Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thillu Mullu / Persepolis

(Note to non-Tams: Think Golmaal. Though must say (in my completely biased worldview) that Thillu Mullu is way ahead of Golmaal. Something to do with how the language lends itself to a certain kind of humor. That and KB and well, Rajinikanth[1])

Remember when Ayyampettai Aruvudainambi Kaliyaperumal Indran goes to the football match? And his boss Sri Ramachandramurthy sees him there? Me, I went to the game too. Well, not the game but sort of similar. Persepolis, as part of the London film festival. At Leicester Square on Wednesday afternoon at 3 PM. So I tell people at work that I have thousands of chores to do (like going to the bank, post office etc.) which I haven't been able to do because I was in Chicago for a long, long time and this country, oh in this country, everything is closed on weekends, how inconvenient. At about 2.45m I promptly sneak out and walk to the Odeon.

Thillu mullu Thillu mullu

There is a long line of people standing outside the theater. Me, I have reserved my tickets. Silly people. Not booking in advance. I walk up to the door.

"I have tickets already. I am just here to pick them up"

"That's the line for pick-up ma'am"


Ullamelam kallu mullu

The line stretches all the way to the middle of the square. Anyone in the office who's out for their afternoon coffee is going to see me. Fuck. I go stand in line. Maybe its not that bad. There are a lot of people here. Why would someone see me unless they are looking for me? And no one is looking for me.

Thillu mullu Thillu mullu Ullamelam kallu mullu

You idiot! Look around you. Now look at yourself. And tell me why you stand out. You are the only person in the whole square who is wearing a suit. The rest are either random tourists or film festival types who are here to see the movie. Shoot. The line is moving reasonably fast though. I am just being paranoid.

La la la La la la La la la Laa la la


I turn around. Its the bloody MD. The bloody MD out for his afternoon tea.


"Enjoying a nice afternoon movie, are we?"

"Uhh..I wish. I am actually here to get tickets. For the movie tomorrow evening"

"I see. What movie is it?"

"Its called Four Women. Its an Indian movie that's showing as part of the film festival"

"I didn't know you were into films. Did I tell you that I am an amateur actor?"

"You are?"

"Yes, I am acting in a Stoppard play at my neighborhood theater"

"That sounds lovely. You should send me the date and the venue. I will get the whole office to come, this could be our team event for the month"

"No, no, I am not sure people will be interested. Anyway, I've got to run now. I will see you at the office"


I debated for about two minutes. Until I got to the box office. I picked up my ticket and went in.

Thillu mullu thillu mullu ullamellam kallu mullu

Vincent Parannoud and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis based on the latter's popular graphic novel of the same name, is the story of young Marjane growing up in Iran in the turbulent years after the Islamic Revolution. She spends her teenage years in exile in the streets of Vienna, a disoriented Persian teenager in a world of make-believe anarchists. Marjane comes back to Iran, finishes college, gets married, gets divorced and finally leaves for Paris. Persepolis is also the story of Iran under the Revolution - a relatively free country going under the veil and fighting a mindless war with Iraq. Its the story of Uncle Anoush, the Marxist revolutionary and Nilafour, the young communist, and Uncle Tahr and his parties. The bigger political statements that the movie makes aren't exactly new, and it seems a little too geared towards the Western audience. The life and times of the Westernised upper classes pre and post Revolution makes for interesting viewing but well, its just that. The movie doesn't go much beyond that.

So I didn't like it like it? No, no, I loved it. Forget the big picture here. This movie is about the details. This movie is about little Marjane. Drawn in straight, mostly black and white lines which (at least for me) brought out the character without any funky distractions. Marjane takes off her veil while driving through the streets of Tehran and asks the men at college to stop sporting punky hairstyles as that could have a detrimental effect on the girls. She spends her pocket money on pirated Iron Maiden tapes, and doesn't hesitate to kill off her Mom to escape the moral police. Her Dad cries when she leaves for Austria while her mother remains as composed as ever. She shifts her loyalties from the Shah to whoever Uncle Anoush believes in in a matter of seconds and carries the placard from then on. She is the leader of the street gang, and convinces the other kids that they should take revenge of the kid with the bicycle because his Dad is a mass murderer. Little Marjane wants to be a Prophet and she looks forward to the day she can shave her legs and get this, when she was five, Bruce Lee is her hero. Yes, Bruce Lee. How can you not love this girl? Especially when you realize that she is exactly the sort of person who would grow up one day, get a job in London and sneak away from work to see a matinee.

[1] No one who's seen the man in Mullum Malarum, Aval Appadithan, Aaril Irundhu Aruvathu Varai, Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri or Johnny will question his acting skills. Thillu Mullu was all about timing and delivery. And he had it spot on. I'd actually go out on a limb here and say that what Mr He-is-just-a-superstar-I-am-the-real-Actor-and-I-am-the-Best tried to perfect in the next twenty years in movie after movie of Crazy Mohan dialogues, Rajini had it back in 1981. The fair question, of course, is what has he done with the last 25 years of his life. There, I must say, I am utterly lost.


Falstaff said...

Have you read the book? If yes, any thoughts on how the movie compares?

Space Bar said...

now she's going to see Frozen and compare it to some film in which Mr He-is-just-a-superstar-I-am-the-real-Actor-and-I-am-the-Best acted. Huh.

Veena said...

Falstaff: Haven't read the book so can't comapre. What did you think of the book?

SB: Huh? Where did I compare TM with Persepolis?

Also, please not to kill me but I didn't get to see Frozen. I was all set to go, even dragged Bill along but then discovered that the movie was playing at some Godforsaken place called Brentford which was only 3 hours away from London or something so it was too late.

Space Bar said...

not compare, no. my bad. and now, since you didn't see frozen, what to say only. never mind. sigh.

(it might give you some ammo when i say i was staying with the cinematogreapher in bombay and he had the dvd and i could have seen it any time but didn't manage to.)

blackmamba said...

awwh. so did not go there in disguise. woman, what about the wig and makeup we had discussed? Weren't you supposed to be reena/leena/meena, the twin. now how is this golmaal or thillu mullu?

Ravages/CC said...

OK. I shall cede that RKanth was brilliant in TM. Brilliant and funny and spot on. But to say that KH was only trying to perfect that over the next 25 years is, um, too much and three much. Even before there was CM dialogues, KH got his timing super. Even in TM, the last scene - where lawyers descend in droves - with KH leading the pack. The whole rubbing eyes through the glass thing...I don't know if it was "directed" but the way he did it. Funny as hell.

Oh, well, yeah. I am kinda drooling fanboy of KH.