Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Best Kanna Best!

Ever since Time magazine picked Naayagan and 4 other Indian movies to its list of the 100 best movies of all time, Rediff has been asking some of our own directors, actors, etc. to list what they consider the 10 best Indian films of all time. It was kickstarted by Subash Ghai, who had the temerity to place his own Taal on his list, and has since featured lists by Mohanlal, Ram Gopal Varma, etc.

Apart from plain surprise at some of the movies on the different lists(Mohanlal's list featured Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban!), the Rediff lists have been frustrating to me for a couple of reasons. One, they are mostly filled with movies I have not seen. And two, the lists have hardly any Tamil movies on them(even Adoor Gopalakrishnan, a Malayalam director, and P.C.Sriram list only Hindi movies!). So to fill the void, I thought I'd come up with my own list of the 10 best Tamil movies of all time.

Disclaimer: Though the list is called '10 Best Movies', any 'best of...' or 'top ten' list is, by its very nature of being compiled by a person, subjective. Also, my list has a bias towards movies starting in the 80s since it was starting then that I began seeing movies regularly.

Andha Naal - An accomplished film noir
Mouna Raagam - Both a love story and an 'arranged marriage' story
Naayagan - A true classic
16 Vayadhinile - Best of the village movies
Poovizhi Vaasalile - A gripping thriller
Salangai Oli - Emotional and mature love story set in the world of dance
Sethu - Very different love story
Sindhu Bhairavi - KB's masterpiece
Thevar Magan - Classy yet raw; violent yet tender
Thiruvilayaadal - Exhilarating mythological

Since the tagging thing seems to be popular now in the blog world, I'm gonna try and tag a few other Tamil cinema-inclined bloggers(and non-blogger) for this list. Let me see if this works and if this list gets propagated. It would be interesting to see what others think and would probably help add a few movies to my to-see list!

Lazy Geek
Ram
Nithya
Munimma

39 Comments:

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous ram said...

am sorry for being an ignoramus but could someone explain to me this concept of "tagging?" (or point me to a link that explains this, please!)

anyways, ten of my favorites...for the rest (under construction till they put me in a coffin!) check out some more of my favs at www.geocities.com/ram_aishoo/favs.html

Nayagan; Mouna Raagam; Gowravam; Mudhal Mariyaadhai; Rhythm; Dhevar Magan; Mullum Malarum; Pudhiya Paadhai; Aboorva Sahodarargall; Vedham Pudhidhu;

 
At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Maverick said...

Thevar Magan
Mouna Raagam
MMKR
Nayagan
Iruvar
Baatcha
Salangai Oli
Kalyanam Panniyum Brahmachari Pesum Padam (Pushpak)
Moondraam Pirai

 
At 6:04 AM, Blogger bhuvan said...

It's been some time since I've seen THEVAR MAGAN, so I don't know it I would like it now as I did back when I was just a kid. So, as for today my top ten Tamil movies are (in no particular order):

CHINNA THAMBI - yeah, yeah, everybody hates it for being oh-so-sentimental, but I love it, so screw you, if you don't like it.

MUTHU - Rajani's best film. Ever. ALso K.S. Ravikumar's best film. Ever. An instant classic.

ANNAMALAI - "Malai da, Annamalai" and "Brother Mountain!" There's hardly a movie that's more rousing, exciting and entertaining.

THARMATHURAI - Heartbreaking. Simply devastating. Features Rajani's best performance. Makes me cry every time (just like the last third of NALLAVANUKKU NALLAVAN with that bitch daughter).

THAVANIK KANAVUGAL - Bhagyaraj's masterpiece: hilariously funny, deeply moving and inspired. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

BOMBAY and ALAI PAYUTHEY - The only Mani Rathnam films that actually work consistently, instead of being noble failures. Both are also quite similar, and it's even possible to read the second one as a remake/sequel of/to the first one.

THILLANA MOHANAMBAL - Quite a vibrant and dazzling piece of classic cinema with a pitch perfect cast and great music.

