On my usual walk from Churchgate to Colaba one day, I spied a small poster placed on an easel in the lobby of Eros theatre. Yes, it was tiny and it was on an easel, not the usual giant hoarding above the entrance or even the big posters plastered on every wall of the very long triangular frontage of this corner institution/landmark of Bombay. What was unusual was that this poster was in a script other than the usual English/Hindi.
The squiggly characters, on closer inspection I realized, were what I suspected and hoped they would be - Tamil!! My interest was piqued but before concluding I wanted confirmation so I tentatively asked the BO counter guy, "yeh picture Tamil me hai kya?", to which he replied, "Haan, South ka picture hai". I also got to know that I was lucky to have made this serendipitous discovery 15 mins before the next show.
So, on a complete lark, without bothering to check anything about the movie, I dug into all my pockets and then my backpack for enough money for a stall ticket. All I cared about was that it was a Tamil movie being screened in the original language. I'd been listening to the OST of Kandukonden Kandukonden (KK) for a while for obvious reasons but had no idea the movie was to screen in Bombay, that too in Eros.
I'm not a compulsive movie paithiyam that tries to desperately scalp tickets to every release (the only exception to that rule is if it's a Thalaivar movie). I'm cautious, wait for feedback before investing 3 hours and 60 bucks into a movie. I'm not the arty kind either and my sensibilities are not exactly what one may call refined. But I can't watch crap. I set aside all my inhibitions because the prospect of seeing actors talk in Tamil on-screen, in Bombay, in Eros was too tempting. I realized I was starved and needed sustenance.
The movie didn't disappoint. It was shot extremely well. The characters were believable. The simple plot exhorting the universal maxim - what goes around, comes around - was exactly that - simple and effective. The performances were A-grade (well.....Abbas did his own grade and I'm sure his screen-time was directly proportional to his acting ability).
What stood out were the songs and their picturization. Had goosebumps when Ajith and Tabu were shimmying with Turkish dervishes in Egypt (this much logic-jump is forgivable). Even Smiyai with Ajith killing it in a studio with Pooja Batra looking on... I still remember it after 20 years!!
I liked the movie so much that I got 20 of my college mates to go watch it with me the very same week. None of them knew Tamil, all of them paid for their tickets, and no one beat me up after the show. Without exception, this was the first full-length Tamil movie any of them had ever seen and they were surprised that our movies are of such markedly better quality than what they're used to.
Today a Korean Paradise is taken for granted because thanks to the explosion of apps that connect us through the internet, it's easier to market foreign-language movies with subtitles. I wish more people had seen KK in Bombay and in other states outside TN. I wish it'd had a bigger release. I loved it then and thanks for the reminder from Rajiv Menon, I'm going to stream it now.....you were such a nice year, 2000