Deteriorating quality of Tamil movies

Inclusive growth has found new meaning

Deteriorating quality of Tamil movies

Selvaraja, Marimuthu, Mani, Babu, Pandi, Raja – all of them are aspiring actors. Their current vocations may be different but what binds them together is their love for Tamil movies, dappangutthu dance (a crude form of Lungi dance in which all that you have to do is to shake all parts of your body vigorously) and dreams of owning a palatial mansion and a Ford fiesta.
Selvaraja is our local newspaper vendor boy. Mani is a plumber by profession. Pandi and Raja manage the local raddhi (old newspaper mart) near our home. Babu works in a hair cutting saloon. Marimuthu is a car driver.
There was a popular villain known for his unique style of dialog delivery called Mansoor Ali Khan whose car driver became a hero. It is even alleged that some of the popular actresses who tasted success in Tamil movies had actually worked as housemaids in the homes of other actresses who were on the top of the popularity charts.
Post the popularity and success enjoyed by actors like Rajnikanth, Vijayakanth, the late Pandiyan, the late Murali, Tamilian Dravidian males with dark complexions realised that their complexion was an advantage for them. Nothing wrong with this. In this scheme of things, fair skinned actors like Jeyam Ravi, Bharat, Ganesh Venkataraman or Arvind Swamy did not stand much of a chance.  Without doubt, this is definitely a good trend.
While the Congress party talks about financial inclusion and Aam Aadmi Party says that the party’s focus is on we – mango people, a movie industry where even a common citizen can aspire to be an actor can be truly called as progressive. But the buck stops here. The content of these movies has stooped to such abysmal levels that these movies have to be seen to be believed.
In most of the recent movies, invariably the plot revolves around a boy who meets a girl and falls in love with her. So, what is new? Barring a movie called “Sindhu Samaveli” where the main heroine (Amala Paul) was shown to be succumbing to the charms of her father-in-law (oh, god, how the quality of Tamil movies has deteriorated!), all other Tamil movies have mainly focused on the boy-meets-the-girl and they elope to counter the opposition from their families.
I happened to watch a so-called super hit movie called “Sundara Pandian”. For close to 1 hour, the movie revolved around the heroine (Lakshmi Menon) travelling in a bus, wearing a half saree (dhavani) and accompanied by a friend. The hero (Sasikumar) falls for her charms and goes to the extent of committing a murder. On the lines of Mani Ratnam’s “Roja” (the song Rukmini Rukmini), we have the hero dancing with a bunch of old ladies to a dappanguthu dance.
Across the board, most Tamil movies made today revolve around a similar theme. Boy is mad after the girl, there are villains, boy escapes with a girl in the bike and then the movie ends on a happy note or on a tragic note. In between this plot, actors and actresses gyrate wildly (so called dance sequences) as if they are finding a cure for constipation.
While any man on the street can aspire to be an actor, when it comes to actresses, Tamil cinema also lays stress on actresses who are plump and fair skinned (not necessarily in that order). Talented actresses like Archana, Abitha and Iniya were sidelined precisely because of their colour. So, where is the question of inclusion? Why are there double standards when it comes to actresses? Why does Tamil cinema have one set of rules for its actors and another for its actresses? Why does Tamil cinema constantly depend on talent from other states (Tamanna, Hansika Motwani, Anushka Shetty) rather than encouraging local talent? These so called actresses can’t speak a word of Tamil, so we have the same dubbing voice for all these actresses and it looks so absurd.
Even more absurd is the third rate comedy in Tamil movies. A man passing wind and another suffering from flatulence is what is supposed to be comedy. Someone defecating on the road and another urinating on a wall is supposed to be a comedy that audiences have to watch and laugh. Santhanam, the man who took over from Vadivelu and Vivek, now has become so boring and repetitive that his doomsday is not far. Then there are jerks like Vimal, Sivakarthikeyan, Sundar C, Jeeva, Arya and Siva who are anything but star material but continue to taste success only because their movies are successful.
Not just this, even as far as supporting actors/ actresses go, Tamil cinema relies only on the same old faces. Saranya who debuted with Kamal Haasan in Mani Rathnam’s Nayakan must have done around 200 movies as a mother who is stupid but loves her son dearly. In how many more movies are we going to see her in the same avatar is the big question mark? Aren’t there other actresses who can fill the slot? Saranya is the only actress who must have made her millions in her roles as a mother than in her roles as the leading heroine. Like the late actress Sujatha and danseuse-actress Sukanya, Saranya transitioned to character roles at a much younger age. It was absurd to see her play mother to Vikram Kenny in a movie (Dhandavam) when the latter is 10 years older than her in real life.
So, Tamil cinema which prided itself on classics where the story and the content of the movies were the main drivers, is now in a situation where there is severe dearth of ideas and creativity. The situation has already turned from bad to worse. It is only the audience that can bring in a renaissance!

More By  :  Valliyoor Satya

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Comments on this Blog

Comment How am I enlightened who has not seen a single Tamil movie. I remember a bus journey from Pondicherry to Bangalore in a video coach where for full eight hours I and my girl friend watched Tamil Chitrahar throughout the journey and I dare say at that age (33 to be precise) I loved those sequences though I understand no Tamil. At a still younger age listening to Vividh Bharathi in the afternoon I would listen to film music of South and I still remember two names vividly, Ilyaraja and Salil Chowdhury. Sir, creativity is occassional while business (the show) must go on. In Bengali we call Thor Bori Khaaraa, Khaaraa Bori Thor, which means repeatative boredom. You said help-hands often rise to stardom. How can you expect quality with such actors and actresses. And I believe mostly movies bring in money when it caters to low-middle class populace. So naturally comedies that are tasteful to such a class will be served. A Satyajit Ray, A Shyam Benegal or even Basu Chatterjee (to name just a few within my knowledge) are rare phenomenon in Indian movies. And yes, a cinema sells usually on a common theme of a poor boy manages a catch of a rich man's daughter, when the sets are opulent and the actresses are scantily dressed. Actually Sir, in this silly, or shall I say vulgar world, only sex and money have takers. Intelligence, nicety, magnanimity have few takers. However much we cover ourselves, we are actually naked! So, do not lament Sir, we may still await a brilliant film-maker once in a while.