KAADHAL - A new one, but quite a great one. If it wasn't for some mainstream elements and a rather slight story, this would have real crossover potential. The director is up to great things, given his magnificent storytelling talents and attention to detail apparent in this quietly devastating flick.

MICHAEL MADANA KAMA RAJAN - Just cause I can't think of another one at the moment, and cause it's an endlessly rewatchable, hilarious slapstick comedy with Kamal at his very best.

 
At 6:46 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

not fair. can't stop at 10 :-)

 
At 7:40 AM, Anonymous GP said...

Good choice, Balaji.. Shankar's movies pidikkatha? :-)

 
At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Vijay said...

Balaji, good list, agree with all choices.

Here's an alternate Top 10:

Kaadhalikka Neramillai - Sridhar, the trendsetter, re-defining what clean entertainment was all about

Thillana MohanambaaL - epic story of love, music and dance providing wholesome entertainment

Sigappu RojaakkaL - a thriller ahead of its times

Udhiri PookkaL - to this day film institute students analyze the movie and the powerful yet subtle storytelling

Aboorva RaagangaL - Once again KB dealing with mature themes and issues that werent thought of until then


Veedu - realistic, moving portrayal - a marked departure from mainstream fare

Pesum Padam - one of its kind

Kurudhipunal - Gritty police drama with minimal or no commercial compromises

Iruvar - one of the better biopics in Tamil Cinema - probably the director's best effort

Mudhalvan - commercial cinema at its best. Had something for everyone

 
At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Vijay said...

Some movies which I havent seen but have heard rave reviews:

Nadu Iravil - thriller by S.Balachandar
AvaL appadiththaan - saw a small portion long time back. a very different documentary like filmmaking with Kamal/Rajni/Sripriya
Punnagai - by KB

 
At 8:47 AM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

Gentleman

Baatsha

Iyarkai (all because me got soft corner for shyam)

Azhagi

Thalapathi

Muthal Mariyaathai

Kaathal Kondaen

Kutty

Kaakha Kaakha

16 Vayathinile


man.. this was tough

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous paramakudi said...

Thevar Magan
Anbe Sivam
Hey Ram
Apoorva Sagodharargal
Pushpak
Michael Madana Kamarajan
Andha Naal
Mudhal Mariyadhai
Sigappu Rojakal
Indian

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, i think 'tagging'(in its meaning here) is a blog-specific term. as far as i can see, it simply refers to naming another blogger to do some task!
could guess most of your list. but surprised to not find 'kudaikkul mazhai' in there :-)

mav, nice list. who's in 'kalyanam paniyum brahmachari'? sounds familiar. its good enuf to be on your top 10 of all time? wow!

asokan, as expected, yours is probably the list i have the least in common with. agree with u on 'kaadhal' and 'bombay/alaipayuthey'. also luv 'muthu' and 'annamalai' but i think 'baasha' was better overall filmmaking.

munimma, thats part of the challenge :)

gp, pudikum. the only movie that was under consideration was 'indian'. but the crude comedy and cheesy special fx pushed it out. unga list enge??

vijay, good list. agree with all except the first and last probably.
one of sridhar's older movies(the one with 'engirundhaalum vaazhga' song) would've probably made it but its been so long since i've seen it.
and i have actually never seen 'udhiri pookkal' though i've heard a lot about it :-( havent seen the other 3 u havent seen either.

merino, interesting list :-)

paramakudi, big time kamal fan pola irukke? :-)

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

not surprisingly, many of my runnersup r on other lists. a few close contenders were raajapaarvai, moondraam pirai, baasha, mullum malarum, roja, iruvar, pesum padam...

was kinda surprised that no one has 'roja' on their list yet... it was high on my wife's list :-)

my admittedly ambitious plan(if the list gets propagated sufficiently and if i find the time) is to collect the different lists and try to come up with a 'master' top 10 list comprising movies appearing most # of times... paarpom!

