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Tamil Cinema: Contrived Expressionism of Today

Recently, I had a revelation. I understood a few things about the way Tamil cinema has changed over the years, or to be precise, the way the audience has changed an entire industry to its whims. It was a battle to make the audience watch every other mokke masala film on the first day and critique it on social networks and make them a hit at the box office. In fact, I was a guy who used to do it; I still consider myself to have a role to play in shaping up Tamil films. Like that film enthusiast friend you have, I have pointed out scenes, shots, dialogs, frames which have been lifted from foreign lands, to the folks around me to show them that the director has found a shortcut to get under the spotlight. I have even gone to the extent of flipping off my friends for having shallower tastes in movies, for not understanding the subtext of films. I was called pretentious and I know that this is a similar experience for many of you out there. We(They) as a community have mechanized a societys expectations from entertainment. The movie that made me realize all this was Ethirneechal. When I watched the movie, I felt as if it was one of those final films which marked the end of an era. Yes! The brutal truth is, the era of formulaic films with songs and fights placed as set-pieces to rush the adrenaline juice is over. I was one of those who wanted a new wave in Tamil Cinema but it is disheartening to see the movies which I grew up watching are no longer in demand. Looking back, gone are the days when I used to listen to a song over and over again by rewinding the cassette and mastering the right time at which the song will start. It got me closer to the film and its characters. Today, there are movies which have kuthu songs exactly 13 minutes and 24 seconds before the end credits roll, this probably has its own fan base but it just seems illogical to me. But what really irritates me are the Tamil films which are traced from an established Hollywood directors brilliant debut indie. But that is a whole other wormhole that I dont want to get into at present. Similar to what Bala did in the late 90s and what Selvaraghavan/Gautham Menon did in the mid 2000s, we have a bunch of film makers today who are trying to et ch the upcoming era of Tamil cinema. There are 4 movies which are being discussed amongst Tamil film enthusiasts which have almost regulated the course in which the industry has to move. The films are: Aaranya Kandam, Pizza, Naduvula Konjam Pakatha Kaanom and Soodhu Kavvum. I absolutely have nothing against these films; in fact I really enjoyed each one of them. But the brutal truth is apart from Naduvula Konjam Pakatha Kaanom none of the other three are completely original Tamil Films and none of them evoke the absolute emotional flux which films like Padayappa, Baasha, Ullathai Alli Thaa, Panja Thanthiram, Ghillli, Kaadhal Konden, Kaakha Kaakha, Pithamagan, Chennai 28, Paruthiveeran, Pollaadhavan, Subramaniapuram (I can keep going on and on) could do. Films that lacked in complicated story line or deeply developed charecters were able to bring what these four films could provide. Finding faults in a film like NKPK is criminal; it is definitely the best film of the year and one of the best films of the decade. It is a film which is aware of the kind of cinema the world watches and a tad too conscious about the transition Tamil cinema is undergoing. They are trying too hard to not be what the films of the earlier era were. Instead of being happy to be unfurled as a story, these films are merely trying to impress the audience. Though they have been carefully sketched to do it and have excelled in doing it, they feel like exercises which were done with a

lot of difficulty rather than being expressions of relief. The film makers seem to be very conscious about not letting the rogues in a cinema hall utter their quad-meaning kalaais (teases) to impress a group of girls sitting in the front row. This consciousness has made these movies aloof to the audience too. While watching them I felt like psychoanalyzing a teen with abandonment issues trying to shoo off people by acting cool and clever. It is deeply disturbing to see that artists fear the audience. One must remember that art is a form of expression; if the expression is not genuine then the reproduced form is not too. And this is a reason why, even though I was bored in a lot of instances, Ethirneechal came off as a very true Tamil film which was made with a lot of constraints but was able to capture me. Tamil cinema definitely needs to mature but not at the expense of a creators scope and vision. It has been showing immense potential and I certainly know that this is just a phase.