Boss, you don’t have to be vellathu to be “cool”.

Longtime Mutineer Desi Dude in Austin left a tip on our news tab, which immediately got my attention:

Rajnikath don’t need no Fair and Lovely…not when he has 25 CGI artists lighten his complexion frame-by-frame for a song-and-dance sequence in his latest sambaar-mix potboiler Sivaji.

Say what?! I neither know nor care about either Sivaji the fillum or its rotund ishtar, but following the link DDiA left took me here: Rajnikant is white.jpg

If you have watched Sivaji..You have observed the fair complexion of Rajinikanth in the song Oru koodai Sunlight.Everyone thought it was make-up that made Superstar Rajinikanth look like a European in that song, but the secret is something else. [Naachgaana]

Yindeed, the secret is far more time-consuming and technologically advanced than some pancake from Max Faktor.

The secret of actor Rajinikanth’s ‘white’ tan in the song sequence “Style” in the ‘Sivaji’ was not the result of any fairness cream or cosmetic touch-up but an entire year of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) work by city-based firm Indian Arts.
The colour tone of one of the U.K.-based dancers in the background of the song was used to turn up the tone of the actor, frame by frame. The post-production for the 6,000 plus frames took a year to complete, as computer graphics artists from Indian Arts toiled to make Rajinikanth the “Vellai Tamizhan”. [The Hindu]

According to the article from our new tab, a total of 6,700 frames were painstakingly altered, to give the second-highest paid actor in Asia skin as pale as the complexion of one of his Gori backup dancers. Okay, that sentence was awkward as kundi. I’ll just quote something, instead, yes?

sivaji.jpg

Once Indian Artist was selected for the job, Mr. Anand immediately knew that the CGI team would require a ‘reference’ for their work. So the team selected one of the dancers flown in from London for the song on location in Spain. So every shot that featured Rajinikanth was re-shot with the dancer and sent to Indian Arts. Mr. Anand explained that it was required because the skin tone would appear differently in indoor and outdoor shots, and a lot would depend on shadows. [The Hindu]

Apparently, this was the director’s way of “thinking big”:

Mr. Anand pointed out that it was one of the original concepts of director Shankar, who is known for his grand ways of shooting songs. “He was thinking about the way people admire Rajinikanth’s dark tan and wanted to show how the superstar would look had he been a European.”[The Hindu]

I know that colorism is a hotly-debated issue both on this site and within our community, so I promise that I am extra careful whenever I make statements about what I think is attractive and isn’t, especially after being on the receiving end of some unbelievably hurtful bullshit myself (another time, another post).

People on either end of the spectrum get nastiness hurled their way, so let’s declare decisively that this is not the special olympics of victim hood. I have uber-pasty, 100% Desi friends who get asked “And when or why did someone like you get interested in Indian culture?”, as if they were a White person, when they go to brown events. They feel just as miserable as I do when I’m told, “For a very dark girl, you’re pretty!”. This is sensitive territory and I hope that if lurking/commenting on or hating this blog inspires anything within you, it’s a sensitivity towards the colorS of our skin.

Whew, that was a lot of “fine-print”. ;) But wait– here’s more! What I’m about to state has nothing to do with either my own relatively dark, izhnerum skin OR my uncontrollable affection for hot-hot-hot chocolaty actor Sunkrish Bala, it’s from a pure place in my dil, I assure you– I think Rajnikant looks better dark, no diggity, y’all. Not that I find him attractive at any shade, but if he ever reads this post, and he asks me…

sivappaana aangal ingae silakoadi undu
karuppaana ennaik kandu kan vaiththadhenna

I will truthfully trill back, in my most high-pitched attempt at breaking the eardrums of small canines,

kadal vannam vaanin vannam karuvannam dhaanae
kadal vaanam kaanumboadhu unaikkandaen naanae

::

For those who don’t know Tamizzhrrzh:

There are a few crore fair skinned men here
Why did you pick me – a dark skinned man
The sea, The Sky, they are all dark
when I see the sky and the sea, I am reminded of you

141 thoughts on “Boss, you don’t have to be vellathu to be “cool”.

