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There is always a problem with year end analyses! The films that released recently are fresh in our memory and those that came right at the beginning are blurred pictures. Sometimes, we don’t remember whether they released early this year or late last year. 2011 sure has been hectic for the avid moviegoer. Almost all big stars, barring the two biggest have consistently made their presence felt. You might have plenty of places to read about all the big movies and best performances of 2011. Let’s go back 12 months and look at those small things that tend to be forgotten.

Everyone seems to remember Aadukalam and Siruthai from Pongal 2011, but the small and meaningful Payanam seems to be relegated to subconscious memory. The hilariously satiric portrayal by Prithviraj and the belly-ache inducing performance of Chaams should not be forgotten. Hope the juries that matter do not suffer such a memory lapse when making big decisions. It is easy to hand over the best comedian award to Santhanam (who has been wonderful all year long). But that should be done only after considering such small gems.

The initial part of 2011 should also be remembered as a period of manic reactions towards a certain Nadunissi Naygal. The protestors wanted to take street dogs into Gautham Menon’s residence for allegedly portraying things against Indian culture. What an innovative protest strategy! Did Manmadha Leelai raise such reactions decades ago? No! We definitely have become an over sensitive, knee jerk mass group which can accept a Bollywood import doing a raucous ‘Bombay Ponnu’ or ‘Kalasala’ in the name of glamour, while Nadunissi Naygal gets flayed only for implying certain things, that too with an A certificate! This year also saw the ignominy of Vidya Balan being booked for obscenity by the Hyderabad court. For some, this was the joke of the year, because Telugu cinema produces some of the most glamorous song picturisations in India. The people who endure, and even enjoy it round the year, took offence to Vidya Balan’s ‘Silk’ act! Hypocrisy! And, to top it, the courts were happy enough to waste their time on this.

Other movies that seem to be getting lost or forgotten in year end analysis include the extremely funny Potta Potti and the gripping Thoonga Nagaram. The embers of Thoonga Nagaram have been sort of rekindled by its inclusion in the Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF), but it still needs to be fanned for everyone to be reminded. Whilst Potta Potti might not have made great strides, it certainly did introduce a genre that Hollywood has used a lot to make breezy and humorous entertainers. And, Gaurav, the debutante director behind Thoonga Nagaram does deserve a look in for the best debut director award; lest we forget him.

There are also instances when one stellar performance in a film can eclipse another good one. Yudham Sei was one such case where Lakshmi Ramakrishnan’s gutsy act made us forget the daring and dignified debut of Dipa Shah as the lady cop. One wonders whether we have seen any film in the recent past which has two ladies playing such unconventional roles at the same time.

Some other small aspects that have not received their due recognition include the delightful performances of the kids in Vaagai Sooda Vaa. Reams were written about Baby Sara in Deivathirumagal, but the band of children who made Vaagai Sooda Vaa breathe was confined to footnotes. Many seem to believe that Baby Sara is a sure thing for the Best Child Artiste award. While she was wonderful, it would be sorry to see the group of kids go without recognition; spare a place for them too on the dais. Vaagai Sooda Vaa might also deserve recognition for its special effects. The first couple of people to hear this suggestion gave sarcastic ‘what special effects?’ looks. But, the fact is that the work in a few shots was so good that they never looked like special effects. Watch the ‘Saara kaathu’ song carefully. The social consciousness shown by the makers of Vengayam and Varnam, aptly highlighted by the CIFF, also should not be forgotten. While counting the unexpected events of 2011, everyone plumps for Ajith and Arjun going negative in Mankatha, Dhanush turning singer, Vishal’s Avan act etc. Let’s not forget to include Appukutty turning protagonist.

We can also recollect a misadventure with the most intriguing title of the year; Uyirin Idai 21 with a smirk. Also remember the most politically driven movie ever in Tamil cinema; Sattapadi Kuttram, released to time well with the elections. And, the prancing pony act of Ameer with the ‘Kannitheevu Ponnu’; wonder where he got the inspiration from!

In conclusion, 2011 had many big things going for Tamil cinema. It is easy to recollect an Aadukalam or a Ko, Mankatha, Velayudham, Mayakkam Enna, Vaanam, even Mounaguru etc. But, a retrospective is complete only when we take into account all the small things that went right too. Hope that none of the big victories obscure the small acts of genius when juries sit down to decide.

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