There can't be Smoke and Mirrors without Fire

Hassar has this thing for metaphors.
It's not exactly mixing metaphors, but more like how his default mode of speaking seems to be jumping from one metaphor to another, taking a metaphor literally and swinging to the next.

And sometimes you see him compose frames that mean 'something larger'. In atleast one interview, he referred to the puddle he throws pebbles into in AnbE Sivam as என் நினைவுக் குட்டை...

Sometimes he would just scream in your face for the sake of it. Like here

That was just a no-brainer to ensure it gets across by showing how it is to be received. It had nothing more to it, other than perhaps to say I have to scream thus to get it across.

Quite unlike when he did it earlier.... 

Here too, if one doesn't get the pyre-ish  fire and pose, he has foxes howling in that scene. But makes it look like there is nothing to it.

In his films something is there because he puts it there.

Now to the next point: in his films something is there because he puts it there.

Here is a lovely clip from VirumAndi - do read the uploader's comment

That reminds me of a couple of similar shots in other films that kinda demonstrate his authorial stamp

While this may just be nothing more than a lovely way of showing the object and reaction. At this moment we seem to see her for what she is 'the truth' in the mirror and what Guna - with his wide eyed admiration sees - is something grander. And what prevails?

And now, how about this:

This of course is principally about jaw-dropping cleverness of craft. But isn't it also very much about the indistinguishable similarity between the original and the other, the puppet and the puppeteer?

And then this one via @rangasub

Srinivasan tells Aadhi that he shouldn't be looking for traces of honesty in his face, but should only look at his own face in the mirror. And then... 

How can one make 'too much' of moments, when they are creations of this man.


  1. Been a criminal for not following your posts. Good one there, mate. The MMKR scene is memorable, merely because of the techniquie employed, back when I was a film student wannabe (never happened, now a comfortably retired amateur film critic). I am not the one who appreciate effort, wonnnnly result. But look at the result. But the links and comparisons you made, made my semi-literate brain to crank its gears a little.

    1. Thank you Groucho.
      In MMKR it is difficult to not appreciate the effort! The scenes should work independent of the gimmick, not just work - they should bring the house down burning and my Lord, what a gimmick!

      It annoys me no end when people merely invoke 'Gold Rush' about the climax and leave it there. Yes he takes it and then makes two people into twenty. And then inserts four of himself necessitating impossible frame slicing. The messing of coordinates is reduced to just one of the several challenges of making - while remaining principal for us, the audience.

      I do get your point that we should bother to appreciate effort, if at all, only when the result worked in the first place. Otherwise we end up putting the cart before the horse, which is rather inconvenient if one wants to get anywhere.

    2. Gold Rush - guruvai minjum sishyan, ambudutheyn.

  2. whattey!!! There are several thoughts behind everything that he shows in the screen, irrespective of whether it's his direction or not. It's amazing that I find something new every time I watch in his dialogues or shots either it's Hey Ram or Anbe Sivam or Virumandi. I still keep wondering how on this earth he can etch a character like "Kothala" in Virumandi. That mirror sceen is a master piece. You can get Kothala's irritation in just one scene where the barber will be trimming his underarms and he will be watching the tractor in the background while conversing with Kamal. "Vidappa tractor ah...summma dama damannukittu." But, how would I explain the way he will make Sivaji react to each and every scene in Devar Magan? The way he expresses his displeasure in seeing Gautami or his reaction while she speaks are mmmmmaster peice and I see Kamal there and not Sivaji. My comment might be totally unrelated to you blog post, but I couldn't resist to share my viewing experience here :):)

  3. Ok, apols for some grave grammatical errors and typos yesterday. For a second day I was just thinking about the mirror scenes he has used in his films. Was KB an inspiration for Hasar? I remember KB used these mirror scenes beautifully in Aval oru thodar kathai and Arangettram. A lot of conversations happen through the mirror. Viewers are mostly shown the emotions of lead characters (Sujatha & Parimala) in the mirror. What a beauty!!!

    1. Thank You for your comments.

      //or his reaction while she speaks are mmmmmaster peice and I see Kamal there and not Sivaji.// Hmm..actually they indeed are vintage Sivaji. The way the character was written gave scope for the subtleties to be pronounced (ya I know its an oxymoronic expression) than usual. What I mean is he made the slightest changes in expression, tone etc. front and center.

      Sivaji invariably always does such things - sometimes swamped in the background and sometimes we miss it in the drama of the performance (which often befits the scene).

      So it was like fanboy Kamal writing something that would make us appreciate what he had appreciated all along!

      And - as equanimus once pointed out, Kamal wanted to clearly underline this wasn't some new reinvention of Sivaji but underscoring of the same grand old supertalented man he always was: "ellAm pazhaya murukkuthaaNdi" (opening scene)

  4. Just remembered this post. See this scene from Anbe Sivam,
    There is a frame at 1:03 which falls into this pattern. Of course, I am sure, this is Sundar C's idea :P

  5. Thanks for the link Girsubra. Apart from the superb mirror usage, this scene is also crucial to the movie in that it establishes why Paun was in the ill-fated bus. Perhaps this was a trigger for more guilt in Nalla's mind later when Paun dies (indirectly because of him) and he's reminded of it all much later in the ambulance. For some reason this scene was cut off early in Anbe Sivam's run, even in the theatres.

    Dagalti boss - just saw Kuruthi punal again. Following a discussion with my brother who hated Vishwaroopam ("Even KP was about terrorism - how much more nuanced and classy that was," in his words). What a masterpiece! Was reminded of the mirror scene and came back to your blog to search for your comparison with Drokhaal. Meantime, thought I'll also post a couple of things I noticed in KP for the first time:

    1. When Badri is getting beaten to pulp in the jail, he tells Adi - "Nee ondy kattai illa.. Pondaati, pullai irukkanga, avangala kaapathanum" - I don't think it is just coincidence that Badri is cupping his crotch as he speaks, having been kicked in the balls by Adi one second back. Talking of being masculine and protecting the family while nursing his own manhood... :-)

    2. When Srinivas visits Adi's house on Krishna Jayanthi, there's an extended shot of the WWF game on TV, just as Srinivas begins to talk - "Enna vaazhkai idhu.. orae poi, emattram..." WWF - make-believe... Am I reading too much into things? Do I need counselling? ;-)

    1. Well I'll bite 2 - it was more about the pre-arranged violence and this is what kids grow up watching.

      1 - well seems a little out-there to me. But do notice how Aadi and Krishnan are juxtaposed, whereas Abbas and Badri are similar in having/not-displaying any weakness for family.

  6. Actually... I'll agree with your take on 2. Makes more sense - movie stresses on what kids grow up watching many times over. Even in the final scene.

    I think Abbas' lack of display of family weakness is perhaps down to the fact that Badri hasn't 'broken him down' the way he's done with Adi. He didn't get a chance to work on Abbas, simply because Abbas wasn't interacting with him daily. There was no immediate threat to Abbas' family when he was tortured and killed. Adi might have reacted with the same bravado (and died) in those circumstances.


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