  1. Coming in mid-thread again, but ‘Lolita’ is hardly ‘older man younger woman’.
    Sin City? who? Hardigan and Nancy? the Mickey Rourke char and Goldie?

    Here you go: http://us.imdb.com/keyword/older-man-younger-woman/

    I was responding to the comment that such movies are fewer and far in-between. I’m sure a closer scrutiny will bring out differences and other nuances.

  2. i volunteer to start the ‘brown panthers’ party. people will fear puli.

    That’s the most adorable thing you’ve ever said. I just want to chuck you under the chin and ruffle your hair after reading that. ;)

    FEAR THE PULI.

    See? Adorable!

  3. Puliogre,

    Based on the track-record of nationalistic/reformist movements like Dravidian self-respect, I wouldn’t be so confident that the “brown Panthers” are going to be very compatible with the Iyer-bankers. Good luck, though!

  4. SUPERSTARksa, I love Ilaiyaraaja and don’t understand a word of it. It’s not about Tamil language or technology, I just don’t like ARR’s music. As you said, to each his own. A back-and-forth on all these fun things would be interesting but totally OT. Some other day then. I am down w/ Shivaji Rao Gaikwad btw.

  5. i volunteer to start the ‘brown panthers’ party. people will fear puli.

    Puli: Fear is not the feeling you want to go for. For a change, why can’t the “Brown Panthers” be about free love. Anybody who wants “louuuv and louuv only” should be given a hand. People who want Aviyal relationships should be given free memberships. The rest can pay a nominal charge for the right to call themselves a “Puli Padaiye” member.

  6. And the movie American Beauty was DISGUSTING for precisely this very reason. As if pedophiles and child molesters need validation!

    So having a pedophile character in a movie validates pedophiles? I’m not sure I’m on board with that kind of logic.

  7. That’s the most adorable thing you’ve ever said. I just want to chuck you under the chin and ruffle your hair after reading that. ;) FEAR THE PULI. See? Adorable!

    i couldnt even be scary if i tried…

    Puliogre, Based on the track-record of nationalistic/reformist movements like Dravidian self-respect, I wouldn’t be so confident that the “brown Panthers” are going to be very compatible with the Iyer-bankers. Good luck, though!

    ahh…but what if the movement is made up of overachieving brown americans? you get promoted if your a yengineer.

    Puli: Fear is not the feeling you want to go for. For a change, why can’t the “Brown Panthers” be about free love. Anybody who wants “louuuv and louuv only” should be given a hand. People who want Aviyal relationships should be given free memberships. The rest can pay a nominal charge for the right to call themselves a “Puli Padaiye” member.

    thats a good idea. i can whip the masses into shape, scare ‘wh!tey’ and encourage mating. all in a days work.

  8. And he also played a middle aged and old man in same movie. DIFFERENCE much?
    Do you have a point here? How could he play an old man? He’s physically not that old as his role demanded. So you like to see actors play a role very near to their age, and I’m willing to cut them some slack depending on how convincing they are. Different strokes. *shrug*
    The woman who plays his mate also plays a college girl, middle aged woman and elderly woman in the movie as well. That’s my point.

    To clarify, as the “hero” in the movie grew older, so did the “heroine”. They started off the same age.

    The story called for aging as it spanned a lifetime.

    They did not cast a 50 something old man as a 20 something, nor a 20 something young woman as a teenager.

    They cast two people in their 30′s as 20 somethings who grew into 60/70 somethings.

    Total difference from the Rajini thing.

  9. I think Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth in Beyond the Sea was more analogous to an Indian movie pairing than the other examples cited where people pretty much played their own age.

  10. And the movie American Beauty was DISGUSTING for precisely this very reason. As if pedophiles and child molesters need validation!

    i thought that movie was hilarious….3 words for you.

    drty

    old

    men

  11. i thought that movie was hilarious….3 words for you. drty old men

    I cringe at the thought of a 40 something year old man lusting after a teenage girl or boy.

