Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Iron Curtain, Past and Present



     Almost sixty years ago{1960}Gemini Pictures released the film 'Irumbu Thirai' starring Sivaji Ganesan,Vaijayanthimala,B.Sarojadevi,S.V.Rengarao,S.V.Subbiah,Vasundara devi, T.S.Dorai Raj and K.A.Thangavelu. It was not only a black and white movie but was also a curtain drawn between the evil black and the innocent white.It was a clear curtain drawn in between a mill owner with a macabre mindset and the victims of his capitalistic agenda. As the curtain had its roots crudely laid to the rich-poor divide,it carried a diabolic effect.In addition to it,the curtain also hid the filth of betrayal and revenge,more to the advantage of the rich. 
    S.S.Vasan poignantly pictured the plight of a woman{Vasundradevi] wronged by the mill owner {effortlessly played by S.V.Renga Rao, with sweet coated venom} and  her illegitimate daughter {Vaijayanthimala},who was bent upon killing the devilish mill owner.The base of the story was of course, one man's avarice for amassing wealth,by exploiting the deserving stakeholders of the profit, made by their excessive sweat and labour. 
    It was Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan who became the vibrant,leading voice of the working class, who dramatically mobilized the entire labor force against the hostile mill owner to break into pieces his wall of capitalism.So turbulent was the spirit of unity that the whole lot of agitating workers under their relentless leader, would throng in front of the iron gates of the factory and crack it down, foreboding a do or die battle with the mill owner. 
    Six decades later, here comes another film bearing the same title 'Irumbu Thirai' from the production house of actor Vishal, who also plays the protagonist of the film.This film too is about the greed for others' money but with a contemporary setting, underscoring the undue risks involved in the electronic management of money, entangled in boundless probabilities and possibilities for hacking, by the criminal intelligence of the human brain.
    Here the curtain lies between the innocent public and a don of cyber crimes, paradoxically known as white devil and notoriously indulging in hacking others'accounts without qualms. Incidentally,'White Devil' is also the title of an English drama written by John Webster.Though it is uncomfortable to see the yesteryear action hero Arjun in a despicable negative role,it has to be firmly said here,that the action king has transformed into an awesome villain,full of controlled style and substance. 
    Vishal has significantly worked hard but his decibel in delivering dialogues at times crosses the limits of tolerance.Notwithstanding this,he has given us one of his best performances, by cutely interacting with the psychiatrist Samantha and by his chiding interaction with his father Delhi Ganesh who is irredeemably prone to a reckless borrowing routine.Besides Vishal and Arjun, Delhi Ganesh and Robo Shankar have made their performance invincible.Samantha is of course compact,in her responsible role play.
    The differentiating factor of the new film is its emphasis on the ongoing trends of the new generation and its ever growing access to the technology sweep.However,the new film under the expertise of the first time film maker P.S.Mithran,also tries to project the dangers of the same technology,that has helped mankind for a universal coming together on similar platforms, with an invisible curtain.The perils of the invisible curtain are worse than those of the iron curtain that existed between the blood sucking black devils and their vulnerable underdogs,during the years of suppression and ill treatment of the underprivileged workforce. 
    What we witnessed in Vasan's Irumbuthirai was similar to the dark world realities focussed by Charles Dickens, in most of his novels.In this respect Vasan could be called the torchbearer  of the brave new world,endowed with a guarantee for each one's right for freedom and dignity of labour.But what we see in Mithran's depiction of the curtain,is an inherent quest for abusing technology, towards causing a colossal damage to fellow human beings, by pulling both the rich and the middle class to the streets through a devious chain of cyber fraud, facilitated by snooping and hacking.It is really amazing that a debut director, demonstrates the strength of his job, with well  crafted nuances of film making,thereby giving an impression as if he has been in the field over the years.No doubt,he deserves a special applause for his freshness, zeal and strong credentials of film making.
    When it comes to music,as usual old is gold.Songs like"Enna Seidhaalum Endhan Thunai Neeye"{[Radha ]Jeyalakshmi}"Nenjil Kudiyirukkum"{TMS & P.Leela}and "Kaiyyila Vaanguna Paiyyila Podala'{Tiruchi Loganathan}from the old movie,are reverberating rhythms riveted to our memory, thanks to the wonderful composition of tunes by S.V. Venkatraman.The lyrics of Papanasam Sivan,Kothamangalam Subbu and Pattukottai Kalyana Sundaram contributed to the richness of the musical quotient of the film.Whereas,in the new movie,Yuvan Shankar Raja's songs beautifully settle down with in the four walls of the theatre, despite the fact that his background score has effectively served its purpose.
    The comedy element of both the films would deserve a distinct place on account of the flawless verbal felicity of K.A.Thangavelu in the former and the well timed verbal efficacy of Robo Shankar,in the latter.The way Robo Shankar mimicries Delhi Ganesh in his presence, is a great sample of his time sense, in cracking humour. Shankar has been provided ample scope to display his flair for generating laughter and he has made full use of it.The romantic element that was naturally experienced in the emotional intimacy between Sivaji Ganesan and Vaijayanthimala in Vasan's film and in the subtle, as well as aesthetic verbal intimacy of Vishal and Samantha in Mithran's piece,is a clear indicator of the changing creative imagination with regard to the concept of love and its presentation on screen. 
     The climax of both the versions of the Iron Curtain, could be said to be heart throbbing. While the former presented the workers'outburst as a natural fallout of their pent up emotions, the latter presents the public outburst against the white devil as a contrived one, preceded by cinematic challenges breezily thrown between the hero and the villain.All said and done,the first film showed the iron curtain as a direct, divisive wall between the vested interests and the helpless, forsaken working class.
   The new version on the other hand portrays an imaginative curtain, portending the tragedy awaiting humanity, as a result of an unseen enemy sitting somewhere on a solid cyber seat with layers and layers of schemes, that would escape anyone's notice and would ultimately become nothing like an onion.But the lurking dangers of this onion are so huge and detrimental to humanity,that before any one is alerted,the complete ruin is already done,at a terrible cost of one's portals of privacy of all sorts.To make matters worse,the climax of the film also implies that the risks are going to multiply,because the white devil carries his designs for his new avatar as dark angel.To conclude,both the iron curtains have done justice to their making, by sticking to the ground realities,that existed then and are found existing now.

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