The 2020 jukebox: Strains of a pandemic

We take stock of the music scene in Tamil cinema, this year: the trends, highs, lows, and how the industry survived a pandemic

Taylor Swift once said that while people have not always been there for her, music always has been. If there’s any one year in which this quote assumes special relevance, it has to be this year. A lonely year of forced isolation and uncertainty—not just for the future, but for human touch and connection—2020, to put it mildly, has been tough on everyone. It’s a year that reiterated the significance of artists and creators, whose professions seem to be thought dispensable. Holed up in our homes, almost all of us found solace in music, much more than we have been used to. The melodies and lyrics filled up the void for emotional connection we all longed for.

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Stories of women, from women

Why are women-centric films thought to be ‘offbeat’? Why does having a female director/technician/producer always become an extra-talking point? Women directors and producers have been in existence since 1930s, but what about the status quo still makes it so novel? Netflix has become an interesting player in this space, in looking to level the gender field. More than 50 percent of its Indian original films have had female protagonists (Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, Bulbbul, Guilty, Chopsticks, Soni, Lust Stories, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl), and have been backed by several women filmmakers and technicians, debutantes and seasoned. What about the digital space makes it conducive for women?

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Remembering K Balachander: Director Vasanth talks about his master, mentor, and father

“‘Achamillai Achamillai was the first film in which I properly assisted KB sir, even though he had known me before. Naa romba thittu vaangina padam (laughs). I remember joining the shooting at Courtallam a bit late, and we were shooting ‘Odukira Thanniyile’ song. I thought we would be shooting near the falls, but KB sir just looked up and asked, “How will it be if we placed the camera there?” pointing to the start of the fall. Our 90-man crew trekked up the waterfall to shoot for that song, crawling on all fours to reach there. His passion for cinema was so intense.”

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Theatre of dreams

Backed by Book My Show and PVR Cinemas, Vkaao, an on-demand cinema service, is looking to bring the best of international cinema to Indian screens

There are multiple reasons why we may miss a film on the big screen. Sometimes, the shows aren’t convenient. Sometimes, the film may not even make it to your country. I, for one, have always dreamed of catching the classics in a theatre. All this has made Vkaao, India’s first on-demand platform, an interesting alternative for cinephiles. The company, launched in 2017, has now launched a new initiative that will bring the best of international cinema to India. Titled Vkaao Gems, the initiative has garnered good response with regional screenings of Cannes favourites, Capernaum and Shoplifters. Vaibhav Lal, Co-founder & CEO, Vkaao, is gratified with the response and elaborates on future plans.

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The half-yearly playlist: Music that rocked Tamil cinema in the first half of 2019

The beginning of July signals half-time and it’s a good time to look back on the year and pick favourites. 2019 has been a particularly rewarding year for the Tamil musicophile. So, sit back, relax and sing along, as we take stock of some lilting tunes, this year, that won’t be leaving our playlists anytime soon.

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The Crazy combination: An ode to the legendary relationship between Kamal Haasan and Crazy Mohan

I had the privilege of talking to the late Crazy Mohan, sometime last year, when told that the conversation would be centred on his association with Kamal Haasan, one of his closest collaborators. Crazy Mohan readily agreed. Upon meeting him, I was pleasantly surprised; age had had little effect on his humour and his childlike innocence. Nobody who knew him then would have imagined that he would pass away a year later.

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Classic Comeback

Collage credit: Cinema Express
Collage credit: Cinema Express

With theatres across the city taking to re-releasing older films — and to full houses — we find out what it takes to bring these yesteryear hits back to the theatres

I caught the 2006 Selvaraghavan film, Pudhupettai, on the big screen recently. Touted to be a landmark Tamil film, it’s one that’s part of most ‘must-watch’ lists. Several things have changed since the film’s release. For one, Vijay Sethupathi, who plays a cameo in it, is now a star, and in the theatre I caught the film in, the cheers he got were as loud as for Dhanush himself. Much may have changed, but the love for good cinema persists, and the ‘playback craze’ seems to have caught on in the city.

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Small screen gets its silver sheen

When Kamal Haasan received flak for opting to host Bigg Boss Tamil, the actor defended his choice with one explanation: The show would take him to the living rooms of the people of Tamil Nadu. And that it definitely did. The first instalment of Bigg Boss Tamil percolated into the daily conversations of normal people, and proved to be a formidable alternative to the serials that constituted primetime television. Continue reading “Small screen gets its silver sheen”

Vada Chennai, 96, Badhaai Ho and A Star is Born — Are clichés always bad?

Arguably the most common accusation a film gets from everyone who consumes cinema, clichés are considered to be an abomination in films. However, as Khaled Hosseini puts it in his book Kite Runner, clichés are also ‘dead-on’. Talking about avoiding clichés in creative writing, he writes, “the aptness of the clichéd saying is overshadowed by the nature of the saying as a cliché.” In fact, to prove his point, he goes on to use a few cliched phrases in the next few lines with brimming charm. Continue reading “Vada Chennai, 96, Badhaai Ho and A Star is Born — Are clichés always bad?”

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