My Year of Prakash Raj

Some people spend a year
cooking Julia Child's recipes, or following all of the rules in the Bible, or reading books by people who spent a year doing something. My quest is to watch the 200-some films of South Indian character-actor-extraordinaire, Prakash Raj. (It'll probably take more than a year... and I'll post about some Prakash-less films here as well.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Round-up for April 2010

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (April, 2010): 1
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 4/30/10): 22
(April was short on the number of Prakash Raj movies watched, but it probably is one of my top three months with the highest amount of actual Prakash Raj screentime.)

Abhiyum Naanum (Tamil, 2008)
 Date watched: 4/15/10
Role TypePrakash Dad
The story: The film describes the relationship of Raghuraman (Prakash Raj) and his daughter Abhi (Trisha), from her childhood, to her college days, to her impending wedding to Joginder Singh (Ganesh Venkatraman/)
Movie Rating: 5/5  Director Radha Mohan does a really masterful job of balancing the sweet sentiment of the story with tart humor and characters.  As with Mozhi, I loved how all of the supporting characters get more complex stories and scenes.  Prithviraj is appropriately low-key in the park scenes that bookend the story and Aishwarya Sivachandran as Anu did a great job of portraying the different ways she related to her daughter and husband (looking her up, I see that I saw her in a more negative role in Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi.


Kumaravel plays the beggar that young Abhi befriends, and his scenes in the restaurant and at the wedding were very emotional, but he still managed to make the moments real and not overly melodramatic (realized that he was also a favorite in Vellitherai.)  There was a small side story with the family friends who weren't able to have kids, and all of the Punjabi "in-laws" were delightful. For me, the only real weak spot was in the characterization of Abhi.  She seemed like more a platonic ideal of a daughter than a real, flesh-and-blood person. The kid versions of Abhi were interesting, but I felt like they didn't give Trisha much to work with.

Humor was a really strong presence in the film. I liked how the humor was used to carry the story, and show the tension of the father struggling to let go of his daughter. The scenes when they are watching Jogi (the fiance) interviewed on tv and when the Prime Minister places a call to Jogi were played well.  The harrowing drive the airport was hilarious to me (who hasn't had a tension-filled drive to the airport with that relative), and it did a bit to give some flaws and depth to Jogi's character (see the clip below. )I wish that I understood Tamil (or Hindi/Punjabi), because I sense that there were a lot of language jokes that I missed.

I also liked how they worked the songs into the story. I'm mostly used to seeing the songs used to punctuate  the romance storyline, and I was impressed how the songs illustrated the father-daughter relationship, and various other friendships.  There's a great nightmare song/sequence where Raghuraman imagines his future son-in-law as an evil sorcerer trying to steal his daughter away. It's all very imaginative, and just as romantic songs are a way of making explicit feelings and thoughts, this does a great job of expressing a whole other set of emotions. (The song is in the video below, right after the care ride.)



This was filmed in Ooty, and it looks so beautiful in this film. I hope they got some sort of incentives from the tourism board, because my impulse while watching it was to look up travel info. Looking over my screencaps of hats and sweaters (below), I also get the sense that there's a running joke here about the cold weather in Ooty.

Prakash Raj Rating: 5/5 Since I started this project/blog, I tend to watch any movie as if Prakash Raj's character is always the protagonist, but in this movie he actually is the lead character!  It is his film to carry, and I especially appreciated how he reacted and played off of all of the other actors on the film. The themes of the film draw some obvious comparisons to "Look Who's Coming to Dinner" and "Father of the Bride", and I'd argue that Prakash Raj definitely holds up to comparison with Spencer Tracy.  


Some favorite scenes:
-When young Abhi starts screaming in the kitchen, and her father freaks out.  (Aishwarya is fantastic in this scene as well--it really is nice to see films where actresses get to do more subtle work!)

-Abhi has realized that her father is having trouble accepting her marriage and she confronts him about it.  I l love how the scene plays out: he acknowledges to her that he's feeling conflicted, and that he needs to work through it, but there's not an easy resolution.  This version doesn't have subtitles, but even if you don't understand Tamil (I don't) I think the inflection, expressions, and body language really convey the complex emotions they are working with.  It's a kind of interaction between a parent and their adult child that is really common in hourlong US tv dramas, but is much more rare in Indian film




-In a later scene, Raghuraman finds his wife Anu crying in their room and dealing with her own sadness at loosing Abhi. (Again, Aishwarya S. rocks this scene!) As they talk, Raghuraman realizes how much the ongoing estrangement from Anu's parents (because of his and Anu's love marriage and elopement) must still be hurting her parents, and he vows to reconcile with them.

Finally, I have to send some kudos to the costume designers for this movie for all of the costumes, and how they supported the character.
Hats! (Ooty is cold.)

Sweater Vests - a.k.a. "The Avuncular Sweater Vest"








2 comments:

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie. It's probably my absolute favorite Prakash Dad movie. Seriously.

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  2. @Amaluu-- I know, it's just so wonderful. I'll be watching the Telugu dub (Aakashamantha) in order to complete my mission, but this is one that I look forward to seeing again...and again.

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