My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Tamil

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, so I have seen both the Doordarshan times as well as the satellite television boom in the mid-90’s. Before Satellite television came to India in the early 90’s movie stars were extremely elusive to the fans. They were like this larger than life hero figures in the mind of the fans who only appeared in films. In those times this actually helped a lot with success of films for these stars. This is how the star culture was formed. Fans who do not see their heroes other than on movie screen or posters rushed to theatres to watch them on the big screen.

In a way Tamizh cinema still has that star value. The elusive nature of the Tamizh stars has always worked in their favour. You would normally not see Rajinikanth, Vijay, Ajith or any major superstar making too many public appearances. This surely has helped them to maintain that culture which we see in some of the next generation actors as well. This means that most of the movies in Tamizh cinema comes with little or zero promotions, especially the big star films. For example Vijay’s interview for Beast earlier this year was his first in years but again you can say that he at least appears for audio release functions.

This lacklustre promotions from the stars has trickled down to the female leads and the supporting cast as well in Tamizh cinema. In recent times we have seen majority of the cast not being present for any promotions of a film. For example “Vikram”, the industries biggest hit this year had no promotions from any of the cast except for Kamal Hassan, Naren and Gayathrie. Recently Aatharva’s “Kuruthi Aatam” released after lots of struggle but again except for the hero and the director, none of the others were involved in any promotions for the film.

The biggest issue though hampering Tamizh film industry is that the release of a film is unknown to anyone at most of the times. The director of “Kuruthi Aatam” said in an interview that he just knew a week before that his film is going to release. We see a trailer released for a film and hope it will release in the near future but we end up seeing the movie a year or two later in theatres. This also causes issues for the cast to make themselves available for promotions. I understand that getting screens and taking the movies to the audience has become a huge problem in the industry but again the makers are making it difficult for their movies to succeed if there isn’t enough time to market their films. You might have a great product but if the audience don’t know about it, they are not going to come and see it. This is the era of OTT and you need to reach the audience big time if you want them to leave their home to watch a film. The big star films are fine as the fans will come in huge numbers just by watching a good trailer, but again that is not true for smaller films.

The other elephant in the room for Tamizh cinema is the Pan-Indian films. If we look in the past, Tamizh film industry was kind of the pioneers for Pan-India success. Manirathnam had Roja and Bombay and then we had Shankar’s Indian, Robot & 2.0 all being successful ventures all through the country. The biggest thing Tamizh movie makers need to learn now is that not all films are going to be successful when released through the country. The recent success of Telugu & Kannada cinema has taught us that there are certain type of films which appeals to the Hindi speaking public.

The Tamizh actors are extremely lucky as they have formed a great market in Southern states especially in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana but that’s not the case with Hindi audience. Yeah some percentage of the population knows some of the Tamizh actors through their dubbed films on TV but again that is not going to help sell the films there. The first thing is the content. It is very important as to what movies we are dubbing in Hindi language. The kind of cinema which would mostly work is Big mass masala films like Bahubali 1 & 2, Pushpa & KGF or Movies about our Indian culture like Karthikeya 2 or Nationalistic films well made like RRR. The second most important factor is promotions. People might say that Nikhil did not promote Karthikeya 2 nor did Dulqar for Sita Ramam but again these films did great in the Hindi market.

The reason for the same is that Telugu cinema has created a lot of goodwill with the Hindi audience. They have released the right kind of films with the right kind of promotions which has made the audience there to take notice of any film which comes from that industry. This is what Tamizh cinema has failed to do in the last few years. We are thinking like in the 90’s when Roja, Bombay, Indian succeeded we can just dub a film and release a trailer 10 days before the release and that will bring the audience to the theatre. It does not work that way now. In the 90’s before Satellite channels, just movie posters were enough to sell a film to the audience and if released at the right time people used to come to theatres. They did not have the alternatives they have now in terms of OTT or TV which meant that they had to look at cinemas for entertainment.