 
At 10:46 AM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

how could I forget Anbe Sivam????!!! =(

 
At 11:31 AM, Anonymous ram said...

bj, nakkalaa...my Mum had this stinging remark about my KM review...

"It wasnt a review...it was a eulogy...but given the fate of the film and nature of the subject, it read more like the 'Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog!'"

well, here's my "contenders" list:

Raja Paarvai; Amaidhi Padai; Avargall; Thillu Mullu; Moondraam Pirai; Aahaa; Mahanadhi; Aan Paavam; Anjali; Johnny

btw, quite a coincidence...i started watching udhiri pookkall on tape last nite...will finish it tonite and write about it briefly 2mrw...

 
At 11:35 AM, Anonymous GP said...

GP, I had my list prepared as soon as i saw yours.. Didnt post it, since it mostly had post-80's films.. but, after seeing Asokan's list, I think i can post mine./. :-)

1) Anjali - Affected me a lot as a teen-ager.. lovely songs, cute performance by the three kids.. esp. Shamli.. and great cinematography.

2) Nayakan - A big time Kamal fan.. gotta love it.. Well.. I loved the way the evolution of a Dada was shown.. Already discussed well in this website and others..

3) Roja - No loud performance in this movie full of patriotism.. It has a special place for its music (both songs and background) and mind-blowing performances by the lead actors.

4) Thevar Magan - Would have expected, right? It was my choice for Kamal's splendid show both on screen and in the script. Sivaji, Revathi and Gauthami gave one of their best performances.

5) Batsha: Pure entertainer.. from the beginning to the end..

6) Pudhupudhu Arthangal - Great songs, superb acting by the three main characters and some real touchy scenes.. A sensitive story without vulgarity...

7) Gentleman - Mother of all fantasy movies.. Nice linking screenplay, Music and stunts..

8) Mudhalvan - Fantasy again, but at a different level.. Terrific brainwork gone into each frame..

9) Mouna Raagam.

10) Vedam pudithu - Timeless movie on casteism.. Satyaraj and Bharathiraja at their best..

Very tough to exclude Kurudhi Punal, MMKR, Mudhal Mariyadhai, 16 vayathinile, kadhal, Poove Poochoodavaa, Kadhalikka Neramillai, Thiruvilaiyadal, Pasamalar, Sindhu Bhairavi, Mahanadhi, Indian, Server Sundaram, Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Captain Prabhakaran from the list.. but they would comprise my top 25..

 
At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is my alternate list...thank God I am not alone...if u dont agree with me, well, screw you...

chinna thambi

periya thambi (prabu nagma)

dharmadhurai

rajapaat rangadurai

thaavani kanavugall

color kanavugall (kushboo karan)

anbu thollai (pandiyarajan)

villupaatukaran (ramarajan)

rajakaali amman

padai veetu amman

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger bhuvan said...

Yo Balaji, I liked BATCHA up to the interval and a bit of the flashback, but once Raghuvaran gets out of jail and goes after Rajani I was bored beyond reason.

I also didn't like Nagma and the songs, apart from "Batcha paaru" were underwhelming. BATCHA had lot of promising elements, especially in the first half, but the second half failed to realize them in a satisfying way - for me at least.

 
At 1:28 PM, Anonymous ram said...

oh oh, sorry, i posted that as anonymous!:)

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger IBH said...

Defly not in this order!

* Thillana Mohaanambal - what a combo?Shivaji,Gemini,Padmini,Nagesh,Balaiya...

*Theiva Magan - For sheer versatility of Sivaji...

*Mohamul - Beautiful movie...didnt enter the line of sleaze but beautifully portrayed

*Sirai - Classy actors with superb performances

*Andha Naal - for being ahead of its time

* Nallavanuku Nallavan & Valli - I loved the theme and Rajini's brilliant performance ( I am a hardcore Rajini Fan with great liking for his entertainers but these two movies were two of his best performances)

*Aboorva Sahodararhal - I mean who can think of midgets will steal the show and become national craze

* MMKR - Absly

* Server sundaram & Edhir neechal - CLassics...that is all i can tell abt this KB's two gems...
* Anjali - no words to describe this movie

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger ioiio said...

