Thursday, December 28, 2006

Freeze Frame #22: Pithamagan

Pithamagan has one flaw: Laila is too loud to be credible. There, I've got that out of the way. Otherwise, this is pretty much a perfect movie. Heavy, hard-hitting, and comprising some incredible performances. So good that using anything less than superlatives to describe the performances of Vikram and Surya would be an insult.

The biggest insult of all came when Hrithik and SRK appeared on Karan Johar's Koffee with Karan and Hrithik spoke of how SRK told him that he deserved to win the National Award for Best Actor for his performance in Koi... Mil Gaya. This was the year in which Vikram won for Pithamagan. Sure, Hrithik did a great job in KMG, but that comment... If I killed SRK that night, I'd have played both movies in the courtroom in my defense and claimed justifiable homicide.

This is a movie where Vikram's performance does not have a single weak link - you don't see the actor at all. He plays Chiththan, a man who was orphaned when his mom died in a cremation ground during childbirth, and grew up there. This is a man who grew up in the company of death - he has no conception of grief, nor of happiness. His companions have been the dogs that roam the cremation ground, and his behavious comes from them. Watch how he runs, how he reacts to the situations around him, especially how he behaves in the end after he has killed the man who killed his best friend - this is no ordinary performance.

The standout moment, for me, comes when Surya and Vikram are involved in a fight inside the jail where they meet, and the policemen come to break it up. And just before the cops get to the scene of the fracas, Vikram gives his entire body a kind of shake, to get the dust off - the way dogs shake themselves off when they get wet. It's such an amazing action, it takes you totally by surprise. And if you did not see the dog analogy until then, you cannot miss it after that scene.

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