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By Kaushik.L.M

“Machi oru quarter sollen” … “Machi open the bottle” … Even small kids would know the movies that the above two dialogues were a part of. Jiiva earned a major following among the youth with this ‘quarter’ dialogue from Siva Manasula Sakthi. He casually remarks the same to Santhanam, his co-star in the movie which had a lot of drinking scenes in the TASMAC bar. Nowadays whenever Jiiva goes to speak in some public event, his young fans remind him of this ‘quarter’ dialogue. Such is its reach.

In the same way, Premgi’s dialogue about opening the bottle and Ajith and co’s energetic dance to Yuvan’s tunes in Mankatha have become a part of recent Tamil cinema history.

The common link to both the above phrases is you guessed it right, alcohol. Tamil cinema is going through a phase when almost every other movie that is releasing is glorifying alcohol. Bar scenes, bar songs, explicit displays of bottles and words like ‘tight’, ‘matta’, ‘half boil’, ‘sarakku’, ‘side dish’, ‘full’, ‘quarter’ and ‘half’ are the norm.

Even some of the biggest hits in the recent past like Mankatha, Oru Kal Oru Kannadi (OKOK) and Nanban had drinking scenes which were enjoyed by the fans because of the way the actors portrayed their drunken state.

In fact director Rajesh has an uncanny liking for showing his leading men in the bar drinking their worries away. Udhayanidhi and Santhanam had a ball in many scenes in OKOK and consequently the audience also had a gala time laughing their hearts out thanks to the inherent comedy in these scenes. Jiiva and Santhanam somehow seem to be present in drinking scenes in most of their movies.

A recent movie, Madhubana Kadai, even made an attempt at chronicling a single day in a typical TASMAC bar’s functioning. The movie didn’t have any storyline and concentrated entirely on how alcohol means so much to so many different men.

Mysskin’s Mugamoodi had a tastefully done ‘bar anthem’ after which fans actually envied the artistic way in which bottles and the bar were shown. Director Mysskin is not new to the alcohol culture as his previous hit ‘Anjathey’ had a mass hit number ‘Kannadasan Karakkudi’ which was very similar to the ‘bar anthem’ and even the lyrics and the dance moves were notoriously similar.

There are many more examples of recent films like Paagan, Aachariyangal and even a movie like Dhoni had some drinking scenes. In that light, the recent Thaandavam is a real exception as there is not a single scene of any of the characters indulging in alcohol.

We aren’t debating whether this is good or not for we have the statutory warnings prominently displayed at the beginning of the movie and also whenever such scenes are being shown. The bottles are also being blurred and filmmakers are abiding by these rules unfailingly. But, somehow in film after film, alcohol becomes an integral part of the script.

Given the way Tamil cinema has been traversing in the recent past, be it anguish or entertainment, looks like alcohol is going to be a part and parcel of the action.

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