    However, the same cringe does not come to mind when thinking of a 40 year old woman lusting after a mature looking teenage boy. A teenage boy who looks physically immature – yes. But a teenage boy who could pass for a 20 something young man – no. Is this a double standard or sexist viewpoint? Maybe.

    Hypocritical? Probably. But there is just something about the dynamic of a man 20 years or more senior to an object of lust that makes me cringe.

  12. I think Mena Suvari is past the sickos’ age limit. American Beauty was a good movie.

    What exactly was “good” about that movie?

    Even without the pedo factor I thought it was lame.

  13. What exactly was “good” about that movie? Even without the pedo factor I thought it was lame.

    i liked the twisted view of life in the burbs it offered. (in contrast to the wonder years).

    However, the same cringe does not come to mind when thinking of a 40 year old woman lusting after a mature looking teenage boy. A teenage boy who looks physically immature – yes. But a teenage boy who could pass for a 20 something young man – no. Is this a double standard or sexist viewpoint? Maybe.

    what do you mean, maybe. of course it is. ‘old guy, young grl=creepy. young guy/old grl=fun for grl!’ that the definition of double standard. how can there be any doubt in your mind that that is not sexist?!

  14. However, the same cringe does not come to mind when thinking of a 40 year old woman lusting after a mature looking teenage boy. A teenage boy who looks physically immature – yes. But a teenage boy who could pass for a 20 something young man – no. Is this a double standard or sexist viewpoint? Maybe. Hypocritical? Probably. But there is just something about the dynamic of a man 20 years or more senior to an object of lust that makes me cringe.

    This post is drawing a lot of OT comments, thanks to me. But I though this link was interesting.

  15. By the way, Sridevi was probably younger than Mena Suvari(in American Beauty) in a lot of the South Indian movies she did early on. In that clip someone linked us to in this thread where she is dancing with NTR, she is probably 17 or 18 and he was probably around 50 . The legal age limit is there because a line has to be drawn somewhere. It is inappropriate for a 40 something guy to be with a 16 year old, but it is not the same as a sicko going after young teens and preteens which is more indicative of the condition you talk about.

  16. And the movie American Beauty was DISGUSTING for precisely this very reason. As if pedophiles and child molesters need validation!

    What are people talking about!? AMERICAN BEAUTY was about a pretty-but-insecure-girl who lived an imaginary life in which she is popular and has ‘lots of boyfriends’, who was abusive and insufferably rude to her girlfriends, etc, till reality caught up with her. The movie is about her comeuppance, so to speak.

    The Kevin Spacey character explicitly rejects her sexual advances, although he is shown as, in his own imaginary life, lusting after her, and being conflicted while rejecting her. That is validation of pedophilia??? Come on.

  17. The Kevin Spacey character explicitly rejects her sexual advances, although he is shown as, in his own imaginary life, lusting after her, and being conflicted while rejecting her. That is validation of pedophilia??? Come on.

    YAY Drty old men! ‘Bow chicka wow!’

  18. I dated a young man of 20 when I was 33.

    In some ways he was very mature for his age – lived on his own, owned his own business, earned alot of $$$, very responsible, etc.

    At the same time he was naive and innocent in other ways. He was very well built and could easily pass for 25 or so.

    Anyway, he was legal and was only 13 years younger than me so it’s not the same as the American Beauty scenario or pedophilia, etc, still I know some eyebrows were raised when people found out our age difference.

    Looking back I would do it again but I would not pursue anything beyond just casual dating with a man so young unless he was exceptionally mentally mature for his age (rare, if at all even possible). As I grow older I’m starting to prefer men within a 5 year range of my own age.

  19. this reminds me of one of the greatest lrics ever:

    “The morning sun when its in your face really shows your age”

  20. i emailed some of you guys about the possibility of selective abortions of fetuses to make sure that the offspring are as light as possible because of the sampling variance possible within the south asian population. we’re there. we have the technology so that parents who have potential for a lot of variation in their offspring can abort the kala ones.

