Tag Archives: Rajinikanth

Money Shot

Money Shot

In this week’s Friday Fundas I chose to discuss an interesting part in a movie or something the producers look for in a script. This is called Money shot or a Payoff shot.

Originally the money shot was a term referred to the shots for which maximum money was spent. This term was mainly used in the pornographic movies. However later this term was used for mainstream genre of movies and also changed its meaning to relate to the shot in a movie which had the most commercial value of the movie. This is the shot after seeing which the audience says “Paisa vasool” (worth the money spent). This has also become a standard practice when reviewing a script the producers look for the money shot which usually is the most dramatic part of the movie. This need not be restricted to the shots with the greatest special effects. Also this shot need not occur in the climax of the movie.

Jake jumps on to Toruk and connects his mind to it to become Toruk Makto
Jake jumps on to Toruk and connects his mind to it to become Toruk Makto

Let us look at some of the examples, in the English movie Avatar the sequence in which Jake connects his mind to the Toruk is the most high point of the entire narration and this would be the money shot of the movie in my opinion.

The bomb scene in the movie swordfish
The bomb scene in the movie swordfish

In the English movie swordfish the bomb blast scene is a very well shot scene and it is the money shot of the movie.

Skydiving scene in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Skydiving scene in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

This also applies to Indian movies as well. In the Hindi movie Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara the sky diving scene of the 3 friends is the money shot of the movie.

Baasha Medical College scene
Baasha Medical College scene

In the Tamil movie Baasha the medical college sequence is the money shot of the movie. This shot occurs in the first half of the movie. This does not have any great visual effects but the high point in utilizing the potential of the star value of Rajinikanth makes this one the money shot of the movie.

Identifying your money shot in the movie is very much important. Every successful movie has a money shot, but every movie with a money shot need not be successful as the success depends on the entire movie and the money shot being the highest point of the movie which elates the audience.

All about Lingaa Dam – The real story behind

All about Lingaa Dam – The real story behind

Note: This article is inspired from various search terms that has lead users to my Lingaa Movie Review. If you are looking review on Lingaa movie click here.  The facts presented here on Mullai Periyar Dam are based on Wikipedia article. The facts on correlation to Lingaa are purely based on my views and may not be accurate.

In the past week I had been noticing the search terms that had been leading users to my blog. The search terms indicate that many of movie enthusiasts are looking to learn the actual story that had inspired Lingaa. Many of them believe that there was a person by name Lingeswaran who had constructed the dam for people during British rule and they are in search of information to learn more about it.

This article is an attempt to provide some facts on which Lingaa story is based on.  First of all the story of Lingeswaran is loosely based on a real person who had constructed a Dam amidst of all odds. The dam which he built in real was Mullai Periyar Dam in Idukki district of Kerala. And the person who built was a British engineer John Pennycuick. Yes you are reading it right; the dam was built by a British engineer. To celebrate his contributions Madurai PWD has a statue for John Pennycuick in their premises.

Why was his contribution so great? Let us look into the real story

 

John Pennycuick statue in Madurai PWD premises
John Pennycuick statue in Madurai PWD premises

The Real Story: 

Periyar river was originally flowing westward originating from the Western Ghats and flowing towards Arabian Sea. A large volume of water was getting wasted as it did not flow through many lands. Right from the late 18th century there had been discussion to turn this water eastward towards Madurai to augment the small Vaigai river that would provide enough water to do irrigation. But the efforts were given up as the project was deemed to be infeasible both technically and financially. It was only during 1887 the construction of the Mullai Periyar dam began under the leadership of John Pennyquick. But frequent floods had created many obstacles from the dam being constructed and the British government stopped funding the project stating the in feasibility.

John Pennycuick was not ready to give up. He went to Britain sold his wife’s jewelry and family property to raise the money needed for the construction of the dam. The Dam was finally completed in the year 1895 and still keeps the region surrounding it green for many generations. Pennycuick said “I am going to be only once in this earthly world, hence I need to do some good deeds here. This deed should not be prorogue nor ignored since I am not going to be here again”.

Similarities and Disimilarities with Lingaa

As you can see Lingaa’s story resembles Pennycuick’s in many ways. In fact the dialogue of Lingeswaran about living in this earth for once so resembles the quote of Pennycuick. Raja Lingeswaran sells all his property to complete the construction of the Dam as did Pennycuick. Both of them had to do this as the British government had stopped funding the project. The difference was Pennycuick was actually a Britisher and there were no drama of a villain in real life. The villain was nature itself then. In the movie Rajini had to fight against some gruesome villains to complete the Dam construction.

