(for SI Blog Reader Twig)
Twits and Twigs have more in common than four alphabets.
Both also lack the gene for good taste, and share the inability to separate wheat from chaff.
At the repeated urging of SI Blog reader Twig, I watched the Tamil film Mahanadi (1994) last night.
Mahanadi has often been hailed as one of the tours de force of Tamil cinema.
Although a commercial failure, the film went on to win a bunch of national awards, burnishing its sheen and endearing it all the more to some Tamil movie fans.
Besides featuring as the ‘hero’ of the film, Tamil cinema’s jackass of all trades a.k.a. Kamal Haasan proudly takes credit for story and screenplay and shares credit for dialogs with the late Ra. Ki. Rangarajan.
Like most Indian celluloid atrocities, Mahanadi is a lengthy ordeal, clocking in at 2-hours and 42-minutes.
Mahanadi reeks of mediocrity.
At the end of the movie, I got up in high dudgeon incensed that 2-hours and 42-minutes in the autumn of my life had been frittered away on piffle.
I have since vowed to never again be taken in by persistent little Twits or Twigs.
The fundamental problem of Mahanadi is that the treacherous knave Kamal Haasan substitutes high art with low trickery.
In an endless Kollywood Sahara littered with talentless clowns like Ajith, Vijay, Simbhu, Vombhu, Kombhu, Arya, Surya etc, Kamal Haasan is a passable actor.
That much I will concede.
But this pygmy talent Kamal Haasan is all at sea in the story department.
Bereft of any skills in scripting and completely adrift on the shoals of his incompetence, Kamal Haasan resorts to a cheap trick – He substitutes a plausible story with an endless series of exploitative scenes designed to tug at the heartstrings.
To discerning viewers like SI, Kamal Haasan’s goal is clear – To weave a series of infantile sob episodes of “How Bad Things happen to Good People while Bad People Lead an Epicurean Life” so that viewers are beguiled into professing sympathy for the unfortunate hero.
Boy, and did that trick succeed in pulling the wool over the eyes of naive film-goers!
After all, if there’s one thing hypocritical Indians love more than anything else it’s to feign sympathy and shed crocodile tears over the plight of their miserable brethren.
And unscrupulous filmmakers like Kamal Haasan have blatantly exploited these hypocritical elements of Indian society for personal gain by churning out several “Evil Trumps Good” trashy films. It’s not unlike Indian professors and social workers getting rich on poverty studies via foreign grants, international conferences and publishing academic papers.
Mahanadi – Exploitation, Ad Nauseam
Compared to the trials inflicted on our hero Krishna (Kamal Haasan), the lot of the planet’s most deprived and oppressed people – tribals in Jharkand, Jews in Nazi Germany, aborigines in Australia, Blacks in America, Hindus in Pakistan, Muslims in Gujarat – is a happy, idyllic existence.
Without even a minimal pretense of nuance, Mahanadi is nothing more than a disgustingly tiresome litany of trials suffered by our hero Krishna.
I bet even the biblical Job’s suffering pales before Krishna’s:
* As a young boy, Krishna went to a Tamil-medium school and ended up with poor knowledge of English.
* No sooner is he grown up, than our young man Krishna is left a widower with responsibility for two kids.
* The honest Krishna is duped of his money by a clever talking con man (Cochin Haneefa) in a chit-fund scam.
* Despite his innocence in the chit-fund scam, Krishna is mercilessly thrashed by the public and dispatched to jail.
* The honest man’s 12-year-old daughter Kaveri is sold to a lecherous rich man by the villainous Dhanush.
* Krishna’s young boy Bharani vanishes and is later found performing street tricks for survival.
* While in jail, our hero’s mother-in-law dies for want of medicine.
* In prison, the young man falls victim, first, to a sadistic guard and later beaten black and blue by other corrupt prison officials on trumped up charges of smuggling in cigarettes and liquor.
* Because of his fight with the corrupt prison guards, Krishna forfeits his remission, i.e. chance of early release.
* When Krishna is released from prison, he’s shattered to learn that his two young children are missing.
* After her tender days are over, our hero’s young daughter is sold off into the Sonagachi red light district of Kolkata.
* As if all his previous sufferings were inadequate for viewers’ appetites, Krishna is forced to chop off his left arm to kill his daughter’s rapist since the police are closing in on him.
* Krishna is compelled to return to jail after committing two murders (of the pimp Dhanush and the rich John craving nubile girls like Kaveri).
Surely, even in Stalin’s arctic Gulags and Hitler’s Auschwitz or Dachau concentration camps there must have been occasional moments of respite for the unfortunate victims of history.
But it seems there is not a single moment of respite for our Krishna in this pathetic farce of a story.
Suffering is his destiny!
Characters are divine angels (Krishna), hopelessly evil (Dhanush), shamelessly sluttish (secretary Manju) or hapless victims (Krishna).
Nuance and shades are not words to be found in the dickhead Kamal Haasan’s dictionary.
Everything is a caricature, pathetically cartoonish.
Moi can only take so much of “Bad Things happening to Good People while Bad People are Leading a Epicurean Life” before starting to throw up.
But a lot of gullible viewers are beguiled into professing sympathy for the unfortunate hero.
A sympathy that has bizarrely translated into deep warmth for the crappy movie itself.
Unthinking viewers while exclaiming Ayyo Pavam for Krishna, the greatest victim of life’s injustices in human history, got duped into heaping plaudits for a poorly crafted movie.
The clueless idiots in the audience are just unable to make a distinction between the unfortunate victim and the abominable movie.
Apart from the implausible narrative of endless trials inflicted on Krishna, there are several other issues with the film – the poorly fleshed out romance angle between Krishna and Yamuna, his sudden transformation into a savage beast in prison, the over melodramatic scenes inside the Sonagachi bordello and outside on the street, ad nauseam.
Also, Krishna’s libido rears up at the wrong moments. Just after he and Iyer serendipitously recover Bharani (Krishna’s lost son) and bring him home, Krishna’s dick gets into overdrive at the sight of Yamuna. That scene made no sense, like the rest of the amateurish movie.
The kids are irritating, grotesque caricatures.
Dialogs have little zing.
I found Poornam Viswanathan as Kamal Hassan’s jail-mate Iyer and Yamuna’s father alright as an actor.
Sukanya in a short role as Iyer’s daughter Yamuna and Krishna’s love interest didn’t wet her saree (i.e. embarrass herself). Despite Sukanya’s sex appeal and some acting skills, it doesn’t look like the babe’s career took off in a big way.
While none of the songs were offensive, their picturization and setting within the context of an overall trashy movie diminished their allure and turned them effete.
Brain Assaulting Nonsense
In fairness to Twig, he/she/it is not the only SI Blog reader to have recommended Mahanadi.
Over the years, several other readers have also clamored for the Mahanadi review. But Twig was the most persistent one.
I’m happy to note that this brain assaulting nonsense Mahanadi was a miserable failure at the box office.
That was the only silver lining of Mahanadi as far as I am concerned.
Moral of Mahanadi – Stay Away from a Mercedes Benz. 😉