Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why Kurudhippunal kicks Drohkaal's ass

For ages I have been trying to watch Drohkaal, the film Kurudhippunal is a remake of.
Recently watched the elusive Drohkaal coutesy equanimus's expansive DVD collection - a breathtaking range covering auteurs like Kieslowski and atrocieurs like G.N.Rangarajan.

Where do I even begin...

I won't get into KP's finesse and DK's shoddy feel, which I guess anyone who has watched both films would agree to. So, I will stick to the very basics, which is after all , mostly what I takeaway from films.

Who are the terrorists?

Totally botched up in DK. In KP, NizhalgaL Ravi is pissed with himself for causing the schoolbus explosion. He almost tries to risk himself by deactivating it when it is too late. In DK, Annu Kapoor-Milind Gunaji shoot at marketplace with gay abandon!

For all the reams and reams of dialogues spoken - Bhadra could have said what this was all about. 'You democracy supporters betrayed our trust' type vague charge. That's all.
As opposed to Badri's 'இருக்க விடுவாங்களா உங்க முதலாளிங்க"

Firstly, the film was a lot of talking-heads.
Not just that they 'talk' too much (and omigod they do) but there is rarely an attempt to present them as deeper anything.

The terrorists in DK don't feel 'real'. Or atleast one can say they look like 'terrorists' as viewed by the establishment. It's like they want the audience to take them to be merely automatons who blindly believe.

That is why there is a world of a difference when Mangaldev tells Kishan that the commander has faith in his aim and when Narasimhan says the same thing.

That is a very important line: it is not a faith in the individual but faith in the supreme leader's judgement. But it is important it is not caricatured, and that it comes from a thinking man.

The medical shop front, Narasimhan's wife in the tent kottagai, the meal in the toilet - there wasn't even a single attempt in DK.

Abbs- Aadhi

In DK- Abbas arrests Kishen, Abbas kills Mangaldev.
So it is presented as if Abbas is doing and Abhay is only undoing. His supposed 'expert interrogation skills' fail. So we have no regard for him from based on what we observe.So when Abbas rails at Abhay's irresponsibility, there is an overwhelming sense of 'personal indignation' - an excellent performance by Naseeruddin Shah, the only thing that compares favorably to KP.

OTOH Aadhi's 'devious' ways are presented extremely well - we get a sense of what it is that he is feared for.

In KP, Abbas seems 'out of action' for a while. So when he burst back into the scene, his indignation seems to proceed from a camaraderie, a shared vision etc (which is what is suspect at that very point)

Abhay is presented as a 'softie' which I felt was odd. Aadhi was 'soft for a tougie' - this was far more - for want of another word- realistic.

'விளக்கம் போதுமா சார்' type official arrogance underlines his later vulnerability.

Abhay wakes up in cold sweat in the opening scene 'phir wohi sapnA?' - how imaginative!


"அவனா..எப்பப்பாரு பணம்னு அழுவான்..." one line expressing the disgust the rebel feels for the mercenary Krishnan.

Kishen tries to have cyanide- WTF!
Krishnan rips it out when asked to take it and the terrorists try to kill him. He is saved by Aadhi. Krishnan's helplessness and the fact that he is not ideologically driven - prove to be the decider in his breakdown in the interrogation.

It undelines the difference between him and the investigation with Bhuvanesh. The 'twist' that he indeed is Badra is ineffective in DK.


Subtlety is not there for medicine only.
First of all, I thought it was immensely important that Sumi refers to Srinivasan as 'uncle'.
Abhay mentions in dialogue to his wife of many years how Pathak is his ideal. Urgh!

Pathak goes on and on about how we need to personally fight to be not infected by corruption.
Srinivasan nearly blemishes the pristine photo of 'Aadhi and him' with his food-stained hand.

All he ever says in dialogue is 'நேர்மைங்கறது stomach muscle மாதிரி' That is all someone in his position, will say to someone like Aadhi.

It is only at the gunshot that Abhay 'realizes' what he's been talking about all along (which came out well - i.e. because you are close to someone you can be blind to even the obvious of hints they drop).

But I found it immensely important that it is Aadhi who indicts Srinivasan and that Srinivasan has the urge to explain himself - even though he knows he cannot reclaim esteem - 'நான் பணம் வாங்கல ஆதி' with the trembling - hitherto unknown - cigarette.

After the incident - DK Abbas refers to him as 'Pathak sir' while KP Abbas refers to him as 'அந்தாளு'. The latter better underlined the character.

The encounter scene is converted (okay, it came first and all that) to the scene where the deal is made!!??

In KP it is where Badri talks about the varying moral code itself. And he notably says: 'I can kill you without hesitation even now'. i.e. rather than reciprocity, he is underlining the difference. The acknowledgement of the difference in codes was very important. And in a potential 'last moment' that is a more defining line to come from Badri.


DK has ridiculously superficial dialogue consistently. There'll be no end if I start on this. I'll just mention the superficiality as I could see in the vocabulary too:

I don't have a good grasp of Hindi but the usage of 'jaasoos', 'dhEsh drohi' etc. seemed like words used by those who were outside the universe of this movie. Insiders won't speak like that.

Isn't it interesting the only time 'தேசத்துரோகி' is mentioned in KP it is by the inspector who is faking his patriotism.

How many times does Aadhi use 'terrorist', 'தீவிரவாதி' in second person? Or for that matter even in third person? Nearly never, if I'm right.

