Director: Arun Kanth
Cast: Delhi Ganesh, Chaams, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan
Director Arun Kanth likes to think of his films as those that break every filmmaking rule in such a way that they eventually end up breaking every cliché we see in Tamil cinema. His film Indha Nilai Maarum too manages to do both quite easily, but it comes at a cost. Like his first film Goko Mako, Indha Nilai Maarum too exists in a peculiar space where it keeps achieving bursts of “so-bad-its-so-good” glory, but even the awfulness is inconsistent.
The director says he writes dialogues on the spot, and the staging of most scenes is something he figures out as he shoots. All this sounds wonderfully romantic for independent filmmaking, especially if the subject matter is as rule-breaking as the director thinks it is.
But Indha Nilai Maarum is THE absolute worst kind of film for this kind of filmmaking. For one, the plot is not as cutting edge as it’s being made out to be. It’s about two college graduates trying to figure out what to do. Ideas are exchanged before they decide to start an online radio station. Its name? ‘Police Station’. But is the film about the challenges these guys go through to set up this business? Not really, because what it becomes is a courtroom drama where a corrupt lawyer fights these entrepreneurs after they use their station for a smear campaign against a magazine, JUST because it refused to publish their ads.
It will take scientists decades to figure out what the makers were going for with this film. Because even terrible films usually have something going for them, like an idea that needed better execution, or a great scene that might have played a part in getting people onboard. There’s not a single such moment in Indha Nilai Maarum. What the film wants to be is a Crazy Mohan-like absurdist comedy that relies heavily on the pinpoint accuracy of its dialogues. But how can one achieve that effect when these lines are being written on the spot?
The filmmaking is just as problematic. At a time when even tiny continuity errors are put under a microscope by our trollers, Indha Nilai Maarum has one the size of Jupiter. An actor playing the central character is replaced by another midway through the film, making the incoherent film even more confusing. But, of course, full marks to the makers for accurately ensuring that the new actor too wears the same clothes as the older one, lest someone notices that bit of detail.
The art director goes a step further when he tries to sell the banquet hall of a hotel as a courtroom. So we get colour A4 printouts of Abdul Kalam adorning the walls to make it even more convincing, apart from the judge’s bailiff who is curiously standing there wearing an orange sherwani. Maybe, it’s Gonzo filmmaking at its best or maybe it’s just a guest arriving early for some Chuntu’s first birthday celebration that’s set to take place at that same banquet hall. Who really knows?
Arun Kanth may perhaps be a genius at getting films made and released within tiny budgets. But his films are so obsessed with rule-breaking that it’s going to take the human race a few more centuries of evolution to really get them.