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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Ms. Representation: Remembering the KB woman

Stories about women are no novelty to Tamil cinema. Did you know we had our first female director, TP Rajalakshmi, in the year 1936? But to chart the course of women-centric cinema in Tamil would be impossible without mentioning the films of K Balachander. KB, as he is fondly called, is often remembered for introducing two superstars (Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth) to Tamil cinema, but the director’s true legacy was his brand of women-centric cinema and its firebrand female leads.

Continue reading “Ms. Representation: Remembering the KB woman”

How did women-centric films go from being a norm to an exception?

The years 2016 and 2017 were considered to be a harbinger of change for women in Tamil cinema. Words such as feminism and women-centric were increasingly thrown in the mix with cinema. Our heroines don’t have a ‘shelf life’ anymore; they don’t have to stop working when they get married or don’t have to be there just for the glamour quotient. Off-screen, we see more women enter production, direction, cinematography and several other fields. The fact that cinema can revolve around women seems new to many — a pleasant surprise. But has it been always been so? Continue reading “How did women-centric films go from being a norm to an exception?”

Rajinikanth turns 67: From being a ‘Sruthi Betham’ to becoming a Superstar

In Carnatic music, Sruthi Betham is when the singer misses pitch. Ironically, Rajinikanth’s first ever frame called him a Sruthi Betham. Pushing off a creaky gate, his entry into the glitzy, glamourous world of cinema wasn’t the brisk strut that is now immortal. He slowly walks inside and asks with a tinge of uncertainty, “Bhairavi veedu idhu dhane?” to Kamal Haasan. To Kollywood back then, everything that made Rajini who he is, was probably sruthi betham: his stylised gestures, the pace at which he spoke, his throaty laughter. As opposed to the more manicured Kamal Haasan, Rajini’s unconventional and raw style made him relevant to masses. And a new villain was born. Continue reading “Rajinikanth turns 67: From being a ‘Sruthi Betham’ to becoming a Superstar”

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