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By Arun
The last couple of weeks have shown us that Tamil cinema is evolving; sometimes in a way that we find hard to accept or fathom – Nadunissi Naaygal is a good example. Of course, such confusions and dilemmas are part of the process that brings about permanent change in the way that we like to watch our cinema. But, this one is not about the evolution or the allied aspects. The last two weeks have also shown us that age old templates and formulae too remain an integral part of our cinema. Of course, this is not meant to deride commercial cinema or its practitioners because it is the brand of cinema (when executed
in the right manner) that brings the highest levels of pure unadulterated entertainment on screen. But, when it becomes a predictable good vs. evil battle being played out for the umpteenth time, it gives us an ‘old wine in old bottle’ feeling and it is not at all in keeping with the times and trends of current commercial cinema. We have had good example over the past couple of years wherein the commercial formula has been intelligently used (fights, songs, romance, comedy) keeping in mind the changing audience tastes – Ayan, Paiya, Uthamaputhiran etc – to produce hits.

The films over the past fortnight that proved to be a throwback to the days of ‘templateism’ are Aadu Puli and Thambikottai. Are these the only movies in the recent past that have displayed the traits of commercialism that are now passé to Tamil cinema? No; there have been others too and there still will be more of them. Then, why have these two films been picked out from the lot? Because of their male leads and the youth team that was behind these films.

Both, Aadu Puli and Thambikottai have not been made by over the hill directors from the 80s or 90s who are still holding on to their styles of film making. They have been brought out by teams that are dominated by youth. The directors are either very young in their careers or making their debuts. Both the male leads have been identified as promising faces for the future of the new Tamil cinema. Yet, such teams, which ideally should be brimming with new ideas and concepts, have given products that are regressive or run of the mill at best.

The same time last year; both Narain (Thambikkottai) and Aadhi (Aadu Puli) were being perceived as the one among the few emerging youth faces who had the courage to go along with the visions of daring directors. After having done films like Anjathey and Eeram, both of them had almost proved that they had the eye for what was different and worthwhile.

But, over the last fortnight, that perception has taken a beating. No one thought that Narain would go in for something as clichéd (heroine being villain’s daughter) as in Thambikkottai; especially after having shown the courage to bide his time for the right subject post-Anjathey. It has been nearly three years since Anjathey; the only movie in the interim was Panthayakozhi, dubbed from Malayalam (something that can be termed as an aberration). One can hardly say that Thambikkottai has been worth the three year wait for Narain. One would not have had to wait so long for a script that has so little to claim in terms of novelty.

Similarly for Aadhi; his underplay in Eeram had us applauding. He had shown us his likes for things that were different right from his debut. But, one is not able to understand what prompted him to suddenly shift to commercial mode, especially producing back to back flicks of almost the same genre. This is not to say that either Ayyanar or Aadu Puli are bad films; but they are so out of sync with the current developments in Tamil cinema that it is disappointing to see promising young actors, who are supposed to represent change and dynamism, walk up the beaten path.

Of course, these are just two films and there is no need to think that all is lost. Narain and Aadhi are still promising faces. Commercial cinema is essential for any actor to keep afloat. But, even a commercial flick needs to have something that sets it apart from the rest. And, we are sure that Narain and Aadhi will be back with films that grab our attention soon enough.
Tags : Aadhi, Aadu Puli, Eeram, Narain, Thambikottai, Anjathey
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