Gud list man! chk out my 'worst ever' films list in mine!

 
At 5:38 PM, Blogger IBH said...

aiyayoo balaji idhu rombha kashtam... i forgot these :
* Mahendran's Thanga Padhakam
* my dad and my all time favs :
Karnan and Kappalottiya Tamizhan

 
At 7:18 PM, Anonymous GP said...

I have posted my long time wish of top 10 tamil songs.. Pl. check out.

 
At 7:46 PM, Blogger Anjali said...

mine top 10 are
Thilanna mohanambal
Anjali
Nayagan
Bhama vijayam
Gauravam
Veitnam veedu
sindhu bairavi
mullum malarum
azhageye theye
sethu
thz for stopping by balaji.

 
At 4:08 AM, Anonymous F e r r a r i said...

Not necessarily in same order. Will try to mention some movies not mentioned by others too :-D

Nayagan-Killer Combo
Anbe Sivam-Kamal Magic
Kannathil Muthamittaal-Mani Magic
Adhe KangaL->Never seen such a suspense movie (Since u have already mentioned andha naaL)
Udhiri PookkaL-Mahendran Magic
Mudhal Mariyadhai- Sivaji, Vadivukarasi(Life time performance), Vairamuthu and Raja sir. And ofcourse Bharathiraja
Moondru Mugam-Rajni style. Esp. Alex Pandian character. wow
Enga veetu pillai-MGR at his best
Karagattakaran-One of the most hilarious comedy movies ever made
Sabapathy-Excellent comedy from TR Ramachandran and Kali N Ratnam

 
At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Gopi said...

I agree. 10 is not enough. We might need more categories, 10 Best 80s Movies, 10 Best Romance Movies, etc.

It should be interesting to make lists for the following as well:

10 Worst Movies
10 Best Remakes (from Telugu to Tamil, for instance)

 
At 7:11 AM, Anonymous GP said...

Balaji, Kalyanam panniyum brahmachari was a really hilarious movie featuring Sivaji and TR Ramachandran. And, 'engirundhalum' song was from "Nenjil ore alayam".

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ibh, edho reasons solli oru 15 movies post panitengale :-)

anjali, atleast 1 movie on your list didnt surprise me :-)

ferrari, have u seen 'adhe kangal' recently? i saw it a couple of months ago and felt it had aged a lot. wasnt impressed at all...

gopi, having those categories would've made it too easy! i was hoping for a consolidated top 10 like the ones published by hollywood reviewers...
10 best remakes would be a good list though...

gp a.k.a tmdb, thanx!

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger IBH said...

rombha kashtam Balaji......appanala Tamizh movie addict ipo hubby nala total movie addict ayache ;)

 
At 5:03 AM, Blogger Nithya Swaminathan said...

Balaji,
The honours done..:) Do go thru my list:)

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New to blogging....But came across this blog and decided now was as good a time as any to jump into the fray.

My husband & I started our "top ten" picks as a fun exercise when we were dining at a restaurant couple of months ago..our criteria for these lists are

i) Films that have withstood the test of time. So, it does exclude movies released recently (maybe unfairly), no matter how brilliant they were. It only takes a movie like Chinna Thambi to reiterate this point.... I enjoyed it 10 years ago but couldn't sit through more than 30 minutes of it when I viewed it recently.

ii) "Repeat-watching" Quotient:
In addition to being enjoyable/thought-provoking/creative/or whatever turns you on about movies, a key aspect of a truly great movie is its ability to glue us to our seats not just the first time we watch it but anytime we come across it(be it channel surfing on TV or picking it out as a rental when you're all out of new movies to watch). This helped us narrow our list down. Here are my tamil picks:

i) Thevar Magan - Was pleasantly surprised to see this make many of your lists. I've always felt that it was an underrated movie. For me, this is simply the best that the Tamil Film Industry has to offer. Not a single scene in the movie seemed superfluous. It also met one other personal criterion i.e. it was an original tamil movie and not a knock-off (one reason I rate this higher than Nayagan). It also has the look and feel of a true Tamil in other words the tamil man vasanai has the It meets the "Tamil Man Vasanai" quotient for original screenplay.

