So, where does Tamil cinema stand? Not at the crossroads
definitely! There is a new direction but the journey
is too young for us to be in sight of the destination.
In fact, we do not know what or where the destination
is. We just hope that the journey is as or more interesting
than the destination itself. The journey is the transformation
of Tamil cinema and the fact that makes this transformation
so special is that it is being driven by the audiences
who are keen on something new. There have been many
attempts over the decades to provide that spark which
would have started off a change. But, ultimately the
push had to come from the people who matter the most,
the audience (the clients of cinema). Film makers like
Bharathiraja, Mahendran, Mani Rathnam and a few others
have tried with distinction to provide a different path
to Tamil cinema. While it cannot be said that their
attempts went without an impact, it has to be admitted
that they were always swimming against the tide. Now,
the audience has changed the tide in favor of them and
other likeminded film makers.
it is now important to understand in a balanced way
what the tastes of the audience are. Prima facie, it
might look as if the audience is longing for more realistic
films. While this observation is not entirely wrong,
it is the extent to which this assumption is asserted
that could go wrong. The average film-goer is not looking
for reality when he enters a theater. What they are
looking for is good entertainment as long as they are
within the hall. It is the perception of good entertainment
that has changed.
have been many reports and articles that have presented
the view that it is reality that the audience wants
these days; not exactly. Take a stock of the unexpected
hits of the year. They include Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu,
Pasanga, Naadodigal etc. They are definitely products
that stand apart in terms of treatment. The makers have
been bold enough to steer away from the so called winning
commercial formulae and the audience supported their
move at the box office.
they cannot be termed as movies that are soaked in reality;
they too had elements that can be called quite commercial.
We can overlook songs as they are integral parts of
Indian cinema. But, even otherwise, there were commercial
elements, mainly comedy which was woven well into the
script. It was quite obvious that most of the lighter
scenes were targeted at capturing the imagination of
the youth, especially in Nadodigal and Vennila Kabaddi
Kuzhu. Dialogues in most of these films too contained
witty one-liners (not the regular punch dialogues) and
there was also action (without bad men being thrown
ten feet in the air). The latest entrant in the unexpected
hits category, Eeram, too has its elements that are
aimed at pulling in the masses, even though a bit unconventional.
many of the claims of the recent past, if absolute reality
was indeed the flavor of the season, then how come films
like Poo, Kanjeevaram and Kunkuma Poovum Konjum Puravum
couldn’t have the same impact as some the movies
mentioned previously? Poo and Kanjeevaram are without
an iota of doubt, films that border on the reality of
human emotions. They had the most minimal commercial
ingredients that we have known over the past few years,
Kanjeevaram contains almost nothing that can be called
commercial. Reality in its most gruesome form was also
shown in Naan Kadavul which too didn’t have the
desired sustaining power at the box office.
truth is this; the audiences are not looking for absolute
reality or anything related. They have begun to look
for entertainment that does not hurt sensibilities or
insult intelligence, which is what we had been receiving
for some time, and still continue to receive in sizeable
doses. If there is anything that seems to be definitely
changing, it is the attitude towards hero projection.
Not long back, it was almost a golden rule that projecting
a star in a superhuman way will guarantee a super hit.
Punch dialogues, one man shows and heroism that would
have put even Hollywood superheroes to shame were staple
in Tamil cinema. But the past two years have proved
that mindless heroism will be outright rejected, no
matter who the star. And, one feels that the stars too
have got the message loud and clear. Be stylish, witty,
heroic and superhuman by all means. But, draw a line
and do not cross it. The audiences want and are being
given a different brand of cinema.
Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun.)
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