Thursday, 4 September 2008

Latest on the Silver Screen: "Veruthey Oru Bharya"



Jayaram plays an egotistical, chauvinistic and insecure husband to Gopika who is the ever-dutiful, over-worked, under-appreciated traditional wife, for 14 years. Their daughter, is on the brink of discovering teenage romance and adventure. She plays a bigger role in the second half of the movie. The story refreshingly revolves around the mid-aged couple and their marital challenges...well, actually, more of Gopika's daily agony of keeping her marriage going despite her husband's insatiable demands, ego and insensitivity. Gopika is at the end of her tether when Jayaram's behaviour demonstrates that he does not respect her and that she is not even a close second in her husband's list of priorities. She returns to the warmth of her birth home, with Innacent playing her loving father. Their teen daughter is caught in between the couple's battle with each other, as the story unfolds...

My View:

Fabulous Theme, Great Start

The movie held a lot of promise with the characters carefully chiseled out and the opening scenes providing clues as to what could lie ahead, i.e. fall-out between husband and wife, the child being torn between her parents and an objective view of the real issues behind the unhappiness of the couple being Jayaram's attitude. However, the movie only adequately follows through with the first two clues ; i.e. that Jayaram's insecurity-motivated behaviours and that Gopika's reasons for retaliation are told well, ...up until Gopika goes home. There is even a character introduced in political support of oppressed women and one scene shows Jayaram feeling intimidated by what the character represents.

Gopika and the Movie's Theme Take a Hike!

Thereafter, I felt that Gopika's role in the movie seemed to fade out, with Jayaram's role taking the lead. Instead of continuing along the tone of the movie's message and depicting the issues on both sides, the story-line took an unplanned deviation; What started out by presenting the woes of the oppressed, over-woked, traditional house wife became a focus on how Jayaram struggled on his own to manage home and child, while Gopika who was represented earlier as a conscientious mom and wife, instantaneously (and unconvincingly) was made to appear non-chalant by the separation. If there was an intention to balance a portrayal of the insecure husband's reaction to the separation, with that the dutiful wife's, it certainly wasn't clear; In contrast to a lengthy portrayal of Jayaram's decline in mental health as a result of the stresses of separation, there was almost no portrayal of these stresses on Gopika. It made Gopika seem like a weakly developed character, especially when she showed up during the last 1/2 hour of the movie, and was made to apprear regretful for having so irresponsibly left Jayram to manage the home on his own - driving him to insanity! As mentioned, this vein would have been fine if the entire movie did not present itself in the beginning, to seem like it was intending to portray the plights of a wife taken for granted.

Murder Times Two

To make matters worse, there was a warped interpretation by the doctor-turned-counsellor at the very end of the movie, who could have been the story's final saviour had his role been given a little more thought! He could have presented the fact that Gopika's move away was the culminating result of her husband's relentless egotistical approach towards her for 14 years. It would have brought everything back on track and saved the movie! Instead, the counsellor further broke the tone of the message; Though the counsellor said Jayaram's ego was partly to blame, he was quick to point out that Gopika should have understood that her hubby's insecurities were spawned by a search for motherly attention. He then dismissed Gopika's issues, leaving her to look like the wife who had not tried hard enough.

My Score: 5/10

In a nutshell, Jayaram and Gopika make an excellent on-screen pair and little-miss-new-actress (teen daughter) was also a treat to watch in the latter half of the movie. Innacent, though not his usual comedic self, played his role effortlessly as expected, and provided relief from the intense emotions of the scenes on Jayaram's insanity, and from the mind-boggling theme deviations. Overall, it's a 5 out of 10; I'd recommend it if you were a Gopika-Jayaram fan, had nothing better to do on a weekend and are the type who does not mind watching a "nearly there, but not" story.

Perhaps the title "Veruthey Oru Chalachitram" would have been more appropriate.

(Photo courtesy:

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

You know you're in 'Yourlarich' when...

