GAUTHAM MENON BE NOTICED NATIONALLY?
What exactly is experimental cinema? Not
a new theme, new characterization or new
faces. It is an attempt to introduce a
new way of film making, a new language
which audiences have not yet known. The
definition of experimental cinema is dynamic.
Only a pioneering effort can be called
experimental cinema. The ones that follow
a successful example are no longer successful.
To explain better, let us take some instances
of experimental cinema. Perhaps the first
attempt to create a full length animation
feature film can be called experimental
because no one knew how audiences would
accept such an effort. The first attempt
to change over from silent cinema to talkie
was an experiment that changed the face
of cinema forever. Similarly, experiments
that brought about the age of cinemascope,
color, 3D were all experiments that changed
the way cinema was experienced by audiences.
Some very good examples of experimental
cinema from India include Pesum Padam,
the movie that had ambient sounds but
no dialogues. Some great experimental
feature films from world cinema include
movies like The Blair Witch Project, the
recent Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield
and a few
that gave an extremely different experience to the
viewer. This year, there have been a few examples
in Tamil cinema too where film makers have been brave
enough to give the audiences something that has hitherto
not been tried in regional cinema – they are
Bandi Saroj Kumar’s Porkkalam which was the
first instance in Tamil cinema where an entire cinema
was shot in desaturated color, almost giving a graphic
novel feel. Then there was the more recent Oor Iravu
which tried to emulate films like The Blair Witch
Project in giving a first person experience to the
Over the past year or two, there have also been some
trend-setting experiments with sound. Movies that
released last year, though not hugely popular –
Meipporul and Achchamundu Achchamundu – did
stand out with their minimalistic re-recording and
use of background music. Now, we are getting ready
to usher in an era of cinema where the entire process
of re-recording may start to be considered as dispensable;
that is if Gautham Menon’s Nadunisi Naaigal
manages to create a big impact at the box office.
Yes, you read it right; re-recording is being dispensed
with. Well, there have been films before that have
been shot on live sound. But, they have always had
that re-recording stage to include background music
and things like that – only the dubbing stage
was avoided. But, this is different. When there is
no re-recording, there cannot be any background music.
Having minimalistic BGM is one thing, having none
is something totally different.
Can you imagine a film without background music –
not even a single violin playing in the background?
BGM, over the years has been an extremely important
tool of narration used by the directors, especially
when we have masters like Ilayaraja who compose BGMs
in such a way that emotions are conveyed in a better
manner than they can be done with dialogues or expressions.
It is this tool that Gautham has dispensed off with
in Nadunisi Naaigal. What was going through his mind?
This is really surprising, especially when coming
from a director like Gautham who is known and loved
for his extremely sensitive and beautiful usage of
music in movies. So, how and why did he think of avoiding
music in all forms for his next film?
Nadunisi Naaigal is a thriller. Music, eerie sounds,
fast paced beats etc., are inevitable to thrillers,
to give the audience that pulsating feel. But, Gautham
has thought differently. He thinks that using such
sounds and beats is just manipulation of the audience
and wants them to be thrilled only by the proceedings
on screen, the ambient sounds and the adrenaline that
It is no doubt a huge call, and risky one at that.
No one who has watched Tamil cinema on a regular basis
will be able to completely imagine how a film lacking
BGM will look and feel like. No matter how good or
otherwise Nadunisi Naaigal turns out to be, it will
definitely be a new and intriguing experience for
all audiences. Many might not find it to their liking,
but it is an experiment which will open up new possibilities
for Tamil cinema. If it succeeds, then we might just
see the dawn of a new kind of cinema - the kind that
does not need re-recording.