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Will there be another Ghilli?

With Chiyaan Vikram’s Iru Mugan having released and running in theatres, I am now looking forward to Saamy 2 with ardent excitement. One of my favorite cops will be back in town and I hope he crackles up the screen like how he did in 2003 (and later followed it up with Arul in 2004). Those were the good times. Movies that released during those times were proper masala commercial entertainers that had a good rewatch value.

In spite of repeated viewings, you will never get bored. Ramana is a perfect example and everyone including those who are not Vijaykanth fans will accept that it is one of the best entertainers ever. Dheena is another classic example whose pace shot up my adrenaline to high levels. For Vijay, we are yet to see another pukka commercial venture like Ghilli for a few more years. Pattiyal might not have faced commercial success but the experience that this movie gave is just unique. Add to this list, movies like Run, Dhill, Sandakozhi, Dhool, Thirumalai, Gemini and one would realize that these will forever last as movies that never failed to entertain us.


Switch to today and we can still list a few movies (mostly one per annum) that will engage you similarly in spite of repeated viewings like :


2015 - Thani Oruvan
2014 - Kaththi
2012 - Thuppaki
2011 - Mankatha
2010 - Enthiran


But still, none of these are the masala commercial movies that we enjoyed a decade ago. Which raises the questions : Where are the 100 days posters? Where are the celebrations? Where are the days when movies had a runtime of more than 2 and half hours? Cinema podarathukku munnadi vara ad mathiri, “Namba ooruku enna thaan aachu” apidini oru kelvi was continuously running in my mind. Introspecting along these lines here are a few humble observations of mine


1. Cinema has become purely a model which works like any other regular business model. Of course, cinema means business. But I feel it is based on a regular business based model where equal proportionate of importance is not given to the cinematic sense. The extra care that was used to be put in to make it function like a cinema based model is a long lost concept. This is the reason why production houses like AVM, Super Good films etc are not that active. Ask any artist who has worked for these production houses and they will be able to highlight the difference with ease.


2. BO rivalry: Fans rivalry has become all about box office collections. A decade ago, the competition was always  about content, punch dialogues and mass scenes. Box office collections were never even touched upon. Punch dialogues were the counters thrown and not 100 Crores daww or 150 crores daaww!


3. Lack of specialisation: The void left by specialists like Sujatha, Panju Arunachalam is one that will take a long time to fill. Crazy Mohan has reduced writing dialogues for movies. The absence of such exclusive specialization where departments were headed by legends can definitely be felt. A lot of “all in one package” directors have sprung up and the stamp of an experienced screenwriter is missing.


4. Multiplex culture: With many theatres getting jammed into malls or multiplex, the festival look that theatres used to boast has taken a hit. Devi will always be my personal favorite thanks to its huge screen. Albert will be my first choice for FDFS. Milk abishekam = Kaasi. Nowadays the taste of popcorn has become a criterion to judge a movie watching experience.


5. Digitalisation: The recent switch to digital format has also had an impact. Digital format is economical to shoot as it costs only one by third of film. This is because digital formats use less number of retakes to improve the quality of content without using expensive film rolls. And the flip side to this is one underlying issue that often gets ignored. Complacency sets is in and professionalism gets lost. Film rolls demand artists  to be rigorously precaution which brings in more commitment and sincerity on the shoot. Artists are extra careful to not make mistakes and this makes them aware about the entire filmmaking process. Whereas with the switch, now that retakes are allowed without much of a huge loss or expense, so much of detailed care becomes unnecessary. Manual efforts used to avoid mistakes and errors have been replaced with technological efforts. There is a reason why the conventional method of using film camera was adopted by Rajeev Menon in Kadal and also by PC Sreeram in I (with the exception of songs for which the digital method was used)


6. The reach of internet: Access to better facilities of internet has had a big effect on films. We know now when a film will release on torrents or on the internet. We have fingertip knowledge of which site we can download the movie from. Movies are watched in cell phones. And that too in intervals. One day while travelling by train my co-passenger quipped “I saw the first half yesterday itself.  I’m on my way to office and now watching the second half”. It just baffles me as to how engaging a film will turn be if you watch one half yesterday and the other half on another day.


7. Distribution strategies and promotional strategies: No doubt that the promotions are colossal but they are definitely short lived. Just like how the movies are. We get grand releases thanks to the vigorous distribution strategies but the movies stay in theatres for a short period of time. It has reached a stage where it is only about the release and not about the run. Udhayam cinemas has a few shields and mementos which boast a 200 day run of a handful of movies. There is no mention of any recent 100 day run, leave alone 200 day run, in that shelf.


I never saw KS Ravikumar promoting Padaiyappa stating number of copies or the number of screens where it was being released etc. It was only about the movie, the content, the entire team as a unit and most importantly the experience of it. Experience is what a major chunk of cinema is about but nowadays cinema is often judged and defined in terms of quantifiable numbers. This is a sad analogy as when everything is expressed in numbers, there is no feel to it. It becomes statistics and not art.


But although I do miss the Tamil cinema of yesterday, one can say that Kollywood is moving towards new horizons. The old template commercial movies which engaged us can be made to suit today’s style in an entertaining way which would help us rejoice with glee.

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Tags : Dhool, Ghilli



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