    Wow, thats wonderful news Razib! So there is hope after all ;)

    Someone could make a fortune with this technology in India.

  21. eek, all this age difference talk that I started with my exaggerated octogenarian comment! For what it’s worth, my problem with the storyline of these boy-meets-girl movies isn’t primarily the stark age difference between the leads (which is usually there, but not always), but the fact that the heroine falls in love with the hero after he teases/annoys/abuses her. Take the movie Idiot for example. I remember one scene where Ravi Teja sneaks into ‘his’ girl’s bedroom at night and threatens her with a knife. While he is trying to WOO her. (Yes, the title of this movie should’ve been a giveaway). And if you read the Wikipedia synposis, it’s not summarized a story of their love (ugh) as much as it as a dick fight between the hero and the heroine’s father.

    Of course, this is India, so family issues are brought into everything. But my question is, why is it NEVER about the women in the family?? There is probably not a SINGLE movie produced by the south Indian film industry that would become a hit if the story was filmed with a female as the main protagonist (I think it’s different in the Hindi film industry though). So it’s not just the age difference between the leads that bothers me so much, it’s that the hot young actresses in southern films are pretty much disposable and interchangeable (c’mon, most of them don’t even speak the language they’re supposed to be acting in!). Add in to that the horribly blatant nepotism in who becomes a ‘hero,’ and you have yourself a gaping lack of creativity or quality.

    And lest you all think that I’m just a hater with regards to south Indian films… I’m not. I grew up with the music, I love it. I think songs originally recorded in Tamil or Telugu sound really weird and bad when dubbed over in Hindi. I’ll even admit, I had a mad crush on Chiranjeevi when I was little. I still think his little brother and nephew are pretty hot. (His son is debuting soon too!) Heck, I even think Srihari is sexy!

  22. There were some female centric movies in Telugu in the 70s and 80s. The heroine would actually be the main part of some of these movies. I think the same applied in Malayalam and Tamil.

    You know what is despicable. I have seen one or two movies where a girl is raped or date raped, and then the parents force the rapist to marry their daughter.

  23. And lest you all think that I’m just a hater with regards to south Indian films… I’m not. I grew up with the music, I love it. I think songs originally recorded in Tamil or Telugu sound really weird and bad when dubbed over in Hindi. I’ll even admit, I had a mad crush on Chiranjeevi when I was little. I still think his little brother and nephew are pretty hot. (His son is debuting soon too!) Heck, I even think Srihari is sexy!

    pawan kalyan n allu arjun are heart throbs for many, but srihari? damn!

  24. a dick fight between the hero and the heroine’s father.

    I am extremely glad that this movie is not a realistic reflection of society. Imagine if this was a part of a wedding ceremony.

  25. Of course, this is India, so family issues are brought into everything. But my question is, why is it NEVER about the women in the family?? There is probably not a SINGLE movie produced by the south Indian film industry that would become a hit if the story was filmed with a female as the main protagonist (I think it’s different in the Hindi film industry though). So it’s not just the age difference between the leads that bothers me so much, it’s that the hot young actresses in southern films are pretty much disposable and interchangeable

    nala: that’s a crushing generalisation — rules out revathi in mouna raagam, shalini in alaipayuthey (teased and teased back), simran in kannathil muthammittaal (she cycles after madhavan!), and recently, priyamani in paruthhi veeran (she is obssessive-compulsive & nearly assaults him for not reciprocating her affections)! that said, malecentric stories are predominant in the south. and the north. and the west, too, actually.

  26. Some comments on comments.

    1. Why CGI?
      Anna: I believe the easier alternative of make-up was considered but was found not suitable and hence they decided on the more expensive alternative. You have to realize Shankar’s movies are heavy budgeted and money is not an issue.

