This weekend I finally got around to watching ‘Urumi’, the Malayalam movie made by Santosh Sivan [Link to Wikipedia article]. While the fact remains that this movie won Santosh a fair number of awards and also managed to get him into the American Society of Cinematographers (only cinematographer from the Asia Pacific to have received this honor), what piqued me the most when I was watching this movie was that elusive term that we look for in our heroes and heroines – chemistry.
Despite all the fervent action that is happening in this movie, the leading pair, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Genelia D’Souza fall in love, and how Santosh has brought this romance alive on the screen is visceral (for lack of a better term) [vis.cer.al = related to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect]. As the term I have used suggests, the whole feeling that one gets when he/she watches Kelu Nayanar (Prithviraj) fall in love with Arackal Ayesha (Genelia) is something that cannot easily be described in words. The scene where Kelu is on one side of a waterfall and Ayesha on the other, and they look at each other, that simply blows your mind. And that to me was the definition of ‘chemistry’ between the leading pair.
While most other directors and writers struggle to get the chemistry going between the lovers, it takes a genius like Santosh just a waterfall, appropriate lighting and some subtle background music and sound editing to convey the message. This one scene is sufficient for all viewers of the movie to understand that this is a couple which is passionate about each other despite all the chaos that is going on around them.
The couple of other movies that came to my mind when I was watching this scene were Raavanan [Link to Wikipedia article] and Before the Rains [Link to Wikipedia article] [Link to my movie review]. Surprise, surprise, guess who the cinematographer of both these movies was…..yes, you got it right – Santosh Sivan.
To be very honest (and my wife can vouch for this), I personally found the chemistry between Vikram and Aishwarya Rai in Raavanan (the Tamil version) mindblowing. Once again, Santosh brilliantly used nature, the rains, the mist due to the waterfall, and almost entirely natural lighting (at least that’s what I think it is) to convey the fact that here were two people, completely from the opposite ends of the spectrum falling for each other. The kidnapper falling in love with his victim, the hostage falling in love with her captor. While Aishwarya’s character never readily accepts this love, the fact that she asks Veera whether he would leave Dev unharmed if she stayed back with him, spoke volumes for her implicit acceptance of this love as something inevitable.
In Before the Rains, Santosh once again beautifully brings out on screen the passion that Henry has for Sajani (played wonderfully well by Nandita Das). Despite the fact that theirs is ‘improper love’ and ‘adultery’ and yet we find the same so enchanting speaks volumes for how Santosh has dealt with this aspect so beautifully aesthetically and elegantly. Once again, the rains, the water and nature form a beautiful canvas on which this chemistry plays out. Looks like water is a recurring theme in Santosh’s work.
Wonder when I will get to see Santosh’s magic again and get to attend one of his lessons in ‘chemistry’ again 🙂
Image courtesy: Collage from images found using Google Image Search