The demonetisation of the rupee may have pushed forthcoming film releases and Gautham Menon’s Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (AYM) was the first film to face the backlash of less cash-on-hand. But the night show at Devi theatre didn’t show such ‘lash-signs’! Instead the theatre resounded in applause to Simbu’s impressive punches in the fight sequence, to the unpredictable and beautifully filmed and edited cult Thallipogathey, to the one-liners and staging which harks back to some self-referencing, but which quickly moves on to a surprising James Hadley Chase-like story. The experimental screenplay format with AR Rahman’s mind-blowing songs and BGM, arresting performances from Manjima and Simbu (yes, in that order!) make for a breezy viewing. But let me confess this wasn’t what I was ‘prepped’ for as I saw the film only on the second day.
Full-on negative feedback from FDFS critics, total shock from friends who saw the film earlier, on how songs occupied the entire first-half and how the climax was all ‘talkie’, and then, the sudden big reveal.... Ha Ha! I could only marvel at the audacity to name a hero thus. Well-played Gautham! From Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (VV, 2006) to AYM, a sea of negativity engulfs every Gautham Menon film on the first day. I distinctly recall how the industry naysayers ran down VV which went on to become a massive hit and remains one of most complicated storylines ever written. A widowed police officer, who loses his wife to gang-war, is on a mission to track down serial killers who violently slay victims including his senior officer and family.
This cat-and-mouse game narrows down the officer to a rubble-ridden climax where his lady-love, a divorced mother whom he met enroute his investigation, lies buried by the psychopaths. Try converting this outline into an engaging film with an actor who is on par with the best in the world — Kamal Haasan! Gautham’s standards were set with VV post the blockbuster Khakka Khakka (2003) and maybe that’s why his other films were/are judged more because they had to match up?
I saw a clip from the #AYMPressmeet (the hash-tag is trending on Twitter) where lyricist Thamarai was subjected to needling questions by a reporter because she admitted she took time to get her mind around the seamless Thallipogathey tune. It’s not a regular ‘pallavi charanam anupallavi’ song — it’s one long operatic rendering. The reporter brought in her personal life of kadhal and sandai and Thamarai was perplexed. Gautham sprang to the mike and addressed the reporter, “Brother, we make our films after a lot of struggle (romba adipattu kashttapattu padam pandrom) but we do it with a lot of passion, interest. Please don’t make us fear the press and wonder why we even got into filmmaking in the first place.”
I wonder what makes anyone look only for the cracks to twist a knife in?! Why does negative publicity and below-the-belt questioning make for good copy? Twitter too picks up controversy over feel-good. But then...why?