Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Karnan 2012

A 48 year old Tamizh film. An epic classic. A masterpiece that showcased the greatest on-screen actor ever at his finest performance.

Yes, I am talking about Meenava Nanban.

Hah, got you! You know what I am talking about, Karnan, digitally remastered with DTS sound, released to an astounding success (150 days in Tamil Nadu, and worldwide release past one week). It has been my dream to watch a proper Sivaji Ganesan movie at the big screen and the rerelease is heaven sent.

Sort of.

This is an old well-known movie so we don’t need spoiler disclaimer. And you probably know the characters. 

Aside: Sivaji Ganesan is also known as Awesomesestest Actor among the Tamizh film industry, Nadigar Thilagam in that languag, so it will be abbreviated as NT henceforth. End of Aside.

Let’s get to the movie. One of the most fascinating scene in the movie will have to be the climax where NT  (Karnan) dies. And stays dead for a long time while characters around him bereaves.

But before that, NT spends equally long time dying while Krishna croons one of the most saddest song ever in the industry. Thank god it was by MSV/TKR, if it was Harris Jeyaraj Karnan would have voluntarily pulled out an arrow and slit his own throat.

But the fascinating thing is the revelation by Krishna that Karnan, who received arrows at the wrong end from Arjunan was killed six times before.

One was the time when Lord Indiran came in disguise to ask for Karnan’s armour and ear-ring thingy (the elaborate one) which were attached to the body. Karnan had to cut it off, and when Indiran realises the true magnanimity of Karnan, still keeps the armour but cleanses Karnan’s blood-drenched body.
It’s like you running over a stray cat, and with remorse you come back and cleans its blood.

Then you have the big-time mentor who teaches Karnan the use of the powerful but aerodynamically challenged snake arrow. Karnan has to pretend that he is a Brahmin in order to qualify as a student. But right after Karnan has finished the study, the mentor finds out the truth and curses Karnan ensuring that the damn arrow will not work at crucial moment. I am not sure if the mentor refunded the fee.

Then you have his mother Gunthi Devi asking for two boons, one, to not to kill Arjuna. And two not to use the snake arrow twice. When issuing the second Boon NT would be standing behind the open chest (which carried him as a baby, you know the story) and when she’s done asking, he slams it shut, almost saying, “I am screwed”. That is NT for you.

I mention all this because when Krishna reminds you of the incidents, it make you want to go back and watch the movie again and realise that this dude Karnan is basically screwed from beginning. Like having a perpetual dark stormy cloud over his head, which you will not see in this movie for two reasons.

One. It never was there, it was a figure of speech.

Two, because of the goddam reformatting. You see instead of original format, the new producers cut off the top and bottom of the frame to make the film widescreen. Now you can’t see the full head of other characters, as if the director wanted to hide Karnan’s male pattern baldness.

The supposed restoration of the print was bull in most parts. Most of the time the scratches, the splotches of colour are still there. The added on audio was a joke and it steadily becomes an insult to the original music when synthesiser comes in. The foley is fine though.

Despite the so-called “improvement” are middle-finger showing to the original creator’s vision, Karnan 2012 is massively watchable.

Fantastic all round performance, great script and wonderful songs.

Of acting, I’ll come to NT later. The next notable character, Krishna, was played with a zest by NT Rama Rao. But then he has been playing that character and its avatars for years that they are like second life for him.

And Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan. What can I say? As someone in the forum I am a member of put aptly, “We are not worthy…” to discuss his performance.

You will leave the theatre with a heavy feeling, mostly with visuals of NT walking, storming, crying, roaring, staring deep into your soul with those scorching eyes and much more.

I cannot imagine the impact of this film when it first came out; the audience must have not seen anything rich like this. What am I talking about? Even the younger generation will find it to be a fascinating experience.

I hear the next film to be restored is Thiruvilayadal. I hope they do a better job this time so that I can at least see Lord Shiva’s goddam trident.

NT as Karnan, reacting to the new added-on sounds.
Note: Actually the first boon Gunthi Devi asks is to spare the life of her children, but Karnan says he has to kill Arjunan. Anyway, if either Karnan or Arjunan dies, she still have five sons, he'd assure her. Thanks Joe for pointing the mistake out. 


Feline said...

I love this movie, especially the end when krishna comes out and says that Dharma died today and I killed it. And the part where he promises he'll always come back to save our butts. Amazing acting. But Thiruvilaiadal is an all-time favorite in my family. I think I'd be afraid to go watch it, especially with my dad. He loves it so very much.

ஜோ/Joe said...

Superb . But there is a mistake in one of the boons to his mother . Check again :)

Rakesh Kumar said...

Joe, will add a note of correction at the end. Tappu tapputheyn, post-a correct pannapdathu. Thanks for reading and pointing it out.

Nesa, forgot that you had a blog site. Thanks for reading.