Quarter Cutting: What Shiva did that Vijay and Surya didn’t?

Shiva   Change is good. Inevitable as it might be, the consequence of it is hardly predictable. Nevertheless as human beings, we seek for change. So when Pushkar – Gayathri hailed the same with their debut ‘Oram Po’ – a light hearted take on the life of an auto driver, an unlikely theme to have found favor with producers, we welcomed it. It had raw humor, sometimes difficult to stomach, but totally relevant for its theme. It was salacious yet likeable, something we never associated our movies with. The commercial success rate of the movie is a debatable topic, but there is nobody who talked ill of it.

Naturally, with Quarter Cutting they raised the bar set by themselves and delivered an interestingly idiosyncratic (at least on the surface it appears so) movie. It has brilliant visuals (Nirav Shah’s field day), decent dialogues (although the witty ones are sporadically distributed) and performances.

The movie works at various levels as it treads its way through the neon-lit roads of Chennai, its partially lit alleyways, the Napier Bridge and many other landmarks awash in yellow light in the night. The very many characters also form layers for the narrative.

The brilliant title graphics give way to the predictable, yet funny opening scene. Tone of the movie is set and just when you started to feel that it’s not the same boy-meets-girl, boy-rescues-girl and boy-falls-in-love-with-girl story the thought slaps you tight on your face and reiterates the fact that we cannot do away without that ubiquitous theme.

So what if the movie takes delicious (yet surprisingly very restrained) digs at image conscious heroes, Shiva himself ends up performing aerobics (read stunts) for the benefit of the fellow folks; often thrashing out tens of them single-handedly. Pot calling the kettle black? So it’s not entirely surprising that towards the ending, the movie nosedives into a regular good versus evil parade.

There are gags, some really good ones. Like when Shiva tells his sister on the phone about how hopeless her fiancée is (‘he pukes even without having to get drunk’, he says). But many are subtle, some old and generally there are few of them that populate the entire course of the movie. The humor is mostly situational and since we are used to laugh out loud ones, it works against the script’s sluggishness. Reason why there are moaning complaints in the theatre about the movie making little sense. Throwing in a few more witty one-liners and generating a few more laughs (because the relevant situations are plenty) would have done wonders because at the end of the day, that’s the only take away from the movie.

All said and done, who other than the couple Pushkar – Gayathri has the courage to bring to screen a way too common, yet offbeat (for the screen) theme in ways relatable by many of us. Let’s salute that mere attempt thus heralding change in the scene. It’s also thankfully a break away from the usual love, family and action stories. It needs to be provided patronage for the sole reason that it refuses to fit into any particular genre as yet known in Tamil movies.

Strangely, this week’s Hollywood release Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifaikanais, is also a similar road trip movie of a businessman with an intolerably moronic, socially inept aspiring actor for company. Criticized as the throwback of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the comedy movie of the 1980s, (of which Anbe Sivam also has traces in it), Due Date has very few laughs but what makes it work is the stupidity of the Trembley character that is often endearing since it seems to be earnest and genuine.

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