Five lessons from Soodhu Kavvum, pizza, soodhu kavvum


Soodhu Kavvum is a rock-n-rolla-isque, unapologetically cynical, unabashedly comical, brutally honest and completely non-judgmental piece of beautiful cinema. An unlikely combination that would not even have looked promising on paper to be made into a Tamil movie, the movie not only got made, but it also stands as a convincing proof that conventional stereotypes are meant to be broken for good measure for off-the-wall success. Logical we take a leaf out of its success? Thought so too.

1)    Trouncing stereotypes

So we need a hero. The hero needs a heroine. They need to fall in love. It’s better if they drift apart and reunite at a later point. And there needs to be a lot of songs. But what about a middle aged man and his motley crew of inexperienced blokes involved in petty kidnapping in the lead? How about this - the middle aged man gets delusional often and hallucinates the presence a pretty girl in his life and almost maintain a consistent relationship with her? Weird? No. Trouncing stereotypes, brothers and sisters. Nalan takes a fragment of Guy Ritchie’s imagination and turns it around with his smart writing and outstanding performances. Not to forget, with zero respect to conventions. When conventions are broken, surprising results are born.

2)    Train your actors

Not one dose of hamming, not one moment of overplaying dialogues and ruining the scenes – Nalan’s actors look supremely at ease in their characters’ skins. And to think that most of them are actors with less or no experience is incredibly surprising. In the last scene, though Simhaa as Pagalavan realizes his actor dreams, he gets smacked on the face by the director. “Indha moonjila emotions-e varada,” he asks. Even that scene is convincing.

3)    Be Unapologetic

Happy endings where honesty triumphs and gallantry prevails over evil are passé. A plausible ending that is acceptable and goes well with the progress of the movie is what successful narratives share in common with each other. If Nalan wanted to follow the rule book, he would have to show the kidnappers undergoing transformation in a cinematic moment of instant wisdom rendered by another cinematic moment of a dramatic incident. But of course, we are talking about a director who has utter disregard to the rulebook. So they remain scums of the land. Wait, we could do with some more scums, couldn’t we?

4)    Misfits are mainstream

Take a bunch of oddballs and turn them into endearing bastards. What do you do when you see a set of oddballs? You laugh at them, you laugh with them. You don’t judge them. They are your objects of comical pleasure and the director knows it. Flawless, chaste characters are mind-numbingly boring and it’s time we move away from that rule injecting life-like imperfections for credibility. And if wackiness helps someone achieve it, nobody is complaining.

5)    Who is the hero?

Yeah the heroes are indestructible forces of nature, who walk in slo-mo shots suggestively towards the camera, twist and turn bodies of burly men, romance and dance flawlessly. There is no doing without their cinematic brilliance that has often no real connotation even with their reel-life characters. Anything goes in the name of entertainment. But a middle-aged, graying, dark-sunglasses wearing, physically unattractive man as lead? Sure. Anything goes. And how. Vijaya Sethupathy is one of those rare species of actors whose self-effacing acting skills can be quite addictive. Pizza, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kanom and now this. But again, the real hero in the movie is – as far as clichés go – its story. Vijay knows it well, methinks.

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