Ari Gold cravings

I’m seeing someone“, Melissa blurts coldly.
Ari breaks down to tears instantly.
Aren’t you going to  say something?
What is there to say?

Well, for the uninitiated Ari Gold‘s a character from the series, Entourage and Melissa’s his wife. The above is an excerpt from their conversation, when their wedlock hits a roadblock. Entourage’s a vivid fly on the wall account about Hollywood actors, their shenanigans, the psyche of the entourage that sticks to them, the men who run the showbiz and the hardball they play to levitate their image.
Ari rates amongst my most favourite men, alongside Kamal Haasan and Chandler. This notwithstanding the unabashed bastard he is. Foul mouthed and irreverent, he would be Osama if political incorrectness was terrorism. But there’s something endearing about all this. Below all the pungency, the pompousness, he’s a nice guy.

Maybe there’s more to my adulation. I identify with him or immodestly put, he’s a lot like me. I’m aware and have been told when I haven’t been, what a human repellent I’m. All my life, I’ve barely been the guy to be found kind or considerate at first sight. Just like Ari, I’m a jack fruit kind of personality, with my thorny exterior being a red herring to the sweetness within.
It is quite fascinating when a favourite character and alter ego merge. Even more, when he goes through the same things you’ve been through once. The fourth wall breaks. You just don’t root for him to be alright. You emote with him; actually like him after a point.
This is exactly where I found myself through the final season of the entourage.

Ari’s wife leaves him over his incessant cussing and mercurial temper.Suddenly his trigger mouthed persona is reduced to a moping bundle, who seeks solace in mediocre gatherings. It took me back to days when I was going through the motions in life post my break up, with every iota of desire sucked from within. She told me about how embarrassed she was before her friends, every time I would use cuss words. Embarrassed?!
Wasn’t she supposed to embrace me for the foulmouthed asshole I was. It stung. I could empathize with him, when he got dumped. The vantage point we gave to our sweethearts, only to be shot from there.

She needed a break from me to discover new things, when I begged her to take me back, months after my break up. I couldn’t believe the low hanging fruit, my self respect had turned in the name of love. My king sized ego, self respect…whatever had become a luxury I couldn’t afford anymore. Beggars couldn’t pick.  Just like me, Ari too was left high and dry.
Bitch found some one else! I’m sorry. But I couldn’t see the man I revered, shrink in humiliation. God, at forty something he’s still quite the women killer and yet he had to go through all this. I remembered the shame I felt to my very soul when I came to know from her, my sweetheart of five years, that she was considering someone. Apparently he was an antithesis of the aberration I was. Fuck, has her lips that belonged to me been tasted by another man? Has her beautiful body made love to another man? The very thought was reducing me to an insecure shadow of myself. I knew logically that we weren’t working, this had to happen and we had to move on, but this was insulting and I just couldn’t swallow the bitter pill life was shoving up my throat.

Like Ari’s wife she was the calmer person between the two of us. All the years, I didn’t know about the implosion happening beneath that calm demeanor, much like him. The break-up, brought out years of pent up anger from their system.The roles reversed, it was our turn to bear the brunt. If he was asked to stay away from their house, I was kicked out of her church in public display.
It was strange to see a character in a TV show, going through his break-up, beat by beat, just like me. Worlds apart, we were the same lines dipping southwards in the graph of love.

What happened in the final episode put a tear or two under my eye, drew a wide grin across my face. He was heard, she took him back.  Notwithstanding the fact that it was a rerun, I was as affected by the magnitude of that moment, just like the first time. Unlike me, Ari wouldn’t become cynical about love. Unlike me, he got another shot. It was magical to vicariously live a different outcome to a similar story through an alter ego. If only, life was written by TV writers.

