How does one talk about Sagaptham, directed by Surendran?
Maybe we could begin with the scene where ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan gets out of his Jeep, unzips and begins to urinate. We hear the unzipping sound, then we cut to water gushing out of pipes in a nearby tank. Visual metaphor, I think this is called.
Maybe we could look at the scenes with the heroine (Neha Hinge). Even by the low standards of lip-syncing in our films, she’s something else. Usually, these girls get a few words right, the first few words, like a student who memorises the first line of a poem and forgets the rest. Neha Hinge doesn’t even try. She seems to be speaking English or Hindi. The only word she gets right is mama. She’s talking to her fiancé Saga (Shanmugapandiyan). She probably thought it was a line about her mother.
Maybe we should talk about the scene where she pretends to be abducted by goons, to test Saga. Will he rescue her? He does. Later, he catches her nibbling on a chicken leg. She stole the bird. A friend suggests that she should make him have a bite, for then he too will be implicated in the theft. She pushes the chicken leg towards his mouth. Her gravy-stained fingers graze his lips. Then she takes those fingers back to her mouth, her lips. She looks down shyly. We cut to a duet. At least the way to this man’s heart is through his stomach. It’s a fairly big stomach. Especially when he runs. In slow motion.
Maybe we should talk about Shanmugapandiyan, who is Vijayakanth’s son. It’s his launch film, but it’s more like he’s playing his father. He delivers his father’s famous mannippu line. He glowers like his father, with the camera zooming in on his rheumy eyes. He reminds people (like Devyani, who weeps more in this film than Kamala Kamesh has in her career) of his father. Somehow this is seen as a good thing.
Maybe we should talk about his father, who makes an appearance at the end, his hair dyed with henna, his head bobbing majestically on its bed of chins. Father and son fight the enemies. They do the thing where they’re holding hands and facing opposite directions, and they aim a kick at the goons coming at them. I half-thought they’d break into Irandu kaigal naangaanaal…
And then we discover that we’ve been watching a propaganda film all along. Those who depended on agriculture for their livelihood are losing out. The government needs to do something for them. Indian youngsters should stay in India and do things here – like maybe acting in films promoted by their fathers.
Maybe we should talk about Jagan’s comedy track. Power Star pours out some tequila. Jagan thinks it’s Shakila. Later, Power Star introduces him to body spray. He says, “Namma ooru ponnunga poda maattaangaley.” You probably won’t get the ‘joke’ if you were born after 1990.
But Shanmugapandiyan doesn’t drink. It’s his first film. He can’t afford to. His first scene has him retrieving a lost Murugan statue from a well. Later, he goes to a theatre to see Kandhan Karunai. He ends up in Malaysia, and there’s a scene near that big Murugan statue. Maybe it has something to do with his name?
In Malaysia, he foils a drug ring. He foils a fake-pharma ring. He joins a detective agency, whose owner (Shubra Aiyappa) begins to fantasise about him. He’s a babe magnet in India. He’s a babe magnet outside India. It can’t be easy, fending these beauties off, especially when they keep throwing themselves at you.
Maybe we should talk about the fact that just about anyone is allowed to make a movie today.
- Irandu kaigal naangaanaal = see here
Copyright ©2015 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.