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By Arun Gopinath
Sometimes, one feels that stories far more interesting than the ones in movies keep playing out in our real lives. Turn on the TV and we see the most unbelievable of stories flashing across news channels; things that will make the so called commercial cinema look extremely realistic. The other day, watching the trailer of Mankatha one of my friends burst out laughing when he heard a line. When the others enquired what he found so funny about an exciting trailer he said that it was the Rs.500 crore thing that put him off. Well, looking at the trailer once again we also noticed that the movie seemed to centre around a heist worth 500 crores.

Somewhere in mid-2010, 500 crores might have looked like a fancy sum. But, post the unbelievable 2G spectrum scam, it looks like, well, peanuts! For that matter, the scam would even make Oceans Thirteen look like a pack of petty thieves. Yeah, the real time political happenings of our land are making even the most imaginative of scripts look pretty ordinary. And, it is not with much surprise that many of us noticed the posters of a new film on the walls of our city not too long ago. It was titled, quite clearly, as 2G Spectrum. Why I said ‘quite clearly’ is because Tamil film makers have got into a habit, or rather forced into a habit, of putting the titles they actually want as bylines while cooking up other ones in chaste Tamil just to get away from paying tax. But, the makers of 2G Spectrum evidently wanted everyone to know quite unambiguously about the premise of their film. And, I am not sure about the current status of the film, but if and when, it makes it to screens, there will definitely be a lot of curiosity surrounding it; even though everyone knows the story inside out.

What I am getting at is that stories, hugely interesting and engaging ones, are right in front of us; in newspapers, channels, tabloids, gossip etc… But, a film industry needs to have a culture of picking up stories from the streets and newspapers to make into feature films. The Tamil industry seems short on that kind of a habit, which is why 2G Spectrum comes as a surprise. Yes, there have been films that have quite brazenly stated political facts, like S A Chandrasekhar’s Sattapadi Kuttram (a very brave thing to do when DMK was still in power), but not many that have tried to adapt incidents as such and present them on screen. Ayan, if we believe, K.V. Anand, had incorporated many elements that he had seen in newspapers over years, and we all know how interesting the film was.

If we look at the other industries in India, there is a much stronger culture of making films on real life incidents, or at least make films that very evidently are based on a particular political personality. The Sarkaar franchise was clearly based on Bal Thackeray. Tamil Nadu has a much richer and perhaps much more interesting political history, closely linked to cinema, and yet the only movie that we have to narrate nearly 5 decades of intense rivalry (like no other in India perhaps) is Iruvar. Or look at Hindi again, and we find movies like No One Killed Jessica (based on the sensational Jessica Lal murder case) and now there is Not a Love Story (wonder how RGV managed to shoot, edit and release a film all within weeks of the verdict of the Neeraj Grover murder case).

Of course, this is not to say that Tamil cinema should become a crime cataloguing directory which sniffs after every murder in the state. In fact, one or two of the movies mentioned above, were in poor taste, reopening wounds rather than redressing them.

But, there can be a leaf or two taken out of Malayalam cinema, which in fact made it a habit of converting every sensational crime story of Kerala state into a gripping movie; almost none of which were in poor taste.

What I am calling for is not for movies based on the Dharmapuri bus tragedy or the Kumbakonam tragedy; these are episodes which left indelible marks on our psyche. We have already seen the reaction to the climax of Kalloori. But, there are stories out there that need to be told and stories which can be told only through cinema. This might start sounding like a social commitment statement; but the fact is that even the films can be really really interesting.
Tags : MankathaSattapadi KuttramAyanIruvarDharmapuriKalloori
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