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Tamil cinema is maturing...

TAMIL CINEMA IS MATURING...

By Jigdesh

Tamil cinema is maturing, or so it suggests with the ascension of the number of 'A' rated films that have come out in the recent past. ‘A’ certified films have for long been associated primarily with adult content, and in the 60s and 70s even James Bond movies were restricted to adults only, in India because of the agent's lady-killer ways. Since the cultural overhaul that our country has been subjected to, there has been a reassessment of these guidelines.

The trade implications of being awarded an ‘A’ certificate are a handful. Apart from restricting the audiences, an ‘A’ or ‘U/A’ film will also be subjected to nearly 30% entertainment tax and thereby indirectly proposing a compromise on the content or its treatment. Until a few months back, ‘A’ certified films were subjected to even further losses as they were disallowed to be shown on TV. Case in point being Vidya Balan’s ‘The Dirty Picture’ which received critical acclaim as well as commercial success but had to struggle with its television premiere, not before conceding to chop off several portions of the film. Nevertheless, some filmmakers have certainly started taking their liberties without having to worry about the unholy 'A' certification from the censor board and prefer to go with content that is best suited for the film rather than pleasing the censor board.

Just a few weeks ago, Ameer’s Aadhi Bhagavan hit screens with an ‘A’ certificate. While the film dwelled heavily on gun totting violence and its story required some mature content, the certification did seem a step higher than what it deserved. This sentiment has been resounded by the director himself too. While most of the top actors in the Tamil industry wish to repay the adulations they receive from all sections of the audience by striving towards a lot of family-friendly films, last year Ajith starred in the highly anticipated ‘Billa 2’ which was awarded an ‘A’ certification for its graphic violence. It was not disputed by the filmmaker.

The latest to join that list is P.T. Selvakumar’s Onbathula Guru which is slated for release this week. Onbathula Guru’s case is fairly strange in the sense that it is probably the first comedy film in Tamil cinema to come out with an ‘A’ certificate. The film’s certification could mean that this could well be the birth of mainstream adult comedies in Tamil cinema along the lines of Seth Rogen’s productions or the Hangover series which is what the filmmaker himself draws a parallel with. While there have been mature comedies such as the brilliant Sathi Leelavathi and the caricatured Panchathantiram it will be interesting to see what has earned Onbathula Guru its ‘A’ certification. With Lakshmi Rai’s presence in the film, there may well be a temptation to lodge into some ‘over the top’ glamour, considering this is tipped to be an ‘all boys’ flick.

While the censor board serves its purpose in the best interest of the society, there are some stark inconsistencies in their accreditations. Sasikumar’s Sundarapandian’s ‘U’ certificate seemed appropriate only till the violent climax sequence which surely demanded an escalation in rating. Also the overtly suggestive dialogues in Karthi’s Alex Pandian raise the question of discrepancies within the institution.

The society’s cultural maturity needs to be nurtured through good thought-provoking cinema and the Censor board needs to play their part to perfection in directing this wind of change.

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