Some movie makers seem to be adept at the art of promotion. The marketers of 180 were one such lot. Way before the movie got released, everybody was talking about it. Whether it were Siddharth's charm, the trailer's visual appeal, the refreshing new music or banners that were almost everywhere, I do not know. Yet, the movie sure did do brilliantly well at what is the first pulse of a film - by opening to huge expectations. Yet, that probably was what paved its first step to downfall. When the expectations are huge, you better have them met, baby.
There were applause, cheer and whistle when the title track appeared. Little did one know that it was probably the only high the movie was going to be receiving at all. What a contrast to Ahzagar Saamiyin Kudhirai - It boasted of no big stars, the horse looked better than the hero, the music was hardly noticeable and I thought it was a B-Grade flick when I chanced upon one of its banners. Yet, end of three hours, almost everyone in theatre were in open awe of how such a simple script could hold them in rapt fervour all through.
The problem with 180 is that Jayendra has imitated what a primary school friend of mine always did. She had the best handwriting, wrote with the most expensive pens, highlighted her paper with black, underlined neatly, italisized to perfection but finally ended up failing since her answers were all wrong. Our Director too seems to have got it all right, except of course the main thing - the plot and its treatment. Not only does it offer nothing new but also treats the mundane immaturely. One has to know that one is taking a huge risk if he lets us know the main crux of the story within the first five minutes. Even before I could finish my little popcorn packet, I almost guessed the main crux of this one - Protagonist Siddharth has just 6 months to live and is all set to live it to his best. Sigh! nostalgic anyone?
Unfortunately for him, audience today are truly coming of age. They do not naively sit through excessive glorification of characters anymore. Characterization showing perfect people with perfect personalities do not work. Today, men are starting to be portrayed with their dark sides, with real lives and real fears. Agreed, Siddharth has decided to be all optimistic and cheerful about living his life. Yet, when you are going to portray that kind of too-good-to-be-true man, you better be careful . Atleast for heavens sake, don't devote an entire one third of the movie solely for that! For the first fourty minutes or so, the screen space is only with Sid - sweet Sid being too good, nice Sid helping one and all, caring Sid playing with street boys. Dude, we get the point. Siddharth is a true sweetheart. Anything else?
Yet, certain good aspects did help us sit through this first third - the beautiful camera work, splendid acting of Siddharth and Nithya Menen and the novel, intriguing music score. Just when I am almost losing my patience, waiting for the plot to move, comes in a short flashback sequence that makes me guess another huge chunk of the story. Siddharth has already been in love. By now, you piece together almost all the main parts. The only interest element could only be in the flashback. You pray. Alas, your prayers are not heard.
Even when you have half guessed the entire proceeding, certain parts of a script can make for memorable watching. Falling in love of two attractive people is one such. However, our story which crawled like a toddler through the unimportant Sid-is-a-goody-boy statement rushes like supersonic wind on the romance aspects. And before you know it, he has met a girl, fallen in love, gotten committed, gotten mom's approval, married her and been diagnosed with a disease. Whoa! Slow down dude! *Pant*Puff*
One song in particular marked the biggest downfall moment of the movie. I mean, whoever penned down the lyrics has had to be on a secret mission to bring down the film or be a big joker having a bad sense of humor.
Priya Anand. Her acting falls quite flat and lacks depth. Even the sincerity in emotion that Nithya Menen shows for her crush , Priya seems to lack for her husband.While she is supposed to be a super happy bubbly woman, her body language comes off stiff resulting in complete insynchronization . Sincerely of emotion is completely absent and I was half expecting her to propose to Sid's friend in the final scene. The lady oozes oodles of oomph though - her only saving grace perhaps.
The only reason that makes me want to be kind to the movie is its intention. The movie was made with good intentions. When a man seems to be having a near perfect life, how would it be to realize all of a sudden that you are going to die? How does he struggle with it all - the anger, unacceptance, fear, self-pity and inability to comfort loved ones at the brink of his own insecurity? What does a wife feel, battling her own fears to make her dying man feel strong and coming to terms with his frustrations? Beautiful themes indeed. All lost because of the little screen time devoted to them.If only the director had realized their potential.
180 - a movie with a mathematical title loses at what is perhaps the most basal philosophy of all calculations - Focus. And therein lies the failure of the equation.