Sharbaaniranjan Kundu
09-Aug-2014 14:46 PM

Comment Please read this blog and comment and share with your networks

16-Jul-2014 11:54 AM

Comment Could not agree more with you. However, your last line "It is only the audience that can bring in a renaissance", though idealistic, is not going to happen. The average intelligence is very low (or the audience is lazy and do not want to use their brains) and tastes of the current Tamil audience is so unappetizing that the talented cinema makers do not want to waste their artistic skills, time and money since the well made projects are not necessarily going to be appreciated in the box-office. And seriously someone needs to buy the heroes a decent razor to shave those dirty beards. In a hot city that is so dirty and humid, how are they sporting these ugly beards with those dirty lungis. It is one thing to also show such heroes, but that has now become the role-model. Growing up in the 90s, Tamil cinema was excellent - I would say till about 2005, and I used to watch a lot of Tamil movies. Now I hardly watch any. Although I like Dhanush for his acting, I think all of you would agree with me that he started this ugly trend of male actors who appear sickly and disgusting. Why cant he put a heroine who is also wearing such poor clothing and has a similair repellant body build and physique. Being dark and handsome is another thing-there are many such people. But disgusting dressing, dancing, and dialogues- please excuse us. Only a retard would pay to watch them in theatres. Sadly, the decline of Tamil cinema is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a general decline in the mentality of the Tamil population - the intelligent tamils are mostly outside of India, and the good-looking and inteligent ones are all in software or finance- mostly again outside of the state atleast. This is very sad, and I think like the Greeks, Tamils are guilty of basking in their glorious past while the present continues to decay. Only Lord Murugan can save his language, and his race.

12-Jul-2014 00:58 AM

Comment Dear Canadian May be you have a point there. Script is one of the culprits.On one hand, the fact that good looks are not relevant for Tamil cinema is an encouraging sign. On the other hand, same old story-lines, boy-meets-girl , fights etc do not augur well. I suggest that you see the movie - "Sollathan Ninaikerein" again (1974). You can see the magical Madras of those times, heroines wearing saree and dhavani and still looking beautiful and shoots in real locations and a handsome Sivakumar. This was one of the movies where script was the hero.

26-Jun-2014 22:22 PM

Comment Everything you said in your article and the comment above me seems valid. However, you both also seem to possess a narrow point of view that looks are everything. Yes, there are stereotypes of what constitutes as a fair woman and a dark man in Tamil cinema but this is not its main focus. There's nothing wrong with Sasikumar playing a hero when he can act in natural and convincing manner compared to the likes of even many Bollywood heroes who only have their looks going for them. I agree that the quality of Tamil films are quite low these days and one of the reasons that even an obsessive Tamil movie fan such as myself, has stopped watching most Tamil movies that come out today. Movies like Jilla are especially a waste of time and I am a Vijay fan as well as an Ajith fan. Sundar C is a good director. Sivakarthikeyan is a good comedian. Jeyam Ravi and Jeeva are good actors. It is unfair to criticize them. I criticize the directors and writers who come out with the garbage we see in Tamil films today. Actors rely on a director's direction and script and when they both fail, we immediately blame the actors. The only movies I am waiting for this year are: Shankar-Vikram Ai K.S Ravikumar-Rajnikanth Lingaa Goutham Menon-Ajith Aayiram Thottakkal A.R Murugadoss-Vijay Kathi Lingusamy-Surya Anjaan K.V Anand-Dhanush Anegan Kamal Haasan Uthamavillain/Vishwaroopam 2 Chances are one or more of these movies will disappoint. Maybe a rare good movie from a low budget studio will come out. But lack of publicity and poor audience attendance in theaters will make the movie fail. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Tamil cinema and Bollywood was on equal grounds with similar stories churned out. Now Bollywood has evolved tremendously with international publicity and technical brilliance. P.S I'm a averagely light, good looking Tamil man. Yes I agree, other than maybe Surya (who is starting to age) Tamil cinema does not have good looking male actors. Perhaps Arya as well.

25-Jun-2014 23:26 PM

Comment So true!! Leave aside the asinine plots and lacklustre comedy tracks, most of the heroes of tamil cinema are hardly eye candy material. Quite the opposite. I swear my neighbourhood pharmacy chap looks better than the so called actors of present day tamil cinema. One reason why any neanderthal can bag a role could be that tamil women hardly venture to theatre to watch tamil movies. The population who do watch these movies like Sundarapandian is entirely made up of young tamil males possibly between their 20s and 30s. Its a great comfort to these guys that the hero is uglier than an average looking guy, is unemployed, dirt poor and yet manages to capture the charms of a gori north indian or a malayalee girl (add fair and plump). Most of these movies satisfy the fascination of deluded young males. Good looking guys will start appearing in tamil cinema once women vote with their wallet (or purse in this case). One of the major myths propagated through these movies is tamil women like ugly guys as long they can spout smart witty one liners.. How untrue... I remember watching Jodha Akbar with some friends and can quite recall how much the tam gals with me drooled over Hrithik's awesome physique and Greek God looks. Tamil women would love to watch such heroes in tamil movies too, sadly all they get is "aiyee sundarapandi!!!"

24-Mar-2014 10:50 AM

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