ii) Thillana Mohanmabal - A befitting tribute to our rich cultural heritage of music and dance. I've always liked this movie but I've enjoyed this more in recent years. My husband is a carnatic music buff and getting exposed to the music circles has given me greater appreciation of the story, screenplay, characters and performances in this movie. Watch it for great performances from Nagesh and Sivaji (and yes! in that order). Vaithi is probably the best role Nagesh has enacted. His Nakkal is unprecedented and unsurpassed to this day (even beats my other favorite Nagesh role i.e. Dharumi in Thiruvilayadal)

 
At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops hit the publish button too soon !!

iii) Mouna Ragam - Manirathnam's "Mills & Boon" type romance. I liked it for breaking the tamil movie myth of "you only love once" and showing that there is life beyond your first love. I also liked the fact that unlike most tamil movies of those (and these) days, Manirathnam did not milk the "Thaali" sentiment. The circumstances leading to Revathi falling in love with Mohan ware natural and realistic (unlike the "kallanaalum kanavan" thaali sentiment seen in movies like "Andha 7 naatkal")

iv) Nizhal Nijamaagirathu - Surprised to see this didn't make anyone's list. Balachander's classic gem. Great performances from Kamal, Shoba and Sumitra. Watch it if you get the chance.

v) Nayagan - Classic filmmaking inspite of the "Godfather" hangover.

vi) Hey Ram - I thought the movie was a bit long and didn't appreciate the visual imagery, but I still rate it high because of its creative screenplay and deft execution.

vii) Karnan - Although, I'm not a huge fan of Sivaji, I have to agree it is hard to think of the character "Karnan" without seeing Sivaji's face. A true masterpiece.

viii) Vedham Puthithu - This one's from memory. I remember thinking that it was one of the best movies I had seen at that time. Until I see it again (and maybe decide otherwise), this stays on the list.

ix) Pithamagan - Truly depressing in classic Bala style (I loved Sethu as well), I thought it was a commendable effort. Great peformances from Vikram and Surya.

x) Indian - A true masala entertainer from Shankar with a strong social message.

Movies that I had to eliminate to make this selection include Muthal Mariyaadai, Mundhaanai Mudichu,Pudhiya Paadhai and Sindhu Bhairavi. I've heard rave reviews about Raja Paarvai but I've never watched it. Plan to see it some time.

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, welcome to the world of blogs. glad u chose mine to kick it off and hope u keep coming back :-)

that was a very nice list with short and sweet comments on each one. have absolutely no arguments with any of them! all classics :-)

and do try to sign off with your name or some form of identification in future posts. helps me keep track of who's saying what :-)

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger My Turn said...

I meant to sign off but forgot to do so. Anyway, I've started dabbling in the world of blog and so my blog i.d. will be my sign off in the future.

I've read your movie reviews for the last 3-4 years and have generally agreed with your comments. I've watched some of the lesser-known movies mostly due to your recommendations.

Anyway, reading some of the other blogs on your site I came across remarks on "Sila nerangalil sila manithargal". Have to agree that it probably needs to be in the top 10. I'll probably knock off "Indian" to add this to my list.

That was an interesting discussion. Look forward to more in the future.