Up in the Air- of lives lost in transit

Ryan Bingham’s a corporate downsizer; an expert whose expertise lies in firing people from their jobs, with a disdain of swatting a mosquito. He’s a gladiator who swings the club of unemployment at hapless “resources” to entertain their bosses. For someone who who shoves the proverbial last nail, his karma does look pretty good. He lives out of a suitcase, travels business class and furtively saves up flyer miles by the million, to make it to an elite club of patrons. That’s the closest romantic aspiration his dispassionate life lets him have, till he runs into Alex. Like him she’s a shallow soul- looking to sidestep reality – , judging people by the names on their plastic money. She lights up the first time, when she runs her hand on one of his cards and gets told that it’s made of graphite. One thing leads to another and soon they find themselves canoodling naked beneath a rummaged bed. That’s the closest Ryan’s goes with excitement of the human kind. By own admission, he comes alive during transit and decays at home. He constantly finds the urge to be on the move. He calls the terminals his home and is content with the stimulated hospitality, a perk of being a loyal patron of the airlines.

A petite surprise awaits him back at work in the form of a new recruit, who’s there to administer his own medicine to him. She’s there to digitize the entire shebang, to bring about a huge cost saving to the firm. But he sees it as an initiative to clip his wings. He belongs in the sky and this means gravity. He gets territorial with her, even tries and manipulates his boss about how his personal touch brings dignity- to people about to be dropped like a bad habit -that might virtually be compromised. He’s not concerned about the employees who’re about to go off the deep end, as much as he is about himself. He’s worried about the idea of a permanent home, a life without the leverage of escapism.The escapism which let him feel accompanied in a moving crowd.

To pilot her rather radical initiative, he accompanies his young colleague to shop on the battle field. He mentors her. Becomes her reality check, gradually getting her into becoming the headlight before deer, office after office. Often than not he sugarcoats his condescension with tongue in cheek sarcasm. Every time she tries to humanize the process, he reiterates to remain mechanical. They find themselves locking horns; trying to call out each other’s bluff. But at the end of this symbiotic love hate relationship, the protege begins to endear.Just as her warmth fizzles in his cold, he begins to melt down to her warmth.

Over the course of the film, his character metamorphoses organically like a butter melt through sunshine, without turning to cinematic hyperboles. Take for instance the scene where he sheepishly asks Alex to be his date to his sister’s wedding, from the precincts of his cocoon of self-banishment. Be it that scene where he surreptitiously regrets his offer to walk his sister down the aisle being turned down or the one where he’s stumped when he comes facewards with Alex’s reality. Clooney dishes out this conundrum beautifully, crafting vulnerability into Bingham’s fault lines. He makes the parallel thoughts occupying his head space palpable, making us moon for this inglorious gentleman.

Eventually Ryan does get the crown he yearns for, but one that is made of thorns. Irony has the last laugh with his entry into the elite flyers club coinciding with his loss of zest to fly. For what does the open sky mean to a sitting duck. He tilted hopefully to the very permanence he had run from all his life, to only be left behind with a permanent scar, in the place of an embrace. As the rug gets repeatedly pulled from under his feet by providence, he gives up the hopeless will to pursue a life different than before.His is an ordeal of an eagle who was at peace with the river’s current- when it believed itself to be a duck -till its first flight. That first flight brought with it, equal measure of pleasure and pain, with pain leaving a far bitter taste behind; for it to ever take to the skies again. Unperturbed it now swims in the same river, with the awareness of an ability to fly and the discretion given by the pain it brought.

Dangal- of wars,ringside and beyond

Mahavir Phogat leaves the sport at a point with some more to offer to it and some more to receive from it. This incomplete arc leaves a bitter taste on his soul, that just wouldn’t go with the eflux of time. It just assumes another form; yearning. The yearning accrues into something bigger, a dream. A dream for a progeny- a son to complete his aspiration, carry his legacy forward. This dream keeps accruing in desperation through the birth of every daughter, till it comes to an eventual halt of acceptance at the birth of the fourth. He genuflects before destiny’s hand in fashioning a future in a direction converse to his dream. A few years later, providence springs a surprise at him, in the form of his daughters. As it turns out, they’re wrestlers too like their big man. This is enough for him to dust off his locked dream. And he goes after it like a marooned man at a wild boar. Redemption was all that he wanted- the elusive Olympic gold -and begetting a son was the means and not the end to it. Thus begins a fascinating journey of a father who goes on to live his dream vicariously through the achievements of his two daughters.