Now in this era where marketing and promotions are crucial just dubbing a film and releasing it in any language isn’t going to work. Tamizh cinema also has this very poor trend of releasing movie trailers just a week or 2 before the actual movie release giving the actors just about 6-7 days to do the promotions. That may work in Tamil Nadu but will not work in rest of the country. For example “Naane Varuven” movie touted to release on the 29th of September just saw a teaser release on the 15th of the same month. That is ridiculous but again Dhanush’s popularity means that the audience will make it to the theatres despite no promotions.

In the past 2 years we just dubbed Master, Valimai, Beast etc in Hindi and released them in theatres without any promotions. Most of the Hindi audience don’t even know what these films are, so you cannot expect them to come to theatres. For Vikram, Kamal tried his best but again the time for promotions was very less and he was the only one doing the same. If Tamizh cinema are really serious about going Pan-India with their films, they need to take a leaf out of Telugu and Kannada industry. They need to see how they promoted their films over the past few years and how they have made a market for themselves all over the country. I think the problem lies with the producers who want the film to go Pan-India but again cannot convince the actors to actually promote the films

Tamizh cinema needs to wake up and realise that the method which has been working for them for decades in the state isn’t going to help them sell films to different audience across the country. The producers should stop advertising a film as Pan-India if the actors aren’t game to aggressively promote their films all over the country. If the actors are happy to just have their films release in southern states, so be it, the producers to make the films for just that audience. The next big film which is going Pan-India is Ponniyin Selvan (PS1). The director is Manirathnam who has had huge success across the country with his films. The film is just 2 weeks away from coming in theatres but we haven’t seen any promotional activities. The movie is clashing with one of the biggest Hindi films of this year, Vikram Vedha and the crew is still not taking this seriously it seems.

PS1 is a film which has a possibility of succeeding all over India. It has a theme of Indian history which Hindi audience like and with right amount of promotions this might become Tamizh cinema’s biggest hit of the year. The only good thing about the cast of PS1 is that everyone is game to promote the films. Vikram, Jeyam Ravi and Karthi always promote their films well which works in favour of the makers. The film will take a huge opening in Tamil Nadu as it is our history and we will for sure flock the theatres to watch the film but again the film needs to be promoted aggressively in other states for it to succeed. Manirathnam has done this in the past with his Hindi films so I am hoping that he understands what needs to be done to take his film to the nook and corner of the country.

To be frank if PS1 fails in Hindi, I don’t think we have any chance of getting a successful Pan-Indian film in the future from our industry. The film has the right content and the right actors to go all out to take the film to the audience, so if this fails that means it will be on the makers to not give enough time for marketing. The good thing is that the movie stars Aishwarya Rai in an important role which means that there will be promotions at least in Mumbai but I don’t think that will be enough. If PS1 succeeds it might give a template to other makers from Tamizh cinema as to how to promote films which they seem to not aware of due to the no-marketing culture in the industry. The stars need to wake up and smell the coffee. They get paid ridiculous amount of money to act in a film and I feel they need to make an effort to help out the producers if they want to go Pan-India with the content.

This article remains relevant due to the constant issues in India based on religion, caste etc..

My Thoughts

Well I was in 10th standard when I first heard the term “Unity in Diversity” in my civics class. That was an attempt to teach the kids about the greatness of our country and the different languages and cultures India posses from Jammu to KanyaKumari. It was 15 years ago and when I look back now I feel what have we learnt? We are still fighting based on language, religion, region and what not. So what does that one chapter in the book accomplish?

India is a country with a beautiful history and tradition going thousands of years back. The country is made of 28 states and speaks thousands of languages and dialects with 22 of them being official. Each state in India almost has their language as an official language other than English of course. So the country has lots of divide from various avenues. People eat different, look…

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People talk about creative freedom, secularism but for me it boils down to just common sense. The things that have been happening in Tami Nadu are unfair on the brilliant creator that is Mr Kamal Hassan. I am a big admirer of Kamal Hassan’s work. Let me be clear I am no fan boy. I love good cinema and Kamal Hassan has provided that in abundance.

When Viswaroopam released and when I learnt that it deals with terrorism I did not expect it to create such a furor. We have had countless movies releasing in India on similar themes, so I thought this movie will be considered one among them but that is not to be. Viswaroopam was banned by Tamil Nadu government and subsequently by other governments in India and abroad.

