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Some Ramblings - Kaaha Kaakha
By Srinivas Kanchibhotla

Sometimes the magic happens when the image starts to burn the celluloid in the camera; sometimes, at the editing table and more times than not, when the ink seeps in and etches itself on the paper. Rarely does the magic repeat and reappear at every phase of the movie making, with each segment of the process inspiring the other to venture into new territories, treading unknown lands and breaking some new ground along the way - the idea taking its roots and acquiring proper shape within the writer, the context of the characters dictating the events that transpire in the script, the situation boosting up the composer, the script inspiring the lensman, the picture turning up the heat on the cutter, the finished silent product amazing the mixer and the final end product wowing the audience. And when in hindsight, the final product is looked upon as something, where script takes every right turn, the music sounds every right note, the lens captures every right move and the scissors cuts sharp at every right moment, it can be explained in terms of destiny as something that was meant to be, something that meant to be perfect. As is said, the magic does not happen too often.

Cop themes already bring them the required mood, the suitable tone and enough canvas material to the drawing board. That these raw materials are already at the disposal of the maker (without exactly trying too hard), is an added advantage in dealing with this kind of material. And depending upon whether script wants the movie to be more introvertive (ex: Ardh Satya) or more extrovertive (ex: Ankusam), the above three variables would be adjusted to deliver just the kind of output the maker intends. On the other hand, the flip side of dealing with these themes lies in having only the above three variables at his command. The most important of the three - mood (which is interchangble with tone in some contexts), dictates the direction of the movie, the setting, the range of the performances, the comfort zone and more importantly the degrees of freedom. For example, for the movie Ankusam, Kodi Ramakrishna decided that the hero of the movie is going to be an aggressive cop who is more aggravating and dramatic in his deeds and even more loud and expressive in his words. That essentially sets the mood of the film as one that operates a few notches above normalcy, though remaining sincere and true to its subject all the same time. So however much theatricality (and sometimes, over the top) Rajasekhar's words and deeds seem to appear, they get brushed under the mood carpet. Likewise, take the character of Anant Velankar from Ardh Satya. He is a model of brood and a poster boy of introspection. So the mood of the movie is drawn as close to the real life as is theatrically possible, that when some event as dramatic as the killing of Rama Shetty happens in the climax, it works perfectly for the movie, for something as dramatic as that would not be expected of such an off-color character and the director's intention to shock the audience is truly fulfilled, thanks to the mood of the movie.

Tone takes over from the mood at that point and adds the requisite color to the canvas. If the maker is quite clear in his mind as regards to the mood of the movie, the tone would automatically follow suit, either in a loud, over the top, dramatic way or in a serious, underplaying, subdued variety. Between these two tones, the latter would achieve a more realistic and a raw edge because of its proximity to near life situations and also the inevitable pay off at the climactic point, when a subdued character who is always in control and his element loses both in a situation, is highly rewarding and richly gratifying.

Once the maker decides upon the mood and the tone, the canvas, be it CBI Investigation, Forensic science, Finger Print specialization or even a Finger Powder dissemination, would ready itself for all the different strokes that could be painted. Gautam Menon's (the writer-director, whose sole claim to fame was "Minnale" ("Cheli" in telugu)) clarity is quite evident vis-a-vis mood, tone and canvas, when he does not take the easy (and cheap) moves to glorify Anbuselvan's, the protagonist, character and instead holds back his anger, his frustration and his vengeance and channels them to hit all the right spots. The precision of Anbuslevan, which is conveyed through his intelligence and introspective nature and his vulnerability, displayed in the sudden loss of emotional and psychological balance, when he is hit on a very personal level, are deftly handled by Gautam, in his short bursts of finely tuned dialogues.

While Surya's Anbuselvan's character is an epitome of brooding self, it is finely counter-balanced by the bubbly and over-exuberant character of Jothika. The urban setting of the script, the natures of the jobs of both the characters (Surya as an encounter specialist and Jothika as a Maths teacher at a local high school), and the cool and calculating nature of the villain, provide enough material and fire-power to Gautam into making his script a smart and intelligent one, where the holy trinity (hero, heroine and the villain) are guided more by their minds than by their hearts, as is often not the case. The dialogues, also credited to Gautam, are self-editing in their nature to the point that they are curt, crisp and precise and leave the moment longing and wanting for more. When scripts as smart and as strong as these arrive at the reading table, providing ample playing ground for the technicians to decide upon the next important step - the style - at which point the chances for turning out a good movie from a bad script far exceed the chances of good script turning into a bad movie. Rajesekharan, the lensman, seems to exactly understand the mood and tone of the script, to make a decision on the feel of the movie - be it during the natural lighting of the day to day sequences or the dream like situations in the Sri Lanka (doubling for Coimbatore) that transpire between the lead couple's love episodes or the fantastic (in terms of fantasy) sequences that make up the climax. While script dictates the mood, tone and the canvas, with photography deciding the style and feel of the content, it is the important task of editing that essentially dictates the pacing (and to some extent the style) of the movie. Anthony's with his imaginative editing, during the shoot-out scenes, employing the begin-end editing technique which oozes of coolness and urgency at the same time, and particularly for the song "Ennai Konjam", brings his fare share of the pie to the table. Also complementing the efforts of the above three are Harris Jayaraj for his thumping score (with special mention to Thamarai for his inventive lyrics) and Peter Haynes with his pumping action.

Vision is a word that is used either loosely or thrown around a lot whenever the word film-making is brought up. Clarity is a better term in such situations when the script is still in its conceptualization till the point the words transform into deeds. Spinning his web around the clichéd cop situations, while carefully avoiding the beaten to death enamored heroine besotted with the tight collar tight lip hero, infusing a sense of purpose and intelligence to the villain, here is a smart mov(i)e from Gautam Menon that celebrates intelligence.

More Ramblings on Telugu films
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This article is written by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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