Manikandan’s films always operate on two levels. There’s a seemingly straightforward story and then, there’s the fine print. For example, Kaaka Muttai was about the permeating effects of globalisation and consumerism in our society. Even for people who miss the subtext, the film holds well as a charming comedy about two kids who lived in a slum and dreamt of having pizza. His films are examples of the middle ground Tamil filmmakers have carved in the mainstream — where social relevance and entertainment are significant equals.
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.
One of the teasers for A1 begins with a very familiar qualifier, “Ulaga cinema varalatril mudhan muraiyaga, muttrilum marubatta,” only to intercut and say “avlo build up lam venam.” Expectation is a funny thing, and when the promo material prepares you well for a film, you walk out largely unaffected. A1’s teasers proclaimed that humour (more on that later) is the only thing that you should look for from it. If you want logic, nuance or anything else — after all it’s a film and not a joke book — that’s your fault. Come on, what were you expecting?
Early morning shows are a phenomenon intrinsic to Tamil cinema. But to witness packed houses for multiple shows at 4:45 am, despite mild rains, is a sight that our theatres have been yearning for in a while. For the second time within a month (after Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam), the crowds had set their alarms not just to watch their favourite stars first on the big screen, but also to witness their favourite filmmaker weave his magic. The applause that Vetri Maaran’s name received at the end of Vada Chennai, was such a gratifying sound. Quite exciting times for Tamil cinema, indeed. Continue reading “First impressions of Vada Chennai: A gritty peek into a fascinating world”
Pariyerum Perumal translates to the Lord on a horse. The name conjures a majestic image in the head, doesn’t it? Our hero (Kathir) on the other hand, is the exact opposite of that visual. He is just a normal guy, however, born into a lower caste. This determined several things about Pariyan’s life. For example, it meant that he and his village men couldn’t use a waterhole. There are men who want to stay for a fight, but Pariyan leaves with his dog, Karuppi. He has his first day of college the next day and there’s no room for a fight. The conversation between the men who want to fight and the men who don’t, set the tone for the entire film. “What do they have that we don’t,” bellows one guy, in a fit of anger. “Namma vayalum varapum la iruku. Namma kita verum vaayum vayirum thana iruku,” comes the answer. “When will this change?”; “When my father and your father stops to till their lands for income!” Continue reading “Pariyerum Perumal review: A hard-hitting examination of our social constructs”
It isn’t every day that we come across an album with ten tracks. But when the music is intriguing as Santhosh Narayanan’s, we have no complaints. His music for Vada Chennai can be split into two parts — one, with the gaana-infused folk numbers and the other, with the melodies that might as well be trademarked in his name. With the first part, Santhosh captures the cultural exuberance of North Chennai. However, he balances this with the other part, melodies that consist of an eclectic mosaic of sounds that we have come to expect of him. Put the two together and you get a holistic picture, not just of the film, but of the composer himself. Continue reading “Vada Chennai music review: Santhosh Narayanan captures the vibrant charm of North Chennai”
Mercury is an intellectually stimulating film with carefully added layers that traverse through genres, something that is now a fixture with Karthik Subbaraj. Another creatively inclined lead role who ‘defeats his limitation’ — Karthik now has a definitive theme. Mercury is definitely an interesting visual/aural spectacle. It takes guts to make a film where everything isn’t spoon fed. There’s a lot of brain but not enough heart — that makes Mercury, a tad cold. Nevertheless, if you’re watching Mercury, then do so on the big screen. Some good visual/sonic filmmaking awaits.
There is a wry sense of humour in debutante Rathna Kumar’s answers, something we get to see in his film as well. His first feature film, Meyaadha Maan is having a dream run at the theatres, thanks to the positive reviews and the word of mouth the film has garnered. Similar to the movie, the humour highlights the clarity in his thoughts and rationale. An interesting example would be the way Rathna Kumar narrates how he decided the subject for his short film Madhu, which has now been made into Meyaadha Maan. “When you take a short film, the resources available are limited. And the access is limited to people belonging to our age group. Thus, the intention was to create a script that caters to that specific group. ‘Ukkandha edathulaye vaayala vada suttu oru short film pananum’ (The film should be made using minimum resources),” says Rathna Kumar. Continue reading “Meyaadha Maan director Rathna Kumar: We wanted Address Song to bring an end to female-bashing numbers”