2010 turned out to be a highly satisfying year for the Tamil film industry. As box office success stories were scripted one after another, producers went laughing all the way to the bank. A lot has been said and written about these movies. But a lot of commendable efforts went down the drain too. Genuine hard work miraculously escaped the discerning eyes of the critics; failure at the box-office added insult to injury. A look at the unfortunate underachievers of 2010:
1. Porkalam: Ten minutes into this movie, I realised that I was in for something different, though I wasn’t sure if the movie viewing experience was going to be a satisfying one. The bizarre cinematography, the confusing colour tones and the insanely illogical screenplay backed by the disturbingly imposing imagery received a judicious justification by the end of the first half! Every missing chunk, every seemingly non-reasonable action of the characters acquired new meaning as turbidity made way for supreme clarity and excruciating detail. What possibly worked against the movie was the clichéd second half. The minimal dialogues that made viewing such a pleasurable experience gave way to a badly narrated flashback. A disappointingly scripted climax, festooned with formulae followed. Nevertheless, the overall movie experience was good and the movie surely deserved more than what it got.
2. Aayirathil oruvan: Though this one was mediocre at the box-office, thanks to its celebrity director and an enviable star cast, the movie got a rough deal from the critics. I’m yet to recover from the shock that I experienced when I saw that a “top” movie website had given it half on a scale of five! The sheer scale of the movie and the ambition of the director deserve mention. The whole film industry shamelessly went gaga about Endhiran whereas they unanimously chose to ignore the eruption of a classic among their ranks. While the whole film industry is fuming over the inability of today’s directors to churn out a script depicting the problems faced by the Eezham, Selvaraghavan quietly did it quite effectively and indirectly in the closing scenes of the movie. The superbly composed and meticulously written “Thai thinra manne” is one of the most under-rated songs of the year. Another heart-warming thing about this epic is that, it placed the spirit of Tamil at the centre of everything. I felt shame when I realised that I couldn’t understand my own mother-tongue completely when it was spoken the way it’s got to be. On the flip-side, Selva paying scant heed to the diction of the lead actresses in the first half of the movie was disappointing. So many cogent and powerful voices speak volumes about the importance of Tamil dialogues in Tamil cinema but hardly does anyone implement it. And when a director as significant as Selva did it, all the big-mouths slipped into hibernation mode!
3. Naanayam: Films based on bank robberies are not new to the world of cinema but it’s certainly something that’s hardly put its head up in Tamil cinema. Though this movie was laden with a few avoidable sequences, it certainly had scenes brimming with novelty. The interesting casting and the impressive background score added sparkle to the proceedings.
4. Vamsam: The director of “Pasanga” returned with “Vamsam” and the result was an intriguingly scripted drama which had its share of witty humour. A tale that narrated the history of various communities and the importance of retaining the pride of the same, the oft-seen climax involving a one on one tussle between the hero and the baddie proved to be its undoing.
5. Mandhira punnaghai: This psychological drama stood out for its inventive character sketching and dialogues. The protagonist reminded me of the lead character in Ayn Rand’s “fountainhead” and the concept of imagining non-existent characters brought back memories of “The beautiful mind” and our own “Kudaikkul Mazhai”. Though the influences are obvious, the treatment remains novel. Had the director worked on the casting and an alternate climax, this one could have been one of the many success stories of this year
6. Goa: The movie on the outset was a highly boring one and many jokes fell flat. But the expansive scope for a homosexual character was one of the few highlights of the movie. Cheers to the director solely for being bold enough!
7. IKMS: Yet another movie with a novel theme. Worth a watch purely for the satire factor. Compromises aplenty and a carelessly woven screenplay, the deft final touches and editor’s scissors were found wanting.
There were a lot of other films I missed out on. Orr iravu, Thaen maerku paruva kaatru to name a few, which “others” reckon, are pretty good. Sad that good attempts occasionally fall out! I sincerely hope people recognise novel attempts this New Year and such underachievers effectively pull off the disappearing act!