Uttama Villainous

After all the uncertainty in being able to watch the movie, it all started like, "Yeah, go ahead, amaze me as usual". But I was let down. It's one thing to not have great expectations, and another to have none at all. I had none, and was still disappointed.

I don't know about most others out there, but more than whatever a movie intends to convey, all I expect to get out of one is just an experience, and it hurt to have not gotten much. I know little of the jargon involved, but I think there are certain terms like - character arc, conflict, etc. Whatever composes a good one, I'm sure they're all there - but just weren't put together as well as they should've been. The sum of parts was indeed greater than the whole, but the latter seemed to be much lesser than the former.

---Spoilers ahead---

There's this movie Uttama Villain that we go to watch but end up having to watch the movie made within - also, Uttama Villain. The real one revolves around Manoranjan (Kamal Haasan), a "star actor", while the one within is about Uttaman (of course, Kamal Haasan), also an actor - a theater artist. And Manoranjan is clearly the Villain - he differs with the very definition of morality, he does things that his wife (Urvashi) wouldn't want him to, has a grey past that returns to haunt him, all in addition to an unfortunate medical condition. But he's also the hero in his world, and everybody loves him.

Manoranjan realizes he'd die soon, but wants to live forever with his legacy. Unfolding his tragedy, he requests his mentor Maargadharisi (K Balachander) to direct for him a 'comedy', that would "have the audience come out all happy & laughing". Thus starts the filming of 'Uttama Villain' produced by Manomaarga Productions. Of course, nice word-play there.

Uttaman

Enter Uttaman. If you've listened the songs, you might already have a good idea about his introduction. Well, a few incidents make those around him believe that he's immortal & has conquered death, and amidst a coup, he's sought-after & becomes a close aide of the new king. And in all these, you get to play a how-fast-can-you-get-this-reference-to-an-idea-in-a-religion-that-I'm-mocking, and just when you feel a little bored of all this, you're rescued to Manoranjan's. But for the role of Gnanasambandam, I was glad to be rescued. And that "என்ன தான் இருந்தாலும் இடது காது போல் வருமா!" was undeniably a beauty.

Manoranjan's father-in-law Poorna Chandra Rao (K Viswanath) was, well, just there, with not much of an establishment other than going to an extreme to get Manoranjan married to his daughter. And there's a legal dispute involving him & Maargadharisi for an undisclosed reason - or pardon me for not being able to remember if there's anything being mentioned of it. Manoranjan eventually lets his family know of his condition, and the debutante playing his son, and Urvashi get to deliver the best they can, but for not more than a few minutes.

Why!

The major shifts in the narrative are the ones cutting to the parallel story & I only wish they could've been better placed. Compare this with Vishwaroopam / Virumandi where the narrative beautifully unwraps the story, this just felt odd. On paper, there are so many things to look at - so many that one might end up missing a few. And perhaps to avoid that, some of thse are said, instead of being shown. Packed into all this is an autobiography, but certain moments seemed to have been plugged in there for no reason at all. e.g. fans waiting outside his home & shouting "போகாத! போகாத!" - why is that even there at all? Correct me if I'm wrong - nobody other than the inner circles of Manoranjan know of his condition, and out of the blue, fans shout at his doorstep; if it's for a different reason, what's that? I've no idea.

Villain

I loved him. Throughout the movie, the actual movie that we're watching, it looks as if Kamal Haasan is asking the director, "really? is this the silly thing that you expect of me?" & goes on do it effortlessly and look like a boss. 'யானைய விட்டு சுள்ளி பொறுக்கச் சொல்றதா!' level of ease. There aren't many who could pull such intensive close-ups off so well. Of course, it's Kamal Haasan.

That less-than-a-minute-or-two scene of Manoranjan walking out of the room laughing & walking around the room looking through the window at his family - is something that would make one love both Manoranjan & Kamal Haasan.

The narrative cuts to Uttaman's story, and some lines seemingly written to be funny, were just not funny right there. Felt the movie trying too hard to get me involved, but I just couldn't do it. It didn't evoke most emotions that it seemingly intended to. Barring a few scenes, the actual movie Uttama Villain fell flat, mainly, due to the the story's villain that's Uttaman. And I doubt if anyone on watching the Uttama Villain made in there would come out "happy & laughing".

To me, this is a movie that was well-written, but not well-delivered. It was like a buying a beautiful doll, but on opening the box, noticing it's broken. I still can't throw it away, for the pieces are too good to be discarded. So I just accept it to be something unfortunate and that it's of an unfulfilled glory. And move on.

Many a time, an artists intends to convey one thing, and the critics / audiences extrapolate it to a ten or a hundred. I only feel sorry for not being able to get them all. And the Villain is the one I ended up loving. Well, with full awareness that I'm not qualified enough to nitpick a work of தலைவர், all I say is - I think I'm not lucky enough to have been able to like it. 😑

If you're still reading, thank you for doing so, despite this being incoherent. For a good write-up, read this.

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