Nanban - review from MalaysiaJan 29 2012
Review of Nanban, a remake of the Hindi movie the three idiots in Tamil. Nanban in Tamil translates into "friend".
In an interview, Director Shankar was describing the movie in superlatives and at that very moment I wondered, was the superlatives well deserved or was he merely extolling the movie as a marketing gesture. Readers can conclude for themselves later.
I am a rare Tamil movie goer having found cheap sentimentality and use of cliché situations to bring out human emotions strongly unappealing and devoid of any creativity which movie making is founded upon. However, I am an adoring fan of Shivaji Ganesan and his movies like Karnan and Veera Pandia Kattaboman have seeped into the very deep roots of my psyche and provide the most intimate link to Tamil culture in all its beauty and greatness.
So if I take the mantle of a harsh critic, as some readers may finally conclude a Western educated and a Global traveler seeing many diverse cultures and a penchant for watching movies regardless of language is totally unqualified to comment on the wonders of Kollywood.
Nanban has 3 suicides if you pay attention clearly to the plot. The movie "The Reader" has one suicide. I cried and cried when I came to know Kate Winslet had taken her own life. So the latter movie touched me deeply in places Nanban could not set foot upon.
Let's explore the elements of cheap sentimentality that I shared with readers that I found detestable, succumbing to tried and tested emotional cliché situations is a hall mark of copying, for sake of creating an emotional bond with the audience using our own deep emotional bonds with our families. So father and son conflicts, mother and son bonds is fried till it is bone dry, as my children watching TV cooking shows often share with me what dry means!! Then off course there is the revolutionary bride leaving the wedding, not really an Oscar earning moment.
So I can only conclude the verdict has to be upon Shankar in his role as Director. Why can't he see the views I have expressed in this critique. Management guru's have invented the phrase thinking out of the box, clearly Shankar has long way to go if he is wanting to reach the heights of Satyajit Ray or Kurosawa which the world cinema considers savants of movie making.
Are there any redeeming qualities to the movie? Ooty is described in hundreds of Tamil movies typically a car arriving at a gothic building, in terms of cinematography, Ooty has succeeded in capturing Ooty in breath taking ways. I almost felt like jumping on the plane and travelling to see the grandeur of the place.
Shankar has also taken navel gazing to stratospheric heights. Is the impulse of men to look at women's navel stemming from a deep unconscious knowledge, there was home for the beginning of life, a pseudo explanation I am offering readers, still every exposed navel was done well and did not appear prurient.
Lastly I leave with a quote meant for Director Shankar, it is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows, quote from Epictetus (c.55 – c.155).