Avan-Ivan is a true celebration of intellectual mediocrity that gets away with masterful acting and skilled craftsmanship of the technical team involved. The movie is a clichéd set of random, disconnected visuals that do not follow any narrative structure known to anyone. Now that, laced with cheap toilet humour, vulgarity that even grown-ups would frown upon and a nude scene from the actor GM Kumar add to the much longer list of woes that plague this movie. I, for one, am going to list down all that I find offensive about this movie. Before I even begin, let me list down two bits of information. First, this is not a review that anyone should read to watch the movie; it is a critique, so I insist you read it after watching the movie. Second, there are no spoilers in this. The story line is bizarrely simple – the life and travails of two jobless half-brothers who seek revenge for the death of their friend, with the usual twists and turns of any narrative structure.
I find the movie intellectually demeaning at many levels. The most important of which happens to be seriously cheap toilet humour and inappropriate jokes about private parts. These are some of the snippets – Kumbudren Samy’s (Arya) mother (Ambika) badmouths Walter (Vishal) of being unable to hold his penis properly while urinating, Walter (Vishal) welcoming the police constable into his home whilst peeping out his defecating “hut” and proceeding on to graphically describe his feces to his mother who then goes many steps further by stating that his feces is not going to be served as food to their guests, Walter (Vishal) asking the lady constable whether women’s pants have a zip for urinating and then Arya sitting in the potty posture and describing, with graphic “fart” sounds, of how lead actors in the industry are going to have a “loud” diarrhea when he ventures into film-making. If you feel weird or nauseous, do not blame me, these are actually in the movie. These are graphically described with lewd body language that adds to the gore of these lines. Tamil cinema is not new to swear words or toilet humour, but to actually have them become a substantial part of the dialogues is a disturbing trend. I honestly hope that the ones laughing at these jokes are not 12 years old because the kids don’t find it funny anymore!
Anyone in their sane mind cannot appreciate these jokes as being funny or having a much deeper meaning, which it clearly does not! It is one thing to have dialogues laced with innuendos, toilet humour or any obscenity and another to actually have them become the bulk of the dialogues in the movie. However, it is very disturbing if those are the “memorable” scenes.
One other age old cliché that has been constantly used by Bala and several other filmmakers is that of a roguish, jobless moron who does unrespectable things being in a mutual love relationship with a girl who has a lot more respectability. In Sethu, it was a woman who eventually falls in love with a roguish man who even abducts her to “convince” her of his love; Nandha was that of an innocent repatriate falling for a hitman; in Pithamagan, the college girl from a decent family falls for the fraudster who even manages to get her into enough trouble. In Avan-Ivan, it is the police constable falling for the jobless robber and another college girl falling for Arya who dubiously has the same profile of that of his half-brother.
Of course, we all do know that love is blind and seen several classics in which there is a lot of mismatch of one’s socioeconomic or professional status. However, this cliché is distressing because not one single protagonist does a respectable profession; leave alone the fact that none of them have an actual respectable job. By respectable, I am not talking about social perspectives of professions or about being rich or poor. I mean the fact they either do not have a job, or they are unadulterated scoundrels who steal for living, have no means to support their heroines who assumedly will live with them, are major super alcoholics drunks (as opposed to normal drinking) and spend all their (screen) time wrecking severe havoc to people around them. The only thing that seems to lend any amount of illusory credibility to them is the fact that those characters are the lead roles essayed by masterful actors. Apart from that, we would never want our women to be going out with them. In short, these are characters all of us would shun in real life. So, to have women as falling for such dysfunctional men is a disturbing portrayal.
Next, on to the nude scene involving GM Kumar! Now, he has delivered a brilliant performance in this movie. Having said that, no one wants to see him nude in the guise of realism; there is a level of tolerance all of us have when it comes to that. Some find bikini clad women offensive while others feel naked men offensive; I find both of that being shown in a normal movie very offensive. As a man I find it lewd; women do not find it appealing to watch butt naked men being tortured as well. An enormously obese man, butt naked with his hands covering the pelvis area, running around trying to save his life is sheer gore porn. In this grueling process, enough is there to be “seen”. I am sure no one in their sane mind would want to graphically see a rape scene, (refer to Paruthiveeran), and witness the forceful coitus in full gore or someone being mutilated. If that is offensive, so is this!
It actually is called gore porn, the technical word being snuff videos. Please Google for that and you will understand that there is no actual difference between that and this scene. I am glad they covered him with a “lungi” before dragging him onto the shore. I guess they realized that it may become “too” real! For anyone to enjoy that under the guise of realism is sick and sadistic. Appreciating an actor’s conviction and skills is very different from criticizing or questioning the very rationale for having a ten minute nude-man-running-around sequence.
Now, I am going to take a few lines to appreciate this movie. Like all other Bala’s movies, the actors have played their roles brilliantly. Vishal, Arya and GM Kumar are masterful. The camera work, music and every bit of technical work adds to the experience of watching this movie.
Now, there are several excruciatingly painful scenes in the movie with enough logical loopholes. One of them involves Vishal acting out the “navarasas” to Surya. That was painful to watch, really. Even without that scene, Vishal has done a wonderful job in this movie. That just makes it desperate and pathetic. The emotions enacted were effeminate and well overacted, but with enough visuals of children, a sad BGM and teary eyed audience it sadly becomes a hyped up scene in the movie. Next, I am not certain how these two jobless morons have absolute disregard for the police or their arrest even though they manage to beat up seven police officers brutally and stealing a forest department consignment worth One Crore, without a clue as to what happened to that truck! How Arya manages to win that girl’s heart with clownish behaviour laced with low-grade violence is a mystery just as much as how the police constable falls for Vishal’s clownish behaviour. In my 28 years of existence, I never knew that being a jerk and a clown could win a woman’s heart!
Now, if the scenes I have mentioned are taken out of the movie, there really is nothing left to watch. This movie is disturbing, distressing and dysfunctional. If one actually thinks that this is the exact experience that Bala wanted his audience to have, then he has been extremely successful. However, if this is allegedly the best we have to offer to the world of cinema, I would want to add that it really is sick, very sick!