Sunday, November 06, 2005

After almost a decade I visit "Rajalakshmi"...and "Ghajini", the movie we saw there

"Rajalakshmi", the cinema in Velachery, where I used to watch a film almost every week with my family during my school days and early college days. Visits later became sporadic and if I can recall the last visit was in the mid nineties for the unforgettable movie "Idhayam" that I went to see with a friend. The theatre hasn't changed much. The same old claustrophobic dungeon like chambers for queues for the lower fares, the caged fight-for-space chambers for the higher fares and one counter for different ticket dinominations, all exist to this day. The boxes on the first floor each seating about 25-30 people have been converted into air-conditioned chambers. So instead of an opening from the boxes (from where one could literally jump down) a glass wall has been put into place. It is not continuous though. This means that if you got the unlucky seats in the middle of the box you would actually see a line (the gap where the two big pieces of the glass wall meet) on the screen of the movie. The best part was the sound. Thank God it wasn't the poor fidelity, ear-schreeching sound. There was a decent woofer-tweeter combo in our chamber and unlike in the past it wasn't switched on and off for "special effects" during the fight scenes. Anyway things weren't as bad as expected. What a feeling it was after watching Tamil and Malayalam movies in cinemas in Altanta and Toronto.

Now for the movie. If you are planning to watch "Ghajini", the Suriya, Asin starrer, still running in the popular cinemas in the city I suggest you don't. You are better off watching it on DVD or CD at home for reasons I'll explain. The first half is a gem. Thoroughly enjoyable and literally flawless. Then, after the interval comes the unexpected. Excessive violence, dripping blood, maiming, bludgeoning and murder are what you get and tonnes of it. You have no idea of how the heroine is killed. I haven't seen anything remote to this in recent years. I had to cuddle my son from time to time and cover his eyes. Has the public become completely innured to violence? It looks as though the only other formula to violence is again more brutal, realistc and sadistic violence. Ah! the things our directors ape from the west. But even in English movies I haven't seen this much violence depicted on women. Nayanthara is bashed by a man on her abdomen and she is shown reeling from the pain in an unusually long scene. Was it suggesting that she was hit somewhere else? And all this in full presence of her entire college hostel. The audience in the theatre complimentng to that audience. Psychologically it aids the feeling that we can all still be mute spectators when we see crimes such as these in our real lives. A hostel girl is then shot dead and stripped naked. By now you are left wondering why no one even thought of calling the police. Had these girls and hostel staff seen "Mirch Masala" I am sure they would have got an idea of what to do in such do or die situations. This is then followed by the never ending bashing of the villians by the hero. More blood, gore and mutilations follow with the female lead screaming "Kill, Kill" again in the full presence of the women's hostel. The movie has several other serious flaws too but I will not be getting into them. Suriya did put on a great performance. Asin is pretty and does a cute role befitting her personality but I have reasons not to be carried away with her performance, though I do get moved whenever she cries or feels pain.

All the fun gone, I was just praying that the shit ends. It was just goin on and on without end. That's another feeling you get watching movies in the cinema unlike home where you can reach for your favourite fast-forward button.

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