I can’t believe that in this day and age people actually believe that a movie can cause security issue. It is sad that one of India’s finest creators has to suffer due to some political agenda.

Kamal Hassan has talked about moving out of Tamil Nadu and even the country if the justice is not served. It will be a shame for the nation/state if such a thing happens. Creative people like Kamal Hassan are nation’s pride. The kind of jewel we all need to cherish and celebrate. India is the only country where their legends are treated with so much contempt. The government needs to wake up and put an end to this madness.

The creative freedom on an actor and creator needs to be upheld. It is sad to see the great man talking about bankruptcy and losing his home. It is even astonishing that the government hasn’t done anything to avert this situation. The perplexing thing is that the Tamil film association has kept mum on this issue. Few actors including our superstar have voiced in their support but as an association they should have stood behind their own.

It is nice to see the support of the fans for the movie. I hope that everyone continues to support the movie and keep our beloved icon in his home state. I hope that the Supreme Court intervenes and overturns the ban on the film. An icon like Kamal deserves better and we cannot let the constitution down.

Kamal Hassan is one of India’s finest actor/director. He has given us numerous classics and is very much responsible for taking Indian cinema overseas.

This is not something we get to write that often. The Indian film industry is synonymous with Bollywood aka Hindi film industry and South films hardly get the recognition. 2011 in a way broke that trend and it will be fair to say that Southern Industries ruled this year. Not only did the south films (Malayalam and Tamil) dominate the National awards earlier this year but the Bollywood box office was dominated by southern remakes. It was a year when the Southern Industries got their day under the sun in India.

As far as Tamil cinema goes it was yet another great year. It was the continuation of the good work which started in 2010 and carried over to 2011. The year 2011 is when the Tamil cinema broke the language barriers and reached to nook and corner of the vast country. The year which began with Tamil cinema dominating the national awards along with Malayalam making it a very southern awards, ended with Dhanush’ s “Kolaveri Di” winning CNN international song of the year.

Dhanush was the year’s biggest star and he was part of couple of good movies this year. The biggest success of Tamil cinema this year has been the success of small movies such as “Engeyum Eppothum”. A movie which was Fox Star’s foray into Tamil cinema, sans top stars and with a new director at the helm was a super hit. Appreciation of good scripts and attempts by the audience has always been the success of Tamil cinema which was again in view in 2011.

This year had releases from Suriya, Dhanush, Ajith, Vikram and Vijay. This year also saw Ajith take over a bad guy role and pulling it off with great panache. Vijay shifted his path from masala genre and signed movies with big directors. Suriya and Dhanush once again confirmed their status as good actors. This year also marked some path breaking movies such as “Aaranya Kaandam”. A movie which received praise from all quarters was a great addition to the gangster genre. The movie did rounds in the International film festivals and won some awards.

Even though some great movies were made this year and some remakes were extremely successful in other languages, this year belonged to Kolaveri Di. The song broke the language barrier to be accepted by all the music lovers.

South cinema comprises of some of the best talents in the country and makes some wonderful movies and this year was really a testament to that fact. Hindi blockbusters like Bodyguard, ready, Singham and Force were all south remakes. The year 2012 promises to be a fine one for Tamil cinema and hopefully will have some great movies. As 2011 comes to an end, here is wishing a great 2012 for Tamil cinema and its audience.

The 58th National awards were announced yesterday in India and the major awards were collected by Tamil and Malayalam movies. Dhanush won the best actor award for his realistic portrayal in the film Aadukalam along with Malayalam actor Salim Kumar who won it for his brilliant performance in the film Adaminte Makan Abu. The best feature film award went to Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu.

Aadukalam was the star of the National Film awards announced yesterday as it bagged 6 awards including the Best actor, Best Director (Vetrimaran), Best Original Screenplay (Vetrimaran), Best Editing (TE Kishore), and Best Choreography (Dinesh Kumar).

Saranya Ponvannan won the best actress award for the film Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru along with Marathi actress Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar for Baboo Band Baaja.

The best supporting actor award went to actor Thambi Rammaih for his excellent performance in Mynaa and the supporting actress award went to actress Sukumari for the Tamil film Namma Grammam.

