Review of Citizen (Blue Mountain Digital)
Citizen was to be the Indian summer movie of 2001 and was released with great fanfare and with much hype. With many promos, campaigns and making of features to match Hollywood`s big summer releases it was hard not to miss the mention of this big budget movie by film fans and celebrities. Also the critical and financial success of the action movie Dheena (2000) that stared Ajith Kumar created much more expectations for the film Citizen.
But after viewing this film on cinema it was a sorely missed opportunity of what could have been the best Indian film of 2001. The plot idea is not as unique as it much resembles the 1996 box office hit `Indian/Hindustani` which had an older village man killing government official`s for being corrupt. Here it is a young man with many masks who goes on kidnapping three government officials. The handling of the kidnapping situations are rather weak plotted and too cinematic. But the investigation into the kidnapping and of the lost village is done with tremendous accuracy and in a realistic fashion and is the second reason to viewing this film. (I will mention the first reason later on in this review).
The disguise the character Abdualla uses to perform his crimes are rather poor and at times are not as smooth or as realistic as the director wants us to think. Some extensive work on the masks used could have improved them a whole lot more. Also the fight sequences are somewhat a mixed bag. While the punches and kicks are done in immaculate timing and with much excitement, the special affects of the character flying in the air, similar to sequences seen in Blade (1998) & The Matrix (1999), are done with crass CGI. It would have been better if wirework were employed as it were in their Hollywood counterparts. Another weakness in the fight sequences asks the questions as to why was the character of Abdualla wearing fangs similar to the ones worn in the film Blade, was he disguised as a vampire as well? Or did the filmmakers wanted to copy 100% of the fight scene from Blade?
There are various loopholes in the plots that further highlight the film weak spots like the poor love story with Indhu, played by Vasundra Das, and how the foster father survives Atthipatti? But with much weakness comes a couple major reasons why to see this film. Firstly the excellent acting from the cast members Ajith Kumar & Naghma. While Ajith dons on a double role as father and son, Naghma portrays an authoritarian CBI officer with much conviction.
But with Naghma a slight problem occurs not by her acting but by the choice of her voice dubbed artiste, who sound much older and coarser then anticipated and is off key. This makes viewing seem harder for the audiences as we expect Naghma`s original voice. The filmmakers must have felt that her own voice wouldn`t have convinced the audience that she is a strict and hard CBI officer and thus choice a dubbed artist. But for me it fails as the dubbed artiste is not suitable and hampers on Naghma`s fine performance.
Ajith Kumar excels mostly as the role of the father who plays a village fisherman. His dialect and make up work is realistic here and convincing. The downfall of his character is something audiences won`t ever forget partly due to the fine performance he displays. As Abdualla he has not much to do other then the final court scene, which proves a wonderful turning point in the film. The make up work for Meena is also very refreshing and real as a village woman, and her performance is greatly matched.
Supporting cast display acting skills in fashion much suited to the script. Vasundra Das performance is the weakest part in the film largely due to her role which is nothing more then a woman to fall in love with the main male character, and to appear in a couple of song sequences. It would have been better if these sequences were changed so that the film solely concentrates on main plot of the film.
Technical values are presented in a high specification that is captured on screen with skill and growing signs of professionalism in the Indian film industry. The music score by Deva are average but the last song `Merke Uthitha` is the track that is his best work of the year. The background music score done by his younger brothers are also composed in tune with what occurs on the screen.
Finally a mention should go to the reason as to why the main character kidnaps the government officials. The reason, which is anticipated for during the duration of the movie, lives up to the expectations of the viewer and occurs near the end of the movie. It is told in harrowing way that will affect the anticipated audiences, and the way the young child is saved is beautifully handled with emotions and tears.
Credit should go to both the art director and cinematographer who capture on film what we leave with from the cinema (I`m sure the director was more then satisfied with their work). I won`t reveal what occurs as these scenes are best left for audiences to experience themselves but I can tell you that it is worth viewing, including the scenes in which Abdualla has his important say in court about citizenship (though human rights activist and others might think this as wrong).
The film does have its excellent plus points and on that basis is worth the box office sensation it has created in south India, and is about to create with a Hindi remake to be made and released in 2004. But the director should learn from the big mistakes he made in this film and will hopefully create another action film that will further improve on his skills as a storyteller on celluloid.
The DVD is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.45:1 and is anamorphically enhanced. Unlike previous BMD DVD`s, which had incorrectly configured the letterbox process by disabling it for 4:3 (regular square) television set, this DVD has enabled the letterbox option to work. BMD have finally corrected this problem which was seen on their past DVD`s of Thenali (2000) & Hey Ram (1999).
The DVD is very much free from major wear and tear signs and looks fresh and clean all the way. Some little quibbles like small black dots are seen but are hard to spot unless you’re like me watching out for blemishes. Naturally the average audience wouldn`t be (that`s for the sad folks like me) so they will enjoy the cleanliness of the picture with much ease.
While no compression artefacts or of any major grains problems are found on this DVD the picture`s main culprit is the colour used during the telecine process. The picture has much brown and red hues contained within the frame, which distorts the original cinematic colours. This affects the overall look of the film on the BMD version and one would hope that BMD would now begin to work on their colour process used when using 35mm negatives. This indeed spoils the other excellent work found on this disc like the details found within the picture information, and the lack of major problems like shimmering and moiré effects.
Also dark details at the start of the film are weak and the colour black remains nearly monotonous throughout the film never revealing high black details and shadows, which are seen on their previous DVD`s. Contrast details are also too high and the whites tend too blind out some sections of the scenes. An example can be found on chapter 19.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 Tamil soundtrack is rather good and is just on par with the Ayngaran international DVD version. With a great active soundfield, helped by the placing and mixing of the sound effects on all speakers, expect your system to be working out throughout the whole film.
Dialogues are warm and audible and songs and actions scenes will make your subwoofer come alive. A good effort from BMD.
The menus are static and dull as if no effort is placed on them, but BMD have done one better then Ayngaran International DVD version. This DVD includes a 20 min making of feature of the film Citizen. While the making of feature (the first of its kind for a Tamil DVD) is relatively press material and promotional fluff, it is a nice insight into the film making process used in Tamil cinema and shows their hard work and commitment to the project.
Also not much film scenes are shown just interviews with cast and crew members revealing their reasons and expectations of this film. The cast and crew speak Tamil during this interview but fear not as this feature is subtitled in English and really is an excellent supplement for those who don`t understand the Tamil language.
The main feature is also subtitle in English and has done so in a very professional manner, one wishes Ayngaran uses the same people who translate the film as it is done with accuracy and perfect grammar! The box designs are weak and lack the excellent designs seen during the promos.
While the colour is a little disappointment the rest of the DVD is above average. I would only recommend this disc if you require better subtitles, and a making of feature. If these aren`t important features for you then purchase the Ayngaran International DVD version (also reviewed on this site).
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