Monday, February 21, 2011

In Trance-it: RIP Anand pt 3.

Follow-up to part 1 & part 2. Sorry for late entry.

That night, the Indian cop gave us an address to go to, namely a temple where certain form of “exorcism” were conducted. Not sure if Harry Lee knows this, but who cares our need err…needs to be attended first, which is to make Puruso eating, sleeping, living & farting human being again, not a furniture gnawing freak.

The cops left, slightly disappointed because, let’s face it, there we were, unruly, rough, young lads of Indian extract and they didn’t get to shoot us. Soon, after they left, Puruso was back in action, and things would have gone awry again if not for Jegan’s quick action. Yes, he turned Kali again and took care of the situation, though he hinted that he needed more stuff they use in typical Hindu related activities like lime, the Kungumam and Holy Ash. The temple would have them all. The priest will take care of our buddy tomorrow.

Or so we thought.

The location itself was interesting. Or should I say, freaky. We had to get off a bus going to Pasir Ris, and it was a jungle. A real jungle. In Singapore. Which reminds me of a question posed by my ex-colleague when sometimes recently I mentioned that Singapore indeed have jungle.

Ex-colleague (reader Gopal here, in fact): Did they have Orang Asli in it?

Anyway, it was a lush tropical jungle with cleared pathway leading god knows where. As we walked on, we saw on our right, a wooden house with two very large, black dogs. The dog did nothing, they just watched us. Did I mention they were large? And black?

In the distance we saw some clearing a small makeshift temple in it. And not without passing some of the tallest tree I’d seen in my life…with eagle’s nest in it! Okay, wait, I am not saying it’s the Eagle’s Nest and Lee Kuan Yew is Hitler, though many taxi drivers there would agree with the latter tag. It was an actual eagle’s nest, with frickin’ eagles on it. Black dogs, eagles, and I tell ya, all those horror films are not exaggerating.

So, there were my cousin Anan, Puruso The Possessed, Jegan the Kalee and Murugaiah the Cry-baby and I in one of the freakiest place in Singapore which is okay considering why were are there in the first place. The temple had a priest in it, who looked like a priest, complete with big belly and all.

We sat on the floor directly in front of the central deity, goddess Mariammal (another incarnation of Kali), and told him our problem. It didn’t take Puruso couple of minutes before he started getting uncomfortable. It didn’t take the same couple of minutes for Jegan to get real comfortable. In shorter period than you can say Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of them were at it again.

Except this time, Puruso was a lot more subdued, uncomfortable looking, but very subdued. Jegan, in Kali form, started demanding lime, and those forehead ashes, and started the ritual of cutting the lime, applying the ash, spitting on it, squeezing and stuff, if in another environment, like laboratory, looks like serious scientific experiment. I kept looking at Anan, making sure he doesn’t go rampaging in the jungle looking for a female elephant. Truth be told, he looked scared.

And then, the moment came. The Kali kept pointing Puruso’s neck, barking loudly, as if he was a canine and the neck was a postman. We tried reading from the charades on many messages, “he got dirty neck?”, “He swallowed a ghost?”, and “You want to strangle him? You need my help?” and so on, until someone, I think Murugaiah, remembered, “You want his (wooden bead) necklace?” The Kali nodded.

Puruso, removed it and gave it to Jegan, and Jegan quickly threw it away, it flew about 25 metres away and disappeared into the jungle. Then, he calmed down and regained his “consciousness”. What the hell?

After serious questioning, we found out that Puruso actually picked up the beads from a beach recently, and yes, he had been behaving differently since then. Something came with the beads and stuck with, or rather, inside him and “came out” when our buddy here lost his cool.

Of course, right now I can think of many explanations to what had happen, but I won’t let science interfere with this interesting memory. And I had tagged it with my late cousin, Devanan and we always talked and laughed about it many times when we met later. Many, who pass away, leave behind good or wonderful memories. But my cousin left me with a suspense thriller with a bit of supernatural thrown in. Awesome, Anan. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Sivaji & The Sadists: Avanthan Manithan

A followup to my previous article titled. Sivaji & The Sadists and prompted by a youtube link forwarded by my pal, Joe Milton.

There something about Avanthan Manithan, as an entity, that clearly hates Sivaji’s character, Ravikumar. It starts showing a very human Ravikumar, having fun, romance, singing duet and all the stuff a regular lead character in a Tamizh film would do, and it goes ahead to promptly kill his love interest. The joys in the film dies with her, and the zombie-like Sivaji goes on ravaging his own life.

After the death, you will see a gloomy looking Sivaji, as if he saw the impending doom that would climax in his life, surrendering himself, not on his bed or hospital bed, but the very mother nature himself, on the ground, kissing the soil. No matter what joyful situation he’s in, Sivaji didn’t neglect to bring that doomed look, as if he is reminded, again and again, that the fate that awaits him will forever envelop the joy he was experiencing then.

Trouble with Ravikumar is he is a giver, a Karnan-like quality, also played by NT decades back. Karnan’s attitude gave him name, and resurrected him back to his God-like father. Alas, the former human being Ravikumar will not enjoy that status, as he is assaulted by back-stabbing, disappointments, natural tragedies, loss of wealth, loss of relationship, and loss of whatever shred of human feelings he had with him, the only pieces of asset that he was supposed to bring to his grave.

No, it was one blow after another as the sadistic film delivers without fail. First, the call that his ship has sunk, therefore rendering him a bankrupt, and his friend, an ex-employee, had the temerity to invite him to launch the latters factory, which does the same product as Ravikumar’s matchstick. Ah, matchstick. Ravikumar has a factory that makes matchstick, and what happens? It does what it should, only wrong time, and wrong man, the condemned man himself, furiously trying one stick after another, and accidentally burning the whole factory down. Accident? Fate? The film hates you Ravikumar.

Then comes a angelic woman played by Jeyalalitha who would have brought back the human in Ravikumar, only he loses her to, who else, his ex-employee, buddy, and now rival. It’s not a case of from pot into the fire, it’s the case of into the fire and getting flushed down the toilet. If you think the film is sadistic enough, wait till you figure out where did Ravikumar’s last meal came from? Sale of his pet pigeon.

I had never seen a film treating it’s protagonist this bad. The punishment delivered, though not physical, would break a man down in seconds, but Ravikumar, played by actor Sivaji Ganesan who is no stranger to punishment (see earlier articles), takes them on like an emotional gladiator only succumbing to the internal injuries, cutting himself down like the matchsticks he produces and burning himself, like the matchsticks he produces. Not candle, mind you, where you still get residue of wax once it got burned out, but matchsticks, ashes.

When I first saw the film, I was told by non-Sivaji fans that “hey, in this film, he actually acts, instead of overacting”. Bullshit. In this film, he lives as Ravikumar. How else you explain that look of a man who sees the grim reaper everywhere he goes. How else you explain the smile of a man who sees shadow of death at the corner of his eyes? How else do you explain the permanent furrow on his brows as a result of billions of buzzing emotions behind in the brain of a man destined to fail anyway?

One thing Sivaji refuses but often yields to show is sadness. He keeps them in check for Ravikumar, like the secret note in his pocket only to be noticed by the close ones. He shields them away from his faithful servant, lost wife, would-be lover, former buddy, and even the darned pigeon that sat on his shoulder during a crucial song sequence. How Sivaji the actor pulled it off is a question one should not ask. It’s because who he is, goddam Sivaji Ganesan, the greatest on screen actor ever lived. This film need not be a testimony of his merit as an actor, but this film should be remembered as the peak of how films treated his characters, and how he took the blows and went on to be a glorious contributor to the world of cinema.