Namma Grammam also won the award for costume design for Indrans Jayan.Enthiran also bagged couple of awards for best production design (Saby cyril) and Special Effects (V Srinivas M Mohan). Vairamuthu won the best lyricist award for Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru.

With all the awards going to the regional movies Dabaang winning “Wholesome Entertainer” award was kind of a consolation for Hindi films. Vishal Bharadwaj also won the Best Music award for the film Ishqiya. His wife Rekha Bharadwaj won the best Playback singer award for the same movie. Do Dooni Chaar won the “Best Hindi Film” award.Ishqiya also won the award for Best Audiography (Debajit Changmai).

The Best Backgound Score award went to Issak Thomas Kottakapally for the Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu. The Best Cinematography award went to Madhu Ambat for Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam).

Nargis Dutt award for the Best film on National Integration went to Bengali film Moner Manush. The Best Film on Social issues went to Marathi film Champions. Indhira Gandhi award for Best Debut Film of a Director went to Marathi Film Baboo Band Baaja.

So overall it was a great day for Regional movies this time. Tamil movies bagged 14 awards in various categories and Malayalam films bagged 6. The 58th National Awards was great one for the Southern Film industries and a particularly proud one for Tamil. Congratulations to all the winners and hope that the winners will strive to achieve greater success in the coming years.

Note – I haven’t published all the award winners, just a few of the important ones are mentioned in this post.

Super Star Rajinikanth gives one of the most compelling performances in the recent times in Endhiran/Robot

I was able to catch Super Stars Endhiran over the weekend and it was a mind blowing experience. It was fantastic that the movie release in the city I reside as not many Tamil movies make their way to the theatres here. We were anyways prepared to drive couple of hours to watch the movie in Chicago if need be. We reached the theatre about 30 minutes prior to the screening and once we entered the movie hall realized that we were about 20 minutes too late as all the seats were already taken.

We were left with only the front row but fortunately just before the movie began we were able to grab couple of seats in the second row. Thank god for that as the first row seats would have left me and my wife with terrible neck pain. So after that was sorted out, the movie began to a full house with the fans screaming when Thalaivar’s name appeared on the screen. The movie was surrounded with great hype as it was touted as the most expensive movie in India and also brought together Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai for the first time on Silver Screen.

The movie totally lived up to its billing and we had a blast watching the same. Our Thalaivar’s performance as the scientist and the “Robot” Chitti was fantastic and the visual effects were stunning to say the least. After a long time Rajini was able to play a character with negative shades in a movie and his performance was simply amazing at that. Aishwarya Rai did her part well and so did the rest of the cast but this movie was all about Rajini and Shankar. Even the Oscar winner A R Rahman had to take a back seat.

First of all Shankar has to be appreciated for attempting something of such a magnitude and for making it work big time. It’s all good to have lots of money to play with but to make it work is completely a different thing. Shankar has achieved the same with flying colors. The last 20-25 minutes of the movie left us all speechless with the special effects. Shankar has definitely pushed the bar as far as Indian movies go. I am not sure if anyone can ever surpass the extravaganza that is Endhiran/Robot.

Well this piece will not be complete without a word on the brilliant performance by Rajinikanth. It takes a huge courage for a super star like Rajini to act in a movie which has the script and the director at the helm. At no point in the movie did you feel that this was a Rajini movie. After a long time we saw Rajini the actor take over Rajini the super star. Rajini for sure has earned himself more fans through this movie. His performance as the Robot was special and his subdued performance as the scientist suited the character brilliantly. All in all brilliant movie and will be a milestone in Super Star’s already glittering career. As the Super Star himself said at the audio launch, “Endhiran is not a movie but a cinematic experience”.

I am not sure how Shankar or Rajinikanth are ever going to surpass this in the future. People are going to expect a huge deal from the director in his future projects and I am not sure how he is going to beat this success. Sivaji was big but Endhiran is bigger and for sure is going to smash all box office records across India. Leaving all the minor negatives aside, this is one Indian movie to be proud of. The criticism that the movie is tad long and is inspired from many Hollywood flicks is something I don’t agree with. Every director while making movies in such a magnitude goes overboard sometimes which is acceptable.

