Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Gamyam" Review

In preparation for their (soon to be released) most expected Telugu movie of the season, “Vedam”, Dolce and Namak watched the director's first movie to get a feel for what to expect.

The story in Gamyam is quite simple: obscenely rich boy (Abhi) who never worked a day in his life meets hard working middle class girl (Janaki), falls in love after seeing her dance (he calls it love at second sight – Dolce would call it love at first dance, a feeling she knows all too well, since a variety of her crushes were born that way) and proceeds to woo her. Here's the lovely unexpected twist: she falls for certain parts of his personality, but ultimately can't come to terms with the Abhi-centric, arrogant side of him and so, prompted by a dramatic accident, she picks up and leaves.

Namak was jumping up and down at this unexpected turn of events, as Indian girls in movies are generally not very decisive that way and they tend to stick around and try to change things or suffer in silence rather than take a matter into their own hands and just say: “enough!” Meanwhile Dolce was, not surprisingly, too taken in by the charm of the main lead to notice such unessential points.

Namak: “He's not a particularly good actor this Sharvanand I see mostly two expressions on his face: brooding (and entitled during much of the first half), or romantic come-hither smile”
Dolce: “I think he's pretty good.”
Namak: “He has potential, sure, but he's not very versatile when it comes to emoting”
Dolce: “Isn't he so cute though?”
Namak: “Wha-- God, I can't have a reasonable argument with you, can I?”

To illustrate the come hither look:

Alright, forget the main leads, this is a lost cause. As Namak sinks back into her seat after this exchange of “opinions” she starts to get excited about the storytelling in general. The movie goes back an forth effortlessly between revealing new pages of the relationship between Abhi and Janaki ultimately reaching the events that led to their fallout, and Abhi's current journey across many villages, and interesting characters in search of Janaki. Though she does find the ubiquity of the story's message just a tad irritating.

Namak leaning towards Dolce about three quarters into the movie: “So wait, what was the message of the movie again?”
Dolce: “Shut up, I'm trying to watch this”.
Namak: “Oh, never mind, there it is again. 'I know that he's a thief, but you don't know that he's also a human being'. I could have sworn they made that point barely 10 minutes ago about the theatre dancer", she notes sarcastically.
Dolce: “Shh!”
Namak: “Don't worry, it's not like you can actually miss anything important: they are sure to repeat it in another 15 minutes.”

Now Namak is just being picky. To be honest she doesn't really mind it because, repetition notwithstanding, the movie does have a great message, one that can never be stressed enough in a self centered society such as our own: you'll never get to understand the real world if you're only looking at it through the car window. School can only take you so far, you need to go out and experience life first hand, and see that the real world is made up of imperfect human beings that even in the darkest places have the ability to learn and the power to love.

There are some other charming moments that stay with you, such as Janaki's dance, the “well deserved slap”, the character of Gaali Seenu, beautiful simple images - almost photographs - of real human beings living their real lives... everything comes together on an enchanted canvas painting the director's genuine love for people. And speaking of love, some cool comments on that as well, such as the three kinds of love: love's effects last for 2 months, big love's effects will last 2 years, great love however will change your whole life. Wise words, wise words indeed!

The "Thousand Hands" Dance:

Sadly, the movie falls short on script and performances at the end. I expected the journey to come full circle in a more subtle way, I expected the best performances to come out of these actors in the final scenes. Not so. And that brings my expectations back in check for Vedam: the director does not seem to have as good a grasp as I would want him to on restraining an actor's tendency to overact in the big emotional scenes. As a result, even Dolce's fangirl heart sank at the prospect of a similarly powerful scene in Vedam.

Judging it a little harshly maybe? Perhaps... But from me that is a great compliment for a movie: it means it's playing in the big league, and that it's worth pointing out its imperfections because everything else is good enough to compete with the very best.

Gamyam to me was like Shropshire Blue cheese. It has all the ingredients to be an excellent cheese: great aroma, intriguing colour, yet somehow it manages to unexpectedly steer towards the bland because the taste is simply not as strong as it could be. Lovely cheese, I like it, recommend it, and I will pick it over many other equally good cheeses, but I can't help but think that it could be so much more, that it could be truly outstanding. Instead it's... “nice, very nice...”.


MinaiMinai said...

Hi Dolce! (or should I say Namak? hehe). :D Lovely review! Haven't seen this one yet, but I love that the girl appears to actually have a brain and opinions (yay!). That's too bad about the ending, seems like it could have been made such a more powerful film. Interesting what prospects this holds for Vedam!

Have you seen the original Chinese video the dance was based on/inspired from? You can see it here: All the performers are deaf and mute!

Dolce and Namak said...

Minai, welcome my dear, and you can call me anything you want :)

Aha! I was hoping you'd post that video here, I hadn't seen it, but of course the original is a million times better than the Tolly version. Still, they did a pretty good job in the movie too.

The girl sure has a brain, but she also gets on the preachy side once in a while, though nothing we can't handle. Anyways, definitely see it, curious what you'll make of the director's talents and shortcomings. I'm glad I picked that one from the pile of DVDs that are still waiting to be watched.

Ciaras said...

Oh, hai! :)

I just finished watching this one (in preparation for Vedam as well), and was pretty disappointed-- big time.

Luckily for me, I don't seem to have a critical "Namak" within me, so I'm still crazy excited about Vedam! :D

Dolce and Namak said...

Awww, sorry to hear you didn't like it Ciaras... :(

But don't worry, Namak will be at machete point while watching Vedam, so there will probably be no room for objectivity from me either :P

Nicki said...

So...this is you??? Welcome!! Adding you now. :)

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey Nicki,
Haha, yes, I guess this is me :)
I have to come over and comment on your superyummy (and I don't mean taste-wise :P) cake, assume it's on your blog too. Must pay a visit tomorrow :D

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