The Tamil version of A Wednesday seems to be drawing the crowds. It’s not a surprise with two fine actors — Kamal Hassan and Mohan Lal
Having delusions about ones directorial abilities has proven disastrous for many a director. The inability to look at ones own creation objectively, introspect and discover the shortcomings is the bane of creative people. It’s more convenient to listen to a claque you’ve cultivated rather than constructive criticism. Tragedy is when you turn myopic even to public opinion. It’s become customary nowadays to throw a ‘success party’ a few days after a films release. The producers of “Vayu Putra” had one such bash even though the film received a tepid response.
The other day, R. Chandru the director of “Prem Kahani” was preening when a caller confessed she’d never watched a film like this before. Her tone was not adulatory, but the director assumed it was a compliment. Now here’s a director who boasted that his film would run for a minimum of 25 weeks. He still maintains it will though a friend whose theatre features the film is looking for a replacement after just two weeks. “Prem Kahani” is about a rich girl who literally falls for the smoke rings the poor hero blows, marries him against her parents’ wishes and scrounges with him till he commits suicide. You don’t pity the heroine who made her choice nor the hero for his cowardly act. Films are temporary flights of fancy so in these hard times why would I pay to watch a stranger’s misery? The ability to entertain or even move us emotionally is diminishing. Screen sentiments are synthetic, the violence makes you cringe and the less said about comedy the better. The irony is that after making such a terrible film Chandru rues the fact that people don’t encourage Kannada films.
“A Wednesday” was a tautly made film though I did not agree with the basic premise of a common man taking the law into his hands. It’s the ultimate middle class fantasy to maim molesters, kill the corrupt and annihilate terrorists. It’s meaningless to think that the solution is to kill four terrorists, incarcerated at that. To kill a few terrorists is as good breeding a fresh crop. The Hindi version was not a huge hit but the Tamil one starring Kamal Hassan and Mohanlal — “Unnai Pol Oruvan” is doing phenomenal business. What works is the fact that Kamal has not changed anything drastically. I thought a lesser known actor like Nasser would have suited the protagonist’s role better but if the crowds are thronging, it’s because of Kamal and Lal. Was Naseer better in the original? This role is a cakewalk for Kamal though he could have cut down on the use of English with the fake accent. Mohanlal definitely walks away with the acting honours. People who accuse Kamal of being narcissistic should watch the film just to appreciate the way Lal’s role has been lengthened and the fact that he gets the better lines. It’s a chance to watch two of our most consummate performers, not sparring but complementing each other.
S. SHIVA KUMAR