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We went for midnight show. Came home at 4 a.m. I typed a review (Caryn had already gone to bed, the sleepy head) but the review disappeared. So here is a brand new one.
Kuselan is not about Rajnikanth. Kuselan is about friendship - a friendship between two poor boys, one growing up into a barber and the other into a screen phenomenon, who controls the film industry of the South. Kuselan is about the vagaries and double-standards of our society, who looks out for fame and fortune and tries to use people who may not have fame or fortune, but who are privy to such fame and fortune. Like the Eurythmics song go, "Some of them want to use you, some of them want to abuse you...."
Pasupathy is Balu, a poor barber. How poor is he? His furniture and haircutting apparatus are remnants from his father's era. Dusty and dilapidated. He tries to get loans to bring in new equipment and gets rejected. Meanwhile his apprentice, Vadivelu, opens a competitive salon and gets his customers in a dubious way. (This is so silly and illogical). He sends out impersonators as policemen who then "arrest" men with long hair and bushy beards, sprays them with some kind of chemical that make them unconscious and then shaves them. It is stupid. Pasupathy on the other hand is straightforward, honest and proud. Geetha and Fatima ("Lakshmi"'s mother) act as nuns. Geetha is a ferocious nun who is the principal of the school that Pasupathy's daughter goes to. Geetha kicks the girl out of school as Pasupathy cannot afford to pay her fees. Kavithalaya Satya ("Peter"), Livingston, OAK Sunder, M.S.Bhasker (in an idiotic wig) and Santhabharathi (wasted role for him) do side roles - I think they were far superior to Vadivelu and do raise a few laughs.
Into this little village comes Ashok Kumar, otherwise known as Superstar. Somehow the village finds out that Balu was a childhood friend of Ashok Kumar and people who ignored him before now bend over backwards to be nice to him. Sister Geetha comes to his house, claiming that his daughter can come back to school because the nuns decided to pay her fees from the school fund. But there is a catch - he must get Ashok Kumar to attend the school function.
Things go on like this - Balu is stoic, he does not bank on his friendship with Ashok but everyone, including his kids, try to make use of his friendship to get closer to Ashok. In the end, Ashok attends the school function and talks about his childhood friend Balu, telling everyone details about their friendship and the sacrifices that his friend had made. Apparently his friend eloped and Ashok could not find him.
Even then, Balu, who is in the crowd hearing all this and sobbing uncontrollably, returns home without revealing to his friend that the Balu Ashok was looking for was there. His wife is sad that Balu did not tell her all the details that Ashok had revealed; his children come home, ashamed that they had doubted their father and proud that their father had helped his best friend. Somehow Ashok is there and the reunion between the friends is touching and profound.
What is the connection between this and Kuselan? Kuselan/Sudarman was Krishna's best friend. Krishna becomes king and Kuselan remains poor. Krishna does not forget their friendship even though he is rich and powerful and his friend is poor. That is the moral of the story. Ashok says that for him, it has always been mata, pita, guru, nanban and then deivam.
OK - people who appreciate good films will enjoy this film. This film is not about Rajni. It is about Pasupathy and it is about friendship between two boys and how that friendship did not change even though one had become so famous and rich. On the other hand, if you are a Rajni fan, you'll be disappointed because this film is not about him. There are no punch lines, there are no gimmicks, there are no stunts. In other words, it was such a pleasure to watch this film. There were little amusing twists - Annamalai 2, Chandramukhi 2...it was quite interesting trying to figure out what films they were shooting. Prabhu comes in as Insp Senthilnathan. Santhanam goes around in his Merc, ordering food and supplies and giving advance of thousands of rupees - we then find out that he is the cook for the unit.
Some people however found the focus on Rajni OTT. Maybe Pasupathy felt that way too – and this is Vasu's fault. He tends to shower idolatry on Rajni and this film is no different. Rajni, the superstar, the super hero, the superman, the human being extraordinaire. R. Sundarajan is cast as a cynical disbeliever and then he too is won over by Rajni's humility. I actually did not mind this so much because I found Rajni natural in this film. The make-up was good, his acting was understated. Pasupathy is not a theatre actor for nothing – what a far cry from Patas Balu. Soft, steady, stoic, highly-principled and he refuses to bank on his friendship with Rajni. Meena was a perfect foil for him, altho my mother and I felt that after acting as a heroine to Rajni in three movies, this was a bit of a drop for her. But kudos to her for taking on the role. Nayantara was a complete waste and like I said, there was a distasteful scene where Vadivelu was being a peeping tom. Vadivelu's humour was crass and I was quite surprised when people said that his humour was the highlight of the film. It's not. It's Pasupathy. It's Rajni.
Overall view: Well worth it. There are parts of the film that you could do without but surprisingly I did not find the focus on Rajni irritating. I liked the songs too.
So, two thumbs up.
Joined: 31 July 2007
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