I have been in Chennai for 2 years now, with experience living in this city as a PIO and foreigner. Chennai means so many things to so many people. So, many feel a strong sentimental attachment to the city while others abhor it; I know of a Nepalese man who thinks Chennai is heaven because there is no "war" here, unlike his home in Nepal. It is his refuge and he has completely settled in, even attempting to learn the Tamizh language! In contrast, I know of a middle-class traditional dancer from Pune who has had so many safety, lifestyle and health issues since she arrived in Chennai. Shaken up completely, she swears to go home once her work is done in Chennai.

Having so many mixed reviews, I decided to just talk about my district, rather than my city, so that my views are backed up with my own personal experience and are completely true to life. It is a conservative, curious district, with a relentless price boom that is NOT parallelled with improvements in products or serivces, leaving informed customers like me, quite distressed. Some argue this is the case in all districts of Chennai, not just mine. However, I dont live in all districts, just this one. So of this one I shall speak!

On the positive side, I can tell you that my district's charm is that it is home to so much religious and musical history, which my reason for being here. Nonetheless, I shall not name my little district in case my list gets me brickbats from fans and fanatics who are extremely sentimental about this place, and can't swallow anyone else's tongue-in-cheek take on it. So, let's call my district Yourlarich. So, "You know you're in Yourlarich when..."

  1. Eating medu idli for breakfast, curd idli for lunch and sambar idli for dinner constitute three very different menus for the locals but is pretty much the same dish for you.
  2. Flat rentals can go through a 100% hike in 24 hours!
  3. An Indian female laughs out loud in public, she's chided for attracting attention, but if an Indian male does, he's adoringly looked at, for being genuine. "Foreign" women (i.e. caucasian, oriental, etc) are excused if they laugh out loud, because they "don't know better", apparently! But if you even look remotely Indian, you've simply got no excuse!
  4. The art of stocking supermarket shelves is a new concept - i.e. if something moves fast (e.g. Coffeemate) it will not be fact, it'll be removed altogether because it's moving too fast compared to the locally made milk powder that tastes like flour, and isn't moving at all.
  5. Dressing well and carrying yourself confidently, gets you a significantly higher auto-rickshaw rate than if you wore a frumpy outfit, didn't wash your hair for a week, and looked like you've never had it worse! The logic behind this is that if you look and feel this great, it must be because you have an obscene amount of money to spare on the auto ride!
  6. You are more likely to get run over by a speeding vehicle if you cautiously looked right, left and right again before crossing, instead of darting across the road. This is because the fact that the pedestrian is being cautious, somehow translates to the approaching driver that he/she is absolved of the pedestrian's safety and can drive into any solid object obstructing his/her path with a clear conscience.
  7. The idea of variety in food is North Indian, South Indian and Indian-Chinese as opposed to what Malaysians are pampered with: Malaysian Malay, Indonesian Malay, North Indian, South Indian, Malaysian Chinese, Chinese-Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Danish, Irish, French, American, Tex-Mex, Korean, Japanese ....and the list goes on and on and on! So if someone in Yourlarich asks you what you want for dinner after you've been there for 2 years, you won't have to worry if you have issues making decisions - you still have the same 3 options you had when you first arrived.
  8. As a female, wearing jeans and a kurti-top (mid-length blouse), gets people looking disaprovingly at you and asking, "So why aren't you wearing a dupatta (shawl) with that?"
  9. When the newspaper classifieds claim a double bed room flat is available at a reasonable price, it will be wise to call and enquire first, if the 2nd room is in the same building as the first and if the bathroom has walls that go all the way up. (Serious!)
  10. You note that a rice cooker in March that went for its regular price, is sold on "cheap sale" for Deepavali in October, priced 30% more!
  11. Jewellery is waaaaay cheaper in your home country than in Yourlarich, but almost every local woman who sees your crappy, cheap, 3-for-10-ringgit stuff wants it anyway!
  12. The idea of exercise is 2 rounds around the local park in a saree and sandals at a snail's pace, while chatting about the best poori curry recipe, followed by sitting for 1.5 hours on the park bench, discussing the neighbour's second daughter-in-law. And after this, wash down with one badam kheer at home!

The idea for list above is inspired by my cousin, whose blog presented a similar list on Melbourne. Last but not least, there's more to the list above, but I need hurry now and buy that rice cooker before the October sale.