You can be quite amused with the movie buffs and movie critics, who very vehemently believe that Tamil cinema is currently going through a very progressive phase. You can’t be very sure of the parameters they select in parading these contemporary movies and film makers as the torch bearers of Tamil cinema, who would take it to global heights. Ask them to name few movies from 1990 to 2010 in their top 25 Tamil movies of all time and you will see them lose hope in trying. That’s where Tamil cinema stands now.
Let’s cut out all the hype surrounding in “making” of the movie and focus on the most important aspect of an Indian movie, i.e. story-telling, and you can see them woefully bad in it. These days a city flick is grey, blue or black. A rural fare is yellow. The color of the film reflects the genre. A wafer thin plot is inundated with style and slickness. Characters are over the top or weak. Movies carry no message as they get obfuscated in the excuse of realism. The ambience in the movie is either gruesome or ostentatious. Movies lack profundity and are less audacious. The songs can easily be traded amongst movies as they are never movie centric. Choreography is a part of the editor’s profile and again it need not be distinct, the frames dance to the beats and the characters get submerged in the deluge of montage shots. Action scenes are a circus crafted ingeniously by the Computer Graphics team.
The movies are graded on par with global standards, comfortably ignoring the source of inspiration. Movies are hardly original, and the best things in them are the inspired ones. Of late the film makers proudly acknowledge their ‘inspiration” and see no culpability in admitting them, one amongst them shockingly said it was a “tribute” to the original. How befitting? If the old time classics still occupy 90% of the top 25 slots, how can we call Tamil cinema progressive?
It isn’t so gloomy after all. Amongst these so called “torch bearers” shines a movie maker like a beacon. It perhaps is a coincidence that his name starts with the letter “B” like some of his illustrious predecessors in Balachander, Balu Mahendra, Bharathiraja and Bhagyaraj, and his name is Bala. Arguably, he is one of the greatest directors of Tamil cinema and without doubt the most original amongst contemporary film makers. It’s on this brilliant film maker’s shoulders that Tamil cinema looks ahead. It’s this movie maker’s movies that would find some mention in the Top 25.
It takes absolute pluck and tremendous faculty to make offbeat movies and turn them into huge box-office hits. His movies have his discrete original signature in every scene shot that is so painstakingly planned. Every movie of his has been a landmark one. The skill to draw such remarkable performances from his cast is an extraordinary accomplishment. Characterization that’s built on the foundation of his story is his forte. Anguish, despair, laughter, hope, fear- Bala encompasses all these emotions making his movie a beguiling experience.
In short, Bala is a creator, a brilliant mind in every facet of film making. He might be only 4 films old. Every movie of his is a must see and he is already in the annals of the best film makers of Indian film history.
So it’s time the so called “torch bearers” raise a toast, to this incredible film maker and get inspired by this local “talent house” and not look for stimulation outside. Storytelling and film making is an art that has to be built on a foundation called passion. Its time contemporary film makers realize this and start making movies with more passion and less ego about their so called “talent”. They need to tell us stories in their movies with a lot of fervor, and not craft us an amalgamation of mechanical, electronic and computer graphics on a thin base of their non- existent story. They should also learn to be very humble and honest in admitting their inadequacies and not blow over the top about their “gifts” which sadly are heavily motivated. Its time they refrain from making rude remarks about the intelligence of the average movie goer and instead they should seriously do some home work on improving their skills. Yes, they should shut their eyes and ears to their outside world and start thinking inside and come out with plots and stories that are ingenious in their own ways and relate to a much bigger audience. They sure are gifted and talented in some ways. If they start thinking innovatively and craft movies with their heart than their head we perhaps might see Tamil cinema progressing to great heights and dislodge some old cult classics with new masterpieces.
B U Shreesha