Okay, you don't have to be a genius to know that I am practically gushing here! I never express my liking for any film industry personality like this, because, the only thing that most people have going for them is their short-lived 'make-up enhanced' good looks and a couple of box office hits. This man, though, gets my respect and vote even when everything he makes is a HUGE FLOP! Particularly thinking of "Aazhavandhaan" here.
Some people say he should have been in Hollywood, rather than Kollywood. I have to disagree. He doesn't need to be in Hollywood! He is destined to be here, in South India, to tell people that you can and should make films that enhance some aspect of the viewers intellect. That you should take risks, put your neck on the line, and take your artistry to a higher, albeit precarious level. If you don't do that when you are popular and the industry is feeding off your hands, then when will you do it?!
Okay, what brought on this fever? I saw Unnai Pol Oruvan (translates to A Man Just Like You...or The Common Man) This movie is the Tamil remake of the Hindi movie A Wednesday, starring another real hero - Naseeruddin Shah.
I am not going to tell you the storyline, because, well, it can be said in one line! And I would give away the ending. If for some reason you haven't already seen it yet, I don't want to ruin the experience for you. And mind you, it is very much an experience.
Something interesting about this movie is that the hero remains seated for most of the movie, and only moves about at the end of the movie to...well...take his grocery home!
This movie has many layers of sub-text. In fact, it is all about the sub-text. Political influences, terrorism, the nations seeming apathy towards terrorism, ego clashes between the powers that be in politics and law enforcement, the freedom of the press (or what it really means!), and finally, if you notice very carefully, the tug-of-war that has been happening between two southern states from time immemorial - Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Oh! Almost forgot...this movie also re-awakened another perennial argument - 'Who's the better actor: Mohanlal or Kamal Haasan?'
Kamal Haasan would probably answer you, in his throaty non-chalant, eye-rolling way, "No one is the better actor! It is the story that makes us the better or worse actor. Look at the story. We are just vehicles for the message." Or something equally awesome like that!!
If you were to ask, 'who is the hero of the movie', you wouldn't get an answer either! The character of I.G Raghavan Maarar (played by Mohanlal) seems to play the hero to the dominant villain in the common man, with no name (Kamal Haasan). Suddenly things shift, and the police officers who are to escort the terrorists seem to be taking the story in a different direction. In this way, every character in the story seems to hold a twist in their hands - the chain-smoking journalist (a woman, if you were wondering), the terrorists themselves (one a Muslim fanatic, another a Tamilian simply in it for the money, and two others in between), the CM's chief secretary (played by Lakshmi) and even for a brief but electrifying moment, the voice of the Tamil Nadu CM himself! And when I say 'himself' you know exactly whom I mean....Digression: Isn't it strange that the Tamilian people are forced to choose from one 'himself' and one 'herself' every elections, and cannot even think of a third option!!! End of Digression.
So, where were we? Yeah, the stars of the story....the point is, there are none. This movie is not meant for you to adore/drool/whistle at/hate/love/dance with/die for any actor! Kamal allows every character to do what they need to do to get the message across: "If the government will not deal with terrorism, then the common man will. After all, it is the common man who loses his life when terrorism runs rampant. Terrorism can be destroyed only by terrorism!"
Now, if that's not a bold statement, I don't know what is! Watch the movie, will you? It will give you a sense of pride in being the common man, for a change!