calm her down. We move on. Vijay Sethupathy is shown analyzing the merits of biriyani and pazhaya soru. “Biriyani can be prepared in an hour, but you need to wait a day to eat rice that’s a day old.” You can almost imagine a Sivakarthikeyan movie with this line, wisecracking sidekick and supportive family members in place. The next sequence shows us Prakash Raj playing Brahma, busy creating human babies. One of the faces of Brahma dispatches a set of five babies to earth, but without brains. Brahma then tries to find the brainless children from the earth’s population, though the world has by now borne innumerable politicians, TR and Power Star. Is this a Chimbudeven movie waiting to happen? The last sequence shows Taapsee as a guitar instructor who cannot speak. While teaching some children to play chords, planes drop bombs on them. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and Taapsee ends up killing herself with a chord from her guitar (Bala anyone?).

We soon find out these are just stories that a group of friends are bouncing off each other. One of them dreams of becoming a director, the other a director of photography, and so on. Thambi Ramaiah is in there too (of course), but he gets a role that doesn’t get on your nerves. He is the pedantic old man, with an unrivalled knowledge of and love for cinema. Director Parthiepan tells us this is a movie with no story. Though that may not necessarily be true. It is the story of a talented man, Tamizh, down on his luck, he just can’t get that elusive break. It is the story of a frustrated wife, Daksha, wanting to support her out of work husband, but feeling more burdened every day. It is the story of a man whose entire life has gone by in the pursuit of a chance to make a movie. It is the story of dreams, of magic, of cinema.

Wikipedia tells me R. Parthiepan is 57 years old, I almost want to doubt that. This movie feels so young, so refreshing, it’s as though the boys from Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanum decided to make a meta movie. Tamizh and his friends spend all their time discussing plot points, screenplay, script. They talk about movies that were ahead of their time, or movies that were a waste of their time. They speak lines that are reminiscent of Parthiepan’s word play. They encounter different people and learn what they like in cinema (I especially liked the sequence where a man delivering water cans describes a scene, and this can in turn be described as a giant wink at Mysskin). They meet a whacky producer who only wants to make movies that involve police inspectors with titles referencing felines.

Tamizh’s wife, Daksha is an interesting character. Or rather, what could have been an interesting character. She is made to continuously hit the same note throughout the movie, making me feel bad for her. She cooks, cleans, earns while her husband tries making his movie. And all the while, she gets labelled eccentric by her husband (and his friends). I did not see why her mood swings and bad temper need to be called so. Isn’t it normal for a woman to feel irritated in such a situation? Or maybe the movie is so unapologetically male in its point of view that this is the only way she can be portrayed? (As an aside, I really liked the actress playing this role.)

There is another character Deepa who gets an odd treatment of sorts (I’m not able to put my finger on what exactly). She falls in love with Tamizh at first sight (while falling down!?). She has a super power, an “intuition” that allows her to see the future. By her own admission, this intuition is wrong fifty percent of the time. Tamizh is inspired by both these women – “Woma(e)n Inspiring Man To Achieve concept”, as A puts it. He proceeds to write a romantic story, which he finally ends up narrating to a producer. This story is imagined with Arya and Amala Paul, and I found this to be one of the weaker portions of the movie. They essentially go through everything that we have previously seen with Tamizh and Daksha, with Arya having the super power in this instance. It doesn’t seem fresh or romantic or even sensual the second time around (yes, Tamizh and Daksha have a sex life. As a bonus – both of them have desires!). And for some reason, the star actors feel even more wooden than everyone else in the movie (I’m inclined to blame this on Arya).

Daksha, Deepa, Amala Paul all have scenes involving the thaali and/or dreaming about the thaali. Is this homage paid to the time honoured thaali sentiment in Tamil movies? Maybe it is an observation on how seemingly modern women have no qualms in taking up traditional wife roles in their houses. We even have the Amala Paul character saying she will be a puraana kaala pondaati. She says this because Arya is initially apprehensive about marrying her, as his intuition tells him they will separate; and she convinces him saying she will be patient with him irrespective of how wrong he may be. So I guess patience is a virtue only for women?

Parthiepan appears in the movie (as God? Director?), revealing what will be happening later in the movie, but these incidents do not come to pass the way we expect them to, making it enjoyable for us as viewers. Of course, this can seem terribly clever and tedious to some, but it seems right up Parthiepan’s alley, and you kind of don’t want to stop him from having fun in his own movie.

How does KTVI end? Does the producer take on Tamizh’s script? Well, they tell us there’s no fun in life if we know what’s coming next (which is the entire movie distilled into one line). You’d think the movie ends there. We then cut to a music video (living in the moment etc.), and when half the audience has already walked out or updated their status on social media, we see Tamizh sitting in a director’s chair, directing the music video we just saw. So he does make it after all, as this ending-of-the-ending tells us. I must say I was a bit glad to see that. Left to my imagination, I would have liked to think of a happy ending for Tamizh too.

