‘Commercial cinema’ as a creative space has been sort of a ‘mystery box’ for many. Its secret recipe has successfully evaded the most talented of directors in more ways than one. Not to say that ‘parallel cinema’ is any better to crack. But going by the sound of it, ‘non-commercial’ cinema does seem like a effortless job as the maker apparently needn’t give an rat’s arse on whether his product pulls the audience to the theatres or not. Really? Which film-maker does a film to lose his hard-earned money, to be watched only by his friends? Then doesn’t the word ‘non-commercial cinema’ compete with expressions like dark light or the living dead in being grandly oxymoronic? If there exists no such differentiation on the intent to financially break even and if possible make money, why does the word even exist?
Well, that conflict is not going to reach a resolution anytime in the near future, but for practical purposes let me give you my take on ‘commercial’ movies or in better terms ‘mainstream‘ cinema. The pompous blaring of horns and banging of drums as the ‘hero’ gives his divine darshan only to tear up hundreds of goons for no particular reason and proceed to morally police us with his virtuous song, stalk a random pretty girl on the street posing as a royal loafer, give her some life-lessons on how not to be rude, how to dress decent and be a woman, only to romance with her wearing a decent bikini the next sequence, again bash up fat thugs (who don’t seem to have a few bugs for a shave or a haircut) springing from nowhere to take her away, mouth some insanely funny punch lines in-between on random issues, walk slanting towards the camera with coolers like a smiling imbecile with a broken leg, prance around in a foreign location wearing designer suits to a lowly melody, come back and shed some fake tears for the death of a dear one who obviously is killed by the girl’s brother or father, go around wild like a rabid dog with a loud energizing song in the background, shake legs with the lovelorn happy lady who doesn’t give a shit about anything else in the world than entertaining our man in a bizarre looking set to more bizarre sounding lyrics as kicking bad men in tandem tends to become tedious, chase the villains who have strangely decided its time to get themselves killed and end the movie, through roads (if small budget), in train (if medium budget), in air (if high budget) and under water (if monstrously budgeted) to catch them in an old shed/mill/wasteland, throw away the gun, tear off the shirt and plumage everybody in sight insanely till all heaven breaks loose and peace prevails? NO WAIT! Dont let your imagination run wild.
‘Mainstream’ cinema to me is one which takes the liberty of overriding logical glitches in the script with irresistible engagement in story telling so much so that you tend to overlook these seemingly implausible things which can’t/wont probably happen in real life for the kind of entertainment it provides. The more tautly and sensibly it is presented, the more it goes down well with the rational audience. And this is where director Anand Shankar scores. Taking up a simple plot of wronged accusation, he makes a suspense trailer which catches you on the edge of your seats for most of the time. ‘ Arima Nambi’ has several things going in its favour like a watertight script, unexpected plot twists springing out of thin air and powerful characters. But what it essentially lacks is the ‘credibilty’ factor which stunts the experience of watching a nail-biting suspense unfolding quite ostensibly, especially in the second half. Having said that, the director also makes it really tough for the audience to ponder on it much with his superfast screenplay.
The director gets his characterisations bang on right from the main leads to the supporting artists. Rarely do we get to see a male lead who takes a girl to a dinner date the day after they met, has a few drinks with her, gets invited to her place at night and still refuses to judge her! Vikram Prabhu gets an awesome make-over as the energetic and charming Arjun Krishna, and he carries himself with style. But the ease with which a young banker grips the gun and handles potentially life-threatening situations effortlessly never gets explained. Priya Anand plays the affluent Anamika like a breeze, looking confident and ravishing as usual. Again, she is not a silent spectator to be rescued by her lover at the end, but a character who uses her brains to help the protagonist through his journey. Anamika parties at the Hard-Rock cafe without posing as a slut, is comfortable with her alcohol, dates her male friend of two days and defends her decisions till the end. Bravo Anand! JD. Chakravarthy playing the formidable ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ antagonist fits the role perfectly. MS. Bhaskar is a natural in his well written character, and brings in a key twist in the storyline.
A particular trend of beating around the bush in the name of comedy and romance for a good sixty minutes and coming to the plot line only at the interval has been making me sick recently. Anand Shankar takes five minutes to introduce the characters, and comes to the point straight away and half an hour into the movie, we are stumped and startled at the amount of events that have happened with no clues/connections whatsoever. He eases into the main resolution phase soon after while adding additional conflicts at regular intervals. Well done, again. He keeps the distracting songs to a bare minimum of three, which does help to pace up the narrative. The opening song at The Hard Rock Cafe has Drums Sivamani’s name written all over it, and he impresses with his lively beats. His background score is again brilliant serving to edge the tension a few notches higher. R.D Rajasekhar’s camera captures all the drama stylishly and makes even the most implausible scenes seem convincing. Editing by Bhuvan Srinivasan is crisp, The film would have definitely shaped better without the party song just before the interval and the duet in the second half. But alas, the banes of ‘business’!
However, Anand Shankar doesn’t let mindless mushy romance or dim-witted comedy come in his way of story-telling. The girl doesn’t break into a sexy jive soon after her dad dies. The guy doesn’t make out with her soon after escaping from a near-death experience. The humour is subtle and inbuilt, and works very much to the film’s favour.The staunch loyalists of logical cinema might frown and wiggle in their seats in a few sequences. A few logical glitches and cliches towards the end might make you sigh in disapproval. But there is no denying the fact that Arima Nambi holds the attention of the audience for most of the time with a sincere well-written script and stylish visuals. Definitely worth a watch.