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By Arun Gopinath
Period films are turning out with some regularity these days. There was a time when they were an absolute rarity, but now more and more film makers seem to be falling to the charms of recreating a bygone era. Usually, when we talk about period flicks, there are one or two eras which Indian cinema always liked to revisit; the freedom struggle or at best the age of kings and kingdoms, the Mughal or Maurya period. We have had several excellent films set in these eras. But, history outside these eras or emperors has been more or less forgotten.

Of course, one understands the difficulties of going any further back than the Mughals. There is
very little information and it is nearly impossible to reconstruct an era that is almost unknown through texts. Even Hollywood has mostly restricted its period attempts to the World War period or at best the heydays of the Greek and Roman empires.

But, it is now interesting to note that film makers are willing to be even more daring. One can only wonder how Vasanthabalan’s Aravaan is going to be like. It looks like he has decided to explore a piece of history that has been hitherto untouched on celluloid. Based on the novel Kaavalkoottam which details the history of Madurai between 1310 and 1910, one can only guess the portion of the book that Vasanthabalan has decided to recreate. He has already said that the reasons behind his casting of Aadhi and Pasupathi in the lead roles were their physical appearances, Aadhi’s nose in particular. One can assume that this film will be set in a period when man fought tooth and nail with nature for survival.

One is also equally excited by Karikalan which again is a period film taking us as far back as Karikala Chozhan; again a period that does not have erudite information, only gleanings and folklore, mostly from Sangam poetry. Even reading small snippets about this legendary king makes us feel that any movie made on his character cannot be anything but immensely exciting, especially with Vikram playing the lead.

One really feels the need to laud these film makers, even before these films are ready for release, for their exemplary courage in setting out to make projects which can have umpteen number of unforeseen logistical delays, when there is always the easy option of going on and making a normal entertainer. Even the producers involved with these films have to be encouraged no end.

One remembers seeing Apocalypto for the first time and wondering whether any such film will happen in India. Now, we can be confident, of not just equaling, but even bettering that gripping adventure which did not rely on CGI or any other sophistication.

Whatever be the results of these efforts, these brave film makers will have rewritten the history of Tamil cinema forever.
Tags : Vasanthabalan, Aravaan, Aadhi, Pasupathi
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