Dangal is set in a patriarchal system we’re so used to despising, just that instead of wrestling had it been cooking and if he was a cook and his ambition was to make it to Masterchef it wouln’t have gained the national veto of being an invigorating movie; especially for families with girl children.  As graceful and ambitious as the man was, his underlying chauvinism cannot be ignored. Mahavir manipulates his dreams into theirs, his aspirations to theirs at an impressionable age. They become the monks who’re forced into their renunciation to pursue his nirvana.
There’s something preposterous about sporting achievements- don’t know about other countries, but definitely in this part of the world -that colours personal accolades as pride of a nation. Bigger the arena, bigger its subversion into patriotism. Any sport is a spectator event dependent on the emotional gullibility of its fan to thrive. So naturally when a nation is pitted against another at its behest, the similar bifurcation happens in the stands as well. Cheering for a sportsperson representing a nation blurs into national solidarity. For it is the most convenient display of patriotism unlike paying taxes and taking bullets.

Can’t remember the last time a lead man walked the screen, so naked of vanity to bring credence to a portrayal.There’s a thin line that runs between egotism and mentoring, Aamir Khan’s Phogat treads this with absolute precision bringing dignity,grace and empathy to a grumpy man who speaks economically, while constantly finding himself torn between taming his inner demons and his little devils on mud pitches. It’s this ego he seeks validation of when he spars with his non abiding elder daughter. Her tresses are shoulder length, her manoeuvres revised. She’s no longer the creature of his fashioning, his dreams have dissolved in her indulgences. Age doesn’t blunt his resentment- even if it has managed to make his weary limbs, clumsily slow -as he continues to spar. She comes on top and he loses. But this isn’t one of those vanilla tropes from mainstream films, where the after taste of a man’s loss to his own child is sweet. The sight of a muddy old Phogat gasping for breath in humiliation as his elder daughter stands to taunt is anything, but that. Wrestling transcends beyond the pitch between the two.

There’s a scene where Phogat finds himself before a archaic table in a sports federation, he’s there to seek funds to support the training of his daughters. The officer in front talks to him in haryanvi almost. Almost because majority of his mouth is in the service of grinding a mothi laddoo from a box he’s received from the desperate man before him. He nonchalantly explains the paucity of funds with finger movements for neglected sports like wrestling, especially for women, mockingly. A frustrated Phogat begins to rant about why India fares poorly in the Olympics, when he’s cut midway by the officer’s abrupt exit for lunch.

It is scenes like this that bring out the odds that were stacked against the real Phogat, the numerous fights he had to take outside the ring- with the condescending villagers, the purists of the game, a sporting system content of mediocrity -to get his daughters into it.It is a story which needed to be told. Dangal tells this story with utmost integrity without circumventing around its protagonist like a demigod. Unlike the Dhoni biopic, which felt like a litany of montages shot for Chivas Regal promotions than a movie, Dangal doesn’t sidestep the grey shades of its central characters.It in fact for the most part keeps away from the temptation to celebrate them, instead tells a story that deserves to be celebrated. Even if not for the anthem that played in the final moments, I stood as the end credits began to roll, to doff my hat to- the movie, the people who made it and the ones it was made on. It is that kind of a movie that gets to you. Think it would to most, given the reception it got in the theatre I watched.

