April 14, 2011

Prashanth’s Ponnar Shankar released last week and it has garnered praise for the sets and the kind of filmmaking that transports us to the past. Despite not being historical, some Tamil films in the last few years have taken us back to the past with its story, sets, costumes, props and many more things shown on screen. Here is a look at those films that made a difference with their mise-en-scene.

Madrasapattinam: This hit film was set in pre independent era. It is the heartwarming story of an Indian Dhobi (Arya) and a high class British woman (Amy Jackson) falling in love, dissolving cultural and language barriers. The dhobi areas, buildings, boats, trams, the costumes that the characters wear were impeccably like in 1940s and transported the audience to that era. The song ‘Va ma Duraiamma’ showcased the beauty of the 1940 Madras.

Ilaignan: Though the movie did not perform well at the box office, this film set very close to the first struggle for independence stood out for it amazing art direction by Thotta Tharani. There is a particular prop- a big ship under construction is one of the most magnificent pieces of work seen in Tamil cinema over the last many years. The film also showcased the atrocities working class faced due to the ruling class’s arrogance and ill treatment. Namitha’s over sized hats were a nice example of the accessories that rich women wore back then.

Pokkisham: Pokkisham was an inter caste love story but what made a world of difference is the fact that it was set in the early 1970s. Unlike the technological inventions today which dissolves distances, in those days letters were the only means of communication and occasionally a telephone was used. The habit of writing letters, the kind of clothes working men wear, the hair style, the aluminum lunch box men carry for work and the port in which Cheran works were shown on screen. In this internet obsessed era, this film made a statement with hand written letters.

Subramaniapuram: The film made maximum buzz for its violent content but that hasn’t made us not notice that it was set in the 1980 Madurai. The retro style of dressing, the thiruvizha, the row of continuous houses, the language spoken, helped our time machines work backwards and made us revisit the 1980s.

Looks like historical and films set in the past are making a comeback for we have two amazing films Raana and Ponniyin Selvan in the making!

Tags : Prashanth, Ponnar Shankar, Madrasapattinam, Ilaignan, Pokkisham
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