 
At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top 10 Tamil Movies I have seen

1. Poove Unnakaga
2. Kadhalukku Mariyadhai
3. Nayagan
4. Anniyan
5. Indian
6. Anjali
7. Thalapathy
8. Padaiyappa
9. Ghilli
10. Kadhal Kottai

 
At 3:42 AM, Anonymous rekhs said...

hey guys
i thot i wld opine b4 listing..
ram i dont agree abt rhythm

ashokan i think chinna thambi crawls to ur top 10 simply cos tfw(tamil film world) realised khushboo cld also act!!:)thillana mohanambal a def yes...but a big NO to ur choice of rajini movies!

gp i think shankar is over rated
..did u see anniyan?

vijay..i agree with almost all ur movies except kurudhipunal despite a kamal *er had too much violence and mudhalvan a def drag!!aval appadithaan def IN!

merino i.c. what do u c inshyam!!!
????me alice in wonderland!!curious!!!

paramakudi..mudhal mariyadhai which
got released same time as sindhubairavi got my vote!

ram i think raja parvai is def IN

gp..u seem to b the 1ly one voting for roja,i second u..esp for the songs
tho mani rathnam's sense of humor is pathetic!!

ibh..karnan yeah can any1 ever take shivaji's place!

thillana fits the repeat quotient to the T

balaji i agree with yr 10 ten except for sindhubairavi,mine follows...:)

 
At 4:23 AM, Anonymous rekhs said...

in no particular order,my top 10,

thilanamohanambal...shd have gone for the oscars claims my husband!!!

unnaal mudiyum thambi...only KB and IR cld have thot of using lalitha ragam for idhayil kadhai ezhudhi cos seetha is L K malam!:)

sethu..bala made kenny( vikram) a hero and tamil audience realise that hard work and diligence does pay afterall!!!
the cave scene where he says u r fit only to take lice!!!
the friends gumbal is so realistic and believable
the dialogues r what u and i wld speak!

aasai...an ajith *er we can re-watch!i think deva's best,where all the songs are worth hearing,
kudos to vasanth,made ppl sit up and watch out for jeeva!!!( tho sachein was a smoke-r!!)

punnagai mannan...revathi was more than a match for kamal!
dialogue bet charlikamal chaplin and srividya when she hitches a ride in his "car" one night ...
chaplinchellapa remembering rev's bday..akkarai iruku ninaivu vetchirukaaru!!!and jr kamal's jealousy shown in hsi jawline...v realistic!!!
rev applauding with a sabash malini and a self hand shake is now part of me!

agni nakshathram...i think first movie where amla dubbed for
herself, treat to watch prabhu and karthik do a good act,even if
humor is not mani's forte!

mouna ragam..all time fav...even now film ppl quote karthik's role as
the best cameo role ever!

ayudha ezhuthu...i think after alaipayudhay maddy's best performance,
meera jasmine steals the show in sandaikozhi song,novel way of narration,surya shows def promise

roja...santhosh sivan excels in his cinematography,ARR's best ever

nizhal nijamagiradhu... the two lovely songs ilakanam marudho and kamban emarndhaan ...one of KB's best oldies


its v tuff to restrain...:)but stop i must!

 
At 6:29 AM, Anonymous rekhs said...

sorry..just one more..wanted to add kadhal kottai,some1 else has mentioned it too...too many blogs and my mind is bogged/fogged!:(
but to ahathiyan goes the credit for being the only director to bag a national award for kadhal kottai and he comes across as a very humble humanE being...( ram i am sure u will vouch for that;) )
i hrd/read somewhere that
when spb sir sang the nalam nalam ariya aaval song independently and b4 anu sriram did he prophesied that she wld b a sought after singer in the yrs to come:)
one ajith *er thats not an eye strainer!
:)

 
At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RK's Top Ten ;
1. Mahanadhi
2. Kuruthipunal
3. Nayagan
4. Devar magan
5. Sathilelavathi
6. Sigappurojakkal
7. Anbe Sivam
8. Muthal Mariyathai
9. Adhe Kangal
10. Server Sundaram

 
At 12:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sivakumar's Marupadiyum was a masterclass. This has to be in top 10. Vaidehi Kathirunthal had good performances from Revathi & VKanth.
Manakkanaku (*ing Ambika & Radha with Sarath Babu Rajesh, VKanth, Kamal) is one of my favorites.

 

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