Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Director No. 1?

According to Tamilnadu’s college students, Selvaraghavan is the most talented Tamil director today. That’s apparently the result of a poll conducted by a Tamil magazine across college campuses and is mentioned by Rediff in their ‘First Look’ at Pudhuppettai, Selvaraghavan’s eagerly-anticipated next venture(anybody know the complete results of the poll? I'm curious about the status of the other directors). So he ranks higher than Manirathnam, Cheran and Shankar! Quite an achievement for someone only 2 films old.

Selvaraghavan’s film-making style is raw, sometimes uncomfortably so. He pulls no punches in depicting life(mostly its shadier side though) and his in-your-face style is not for those who prefer soft, feel-good cinema. His 2 movies so far have had a gritty look and feel that made them seem realistic but within the confines of a fast-paced screenplay. Personally, he would probably figure in my top 5 favorite directors but would rank below Mani and Cheran for sure.

Kaadhal Konden was a good film. The story, with shades of Guna (and King Kong, as some readers pointed out!), was packaged in a screenplay that kept surprising us. I can’t think of any other film that started out with a regular hero and a clichéd villain and then completely turned the tables on us so effectively. But I’m one of the few who thought 7/G Rainbow Colony was a step back for the director. I found the story and many situations to be clichéd and predictable and several scenes were downright silly. The characterization of the lead pair and the surprising and touching climax pretty much rescued the film.

But how have these two movies made him the director of choice for the youth of today? Was it his sympathetic portrayal of a rowdy college student? Was it his realistic depiction of a young man’s feelings towards a girl? Or was it just his ability to tell a good tale? Anyway, considering his film-making style, the Chennai underworld, where Pudhuppettai is supposedly set, seems to be a setting tailor-made for him. So I am definitely looking forward to the film. Just not as much as I am looking forward to Mani's next. Or Cheran's next. Or Sivaji.

27 Comments:

At 11:38 PM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

I even got wonder when I saw the list in Kumudam Weekly..Shankar is at 2nd, Mani is at 3rd and Cheran is at 7th. Entire list gives me a false impression of the survey itself. May be bcos of the target people as College goers. Eventhough I didn't see any good stuff in Selvaraghavan. Bala is not in the list, bcos he did a film very long back.

 
At 12:06 AM, Blogger Me said...

I personally wouldn't rank selvaraghavan over maniratnam or shankar mainly because he's not as versatile as these two. He has confined himself to teenage adulthood problems. He has a very raw way of telling a story and although they seem very realistic, i wouldn't call this good cinema. For one thing it is def polluting teenagers minds.. college students should appreciate movies like ayutha ezuthu than movies like 7G. The more shady the movie gets the more students seem to throng the cinema halls!!
U have a very admirable choice of words!! Kudos to u!!

 
At 12:32 AM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

i will tell you my comment in person...

:)

 
At 1:45 AM, Blogger Zero said...

Balaji,
I ll place SR before Cheran and Shankar, though. And, where the heck is Bala, btw? His films are the most I expect after KH and MR.

But I’m one of the few who thought 7/G Rainbow Colony was a step back for the director.
Why, you ve got company in me. SR definitely got less gimmicky with 7G. Yeah, I think KK's screenplay had quite a few standard gimmicks to "impress" the viewer which 7G honesly tried to get away from; But KK was fresh and worked. Where as in 7G, though he gave a straight-forward story, he really got carried away with his now-trademark storyline of good-for-nothing protagonist buckling up forward in life, thanks to her angelic girlfriend (present in KK as well and my biggest crib over the movie). The father-son angle about which SR talked at length in his interviews was there for our glimpses as the romantic melodrama angle overtakes everything else.

Personal fear: So, if Sonia Agarwal again is going to play this marwadi/seth high-class girl happenning to meet mafia-guy Dhanush time and again and bringing about a change in him or something, I ll be terribly disappointed on realising that SR will never grow.

