Friday, September 7, 2012

Paagan (2012)

I have a special liking for films which find an innovative way to tell its story. There's a fine line to walk here, where the audience has to be convinced the narrative technique used is indeed a novel artistic choice. Paagan tries to set itself apart by using a bicycle as the film's narrator, but this only comes across as a gimmick.

Subramani (Srikanth) is a money-minded youth living in Pollachi with his family. He shares a deep history with his bicycle, which his father received as dowry when he married his mother (Kovai Sarala). Since the story is narrated by the cycle, we are told just how very much it is fond of him and vice-versa. With the sole motive of making easy money, he borrows from just about everyone around him and invests in various 'projects', ultimately resulting in loss. Then he comes up with a 'bright' idea of marrying into a rich family to make his quick buck. He finds a girl named Mahalakshi (Janani Iyer) but things don't quite go according to plan for him. What follows is an atrociously boring, predictable realisation about the importance of hard-work in life and blah, blah, blah.

It's funny how everyone in Tamil films think it is always the girl's fault every time a relationship breaks down, no matter how big a jerk the guy was to her. His motives appeared alright when the film's tone was light-hearted. He may not have known she had a thing for him right from the age of ten, but there's no disputing the fact that it was his fault alone. So when Subramani's friends berated Mahalakshmi for not understanding his feelings, it drove me crazy. Another thing that got to me was how easily people fall in 'love' and jump to spend the rest of their life with a person they barely know.

One more recurring aspect in Indian films which I detest is how the lead characters are the center of attention in their respective friend circle. The characters act as if they know that they are playing the lead role in some movie. They are too self conscious about their importance in the scheme of things. Mahalakshmi treats her friends like pieces of dog-shit and they still keep buzzing around her. She slaps a girl for no reason whatsoever and, shockingly, that idiot classmate doesn't seem to mind it one bit. You get what I mean? The director may find it trivial but he is unknowingly shaping the character of his female lead as a belligerent asshole.  

Close to the end, there's this scene where all the characters keep running into each other. It is filled with so many coincidences that I threw up a bit in my mouth. Subramani's rise to success is unrealistic to say the least. In what appears to be no more than a year's time, he goes from being a roadside shopkeeper to owning a swanky bungalow and a Mercedes Benz. With all due respect, for a person who confesses to have failed his 10th grade examinations studying in a village school, he sure speaks some fluent English. He went to VETA, maybe?

There are more than a few loose ends left at the end of the film. As the story is recounted by the cycle, we see silhouette of a person attaching a bomb to it. Is it not important for us to know the identity of the person planning to kill Subramani? Can we at least know why this mysterious person is attempting to kill him? Among other things, this particular plot line made absolutely no sense. Also, the father, who once had his men chase Subramani around the town just for being in his daughter's life, was surprisingly okay when they finally got together. I mean, what the hell changed? The director is so confused at times, not fully realizing  plot points which initially must have been a part of the script. That's not how you chop down a lengthy movie! You start with the songs, like Mysskin did with his Mugamoodi. Most Tamil films suffer from a lengthy second half and the filmmakers simply won't learn from the mistakes committed by so many others before them.  

It was Janani Iyer who held my attention for much of the runtime. Those eyes! Srikanth was decent as well but I didn't once feel compelled to root for him while he struggled. Kovai Sarala is loud as ever. There are a few lines which may make you smile. The narration by the bicycle adds little to an otherwise banal story. The film would have been just as boring with or without this element. Kindly avoid.