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7 thoughts on “Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam

    1. 😀 OK cool! So before the movie begins, there is a message which says…. Do not watch pirated versions of movies, the hard work of thousands of people goes into it. Unfortunately, I didn’t let that deter me. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Anu: It is your blog, it is possible to edit your comments to correct typos. 😀

    The basic premise of this movie is something I love. Four people want to make a movie, they discuss possible stories and each of the 4 has a his/her own tastes, biases and quirks. In the meantime, they have their own problems to face. Financial trouble and the pressure to be bread winners as soon as they can, are the main problems the guys in the group face, whereas the girl of the group have problems that are completely different, her family is fine with her not earning yet but not with her hanging around with these men all the time. The wife of the aspiring director (who is currently the breadwinner) has problems that are even greater than anyone else’s. And before our very eyes a story takes form and we get to see its gestation and its eventual birthing. This premise sounds delicious to me. It was a movie that could have been so damn great.

    However, there were several problems in this movie that I could not overlook.

    1) Each of them should have been well defined. Which one of them likes pathos or melodrama type stuff? Which one of them has a thing for moralistic stories? What is their take on Piracy? So many things can be discussed and defined about how film makers talk and think when making a movie. However, we are just interested in how eccentric the heroine is.

    2) They don’t seem to have any sense of direction. What genre are they going to choose, why? I can understand that a story discussion is not very similar to a Requirement Analysis meeting that a Software Engineer has with the Business Analyst. But to just sit and talk about old movies in a completely disjointed way is not going to be productive and at the end of it I was not able to root for the hero to win and become some great director.

    3) Why should I believe that the Hero is a great director waiting to happen? Just because everybody says so?

    4) Thambi Ramaiah is the only interesting person in the movie. He talks about how P.Vasu took an implausible plot of Prabhu not knowing what a Thali is and gave us a hit movie. And about “Naan E” being about a house fly. It is a terrific topic and they should discuss how some directors pull off such tricks when others are not able to. However, they roll their eyes at him and move on. The losers.

    5) The way Thambi Ramaiah is treated by those 1/2 tickets annoyed me big time. Already his character is a sad one, he has been in the vicinity of success but success never actually visited him. And yes, this is often how we treat older people who .. umm .. aren’t very successful. But he is a treasure of information about the industry about which the others are yet to enter. He is not completely useless and the should treat him with respect.

    6) That dame goes to work on night shifts and comes back at day time. She should have 8 hours of shut-eye. It would be great if she was not expected to make coffee for that bunch at day time. I am not saying that sitting around all day long and discussing KRVijaya movies is not work, it is. But I am sure that it is entirely pausible to make a cup of filter coffee inspite of their busy busy schedule. This is something I could not stand at all.

    7) A woman having frustrations and thereby a hot temper is not the same as being eccentric, I think.

    8) If your intution pays off 50% percent of the time, then you are like everybody else. Average. I make guesses that are right 80% of the time. They are called educated guesses.

    Thats all for now.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! As for editing my comment…I was a bit lazy 😀 Turns out you can only do it from the Admin page. Hehe. But it was bothering me a bit…deep inside my head maybe, so I finally edited it.
      I did not mind the way Thambi Ramaiah’s character was treated..it seemed normal. He is something of a has-been in their eyes, and therefore they give him the respect they think he deserves.
      About the wife…yes, I felt bad that the movie tried to say it wrong of her to feel annoyed. These people have no second thoughts about treating her house as a coffee shop…
      I liked what you said about the girl having different problems compared to the guys in her group (pressure to earn vs. pressure to not hang out with these men in unsavoury locations).
      I actually didn’t think the discussions were a problem…maybe they just bounce ideas off each other to see if they feel inspired..? So many fantastic insights and trivia to be learnt from those scenes. Hehe.
      About your superpower….somebody needs to make a movie about you I guess! 😛

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  2. Anu: He is something of a has-been in their eyes.

    1) Yes. But they are a bunch of “never-have-been”s, right?
    2) We should be rooting for them and it never happened with me. They don’t seem to be hardworking and full of enthusiam, they share one thing amoung themselves and that is a massive writer’s block. At least they should be nice people and they did not come across as that either. I am usually full of sympathy in these artists-looking-for-break movies like Boys.
    3) They bounce of interesting topics and see if something sticks. But they don’t give each topic a chance. So they do not come across as intelligent and creative people but mere wannabes.

    The thing is I am the sort of person who wants the story to happen from T.Ramaiah’s POV and him as the protogonist or something. I guess my type of movies happen only within the confines of my head.

    BTW, Did you give the short story idea a thought are or you having a massive case of writer’s block too?

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    1. Haven’t been reading or writing much of late, just watching movies. I’m thinking the writer’s block is permanent when it comes to fiction. 😛
      Oh hey, I was very irritated by all the boys (and girl) in Boys…especially when they show us Sidharth’s puppy-dog-face!!

      Like

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