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Tamizh Padam 2.0 and the art of laughing at ourselves

In the 2010 movie, Tamizh Padam, a boy named Shiva from the remote village called Cinemappatti, complains to his grandmother that he can’t wait to grow up and become a hero. She directs him to pedal a bicycle and the rotating wheel implies the passing of time, Shiva grows into an adult in the next scene. The director of the movie, CS Amudhan not only tickled the funny bone by taking a dig at the overused cliché but also paid tributes to the essence of cinematic storytelling.

A spoof film gives the filmmaker a leverage of the endless possibilities of sarcasm and slapstick comedy. Now that the teaser of the sequel, Tamizh Padam 2.0, is making waves on social media platforms, it’s time to revisit the movie and its comic and cultural legacy. Tamizh Padam was a first of its kind in Tamil cinema. Director Amudhan handpicked popular scenes from movies like Thalapathi, Baasha, Run, Dhool, and Ghajini and dexterously reproduced them as gags.


He used clichés that scriptwriters and filmmakers used ever since the birth of Tamil cinema to generate a different viewing experience peppered with flak and laughter. Narrative tools like heroines falling for heroes for weird reasons and a hero arriving at the last moment to save the movie cracked laughter in the cinema halls. He even dared to taunt the inescapable tradition of using gibberish songs shot in the exotic backdrop of foreign locations. 


In a sense, Tamizh Padam was a tirade against the recurring narrative tools, plot development techniques, stereotypes, and gimmicks used by the makers. It revealed the absurd and nonsensical dreamscape inhabited by filmmakers, actors, writers, and viewers. Most importantly, instead of triggering wrath or scorn, Tamizh Padam instructed the viewers to laugh at themselves, their onscreen gods and the kind of movies they have been cheering for a long time.


The recently released teaser of Tamizh Padam 2.0 won't spare anyone from the taunts. There are gag bombs aimed at characters played by all leading stars. The teaser also hints at Amudhan expanding his range of spoofing to peculiar precedents of the Tamil film industry and the current political scenario in Tamil Nadu. To add more spice into the potion, the team has released a first look of the press release to announce the film’s postponement due to “CGI work.”


At a closer look, Amudhan follows the definition of parody, “an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect,” with a personalized naughty touch. “I consider myself an outsider, I am an outsider,” says Amudhan in a conversation with the media. It is this self-inflicted outsider status that empowers him to pick an image, a dialogue, a certain situation, or a twist in the plot and apply them in the most farcical way.


This outsider stand helps him educate the viewers with the art of laughing at ourselves, a lesson very crucial for the film industry to come of age. Because, known for rigidity towards humor and reactivity for any joke that offends the religious, caste or racial sentiments, Indian audience need more spoofs in our turbulent times. As we pick up the ability to laugh at ourselves, our movies, our moral codes, our societal ways, our political games, and our icons, we garner more confidence and tolerance as a society.

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