Every ambitious movie made around the world can be accused of being a tad long and there are always few scenes which could have been done without. As far as the claims about the movie lacking logic, it does not hold water in a Sci-Fi fantasy flicks. What can be logical about a movie which begins as an imagination in the first place? What was logical about a matrix or an Avatar for that matter? When you start a movie as a fantasy the directors imagination takes over and his creative instinct drive the movie, so the sudden requirement of logic in a Sci-Fi movie is laughable to say the least.

The there are the claims that we have seen it all in the Hollywood movies already is something again should not be held against the director. Hollywood has been making Sci-Fi genre for over 40 years now, so any movie made in that genre is for sure going to resemble one of them. That should not take away anything from Shankar for making one of the best movies technically from India. Just compare this with other Indian movies and tell me how many directors have ever thought of attempting anything even remotely close? The movie is a brilliant attempt and needs to be encouraged for the excellent vision of the director and for the compelling performance from our own superstar.

Finally the long awaited Endhiran audio release took place in a grand manner in Malaysia yesterday. Lots of prominent Kollywood stars graced the occasion and the most important part of the evening was that the official Endhiran trailer was screened at the function. The trailer was breathtaking and the visuals in the trailers were amazing. Aishwarya Rai Bachan and Rajini combo was looking cool on screen. Aishwarya was looking much better than in Ravana/Ravanan.

It seems like a movie which will be different to the other Rajini movies and I am very much looking forward to its release. Our Super Star as the scientist was rocking and looks very young. Good news for us fans is that the movie will grace the theaters in September. I am sure that this movie will be a major hit and will be another feather in the cap of Rajini/Shankar/Rahman combination.

During my customary lunchtime conversation with my friends few months back I got to know the hatred people had for my home town Chennai. I was first a little bit perplexed and annoyed with their accusations but understood that most of their issues came about due to the language. I decided to do some research online and found lots of blogs and articles regarding the same issue.

To be frank I don’t understand what the big deal is. The major accusation against Tamil Nadu is that they don’t speak the “National Language” Hindi. Which itself is a false premise for the hatred as India as a country does not have a National Language. People fail to understand the same as they have been wrongly taught in schools as Hindi is our National language. Indian constitution does not mention a National Language for India. Hindi along with English is one of the official languages of the country and each state has their own official language along with English.

So this makes our country a linguistically free country, which means that anyone is free to talk their own language. No one is under pressure to speak or learn any language unless they want to out of interest. So this begs the question as to why people from other parts of India expect Chennaites to speak in Hindi. Why can’t they converse in English as it is the other official language of our constitution? My parents were bank employees and we have had our share of moving around the country and every time I am in a new place I would have to adapt myself according to the place I am in. Being a Tamilian I cannot go to Delhi and expect them to speak to me in Tamil. I have to learn Hindi to blend with them. People fail to realize that someone coming outside Tamil Nadu faces the same issues as the ones coming into it.

When I came to the US in 2003 one of my Tamil friends warned me about the Telugu friends in the college. He said that we are isolated and they don’t talk to us. I did not take any of that nonsense and I mingled with them and learned their language and smoothly slid into their circle. I now have great friends from college and I am still in touch with most of them. It just teaches one thing, people who are happy to change themselves and adapt themselves will always come out ahead. People who crib about anything and everything will always fall behind.

I now can speak Hindi, English and Tamil fluently and can understand and speak broken Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam which makes my life easier. For me cribbing is not an option in these scenarios. We are always competing in this world and it’s always survival of the fittest. No place is a bad place; every place has its own charm and culture. If you embrace it then you will be the winner. When we go to a new place the people there don’t change according to our needs, we have to change according to where we are.

I am not going to sit here and say that Chennai is the best place in the world, for that matter even in India but it’s not the worst either. Yes Chennai has its issues like language, Weather etc but has its advantages too. Every place in India is the same. For a Tamilian travelling to Delhi or Mumbai, the issues are the same but we try to adjust. There is no complaints on our part.