 

Where was Lingaa shot

Solaiyur is a fictional village in the movie and there is no such dam that exists. Lingaa was shot in and around Sagara Taluk in Karnataka. This is the region where Jog falls is located. The dam seen in the movie is the Linganamakki dam which is built across Sharavati River.

If you read Indian history you would realize the importance of a Dam in the development of India. Particularly in a country where there are non-perennial rivers and perennial rivers that cause a huge amount of flood there by causing more damage. Dams are great savior for our development and progress not only in the area of agriculture but also power, infrastructure development and many more. At the time of Visveswaraya who had constructed the KRS Dam the civil engineering discipline in India was at its peak and inspired many to take it up.

Hats off to the Lingaa team for narrating such a story through cinema.

An affair to remember… Ninaithale Innikum!

An affair to remember… Ninaithale Innikum!

Every movie lover would have an artist behind to spark the love for movies. For me it is KB Sir.

Director K Balachander gave meaning to the title Iyakkunar Sigaram (Summit of Directors). He had learnt so many rules of making a good screenplay that he can break them with ease to stand apart from the crowd and be a trail blazer for the Tamil film Industry. Many say his loss is irreplaceable but I feel he is immortal and would live through his movies.

When the entire film industry was making stories on the Kings, the riches or about the people below poverty line KB Sir came in and created an exclusive identity for middle class in his movies. This might be one of the reasons for a wider appeal to his movies. The conflicts established by him in each of the stories were unique. He started with writing and directing stage plays. With a great reluctance he took the opportunity for writing screenplay for movies and later fell in love with it that he started to make his famous stage plays as movies. You would see this in his early movies like Neerkumizhi (water bubble) in 1965, Ethir Neechal 1968(Swim against the tide), Major Chandrakanth and so on. If you see most of these movies would be a single set movie with very few scenes shot elsewhere. As people started seeing these movies they felt it was way different than the movies they had been watching and they were slowly beginning to realize the role of a director in movies. Till then what seemed to be a MGR movie, Sivaji movie now there were new type of movies addressed as Director Balachander movies. He became the role model for many directors to come later.

One of the iconic movies directed by him is Aboorva Raagangal in 1975. The movie features Kamal Hassan and introduced a new actor Shivaji Rao rechristened as Rajinikanth. Both of them later went on to take the Indian film industry by storm. Aboorva Raagangal dealt with intergenerational romance between two families which was quite a controversial topic during that era. But it went on to win 3 National Awards. Post this KB sir had directed many movies with Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth in the lead which included Avargal, Moondru Mudichu and Ninaithale Innikum.

Music used to play a significant role in his movies. Aboorva Raagangal was divided into chapters, which were named after a swara or raagam. Ninaithale Innikum was a full-fledged musical which also dealt with a genre of mystery and romance. You would see the prominence of music in his later movies like Sindhu Bhairavi, Unnal Mudiyum Thambi, Azhagan, Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal and many more. Music in most of his movies were composed by M.S Viswanathan. In Sindhu Bhairavi he joined with Ilayaraja. He had introduced A R Rahman in his production venture Roja directed by Maniratnam. A R Rahman also composed music for the movie Duet directed by KB sir.

KB sir emphasized on the empowerment of woman in most of his movies. His lead women characters right from Avargal, Arangetram, Sindhu Bhairavi, Achamillai Achamillai, Kalki were bold, forward looking and very powerful.

He used metaphors predominantly in his movies. These were fondly referred to a directorial touch in Tamil Cinema. There also used to be a character which is insignificant in the gamut of the plot but plays crucial role in emphasizing a point, mood or the gravity of a situation in his movies. Rajinikanth’s character in Aboorva Raagangal, Irumal Thaatha in Ethir Neechal, the dumb and deaf painter in Varumayin Niram Sigappu, Telephone in Azhagan, Chaplin uncle in Punnagai Mannan and many more are examples of this. He had also given some great comedy movies like Bhama Vijayam and Thillu Mullu in which he had experimented Rajinikanth playing a full-fledged comedy role. This had introduced a different dimension of Rajinikanth which is still exploited well by many directors.

