This is a question I used to ask myself everyday and I mean literally everyday to find out the answers myself. What does Tamil cinema movies need? Where does Tamil cinema lack?
Definitely a change in commercial Tamil cinema would be in the top of the list. But we as audience make it hard, I mean really hard for directors to experiment. We had many movies which goes with the word ‘commercial’ in every sense but did not make it attain the success as it should have. I like to cite Aaranya Kaandam and Pudupettai as examples. I mean seeing the lively figures of these gangsters who we know exist in the areas as suggested by the movies should be interesting. But the only flaw from commercialism which I find in these movies is the powerful way in which the story is narrated with excessive violence, language, sexual content and probably the A certificate.
Should movies with A certificate make audience feel like they are not supposed to watch that tamil cinema movie? But Pithamagan, a movie with A certificate achieved box office success. So, how did this movie grab the taste of success when Pudupettai and Aaranya Kaandam failed to do so? The answer would be the Tamil cinematic feel which Pithamagan offered and which Pudupettai and Aaranya Kaandam didn’t. And also comparatively, Pithamagan is a bit light hearted than the other two powerhouses. Pithamagan achieving box office success made my mind raise another question. Why did Anbae Sivam did not achieve box office success? I mean it had two established actors in the lead. Comparatively a lighter-hearted movie than Pithamagan. But why did Anbae Sivam not deliver fruit to the producers? Is it because the audience were irked off by the appearance Kamal Hassan sir portrayed in the trailer? Why is such a state in Tamil Cinema?
With these questions in mind, I decided that I am getting nowhere. So, I tried to understand what the directors are trying to do to our cinema. Well, the safe bet for any director to make a movie attain commercial success is to follow the following formula.
Step-1: Make the lead character Follow wrong path or Portray the lead character as someone who is a bad guy in Tamil cinema movies.
Step-2: If he follows a wrong path (Like in Kaththi or Lingaa), make him see a flashback which corrects him from following the wrong path.
If he is someone who appears to be a bad guy (like in Aarambam), narrate a flashback to audience which makes the bad guy, actually a good guy who is trying to do good things for a good cause in tamil cinema.
Step-3: Find a glamorous heroine whose skin would look good in a dance number and most importantly she should not contribute anything to the story apart from being our Hero’s love interest.
Step-4: Have some nice looking stunts and slow motion stunts (seriously if you can’t make it believable, get a body double).
Step-5: Have the main character take revenge on his villain.
And most important rule to follow in all these steps is to feed every information and every detail to the audience (which Selvaraghavan did not do in Aayirathil Oruvan). Do not try to make audience figure out certain things in the tamil cinema for themselves. And I think these are all the things that Lingusamy sir tried to convey when he said, “Kathukitta motha vithayum irakkitein.” for which he was cornered.
And in my all the above statements, I did not in any way say that spoon feeding things to an audience is a bad thing in tamil cinema. I mean we face a lot of stress both physical and mental more than the foreigners who are contributing to many good things in the world cinema. Many of us go to cinema for the pass of time or by means of spending time with our loved ones. We do not wish to show high amount of conversation. So, I would not say it is the audiences ’fault but the directors’ who are trying to alienate our cinema from the audience. In Aaranya Kaandam, the director though used the dialogues which were spoken like true gangsters in the Royapuram area, lacks the Tamil vision. It is heavily inspired from foreign movies like Amores Perros and Pulp fiction. While Selvaraghavan though has a darker vision, he does not know how to produce that vision by spoon-feeding it to the audience. He definitely has an interesting vision of romance. But he can not communicate his vision to the audience. He fails to do so. I mean many of our neighbours subject their wives to domestic violence.
But we fail to see that in Mayakkam enna. And Myskkin tries to change the way how audience looks at cinema in almost all of his movies. Most notably in ‘Onaayum Aatukuttyum’ where he makes a satire of the traditional approach toTamil cinema. The scene I’m talking about is the one where he narrates a flashback story to a kid like a story one would read in a children’s book when the audience are expecting actual flashback scenes to appear. Nice way to make fun of the fellow directors. His movies apart from Anjaathe and Yutham sei (Both really great movies with actual Tamil vision and with slight foreign influence) are not really good movies. But are OK and NOT BAD. He needs a Tamil vision which can be made commercially profitable as well. It might not be profitable now. But in the longer run, it can give the future directors more creative freedom. But still narrate the flashback without making the audience feel the need to troll you.
So, what directors need is Tamil vision.
So, what role should audience play in Tamil Cinema?
The audience should develop the need to get entertained as well as learn something usual from cinema like how Kaththi taught many of us the ignorance towards a certain issue in our society, like how a social incident and events leading to that social incident and how it can be brought within the commercial formula with Lingaa and like how Onaayum Aatukuttyum still teaching us the need that stories can actually be narrated without flashback.
So, what does Tamil cinema need?
Well, for one thing it does not need movies which are five to ten years ahead of its time. Directors of tamil cinema need to wait for the audience to grow and make them see the vision which the directors want to communicate.
So, I conclude by saying that Tamil cinema needs Directors to develop Tamil vision and also the audience developing the ability to get entertained as well as learn something useful from cinema.
Hoping one day, I get to see an arthouse film in tamil cinema which is purely Tamil achieve blockbuster status. Hoping to see that day.