Swades- the classic, we took for granted

Early on we find Mohan addressing the press in NASA about cities his initiative would have an impact on. He goes about, “ San Francisco, Latin Mexico, New Delhi…” , dispassionately. Delhi doesn’t resonate ethnic familiarity. It’s another piece of geography. A mere statistic. He’s as Indian as a Mira Nair movie.
The very mention of India in a press conference- after returning from a trip there – towards the film’s closure, unsettles him. It’s no mere “another” country anymore. It’s his; he its. It’s the pin that made contact with his carefully cultivated American bubble. Swades is bookended by these two press conferences. It’s the story of a man’s search for his mother, that ends in his motherland. It traces an individual’s metamorphosis from being a condescending first world citizen to someone crushed by the stench of third world reality, which was easier to digest as editorial observations over English breakfast.

Where do I start? Do I talk about the audacity of the role reversal employed, where the leading lady is chivalrously let to tie dhoti to an almost emasculated hero; who’s regarded as a deity of fluffy romance in the country’s heartlands. Or do I talk about the spectacle, simple thoughts are translated into onscreen like the “Yeh Tara, Woh Tara” song sequence. Just a few nimble limb movements here, a few facial sparkles there. A song with stars as metaphors under a night sky sprinkled with glittering stars, rendered by a nimbus star in an ominous form. It’s as transcendental as poetry gets on the big screen.

Neither the obscene budgets nor the more obscene promotions(hawking) of these days were there to flex, but he was nonchalantly wearing his superstardom like a good perfume. His charm was organic, not laboured. If Khan’s the film’s face and heart, Rahman’s music is the pulse and soul. Rarely do we get a musical score that follows the story like a solicitous shadow, never once intending to precede or side step for attention. It grows with the protagonist; melting with him; simmering with him; hoping with him and hurting with him. It fashions the western finesse to the eastern sensibilities of the film’s milieu. Swades is a fine example of what happens in a legitimate marriage between the song and dance trope and narrative dexterity.

And a special mention, actually a very special mention to Gayatri Joshi. The deadpan way in which she competes with SRK’s calculator, her implosive consent to his boisterous overtures, her outbursts of child ego while being possessive of Kaveriamma or the dollops of grace she adds to the chiffon saris. She brings so much dignity to Geeta, doing more to the role than it does to her. Not often do we get an actress who makes us feel guilty in a wet dream.

Mohan’s starting to scratch beyond the surface of paper patriotism, when Kaveriamma sends him to collect rent arrears from a farmer. To him it’s just an expedition, another rustic journey to a rudimentary hamlet . But she knows more. She knows it would make him go off the deep end on a journey of self discovery. On his way there he travels on a boat, standing with a glint of amusement in his eyes, distant from the other modest passengers. He doesn’t disrespect them. He just doesn’t belong.

He meets the farmer, through him meets with every ugly truth inundating a nation-  poverty, casteism, apathy – he only knew of at an ethnicity and number-of-rivers basis till now.He came to India with first world problems like guilt from not being able to stay in touch with his foster mother. His project in NASA addressing the issue of global water scarcity that hitherto swelled his chest slowly fades away to inprominence as he gazes skywards, from the ground reality of a third world peasant’s backyard. A young boy sprinting helter skelter, to sell water for 25 paise adds further salt to his wounded soul.
On his way back, he returns a different man on the same boat. He’s humbled by the guilt of ignorance about a country he claimed to be a part of; humbled by the knowledge that the “humble” lives led in its heartlands was in fact euphemism to the collective sufferings. Legs folded, he’s seated among the other modest beings on the boat. The distance between them had crumbled. In fact it now feels like a crime. “They” becomes “we”, as he becomes Indian.

Reliving Varanam Ayiram- the daddy classic from a decade before

Over the years this movie has been a fodder for a lot of parody among my circle, that turns to sarcasm every time there’s a lull. We’ve made “daddy-daddy” jokes through our parlance, ridiculed the simplistic solutions that the movie offers to the myriad existential crises faced by it’s protagonist. Like how he turns to a body with under five percent fat to overcome the loss of a beloved or how all he needed was just a ticket to America to bring his “soulmate”(Mind you, this woman’s only been in his life for a little longer than a pimple.) into scheme of things. We’ve laughed at how life in a GVM regulated environment could be contained within a crew-cut,linen shirts,tanglish spouting upper middle class, women with an eye for chiffon sarees, who just wouldn’t lip-sync fully to a song lyrics, unrealistically real situations and solicitous voice overs to name a few. It is from this place that I began watching Varanam Ayiram a few days back. I had an hour to kill and wasn’t in a mood for my other alternative, a Woody Allen movie. Basically I was looking to for something light, unintentionally funny. What better place to milk some jokes than my favourite cow.