KB sir had dealt with many genres of movies, his initial movies were centered around family drama, later he shifted to social drama which covered impact of society on people’s lives, he also has given some of the gems in romance genre which included Marocharitra in Telugu, Ek Dujhe Ke Liye in Hindi, Punnagai Mannan.
KB sir is a true king maker. He had not only made the two star waltzes Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan but also had rediscovered Nagesh as a character artist, introduced Prakash Raj and many more. He is so spontaneous and appreciates good art in any form. Once he sees a good movie he took time to write an appreciation note to the director who had made the movie.

Truly KB Sir is a film maker that everyone would wannabe. His affair with cinema will always be sweet memories … taking with lyrics from one of his movies … it is An affair to remember … Ninaithale Innikum!

Character Arc

Character Arc

A gruesome villain who has been torturing people all throughout changes his mind and seeks apology just before the curtain falls. Well this might be a scene that you might have seen in many movies. Few of them would have been convincing and few other leave you wondering what changed his mind. Well the various phases a character traverses through in a movie is called a Character Arc. In this week’s Friday Fundas we will understand Character Arc.

In the movie “As good as it gets” the character played by Jack Nicholson is that of a man with obsessive compulsion disorder. As the movie traverses his character undergoes modification and reaches a point where he would have to overcome his fear to get the love of his life. In the early scenes of the movie you see him walking on the platform without placing foot on the joining lines of the tile and in the climax scene you see him walking normally with his girlfriend. The Character Arc of the character traverses from a man deeply troubled with OCD symptoms to a changed man who overcomes his inhibitions. There are various points in the narrative which consists of incidents or turning points that impacts the nature of the character. How well these incidents are placed and convincing would also convince the audience about the transformation to the character and also makes them glued to the character.

Usually in a three act structure the character is established in the first act. The second act is divided into two parts. In the first part the villain or the situation that the hero is averse of chases to such an extent that the hero reaches a breaking point and starts changing. Now in the second part the hero chases the villain or the adverse situation. The plot deepens, gets complicated and reaches a point which seems to be a point of no return. At this juncture at the beginning of the last act the hero makes decision which transforms the character into a new self.

Character Arc showing transformation of Rajinikanth's character in Shivaji
Character Arc showing transformation of Rajinikanth’s character in Shivaji

Let us look at this with the help of an example. In the Tamil movie Shivaji the lead character played by Rajinikanth is a computer architect who returns to India for good. He wants to bring in positive change to the society by offering low cost education. However he is pushed down to the streets by the villain. In the mid-point which is the breaking point he tosses a coin to decide if he would have to fight against the situation or not. This is the first transformation of the character. In the second half he fights against the villain and reaches a point where his life is threatened. In the last act he comes in a new avatar and takes over the villain to establish truce.

A Character Arc can be either positive or negative. In the case of Shivaji the arc was positive as it resulted in the character emerging victorious at the end. In the case of Tamil movie Nanda the character dies at the end there by going through a negative arc.

Whichever way the character arc goes the transformation of the character should be in line with the events for it to be convincing. If not audience would be disconnected from the character.

Now if you can think of some of the characters you remember well in the movies you have watched you would notice that their character arc has been very well done.

Related: Friday Fundas Archive

Lingaa Trailer

Lingaa Trailer

Superstar Rajnikanth’s latest Lingaa Trailer is released today. It has all the promises to become a wholesome entertainer. The script from KS Ravikumar and the mass appeal Rajinikanth is written all over the trailer. The core of the plot seems to be around building a Dam to bring in prosperity to the lives of people. the story spans from the period of British rules India to the current times.

For a movie which has been completed in such a brisk pace the output is good. It is definitely good to see Rajini walking on the screen without the restriction of any motion capture equipment 😀 There is a stark contrast you can see the way in which he walks mentioning “See you Soon” and the Jolly walk he does casually.

A R Rahman’s composition is quite different as to what you expect from a Rajini movie. This might have to do with the fact that this is a period flick. The songs would become a hit when combined with the visuals.

Hollywood Stuntman Lee Whittaker has choreographed the stunts for the movie. He has already created a buzz for Lingaa climax stunt sequence to be huge. This combined with Rathnavelu’s cinematography has definitely made the expectations sore high.

How can a Rajini movie go without any signature style element. The walk of Rajini and the way he pushes his long coat behind as he walks seem to be style icon for Lingaa.

Soon the catchy phrases like “Come on Boys”, “Lets Begin” and “See you soon” would start to trend among Rajini fans and memes on social network.

Enjoy watching the trailer till the movie comes to the theaters!

