Is Tamil cinema in safe hands?

  As we stand in the brink of yet another year end, the transition Tamil cinema is submitting itself to, is unhurriedly coming to view. This can be attributed to the changing dimensions of the new generation of viewers in terms of taste and sensibilities. Where earlier, as viewers, we were never fastidious and hence were endowed with colorful, larger than life movies farther away from the realities of life. The vibrancy of colors often became the yardstick to serve as identity for our movies.

Not any more.

The transition is also a sort of progress that touches upon and transforms the existential qualities of our movies including the dramatics, relevance of mainstream cinema in people’s lives and pragmatic approaches. Zesty themes replace standard templates while subtlety gains prominence in an effort to make cinema closer to real life and relatable. Another noticeably heartening trend is that these changes are underway without incongruous commercial compromises. They are not getting any
preachy. They are disrobing Tamil cinema of its pretentious banalities, enrobing it with elegant, layered wardrobe.

In effect, what worked around a few years ago has little chance to hold people’s attention now. There is a danger of being labeled outdated and that is conscious in most works that are released now. There is a constant need to strive to be different and it shows most of the times. The new wave movement that is silently altering the movie making bible of Tamil cinema is also responsible for the change of many other things in the industry; like keeping the production costs to the barest minimum. In other words, we have come to realize, thanks to these movies, that it is possible to produce a movie without costing the world.

Actors’ fee is attributed as the main reason for the skyrocketing production budget. Circumventing this subject, the new-wave directors employ lesser known names that help them keep the budget really low. Since the movies they direct / produce are noticeably some of the best to come out in recent times, the need of star power to propel the project’s reach is rendered superfluous.

Some of the defining projects of the past couple of years are by these new-wave directors. Those include; in 2008 - Pirivom Santhipom, Anjathey, Subramaniyapuram, Jayamkondan, Saroja, Poi Solla Porom, Poo, Abhiyum Naanum, in 2009 - Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu, Naan Kadavul, Yavarum Nalam, Pasanga, Nadodigal, Achamundu Achamundu, Eeram, Renigunta - and in 2010 - Naan Mahaan Alla, Goa, Angaadi Theru, Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singham and Kalavani. These movies might not have topped the box collection results (although, some have) but they made people sit and take notice of Tamil cinema.

So who are these new-wave of directors? Ameer, Venkat Prabhu, Vijay, Ram (Katradu Tamil), Priya, Vetrimaran, Balaji Sakthivel, Mysskin, Karu Pazhaniappan, Chimbudevan, Madhumitha, Kannan, Sasi (Poo), Madhumitha, Radha Mohan, Susindran (Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu), Vikram Kumar, Pandiraj, Sasi Kumar, Vasanthabalan, A Sargunam (Kalavani), C S Amudhan, Arun Vaidyanathan, Pushkar / Gayathri and Arivazhagan.

Agreed most of these names are just one or two film-old but their films have been identified as defining movies in the contemporary scene. Take for instance Ameer; he is consistently raising the bar set by himself to deliver gritty films (Ram, Paruthiveeran). So is Mysskin. Vasanthabalan picks up stories from the most unlikely of places (Veyyil and Angaadi Theru) and the award juries love them.

Balaji Sakthivel takes inspiration from real life stories and his movies Kaadhal and Kalloori stand testimony. Sasi (Poo) brings back the charm of Bharathiraja movies and Karu Pazhaniappan has variety as his middle name. Susindran proved that there are still virgin, untouched subjects to be explored in Tamil with his Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu. Sargunam (Kalavani) made a movie that had its heart in the right place. The works of Sasi Kumar and Pandiraj are being debated about till the cows come home. The impact left by Ram’s Katradu Tamil is still being measured.

All is not lost in the commercial side of the movie making either. The new-gen has not lost flair for it too; Venkat Prabhu (Chennai 28, Saroja and Goa), Amudhan (Tamizh Padam), Pushkar Gayathri (Oram Po, Va-Quarter Cutting), Arivazhagan (Eeram), Chimbudevan (Imsai Arasan and Irumbukottai) and Vetrimaran (Polladhavan).

So are these flashes in the pan? Most certainly not! And that’s quite a list of talents that are brought to limelight in the past few years and by the standards of any film industry, it is enviable. In conclusion, Tamil cinema is in safe hands. Now all there is left is to sit back and enjoy the popcorn. Or Masala Vada, may be!

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