Review Raja's mission possible


Dear wonderful people all over the world!

I am on cloud # 09, this whole week has been truly magical.

I met Review Raja (R2) on Feb 8th and we clicked instantaneously…less than a nanosecond! We are walking the same path with 1 dream: to take Thamizh cinema worldwide.

And it’s so good to know I have one more person to share my vision, in my WBMW (wind beneath my wings) team.

In fact what’s funny is, in between my subtitling I had sent him my detailed review of his reviews (!!) which totally flabbergasted him. His jaw line dropped and he thought to himself “rekhs has actually reviewed my reviews!”

I must confess I was a tad skeptical about him. While people online were going gaga over his reviews or the sheer novelty of a white guy reviewing our films, I was thinking, “that’s a 1st and a welcome sign but why would someone do this? What’s in it for him” And no amount of explanations about the whys and therefores would have convinced me…’cos seeing is believing!

R2 was born today 25 years ago in a small town Tweed, Ontario, with a population of hardly 3000. I think Mylapore alone has about 300 thousand people!

His sister Destiny, 2 years older than him and R2 (let’s keep his real name anonymous respecting his wishes) grew up aware of a country called India as their dad talked about it to them often. R2’s dad Richard who has also come here now, has been visiting India ever since 1991 and is totally in love with our country. He always promised his son he’d bring him over…and here they are!

But how did this dream evolve?

He watched Billa with his best buddy Rajeev, at the end of which he said, “that was such a different Bollywood film”. Rajeev said, “that’s Kollywood, not Bollywood”! 

R2 was puzzled, he had never heard of Kollywood or Tamil films for that matter. He watched Pokkiri, loved Vijay in it, followed by Nanban, again a Vijay film. Another best friend of his, Arjun (who is DoP of R2 ‘s team) is a hardcore Vijay fan. He inhales, exhales, talks, walks, sleeps, thinks of Vijay!  R2 realized that if he was introduced to Thamizh cinema only now imagine how many more Non Indians would be sailing in the same boat? If he could break this ‘blissful ignorance’ and showcase South Indian cinema content, what an eye-opener it would be! So he decided to take Thamizh cinema beyond the realms of Bollywood.

Sometime during the summer of 2012, while he and his friends were out for dinner, they struck on this idea and pooled in their thoughts. It was only right, based on serendipity and destiny, R2’s debut online appearance should be Billa 2 trailer. On June 18th they put their grey cells together, opined, searched, researched, trashed, thought, shot, edited and came up with Billa 2. Next morning when they saw 40000 hits their hearts skipped a beat!  His team members Rajeev, Sanjeev, Arjun were ecstatic…naturally so.

His mom even today cannot believe the timid child of the 90s and this confident young lad is one and the same. Shawna and Richard are his ‘Rock of Gibraltar’.

Then ‘Saguni’ happened….rest is history. 16 reviews and 9 miscellaneous in all. Director Venkat Prabhu can proudly give himself a pat on his back for being the 1st celebrity to welcome R2 to our industry and show warmth and hospitality. Overjoyed by the enthusiasm and explosion of tweets, Richard and R2 decided to visit India in time for Viswaroopam release. As soon as he set foot on Chennai soil, R2 saw Prabhu Deva at the airport. He went up to him and said, “I am Review Raja and I review Thamizh films and can I click a snap with you?” A very baffled Prabhu Deva relented though he had never heard of R2.

R2 met our Ilayathalapathy Vijay yesterday. He immediately said, “I’ve heard of you, seen your reviews and always wondered why and how you got into this!” R2 had a tete-a-tete with Vijay and knowing him, despite this short span, I can tell, he will never forget this meeting for a lifetime and more. 1st thing R2 asked was a video byte for his friend Arjun which Vijay readily agreed. I had got a dvd of Nanban with subs for R2 and I asked Vijay to autograph it for him as a birthday gift. When R2 saw what Vijay wrote, his heart raced faster than Prabhu Deva’s or Vijay’s rapid dance steps put together!!

“Thank you Review raja for walking with me to take ‘Thamizh’ cinema worldwide”

And the best part he wrote the word Thamizh in Tamil font. Maybe that’s a sign R2 should learn to read and write Thamizh!

On Feb 8th, Richard, Jerome, R2 and I had gone to Egmore museum. It was there that Richard and I suddenly thought of a surprise party for R2. Then Shakthi from Galatta, Venkat Prabhu, Richard, Jerome, R2’s mysterious benefactor merged invitation lists and hurriedly dialed / texted the invitees 24 hours before. Jiiva, Karthi, Atharva, Vikram Prabhu, Simbu, Gautham Karthik, you sure missed this event. And we missed you.

And there we were at Hyatt last night waiting for Jerome to bring Richard and R2 at 10 pm. DJ Ash in a jiffy downloaded and fished out all ‘raja’ songs. In walked R2 and he started playing ‘Raja kaiya vechchaa wrongaa ponadhillai’. Thanks Ash, that was awesome.

Highlight was a video compilation of reviews by R2, (thanks a gallon, Somu and co) with ‘Rajaavin paarvai rani in pakkam’ song added to it. Guhan pointed to R2 in AVM studio the chariot in which MGR and Saroja Devi had sat for the above mentioned song. Guhan’s twins Aruna and Aparna took us on a tour and R2’s head must have been jiggling with kaleidoscopic mirrors of various shapes and colors.

At 11:59 the cake was brought in and R2 cut the cake amidst his Thamizh extended family and Canadian dad singing ‘Happy birthday to you’ with a smile that hasn’t got erased from his face even now! Thank you all those who made this birthday a memorable one for our Canadian guest!

His team consists of: Rajeev (director of the show) his brother Sanjeev who designed the logo, Arjun the Vijay fan (that’s putting it mildly) Udaya Bharathi (music) and Review Rani who shared screen space with him in Podaa Podi review. And Richard, his dad who knows his son is going places and believes in R2’s dream. That’s if you ask me, half the river crossed.

Udaya Bharathi was added to this team based on a request on fb for music submissions by Review Raja. Uday lives in Chennai. This is the beauty of world shrinking technologically. With less than 24 hours to compose, Uday sends them his music for each episode. R2’s style of reviewing is unique. Granted he may not know our culture or history like we do…but for his magnanimity and mammoth thought we must give him many pats and a helping hand. He puts in so many hours of work, mentally and physically, besides doing justice to a regular 9-5 job. Plus the money invested with no returns…except good will that he is overwhelmed about.

Here’s my request to all of you. After having met R2 and spent enough time quizzing him, I know R2 really believes in this cause of taking Thamizh cinema worldwide. Believe me, he has no hidden agenda. His team members are as charged up as he is, in making their mission possible. Rome was not built in a day, but every brick counts!

So here’s to Review Raja…wishing you Godspeed in making (y)our dream come true!

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