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A quick postmortem of the year so far

A QUICK POSTMORTEM OF THE YEAR SO FAR

By Kaushik L M

We are into the 5th month of the year and it has been an eventful period for Tamil cinema with an equal share of highs and lows peppered across. The year has panned out like a typical potboiler till now and the appetite of film buffs has been satiated by a varied group of industry professionals.

It all started in January with Pongal seeing the release of 4 films in varied genres. Fans welcomed Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiya with open arms, and went home laughing heartily. A Powerful new star was born in the form of the supremely self-confident Dr. Srinivasan and for a change Santhanam wasn’t the sheer domineering presence in the comedy stakes. Karthi’s Alex Pandian fell by the way side for being an unabashedly stale commercial entertainer while Vishal managed to earn a few brownie points with Samar.

Then came the Vishwaroopam storm in February, after the preceding spate of controversies surrounding the movie’s alleged anti-Islamic content. Kamal Haasan became the center of the entire Indian film industry and the wave of support he received was unprecedented. His moving press-meet, where he said that he wouldn’t mind even leaving the country if he didn’t get his freedom of expression, became national news. But the movie released after all this and became a big blockbuster despite having a scattered release across the world. Audiences in TN were the last to see the movie and some made the trip across to neighboring Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra to experience the Kamal magic in advance.

Movies like Kadal and David were literally swept aside by the Kamal Haasan wave with Vishwaroopam. Fans of Mani Ratnam, Vikram and Jiiva must have been let down by the play of fate as Vishwaroopam released just 6 days after the release of Kadal and David and literally gobbled up all their screens.

The ensuing weeks were pretty low-key as mid-level movies like Haridass and Vana Yuddham managed to get some positive press and actor Kishore was thrown into the spotlight for his mature and diverse choice of roles. Aadhi Bhagavan also released in this period, accompanied by some trivial controversies surrounding its title. The movie couldn’t satisfy the big hype and expectations that audiences had from Ameer and despite Jayam Ravi’s Herculean efforts in the movie, it was a flop. Audiences were then subjected to an amateurish and mind-numbing Onbadhula Guru.

Bala’s Paradesi then arrived and became among the most critically acclaimed movies in recent times. The reality teaser unveiled prior to the movie’s release created a big furor and Bala was branded a sadist for subjecting his actors to physical abuse. Later, we realized that it was all part of a marketing plan and the movie was noted for its performances, the technical brilliance and its brutal focus to the subject material.

National Awards for some of the key crew members who worked in Paradesi, Vazhakku Enn 18/9 and Vishwaroopam gave the industry more reason to rejoice.

A.R.Murugadoss’ commercial action entertainer Vathikuchi couldn’t make much of an impact while comedies like Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga and Settai managed to make the audiences enjoy and laugh for awhile within the cool climes of the A/C hall, given the searing heat outside. The extra songs in Settai weren’t received warmly by the audience as expected by the makers, who took the risk of tweaking the original to make it more family-friendly.

Chennaiyil Oru Naal was appreciated for its solid script and the performances by the ensemble cast. It turned out to be a rare good remake which honored the original movie. Gouravam was a big letdown compared to Radha Mohan’s lofty standards while Vasanth’s Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal was another high-profile failure with even Yuvan’s spellbinding music not able to resurrect it.

Vetri Maaran’s assistants have been ruling the roost in the past few weeks with successful movies like the wholesome Ethir Neechal and the racy Udhayam NH4. Manivannan’s Nagaraja Cholan paled in comparison to the first part but Sathyaraj’s magnetic presence provided some solace.

But, the biggest revelation of the year has been Vijay Sethupathi yet again, with his neo-noir comedy Soodhu Kavvum, directed by Nalan Kumarasamy, becoming among the most loved and appreciated movies in recent times. Vijay Sethu’s fan-base is growing at a rapid rate and he is a solid star in the making. Siva Karthikeyan is turning out to be another growing presence in the industry with his likable charm and good choice of ‘boy-next-door’ roles.

A.R.Rahman and Yuvan Shankar Raja also made the headlines in recent weeks with their splendid work for movies like Maryan and Thanga Meengal. The two even combined to deliver a racy and rollicking track for Maryan, ‘Kadal Raasa Naan’, which is a chartbuster already.

The coming weeks will see the likes of Dhanush, Bharath and Suriya rejoin the box-office race with their respective movies like Maryan, 555 and Singam 2. The show goes on, as always.

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