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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

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Film Appreciation:

Hollywood inspires Kollywood

Before we note how the popular star M G Ramachandran contributed to Tamil Cinema, let's gather some information regarding some contemporary Tamil films that were inspired by foreign language films.

M G Ramachandran

Films on focus

Antha Naal
Puthiya Paravai
Apoorva Ragangal
Pettalthaan Pilaiyaa?
Nenjil Ore Aalayam
Nadu Nisi Nayagan
Sivappu Rojakkal
Enthiran
Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya
Deiva Thiru Magan
Padagoaddy
Anbe Vaa
Kaavalkaaran
Oli Vilakku
Adimai Penn
Ulagam Chuttum Valiban

Some Tamil Nadu film journalists argue that the Tamil film Naayagan made by Mani Ratnam featuring Kamal Haasan was modeled on the Hollywood Movie Godfather featuring Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro and others. I don't think it is totally true. There are differences.

The film Antha Naal (That Day) directed by the late S Balachandar (who was also a classical Veena artiste) is supposed to be an adaptation of a Japanese film called Rosha. Inspired by the film Chase a Crooked Shadow, the Tamil film Puthiya Paravai (New Bird) was made.

Director K Balachandar adapted 40 Carats into a Tamil film called Apoorva Ragangal (Rare Raagas)

Charlie Chaplin's The Kid took a new form in Tamil with Pettalthaan Pilaiyaa?

The late Sri Dhar, an innovative director and script writer was inspired by the film The Last Smile and made a Tamil film called Nenjil Ore Aalayam (A Temple in the Heart)

Gautham Menon was inspired by seeing Border Town and made a film called Nadu Nisi Nayagan (Midnight Hero). However he attributed Bharath Raja's film Sivappu Rojakkal (Red Roses) as the one that really gave him the idea.

Bicentennial Man of Chris Colomus prompted megafilm director Shankar to make Enthiran (The Machine Man)

I liked the film Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya (Would You Come over from the Skies) by Gautham Menon even though it is reported to be inspired by 500 Days Summer.

Again we are told that one of Marc Webb's films had been copied as Deiva Thiru Magan (A Noble Man) in Tamil.

I cannot totally agree with the allegations that films are carbon copies of other films. The stories might have been the same or similar but they may not be the real replica of original films. Adaptations and inspired creations are not unusual in the arts.

***

Continuing of our recording of significant Tamil films that led to contemporary cinema in that language, we should also the tremendous impact that the late actor-turned politician M G Ramachanran has made in the politics of Tamil Nadu.

While Sivaji delighted the Tamil audiences for more than 40-50 years, M G Ramachandran, a Kandy born Malayalee turned Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State in India became an Icon. Through his films, he advocated social change and uplifting the conditions of life of the downtrodden.

His first film was Marmayogi made in 1951, a costume drama of palace intrigues. Seven years later Nadody Mannan (The Vagabond Monarch) inspired by films like Prisoner of Zenda and Under Two Flags made our matinee idol a household name among the proletarian women of Tamilnadu.

He had a long list of box office films to his credit. Some of these were: Ali Baaba and Forty Thieves, Padagoaddy (The Boatman), Anbe Vaa (Come, dear) Kaavalkaaran (The Watchman), Oli Vilakku (Bright Lamp), Adimai Penn (The Slave Girl), Ulagam Chuttum Valiban (The Roaming Youth) etc.

MGR was first married to V N Janaki, an actress who left her husband and married him. Later MGR had acted in most films wit Saroja Devi, followed by Jeyalalitha, the present Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.

Thus Tamil Cinema moved slowly towards punctuating from 'serious message films' that were adapted from historical romances, puranic stories and mythologies into contemporary realities depicting contemporary social conditions, and later as catalyst for social change. But Tamil Cinema continued with doses of entertainment - songs, dances, fights, comic scenes etc. that boiled into a 'masala'. The Tamil Cinema too, as in most Indian films of the period, remained 'theatrical' than 'cinematic'.

The Tamil films had to wait for the near 21st century to understand the cinema as a different medium with minimal dialogue and more of images.

In the interim period there are more things to know in appreciating Tamil films as they developed. Let's know what they are in coming weeks.

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