Some films set up in the homage space try to mimic the events. A rare few manage to recreate them. VA belongs to the latter category of films. It’s a movie made with so much love. It can be seen as an ode to a father. As a well intentioned meal to an audience raised on endless masala. And as a love letter to its mildly indulgent auteur.

Take for instance the stray anecdotes that Surya knits together as he reminisces about his late father from the fighter plane carrying him, as the new of his demise starts to sink in. The son’s a little under heaven from where he looks skywards towards heaven, as his mind  begins to interact with his father-Daddy hope you’re okay. You will be I’m sure. I shouldn’t have left you…..

We’re thrown into episodes from his childhood as retold to him by his mother. We get to know about how his father took the reigns from a inebriated lorry driver while they were shifting from Calicut to Chennai. We see how cool a dad he was during his school days, when he preferred him making small talk with girls his age at home than the street end. We get to see his younger self forming an instant yardstick in romance, as he looks starry eyed at his father lovingly caress his mother’s feet. These sequences have a certain handmade-candid quality to them, that we seldom come across in our movies. GVM employs the first person interview technique in these portions to move the narrative . A technique often used by Woody Allen in some of his works including Annie Hall and Husbands & Wives. A character begins to narrate an episode in response to a question, often asked by the protagonist who’s not in the frame. These episodes add up gravitas to his relation with his father, our relation with him. We begin to partake, rather invest in this man’s heartfelt love letter to his father..err ‘daddy’ as he plunges deeper into nostalgia. We get to know why the apple wouldn’t have fallen far from the tree.The narrative segues seamlessly from his childhood to his first love. From here on, what began as an ode to a father turns into a story of self discovery.

GVM writes his women with an inimitable-indelible quality. They’re modern creatures who appreciate chivalry in men, while tossing up the male ego just enough to remain enigmatic. They often have a ear for fine music, eye for detail and a tongue that doles out Tanglish. They’re well rounded autonomous beings with a life of their own before turning the protagonist’s muse. In Megna- his first love-we get one such person. She gets curious at the sight of this smitten man, squirming in the seat opposite her with unbridled excitement. Later she introduce herself to him while recollecting having seen him in an event once. All this while she responds without reacting, to his overtures . This episode culminates in one of the most organic lead ups to a song, as Surya strums his guitar to break into Nenjukul Peidhidum, as the voice over diligently notifies his dad as an afterthought that there, that very moment was born his first composition. With that moment was born another pop culture reference.

The movie moves from this chapter into the abyss of his depression leading in a third act that falls flat on its nose. The first person narrative technique addressing the father which hitherto felt refreshing, starts to peel off as an artifice. From here on the movie tries to punch above its weight, as it gets saddled with plot contrivances that just don’t add up to its slice of life quality. Be it the Makemytrip ad like self discovery sequence in Kashmir or the ensuing kidnap episode involving a mafia made of erstwhile actors and reality show participants, they either end up as prosaic postcards or popcorn purchase diversions, if not as unintentional jokes. Ditto to the montages that paint his stint as a defence personnel and his matrimony, with broad strokes and urgency of a amateur midwife to a sudden labour.All this with incessant chants of “Daddy I made pasta……daddy I decided to have a french beard” inundating the screen with just furniture and utensils on frame.