Chennai is a great place, I love being there but if I have to move to a different part of the country I will do it without a problem. If I have to learn Marathi, Gujarati or any other language to blend into the local crowd I will do that. That’s what makes life interesting isn’t it. We are moving towards new age India and it’s sad to see that we are still in the stone age of fighting over language and region. Just try to blend with the locals wherever you go and you will find that the place is not that bad after all.

Tamil Superstar Ajith Kumar (Thalai) to race in Formula 2 this year

Ajith has decided to give his passion of racing another go as he is competing in Formula 2 championship this year. We all know Ajith’s immense love for motorsports and Karun Chandhok’s entry to Formula 1 has inspired our “Thalai” to give his racing career another chance. Ajith though quickly dismissed any intentions of him trying for formula 1 and is much happier to be racing in Formula 2 right now.

He also says on his exclusive interview with Rediff that he is going to take racing career seriously this time. He said that he is going to concentrate on racing for the majority of this year and has plans to do just one movie with Gautham Menon later this year. Ajith has already raced in Formula Asia and Formula 3 before and he also had couple of podium finishes in the competitive British F3 championship.

Ajith was thrilled about his prospects with Formula two this season,

“I am really excited about racing in F2. I have a great regard for Jonathan Palmer – thanks to him and his efforts Formula Two is the next best thing to F1. Coming from India with a population of 2 billion, I want to take motor racing in this country to the common man. Right now, it is still a niche sport largely popular in the urban areas. Given my profile as a film star, I hope to use my status to popularise the sport in India.” he said

So best of luck to Ajith and I hope that he has a great season. It will be great to see our “Thalai” get couple of podium finishes this year.

You can follow Ajith’s progress this season at official formula 2 site. You can also get more information about his racing career at Ajith Kumar profile on the same website.

Eeram was one of the better Tamil movies to grace the theaters in recent times

Eeram was one of the better Tamil movies to grace the theaters in recent times

Eeram by S Pictures is one of the better Tamil movies I have seen in recent times. Shankar has always had a knack of picking up good scripts for his production house and he has never gone wrong till now. Eeram had a debutant director Arivazhagan who was Shankar’s assistant in the past. Arivazhagan has done a brilliant job in his very first movie.

Eeram has a gripping storyline, great camera work, fantastic background score and a good star cast. The movie was touted as a thriller but the supernatural angle to it was well concealed before the release of the movie. The movie began brilliantly with a crisp first half. The movie starts with Sindhu Menon drowned in her bath tub. Aadi who is the cop investigating the death is the ex-lover of Sindhu Menon and suspects that this might have been a murder. Nandha is Sindhu Menon’s husband who is in a business meeting in Mumbai.

During the investigation several other deaths happen in the same floor of the building which adds to the suspense. When Aadi finally tracks down the guy who was supposed to be meeting Sindhu often in her apartment the story takes a twist. That was one of the brilliant scenes in the movie and totally unexpected.

As I said earlier the first half was fantastic. The frequent shift between the present and past to show the romance between Aadi and Sindhu was done very well and the pace of the movie was maintained. The movie followed a logical path and investigation by Aadi made the story movie along in an interesting manner. But that’s where the movie changed the course after the interval. Once the movie took the super natural path, it became rather predictable. The movie was also longer by at least 30 minutes.

I guess if you are making a thriller, the ideal length of the movie should be around 2 hrs or little bit more than that but 2 hrs 46 min was little bit too much. The director seemed too confused regarding how he wanted to end the movie and that showed in the climax which was low key. Arivazhagan needs to be applauded to have attempted something different in his debut movie. He could have taken the easy way out by making a masala movie to start his career but I guess he was lucky to have been picked up by S Pictures.

The movie overall was technically brilliant. The camera work was brilliant and the mood of the movie was captured on screen throughout. As the name suggests the movie has water playing an important part in the movie and almost every scene has water somewhere on the screen. The acting was also adequate. Aadi as a cop was very good. Sindhu Menon did a good job and so did Nanda. The music by Thaman was also very good. Both the songs in the movie were nice and the background score was brilliant.

All in all Arivazhagan is a great find for Tamil industry and I hope that he comes back with another good movie as a follow up.


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