Freeze Frame #118: Dhool

Much of the reason why we love good masala movies is their ability to surprise and delight us while still telling the same old story over and over again. In this respect, the last big fight sequence in Dhool ranks among the most delightful.

It is not surprising for the hero to bash up a whole bunch of assorted goons without breaking a sweat. It is not surprising either if he does it to protect a little old lady the goons are chasing. When said fight comes right at the end of an action movie, you don’t really expect it to do much out of the ordinary. You don’t even suspect anything when the goons bash up a bunch of folk singers who try to come to the lady’s rescue — par for the course, you say to yourself. So you settle back into your plush multiplex seat, stifle a yawn and wait for it to get over.

Then old lady breaks into song.

Huh?

It takes a few seconds for us to register that she is, actually, singing. She stands there, five feet tall and portly, a wide grin on her weathered features, dancing a little jig as she belts out an old folk tune, with one of the aforementioned artists providing percussion. It is to this tune, not the usual dramatic score, that the hero goes about his business.

That scene was parodied on TV and other movies, made the old lady (Paravai Muniyamma) famous and was responsible, at least in part, for Dhool‘s stupendous box office success.

And with good reason. I’ve been exhilarated by fight sequences that stretch the imagination, gratified when the hero has chosen to break his shackles at exactly the right time, thrilled when he has added intelligence to physical prowess in some key sequences… Dhool marks the only fight sequence that has made me want to use the adjective “delightful”.

The Youtube video of this sequence is embedded here, thanks to memsaab:

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7 thoughts on “Freeze Frame #118: Dhool

  1. Shalu says:

    Ramsu, that song is just so over the top funny! It really made my day. So proud to be a tamilian today 😉 I seriously wonder if any other country in the world makes movies that are even close to the ones (most of them anyway) we make (in terms of sheer other-worldliness and “I cannot believe they did that!”). Wow, the hero placing his hands in front of the welding sparks was just too much. Who has the mental capacity to think of such things? Not me. I would love to see some reviews of crazy foreign movies like our good ol’ tamil ones. And, while I am waiting for you to come up with some good ones, let me rack my brain to remember any that I might have seen..

  2. Shalu,

    Apparently, Nigerian cinema is nearly as good 🙂

    You make a valid point. Let me try and unearth some “gems” in international cinema. Let me know if anything comes to mind.

    ~r

  3. Shalu says:

    One movie that comes to my mind (although it was a total entertainer!) is “Face off”. It was an utterly ridiculous plot with some total desi style hero moments..don’t you think?
    Another movie (although I love it) is Die Hard. any of our desi heroes could have fit that role like a glove! But thank God dear ol’ Brucie did it! He is like the desi hero who gets beaten to death only to rise again and again and thulp the villains. All singlehandedly too..

  4. Oh yeah, Face/Off is utterly and completely preposterous masala! But it’s also an interesting challenge from a narrative standpoint because it has to be good enough to let you, as a viewer, cut away from the faces and concentrate on the characters. Not easy, and not often well done. But as far as the action and the general plot developments go, yeah, totally fantastic masala.

    Die Hard is a good choice, too. Even Independence Day – Will Smith was in complete Rajni mode in that movie. I can totally imagine a late 70s Tamil version of that movie, with Sivaji in the Bill Pullman role. Only in Tamil movies can he get his tummy out of the way while flying a fighter jet 🙂

    My favourite choice in international cinema, though, would be this French movie called Taxi 2, starring Samy Naceri and Marion Cotillard (this year’s Oscar winner for Best Actress). If you haven’t seen it, you might want to give it a shot. It’s quite a trip, that one.

    ~r

  5. Dhool was my first Tamil masala so I just took whatever it gave me as something standard. It was only later that I heard that old ladies singing during action scenes was not totally common. Though now that I think of it, it probably was odd to me when I first watched the film, but I didn’t think twice about it anyway.

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