Thalapathi Review

Thalapathi Review – Thalapathi is a Tamil action drama released in 1991. The movie is an adapted version of the mighty king and warrior Karna from the great Indian epic Mahabharata. Surya born as an illegitimate child is abandoned by his Mom and left on a basket in a goods train. He is then raised by lower caste people living by a river side. He grows up to become a loyal friend and henchman for gangster Devaraj. Both of them run parallel government in the city while the lawmen await an opportunity to take them down.

Diwali of 1991 is unforgettable for me. I was down with flu and was sad for not able to go out to watch the much awaited release of Thalapthi which went on to become a cult classic and a blockbuster. The movie’s release expectations soared sky high with Director Maniratnam and Rajinikanth coming together for the first time. Popular actors like Mamooty and Amrish Puri sharing screen space.  The soundtrack of the movie was already a super duper hit with the Ilayaraja’s violin orchestra starting off the ever famous “Raakamma Kaya Thattu” song which later went onto become the 4th most popular songs of all time in a BBC worldwide service poll across the world. The ticket reservations began a week ahead of the release and the tickets for the first time I had seen did not look like a movie ticket but looked like a mini poster with Rajinikanth and Sonu walia’s dancing still. Finally once I got well I couldn’t wait but rushed to the theater to watch movie which was already declared to be a hit with repeat audience thronging the theaters.

Director Maniratnam is a brilliant story teller. He has taken the story of Karna and made it into a cult classic. Although the movie has been told so many times as part of the epic but still Thalapathi was a very compelling watch for the screenplay, the treatment, acting performances, star cast, music, cinematography and direction. Everything was set so perfectly for this movie that made it an evergreen hit. For the first time the Tamil audience saw a very different performance from Rajinikanth. Although the story had much of the commercial elements that you would want in a Rajini movie, this one had everything in a very convincing fashion and the scenes brought out various emotions from Rajini. Be it fighting with rage, shouting out emotionally to his girlfriend, caring for his best friend, melting for his mother’s love Maniratnam got the best out of Rajinikanth after K.Balachander. He rediscovered the actor who was lost in the color of commercial cinema. The dialogues of the movie are of top notch. The sequence where there is meeting between the collector, SP, Devaraj and Surya is impact full with circular tracking shot. The movie released in 70mm which made everything on the screen look magnificent. There is never a dull moment in the movie.

Overall the movie is a feast for all movie lovers and still stands the test of time.

Must Watch – Epic

Over the shoulder shot

Over the shoulder shot is a filming technique in which a shot is taken in an angle that is gazing onto the character from over a shoulder of a different person with whom the subject is talking to. The back of the person, shoulder and the head is used as a frame the image of the scene. Although this sounds simple a lot of planning needs to go before this shot is taken like which side of the frame should the shoulder occupy and how much it should occupy so that the relevant emotions of the character in focus is shown.

This shot is very useful when you need to have the character not focusing into the camera and delivering a dialogue. Having the shoulder of the other person in the frame also intensifies the interaction between the two characters. Maniratnam had used this technique to a great extent in the movie Thalapathy for the interactions between Mamooty and Rajnikanth. It places equal importance between the two characters and also exemplifies a high degree of emotion.

Thalapathy
The scenes of interaction between Mamooty and Rajinikanth were mostly taken as over the shoulder shot

Maniratnam had also used this in Nayagan to show Kamal Hassan’s reaction for his grandson’s question “Neenga Nallavara Kettavara” (Are you a good person or a bad person) over the shoulder of the kid. K Balachandar had used this in many of his movies to highlight the emotions in the face of the main character and also to intensify the scene. The following still from Ninaithale Innikum is an example of it.

Jayaprada
Over the shoulder shot to intensify the interaction between two people.

It could simply be used to change the point of perception or to focus the attention on the main character in the scene. The following scene in the movie God Father is an example of this where over the shoulder shot is used to reinforce the presence of other people in the room and also focus is given more on Don who watches out of the window. The object of focus is in the center of the frame avoiding distractions from the right half enhances the focus on the action of the character.

God Father
Over the shoulder shot used in God Father to change the point of perception and avoid distractions

This can also be used for hiding the identity of the character like an unknown person not relevant to the plot talking to the main character or a mysterious person talking whose identity may be revealed later.

A simple and ordinary scene can be made interesting through the angle of the shot. The skill of the director and the cinematographer is involved in choosing one from a varied set of options for the camera angle. Over the shoulder shot is definitely a powerful one which has been used very aptly by many great film makers. Next time you watch a movie watch out for the camera angle in which a shot is taken.