The movie does hop to its recovery in its last act over a tearful funeral.This portion tunes back into the initial mood of the film, that of bereavement. We empathise with his mom’s loss of words in the moment he tells her that they’re about to take ‘him’ away, as the procession to the crematorium commences. We completely buy into his denial to see a dead man in his father. Moments later, the sight of an empty house leaves us with an aftertaste of having revisited a wonderful every man’s lifetime through the eyes of his son. The movie delicately manages to hit the sweet spot between our adulation for this man and aspiration to be him beyond the screen at some level.

The issue with such personal movies is such they either tend to get over indulgent in an endeavour to recreate exactness or extrapolate drama to play to the gallery. The director baring his heart out should exactly know when to stop. To this discretion,I doff my hat to GVM. A movie that manages this tight rope walk to a large extent without placing its integrity in the altar of acceptance is a feat in itself. All the more given the culture of self-derived monikers and item songs it finds itself in.

 

 

 

 
GVM-Gautam Vasudev Menon
Tanglish- A cross over between Tamil and English.

Epiphany in the woods

This piece is a deconstruction of a scene close to my heart. It shadows a rejected photographer, camping in a forest on the lookout for a trophy picture to amp up his portfolio. We travel with him until his eyes find an exotic bird, considered a phantom by the high priests of the fraternity operating the door to his entry. They widen with excitement as he captures the perched bird through his frame; when something happens that catches him unaware. It tweaks the full stop  into a comma at the end of his quest, that seemed like a means to his acceptance till then.

And just like that the bird that was pecking on the bark, spreads across its wings in a superfluous gesture to make for a breathtaking sight that overwhelms him. It shouts out to the sky- probably a prayer – as he slides against the tree behind, eyes welled up from confrontation with the nature’s glory. He walked into the forest in search of a bird, but found himself instead. His identity dissolves along with the last left traces of his ego, as he bares his soul naked in vogue with the ways of the wild.What seemed like a mere trophy object, feels like the manifestation of mother nature in all her glory.

The bird pushes a leaf down like in acknowledgement –  that spirals and waltz in the air -grieving separation while defying gravity on its descent. Chin up, his face moves in anticipation to the dispatched leaf, as its gentle passage comes to an end on his face. Eyes closed, he soaks in the moment as an avalanche of epiphanies hit shore, culminating in a state of infinite peace.The leaf is not so much a leaf as a badge of honour it has become to him.

Hits, flops and movie parlance like that

How do I embrace a painting when in front of one- through the intrigue held in its strokes, the embedded undercurrent of symbolism or it’s auction price?  What if its price is the only yardstick  to draw parallel with the other paintings on display or the previous works of the same creator? If so, the skewed leftovers of this apples & oranges comparison would leave me with nothing but price tags and wealth trivia; hardly an inference one would say.
Talking of apples and oranges-one’s penetratingly saccharine and crunchy, while the other is citrus and sour  . Different textures, different patrons. Though fruits, they’re as dissimilar the night and dawn. And they aren’t the only fruits in the vast ecosystem of fruits, each one unique and fascinating from the other. Born out of different plants branched out of different seeds sown into different geographies under  different conditions. So, how rational would my appreciation be if it was out of stock taking of the fortunes made by the orchards or the turnover done by the exporters dealing in them.

If you asked my grandpa to pick a movie indelibly etched in his mind, he would probably reminisce about a movie starring either Dilip Kumar or Sivaji Ganesan. The pink in his face would give away his fond nostalgia, as he would ruminate about the story or hum a line or two of a close song. If you asked my mom about a film from her teenage, she would either talk about a Kamal Haaasan classic or an Amitabh Bachchan movie from his “pre-angry young man” days. She would talk fondly about the visionary Balachander was, for his deft handling of volatile subjects with grace and poignance or about movies that stayed afloat in public memory on the sheer strength of Ilaiyaraja‘s magic. Movies meant memories to them, bookmarks to the chapters in their lives.
If one were to ask the same to my college going cousin, a movie buff mind you, he would proudly talk about the opening weekend collections of his star’s film along with painful statistics of the movies it toppled along its ascent to the top and how close it got to the elusive hundred crore club. He would probably remember songs by their placement in the aircheck or the I-tunes chart, if not by his ringtone. Not surprising given the- “loudest the rightest, quantity is quality”,  maxim of his generation.

