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.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Round up for February 2010

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (February 2010): 1
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 2/28/10): 18
Only one movie, but it's one I really, really like, so it gets the in-depth treatment.

Kadhal Sadugudu (Tamil, 2003)
Date watched: 2/13/10
Role TypePrakash Dad
The story: Suresh (Vikram) goes with his friends to a festival in their home village. Once there, Suresh has several, increasingly heated run-ins with Chithambaram (Prakash Raj), an important and easily angered leader in the village.  Things get complicated when it is revealed that Suresh has been staying with Chithambaram's in-laws, and has fallen in love with Chithambaram's daughter, Kausalya (Priyanka Trivedi.)

Movie Rating: 4.5/5  This is one of those movies that I love wholeheartedly, even though I'm not really sure if it's "good." Here are some of the reasons why I like it:
1) Strong narrative consistency.  The film sets up the personalities and the conflict between Chithambaram and Suresh early on, and this the conflict that drives the rest of the story. It doesn't fall back on the easy trope of having random bad guys show up in the second half.

Delhi Ganesh
 2) A really delightful supporting cast. I especially enjoyed MN Nambiar as the playful, loving grandfather. This film got me inspired to look him up, and it was interesting reading pieces (wikipedia and an obit) about his career as a villain in Tamil films. Delhi Ganesh is another character actor who I've seen in a lot of Tamil films (thanks to Githa for helping me to put a name to his familiar face) and he played the great uncle in my favorite "voice of reason" type role. The side comedy track had Vivek's NRI and his village grandmother (played by Paravai Muniyamma, who was the hurricane-song singing grandmother in Dhool) deliver justice and social commentary on female infanticide, rape, and farmer suicide.

4) The first song, "Carolina", which is the only Tamil reggae song I've encountered so far. I think it actually works pretty well, especially compared to the many not-so-great hip-hop versions of Hindi/Tamil/Telugu songs I've heard.  The picturization on the train is fun, and filmed well, and has a nice "Chaiyya Chaiyya"-lite vibe to it. And as Simran Singh at BollyWHAT pointed out, in the second half of the song, Vikram-in-a-lungi is pretty dang easy on the eyes. 

5) A sweet straight-up romance. The "meet-cute" of Suresh and Kausalya on the flooded street is well done, and their subsequent elaborate stories help to establish their characters. I liked that they didn't drag out the romance unnecessarily in the first half, and used some flashbacks of the happy days of the relationship in the second half.  Kadhal Sadugudu has one of the rare kisses in Indian films, and I think it's done really well--lots of cute buildup, and it pays off with a nice example of female sexual agency (hooray!)

6) An even better Bromance between Vikram and Prakash Raj...

Prakash Raj Rating: 5/5  Chithambaram is well-respected, but easily-angered. In the very first scene, we see how a simple question from a clueless member of the festival organizing committee sends him into apoplexy. I could see Chithambaram's perspective of the various encounters with Suresh, and how he might not trust or like this guy.  Suresh was a jerk when Chithambaram sincerely tried to apologize for knocking his head, so I do feel like his failure to accept that apology sort of served him right when Chithambaram wouldn't accept his apologies later on.  Also, Suresh could have been a bit more contrite when he hit the poor dog.
I don't know that I'd enjoy a real-life Chithambaram, but it's great fun to watch Prakash Raj as the rage starts to simmer and then boils over.
He just set a car on fire, rather than sell it to Suresh's friend.

This is the big scene before the interval when Chithambaram tries to throw Suresh out of his in-laws house. This video clip doesn't have subtitles, but it's a good example of the many "rage-tantrums" that the character has in the film:

Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: 
1) Self-Immolation. Chithambaram has anger management issues, and he's also a manipulative drama queen.  After he sees Kausi and Suresh talking, he goes home, locks himself in his room, douses himself oil and strikes a match, while his wife, daughter and servants are sobbing and banging on the doors.  Fortunately, he draws out the process long enough for one of the servants to break into the room and douse the flames with a blanket. But he is successful in getting Kausi to promise never to talk to Suresh.

2) The Mongoose-Snake Speech. This is one of many, many scenes that are focused on the Chtihambaram-Suresh relationship. The romance between the hero and heroine is established and emotionally resolved pretty quickly in the first half.  That leaves most of the second half to deal with the conflict between the father and his daughter's suitor, so we get lots of scenes of Vikram fruitlessly trying to apologize to Prakash Raj, Prakash Raj yelling at Vikram, and Vikram looking teary-eyed as Prakash

He made Vikram cry, that big jerk!

This scene is the best for the "will they-won't they get along" storyline. Even after Suresh has beaten up the guy who harassed Kausi, and the family is trying to get him to accept Suresh, Chithambaram will have none of it. He meets Suresh in the fields to tell him that he can never accept him.
"Why don't you love me? Why?"
Everybody likes Suresh. What's not to like?

3)The big final scene at the train station:  This is the big moment, when Suresh tells the family that he will never run off with Kausi, he will marry her only when her father accepts him.  

Chithambaram sees this scene, and finally realizes Suresh's true, good character. There's a nice shot of the "Prakash Raj Blossoming Of Bromance Gaze" (tm Temple), 

followed by Chithambaram and Suresh hugging it out to emotional music.

Another thing I loved about this film were all of the nicely framed, artsy shots of Prakash Raj and his perfectly curled mustache: 

1 comment:

  1. LIZji!
    I'm 1/2 way through this tonight and had to stop because I was so overcome with excitement I knew I'd never sleep if I continued the filum tonight. He was just stopped from lighting himself on fire. Very dysfunctional! Prakashji's rage is so over the top it make Nana Patekar look like a little girl taking a nap in his rageful roles! I'll report back and all the best!


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