In DK it is used even in first person by Bhadra. I found that quite funny.

I cringed every time they said 'terrorist lOg' in this movie.

OTOH even when talking about Srinivasan's betrayal Aadhi says: 'அவர் அவங்க ஆளு'.
The point that 'us X them' is proving difficult to classify, DK belabours to make, KP does effortlessly , effectively and 'authentically' (this is how he would have spoken etc.)

The ending: Aadhi-Abhay

Aadhi dies without getting level with Sumi.
Abhay confesses, gets absolution and 'go-ahead-my-karmaveer' type advice from his wife ('take your oath again' it seems - #facepalm)

Aadhi decides it is the 'right thing to do' and goes ahead. He doesn't know what is in store for his wife and child. He is NOT assured of their safety.

It is important to take into account that DK Sumi knows Mala-Surendar are terrorists as opposed to KP Sumi figuring it out at the time of molestation. Abhay meets her 'after' she has killed the violator. i.e. he dies with the knowledge that they are safe.

Aadhi is NOT assured of being remembered 'right' by those who matter to him.


All in all, DK felt like a good idea which was sloppily written and filmed, which was salvaged thoroughly and elevated to great heights by Kamal.

What to say, what not to, how much and how - things where Kamal's grasp is astounding.


  1. But in the end, the only three people who know about the operation die. Who is the police spy going to report to?

  2. Aadhi writes to his boss about the details, parts of the letter are read out in v/o (Abhay gives his wife a letter to be delivered to DGP Kapoor- the only man he says he trusts now. Actually Abbas mentions early in the movie that Kapoor is in the know.

    Now the spy has ascended to the throne. So the function is no longer is to be 'mere' informant. He now wields the power to deliver a winning blow to bring it down from within.

  3. கோவிந்த் நிஹலானி குருதிப்புனல் பார்த்துவிட்டு DKஐவிட நன்றாக இருப்பதாக சொன்னாராம். அவர் வெறும் வாய்வார்த்தைக்காக சொல்லவில்லை என்பதை இரண்டு படங்களையும் பார்த்தவர்களால் எளிதாக உணரமுடியும். டெக்னிகலாகவும் இரண்டுபடங்களுக்கும் காததூரம் இருக்கும்.அதேபோல, ஆசிஷ் வித்யார்தியின் நடிப்பைவிடவும் நாசாரின் நடிப்பு பிரமாதமாகவே இருந்தது.

  4. நேர்த்தியில் குருதிப்புனல் த்ரோஸஹ்காலை விட சிறப்பு என்பது அதிகம் சொல்லப்பட்டதால், ஏதோ அது மட்டுமே அதன் சிறப்பு என்பதுபோல பிம்பம் இருக்கிறது.

    உள்ளடக்கத்திலும் குருதிப்புனலே முன்நிற்கிறது என்று நான் நினைக்கிறேன். அபய் சிங், அப்பாஸைக் காட்டிக் கொடுக்கிறான். ஆதி அவ்வாறு செய்யவில்லை - என்பதை ஒரு compromise-ஆக எண்ணி தான் பார்க்க ஆரம்பித்தேன். ஆனால் அதை கிட்டத்தட்ட non matter ஆக்கும் அளவிற்கு குருதிப்புனலில் பாத்திரப்படைப்புகள், காட்சிக்கோவைகள் எழுதப் பட்டிருப்பதை உணர்ந்தேன்.

    மெருகேற்றப்பட்ட படைப்பு என்று சொல்வதை விட ஆழமும்,வீரியமும் தந்து உயர்த்தப்பட்ட படைப்பு என்றே பார்ப்பவர்களிடத்தில் எல்லாம் நாம் சொல்ல வேண்டும் :-)

  5. one of best movie on this subject!! you forget to mention about 'everybody has a breaking point"
    If i am not wrong kamal wrote the dilauges .is it?
    Nice write up.if could have been in tamil,it would be more better.

  6. கமல் ஒரு ஜீனியஸ் சார் அந்த விசாரணை காட்சிகள் சந்தேகமேயின்றி தமிழ் சினிமாவின் குறிப்பிடத்தகுந்த காட்சிகளில் ஒன்று நாசருக்கு கமல தவிர வேற யாரும் சரியா தீனி போடலன்னு தான் சொல்லணும் குருதிப்புனல்,தேவர்மகன் ரெண்டுலயுமே கமலுக்கு இணையான நடிப்பு அவர தமிழ் சினிமா நிறைய படங்களில் சரியா பயன்படுத்தாது பெரிய வருத்தம்

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  8. //you forget to mention about 'everybody has a breaking point"
    If i am not wrong kamal wrote the dilauges .is it?//
    Yeah. In Drohkaal too Om Puri keeps mentioning how: no man can stand physical torture beyond a point.

  9. Nice analysis. It is interesting to note how Kamal took that dialog skeleton from DK and placed it with the 'breaking point', subtly paying a homage to Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Having conceded that a remake has the advantage of hindsight of what not to do, KP is still a supreme effort.

  10. Thank You kbalakumkar and thedrunkenmonk.

    //Having conceded that a remake has the advantage of hindsight of what not to do//

    In DK Om Puri rats on Naseeruddin Shah. In KP it was watered down - so the 'sting' is taken out of the Droham. Which is why I wanted to watch DK in the first place. The extent to which it was elevated in sheer content (forget making finesse) is admirable.