Niches have faded into seclusion before the cliche churning behemoths of mass approval. Works of art that dial up introspection and epiphanies have gotten relegated to Netflix, as movie halls fill in as dams holding footfalls from the avalanche of promotions. The most promoted movies end up being the most preferred ones over the fate fashioning first weekend, not so surprising given the amnesiac span of attention of the audience that can only hold up the last flamboyant splash.
You don’t see men debating about the good parts and the bad parts of a movie long after the lights have come on. They instead make small talk about whether it would break even or end up losing money, when all that is left of their stake in the movie is a torn ticket and popcorn calories. Somehow the average internet denizen seems to have been stung by the box-office bug. Agreed that the air of capitalism is inundating and the producer’s parlance percolates till the very roots.But it’s not like the stock exchange, where one frantically tracks the movement of his share price. Maybe it is to do with the rudimentary head rush that comes with pitting things against each other- as dissimilar as they’re -to see as to which one among them goes the farthest north.

Probably the ubiquitous availability of too much information from a zillion box office tracking sites and trade analysts piques this misplaced fiduciary interest. They’re like the class teachers who announce the ranks alone, without going into the nitty gritty of any of the subjects. Can I just watch a wonderful movie at home ensconced before the box and leave it just at that? Well, not entirely. By night, I’ll have the summary of the TRP wars and where my movie stood, like a diligent annual report of a company I had put my money into.I just can’t stop with the knowledge of how the movie was, but also have to be informed about how it batted for the channel playing it. So next time I watch a gem like Manorama Six Feet Under on TV, I’ll watch and recommend it to a friend with an air of charity; instead of respect subconsciously. This dirty dichotomy of movies into hit or flop, instead of good or bad has left with us with “mass” produced movies targeted at a wider audience. But where’s the charm in finding demand to a newly opened arrack shop, in an island full of drunkards.

We can’t afford to have Tarentinos, Guy ritchies,Myskins and  Dibakar Banerjees as their audacious works are frowned upon by the high priests of the industry, the producers, for their movies only generate negligible profits that the trade pegs as sleeper hits or break evens. As a bunch of outlaws perceived to masturbate their heads out of in the name of movie-making, they barely find takers even among their target audience-the supposed creme de la creme . Yet we’ll find the balls to nonchalantly rave about Annie Hall, Birdman, Perks of being a wallflower and the impotency of the film industry to churn such films. Not just that, we would make religious beelines to Bhai films to only bitch about the stinking records they go on to make, while patiently waiting for a good torrent of the home grown “offbeat” movies these guys make. After all, its only fair to observe anomalies in isolation, right!

Another conundrum I’m yet to wrap my head around is the fracas around the youtube hits a trailer of a movie gets. It’s like trying to gauge the looks of a person by the number of people who had seen his silhouette. Like this isn’t embarrassing enough, every million views clocked is commemorated with paid trends on social media. The euphoria around a movie is inch-taped with these metrics, like buying a ticket was same as watching a minute long video.

 Legend has it that Nayagan didn’t exactly get off to a flying start at the box office in the first few days of its release, before good press and word of mouth caught on like fire and rest as they say is history. But we don’t have the luxury of a gestation period these days for such organic turnarounds to happen . It has to spike up northwards in its first weekend and break even by Sunday night or the trade would pronounce it dead the following Monday. Then a week later, we’ll have eulogies like the ones we had for Anbe Sivam deconstructing it into minute details. The salt to the wound wouldn’t stop there. Years after they let it plummet; they’ll call it a classic, put it up on their all time favorites list and even make merchandise out of it. But the producer wouldn’t dare to tread that path  as gratuitous columns and awards didn’t pay his interests the last time. With him will go another person to the other side – greener and blockbuster – to place art in the altar of commerce.