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VA: CUTTING OF THE QUARTER! WHY?
The observant amongst you might have noticed the ‘Quarter Cutting’ phrase has been removed from the title of the film Va-Quarter Cutting. Now, it will be known only as the monosyllable ‘Va’. The extent of the removal has gone to such an extent that the current TV promos carry a written message that the movie will be henceforth be known only as ‘Va’ and that ‘Quarter Cutting’ will not appear in any part of its promotional campaigns. The irony of course being that the term ‘Quarter Cutting’ is a part of the message that is screened above the promo; thus contradicting the message itself. Well, jokes apart; one wonders whether this removal of ‘Quarter Cutting’ from the title of the movie has
  Rajinikanth
come a little too late in the day (perhaps even deliberately) after the term has been firmly ingrained into the minds of all film buffs so much that irrespective of what the producers want to call the film now, it is going to be known only as ‘Quarter Cutting’ to the public.

The issue however is not just with Quarter Cutting alone; it is something more deep. The reason behind the removal of the ‘Quarter Cutting’ phrase from the title will be quite obvious to many. It started somewhere in 2006 when Something Something suddenly reduced itself to a mere tagline and made Unakkum Enakkum the title of the movie. Yes, tax exemptions that were provided by the Tamil Nadu government for movies that were titled in Tamil. The move was ostensibly (and we believe with very good intentions) to increase the usage of Tamil which was getting increasingly sidelined in favor of catchy English titles.

Well, four years after that move was first initiated, one wonders whether the purpose has been served. Has Tamil gained in prominence in Tamil cinema over this period? Yes, if you look at the fact that it is difficult to point out one English titled Tamil film since 2006. But, does that really help matters? Does the title really define a movie or the prominence that it gives to the native language. Ever since the initiation of this move we have had films that have been wholly shot in France, USA etc. etc.. and carry chaste Tamil names. We have films that feature songs which openly ridicule classical Tamil literature but still have Tamil titles. We have films that showcase Tamil culture in very poor light but still carry titles in Tamil. (it is like an old joke about an English professor with the name Thamizharasan) All of them, irrespective of what kind of content they carry walk away without paying almost any taxes. Yes, there are films that genuinely showcase Tamil in its richness and tradition; and many films that take care to at least not ridicule the language; but the sad fact here is that there is almost no distinction made between the good, the reasonable and the unacceptable. The only thing a film maker has to do is to know one Tamil word (relevant or otherwise to the film) and he can earn himself full tax exemption; irrespective of what the film’s content is. The feeling really is that Tamil is not being served in any way; the actual purpose behind this entire initiative is going unfulfilled.

Now, this is not a targeted campaign against Va-Quarter Cutting. Any producer will be easily inclined to alter the title of their movie if that would mean a few lakhs more in the bank; nobody can be faulted of making full use of a facility that exists; we all do that. This is only to point out the meaningless nature of the sops being offered now. Tamil is definitely not being served; the government is losing a fair bit every year on exempted entertainment taxes; the only person really benefited is the producer. The average audience might also get a measly Rs.3-4 off on a ticket. But, all that really does not add up to the initiative’s real objective – promoting Tamil usage.

If Tamil titles alone were enough to increase the popularity of the language then dubbed English releases are doing a far better job than Tamil films themselves with the use of imaginative titles like ‘Sangili Karuppan’, ‘Kaala Bhairavan’, ‘Kallarai Manithan’, ‘Rudram’ etc. It will be interesting to know whether these films were exempted from taxes.

Promote Tamil by all means; exempt taxes for those films which really enrich the language, showcase the culture; not for ones that show heroes wearing ‘kudumi wigs’ and dancing on the streets of France and ones that remix ‘Aathichoodi’ with rap music. Exempt tax; for content, not for titles. As the saying goes: ‘Never judge a book by its cover’.

Tags : Va-Quarter Cutting, Unakkum Enakkum, Kallarai Manithan
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