    2. Why sneering attitude towards Rajni? Superstarska; Or could it be a mixture of secret admiration and pure jelousy

    3. Why paal abhishekam for a Rajinikanth cutout? Pingpong: In Tamil Nadu since ancient times there has been deification of leaders, kings etc. The trend continues today with temples for Kushboo, suicides when MGR died, paalabhishekam for Rajni….

  27. 123 nala

    But my question is, why is it NEVER about the women in the family?? There is probably not a SINGLE movie produced by the south Indian film industry that would become a hit if the story was filmed with a female as the main protagonist (I think it’s different in the Hindi film industry though).

    –> I am sure you have seen all that south indian movies have to offer, in all those languages, that you can make such a sweeping generalization.

    I watch tamil movies a lot so I will stick to it. How about K. Balachander movies ? Leaving aside the issue of elitist treatment(in some of his productions), how about Manadhil urudhi vaendum(Suhasini), Kalki (Geetha, Renuka and Shruthi) ? Then there are the recent movies like Uyir(Sangeetha as the sister-in-law scheming to get her husband’s brother, the entire movie is about how she goes about it),kalaaba kaadhalan(sister-in-law going after sister’s husband), all those amman movies(they make money and are usually packed with female stars), rare faux historicals(even though I havent seen it, I heard kovilpatti veeralakshmi was supposed to be about a female outlaw).

    Not that I consider tamil movies to be high on creativity but there are a few gems which lots of people miss out on. Ditto with malayalam, telugu and kannada.

  28. what a long trailer. Anyway, the few relevant moments from the trailer suggests that this movie might have received part of its inspiration from this fantastic one.

  29. 123 nala,

    too many generalizations; also why do u think hindi films are more capable of having a female lead than south indian movies. ‘Masala’ movies are the similar and formulaic both throughout indian film industry. generally once a hero becomes ‘big time’, ie. his movies start selling just for his name, then he will not agree to act in movies where anyone else has a bigger role, so ends up with ‘dumb blonde’ type female co-stars. however, as pointed out in #130, there are many women-centric southie movies made; but such movies wil never be as big as a rajini hit.

  30. wow, it seems I can’t make a statement about the majority of south Indian movies (which overall follow a very formulaic pattern) I’ve seen without being accused of overgeneralizing. Even though the point I was making is validated by what you three say already: “that said, malecentric stories are predominant in the south” “a few gems” “there are many women-centric southie movies made; but such movies wil never be as big as a rajini hit”

    Of course I haven’t seen every south Indian film ever, but the fact that whoever tried to give examples could only come up with a few (out of the hundreds and hundreds churned out by the Telugu film industry alone every year), and pretty much admitted that they will never be as popular as a film with a big male star that depends on making the heroine more childlike and powerless in contrast to the big strong hulking hero, kind of proves my point. And I don’t understand why every single point about south Indian film has to be compared to the Hindi film industry or Hollywood. ‘Ooh well they’re sexist too!’ Does that make it any more ok that stories about forty-year-holds chasing after barely-legal gals who don’t even speak the language by annoying them and slapping their ‘spoiledness’ out of them (Naa Alludu) end up with the girl falling in love with the hero become SUPERBIG hits? That says something about the people who pay to make these movies big hits.

  31. Nala, I think you have been watching too many bad movies :) . Naa alludu is a huge dud. BTW, you are not target audience for most Tollywood movies. They are made for people in TeluguLand.

    I would suggest you to check out reviews before watching a movie, whether its Hollywood/Bollywood/Tollywood. Check out FullHyd before planing to watch any Bollywood/Tollywood movie, their reviews are fairly balanced and get it right most of the times.

  32. And I don’t understand why every single point about south Indian film has to be compared to the Hindi film industry or Hollywood. ‘Ooh well they’re sexist too!’

