Let's face it. Every Sunday, we open the 'Cinema Plus', turn to page three and read at least one review where Baradwaj Rangan tears into those classic Kollywood cliches that he's probably been tearing into since the time he had a head covered fully by hair. Yet, our industry doesn't want to change itself. Or they just don't subscribe to The Hindu. Where does this reluctance to break away from something that is clearly not progressive come from?
The stark reality is this : Kaakka Muttai struggled to find a release date even as movies like 'Valiyavan' came and went this year. The above mentioned movie really made me ask 'Has the entire film fraternity lost the sense of what works and what doesn't?'
Film makers tend to work on what they think works, and they go by trends in recent years. The spate of horror movies involving comic scenes in recent years is a good case study. While movies like 'Kanchana 2' based their plots to milk this concept to the end, 'Maasu' struggled to balance the screen space between the star cast, the need to justify the concept and the traditional commercial elements.
This is where it gets tricky - We as fans, have adored these commercial elements (Intro songs, foreign locale songs, outnumbered fights, comedy tracks involving physical abuse) in several movies, which is why they still hold such precedence in a film maker's mind. It is easy for professionals to throw the 'hypocrite' card at us for loving it when 'Superstar' does it but hating it when someone else does. But there is a reason they are professionals and we are connoisseurs - They ought to know better.
Even a seasoned hit machine like K.S.Ravikumar got it wrong with Lingaa - The crowd is now wiser, we don't accept things at face value. The hypocrite card is out of the way. We want our stars to be stars without looking ridiculous. Also the question of 'time frame' arises - An actor schooled in cinema acting would claim Sivaji Ganesan's performances in a 'Mridanga Chakravarthy' or a 'Kouravam' as over-acting but the cinema of that period stemmed from drama/theatre and exaggerated expressions were the norm, as audience watched it live. That spilled over to the screen. But such acting will be dismissed today. When we have learnt that much, why can we not move past songs and fights that have no bearing on the plot?
Learning to laugh at oneself is a virtue. The people who are most confident in their skills have this virtue. This is where 'spoofs' play a role. A movie like 'Tamizh Padam' which would be a mere mindless movie to anyone who hasn't watched Tamil movies, was a rage among the traditional tamil movie patrons. It subtly sends the message that all is not okay with Tamil Cinema whilst taking out of it the seriousness of hurting artists' feelings via a direct negative review or Social Media trolling. Western movie making has seen a sea change with the advent of spoofs. It most definitely urges the makers of the original to change something. The more such movies are made, the more we will learn to laugh at ourselves. The more we do that, the better the chance of realising that the actual work, if truth be said, is more laugh-worthy than the spoof. When such realisation dawns, we will see the 'Vidiyum Munn's, the 'Aaaranya Kaandam's and the 'Kaaka Muttai's take Tamil cinema to the true pedestal it deserves.