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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

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Film Appreciation

Why most Tamil films fall short of appreciation

As an ardent fan of world cinema I also love to see films made in my mother tongue which is Tamil (pronounced Thamil). But I don't seem to like most of the Tamil films made in Kollywood (that is Chennai in Tamilnadu in India). Why is it? It is primarily because, I think, all due to my class, race, gender, taste and the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years seeing good quality international films. Well, that is my private business. But the reality is that more than 50 % of the people in Lanka (that includes non-Tamilians) enjoy seeing Tamil and Hindi films according to cricketer Muttiah Muralidharan. He is right. Therefore my tastes and comments matter less


A scene from ‘Kite’

However, as a film critic I have a duty to educate and help improve the tastes of the uninitiated to appreciate the finer elements in a film rather than be contented with stock ingredients.

It's not only me, there several excellent film critics in Tamilnadu itself writing film criticism in Tamil and English pinpointing the pitfalls in filmmaking. But they are helpless too. Why, because film business is primarily an industry and then comes art. This is not peculiar to Southern India alone but extends to Bollywood (Mumbai), Hollywood (U.S.) Tollywood (Hyderabad) and other parts of the world greatly influenced by the popular American cinema.

And each country or region caters to its indigenous population taking into consideration its own culture and the level of standard of education and intelligence. The barometre is entertainment.

Having attended several international film festivals in India, I can vouch that lot of ordinary Japanese and French people like the colossal extravaganza of Rajani Kanth acted films and Bollywood stars. Raj Kapoor was tremendously popular in the then USSR.

If that is so why cannot I enjoy poorly made and stupid films in Tamil? This is because as I said earlier governed by my sensibilities and tastes and preferences.

I think it is better to put it straight what I don't like in Indian Tamil Cinema as distinguished from Tamil cinema from other countries.

a) I dislike: the kind of violence displayed on the screen- blood splashing and oozing, killing by carving knives, human slaughter, and maschete etcetera

b) too many flashbacks and dream fantasies thus interrupting the tempo of the film that are unrealistic

c) idiotic comic scenes and distasteful humour. There is one particular actor who shouts

d) unrealistic fights and fisticuffs - one man fighting alone and vanquishing others

e) the impolite spoken language uttered by characters of low upbringing and the different dialects characteristic to the regions spread out in Tamilnadu. The difficulty here is due to the actors speaking fast and not clearly enunciated.

f) indiscriminate use of wrongly pronounced English words even by characters who do not know English

g) unrealistic plots even though the themes of the stories are welcome

One might ask whether there are no positive features in Tamil films. Why not? There are many in recent Tamil films. That is to be told on another occasion.

In the meantime, I must say I liked very much two Tamil films last week for their bold presentation of the content.

They were Kanagavel Kaaka Kaaka and Kuttap Piravi. Those who care for true Justice and Law Enforcement from all classes of audience would appreciate these two films. Even non-Tamilians would be able to follow the story. Please judge these films in your own terms. Mine may be subjective.

There are four more films I saw during the fortnight: Kites (Hindi with English and Spanish dialogues), Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carol's) (English) and animated English film. Title: something like - 'ever after'. And of course a Sinhala film that may be translated as 'Fragrance of Love'

All these films are entertaining in parts. But quality falls short of my middle class yardsticks. Enjoy.

sivakumaran.ks@gmail.com

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