    Comparison gives us perspective. Also a good way to tell if someone is being fairly (and equally) critical. ;)

  33. Nala, if you are focusing on Telugu movies in the last 15 years, I cannot help you as I am not that aware of most of them. But before that, there have been a few hits where the female was the main person. One was a movie where the lady gets raped by Chiranjeevi who was the villain in his early days. Another was some real life lady who lost her leg and learns to dance with a fake leg. That movie did well. There was another movie about Sarada raising a daughter as a single mother that did well. Sorry, but i forget the titles of these movies. And then you had older Telugu movies like Missamma where the ladies were as prominent as the guys. I think Vijaysanthi was the last big telugu heroine who could open a movie.

    I have watched a ton of movies of all types and languages(though I still need to watch the Esperanto flick with Shatner!). The movie industry in general is male dominated.

  34. thanks for the link, indianoguy… i bookmarked it.

    i need to watch these older movies.

    hmm, question. what do you all think of “Maya Bazaar”?

  35. 133 nala

    wow, it seems I can’t make a statement about the majority of south Indian movies (which overall follow a very formulaic pattern) I’ve seen without being accused of overgeneralizing.

    –> From your earlier comment(#123), “There is probably not a SINGLE movie produced by the south Indian film industry that would become a hit if the story was filmed with a female as the main protagonist”. I guess not a SINGLE phrase is negated by use of the word probably and hence you can claim misreading on the part of others ? Backtracking to south indian movies you have seen is fine by me.

    And I don’t understand why every single point about south Indian film has to be compared to the Hindi film industry or Hollywood.

    –> From your earlier comment(#123), “There is probably not a SINGLE movie produced by the south Indian film industry that would become a hit if the story was filmed with a female as the main protagonist (I think it’s different in the Hindi film industry though).”

    You started it!!!

    but the fact that whoever tried to give examples could only come up with a few

    –> Do you want the comments section to be a list of all tamil movies that were made with female protagonist and became hits ? That you were using the small list I provided to make a larger point is laughable.

    That says something about the people who pay to make these movies big hits.

    –> And that includes you, I presume ? Or are you commenting on movies you havent seen ?

    Maybe you should try reading your comments before you pull up others for their responses.

  36. ugh. i don’t feel like getting into an argument. but ok, i overgeneralized by saying ‘not a SINGLE.’ but it seems like the examples people have been giving are older, whereas currently, i can’t imagine a film with a female as the protagonist becoming a hit in andhra pradesh.

    why i brought up the hindi film industry is because i was sure someone would say ‘oh but in bollywood actresses matter more and have more personality,’ (e.g. there is a difference image-wise between bipasha basu and rani mukherji) and i just wanted to state from the get-go that that’s what i’ve seen. it wasn’t meant as a judgement that the hindi film industry is less sexist or somehow better than the south indian film industry.

    and i didn’t pay for the movies. my relatives did. :) (fyi, i’ve tried reasoning with them about all that’s wrong with these movies, but all they say is ‘men are dominant in india’ and then they get amused at my frustration).

    as for reading my own comments… my basic point is that most of the movies that become hits in southern india (e.g. rajni’s latest) are sexist. i don’t know everything about the southern film industry, let alone the telugu film industry, but it’d take a lot to change my opinion from that. like for actresses to actually start speaking in the language they’re supposed to be acting in.

  37. I am confused as to what is the point with the post. This is a just a movie. The basis of the movie is to provide entertainment. If you think the movie provides a social message then good.

    In terms of skin color – I do not the director was thinking this when he was penning the script. “Let me show the world what Rajni will look like when he is fair…that would show the world that skin color doesn’t matter. Maybe they will give me a nobel peace prize. Maybe they will ask me to make MJ look black so future generations can see what MJ looked like. Maybe…”

    His though process was, “I am making a movie with Ragni. Shit, I have to come up with something spectacular or I will never be allowed to direct another movie, let alone a grade school drama. Think, think…how about make Rajni white. Budget is not option and this would be mind blowing. Yes let me do it to save my skin”

  38. I am confused as to what is the point with the post.

    Yeah? Well I’m sick of explaining it/reading others patiently try to explain it. See: comment 55.

    Look, it’s not rocket science. That’s what Abhi is for.