now, the political fortunes at the center for
the next five years would have become quite clear.
Contrary to many expectations, the results failed
to provide as much excitement with the closest
competitors being separated by a lot more than
just daylight. If you were looking for some excitement
in the government formation, all such hopes would
have been grounded by now. It looks like a fairly
easy passage for the incumbents to power. So,
let us look at one person who has never failed
to provide us with excitement - Shankar, one of
the biggest directors in India. For a highly reputed
director, many say that Shankar has been very
predictable with his movies. Perhaps, his greatness
lies in being able to excite us even amidst the
predictability. When we enter a theater to see
a Shankar film we have an inkling of what to expect.
Looks like he was heavily inspired by Robin Hood
in his early days. His movies have at most times,
barring Kadhalan, Jeans and Boys, looked at men
who take from the rich and give to the poor. There
is also the common trait of uncanny disregard
for authority and established norms.
We have a list of such movies where one man decides
to take on the entire system and pulls it off. While
there is no denying the element of fantasy in such subjects,
while watching a Shankar film one is briefly held in
the belief that such things are indeed possible. Of
course, there are also those who feel that the biggest
casualty in a Shankar film is ‘logic’. There
has always been a debate about the importance of logic
in films. There are those who feel that logic should
never go for a six and there are those who feel that
movies need not necessarily worry about logic as long
as the final product is entertaining. But, that’s
a different debate altogether.
We are looking at Shankar and a number of movies that
he has made around the ‘one man force’ concept.
To be precise, there are five of them - Gentleman, Indian,
Mudhalvan, Anniyan and Sivaji. My favorite of the lot
is Mudhalvan. First, the movie was an excellent entertainer,
all elements finely integrated to create a movie that
does not give you much time to think, only experience
what is on screen. Of course, this movie has all the
regular factors that Shankar films are criticized for.
I have heard many people question the logic behind Mudhalvan.
Now, that is not uncommon for a Shankar film. But, generally,
those questions or critiques are aimed at some high
flying fight sequences or escapades – Sivaji got
a lot of that. But, Mudhalvan was different. Everyone
wondered whether an ordinary TV reporter could take
up the office of the CM just because the man holding
the post made some off the cuff challenge. Was the CM’s
office so easy to attain? We see huge battles being
fought between parties to get that coveted post and
here is one man being offered the seat, even if it is
for just a single day. I do not know whether the constitution
has any provision that would allow such a farce to happen.
Or, it would be right to say that I am not sure whether
the constitution does not have any provision that can
prevent such a farce from happening. Because, by not
preventing something, you are allowing it to happen,
at least passively.
Back to Mudhalvan. The whole one day CM concept was
undeniably interesting and one can’t help thinking
of what would have happened if a common man in the mould
of ‘Pugazhendi’ (Arjun’s character)
were to get the opportunity. Of course, the opportunity
would have to be much more extended than 24 hours for
any substantial change to happen. Mudhalvan has also
over the years, at times, by certain people (skeptics)
been jeered at for showing a rapid rate of progress
in the state under the leadership of a young man. Some
feel it is a fairy tale that can never come true. I
would like to believe that it is possible, if we have
the right man on the job and if people vote responsibly.
One of the best scenes in Mudhalvan has to be the interview.
It is a delight to see the CM being taken apart so clinically
by a reporter. Of course, it is not as easy to pull
off such a thing in reality, as Karan Thapar will agree.
His interview of the former CM Jayalalithaa is ‘in’famous
for the route that it took and where it ended. Mudhalvan
also hinted very subtly towards the way caste politics
is played in the state.
For these reasons, I believe Mudhalvan is Shankar’s
best product to date if you are willing to overlook
a few liberties (like the CM of a state dancing with
a girl in the fields) that were taken for the sake of
Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun Gopinath.)
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