 
At 2:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

u asked for the full results of the poll , here it is and the descriptions of the directors also.

10)HARI-eventhough only sami did good , talent is ther in him

9)SURYA-wrongly beleives this is wat is liked by youth and goes overboard .

8)CHERAN-goes for emotional films . attracts middle age more thn youth . this tells in the box office as the youth r main reason behind the success of the film in collections wise

7)PERARASU-good at givin fast paced fireworks entertainer .

6)RAJA-eventhough both r reamke films he did it with a lot of tamil nativity and is expert at fast cutting . good director at the BOX_OFFICE point of view

5)A.R.MURAGADOSS-strong at screenplay. shud concentrate more in the way of picturising songs.

4)DHARANI-trend setter in terms of lightening paced screenplay films. he is the one who proved an action films can go at jet paced without action scenes but with interesting scenes .his films r 3 hours but it looks like only 3 min .

3)MANIRATHNAM-one who crossed generation . eventhough his last two films KM and AE didnt do well still ranks among the top .

2)SHANKAR-wen a person sees his film atleast for a minute the person will care abt the society . A director who has given 7 staright hits .

1)SELVARAGHAVAN-the one and only director who knows the pulse of the youth. Teenage periods feelings,entertainment,love all r mixed in right proportions in his films and his way of presentation is also good . every teenager can associate themselves with the hero and heroin of his films . The film 7G is absolutely unforgettable .

 
At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heard tht in pudupettai sneha is doin a role of sex worker and the film is full and fully based on the life of people in north chennai.

 
At 2:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My List:

1. Mani Ratnam
2. K Balachander
3. Shankar and Cheran
4. Kamal Hassan

In my opinion, we can gauge a director only after he has directed 5 or more movies. Movies with an innovative kick such as Ayutha Ezhuthu, Virumandi breaks ice than a 7G or a kadhal konden.

I so badly wish Mani and Kamal can do movies together again..

Cheers,

Sriram

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger tt_giant said...

although the title card of thulluvadho ilamai mentions Kasthuri raja as the director, for all practical purposes, it was selva who did it..

yea, as someone mentioned, what about bala?.

 
At 7:54 AM, Blogger Raju said...

Deepak just managed to beat me with this 'Thulluvatho ilamai' point.. Though that movie was considered by several elders to be 'vulgar', teenagers and early-20'ers knew of what actually happens that age. So, they instantly liked the concept of the movie.

Unlike others, Selva's all the 3 movies have dealt with school,college-going youngsters. that could be another reason (Kathir was the other guy, barring Uzhavan, who could have made it big after Kadhal Desam..) Another point favoring Selva is Yuvan's music. Yuvan truly embodies the present generation, and he comes up with his best when teamed up with Selva. That combo of youth has helped him as well.

 
At 8:23 AM, Blogger Kumari said...

Kind of makes you want to 'cleanse' the entire teen population, doesn't it?
I mean how can SR ever be above Mani? I agree with you, i totally loathe 7G coz it is more crude than realistic. And why are all teenage problems only related to sex? What about depression? insecurity? How come no1 ever wants to make movies of it? Even if it is insecurity it is becoz 'they can't get a girl'. Aaargh.

And as for Bala, there is a limit to how much pathos a person can take even in a movie and i feel he goes overboard with that. It's ok to make movies that churn your soul at times but to completely wrench it out of your body and throw it out is NOT good.

I say the poll was rigged. There that makes me happy :)

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger nivas said...

Honestly i wouldn't read much in to this poll results. Like most polls by local media, unless otherwise told, we should beleive that this has a low sample size and an inadequate, biased distribution. Anyway another factor is that MR's last film wasn't so popular and he doesn't have a tamil film in works and for Bala, even 2 yrs after his last film, he doesn't seem to have even started his next film! So the current situation may have played an important role.

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...

Balaji-

Along the lines of some others comments, SR's popularity among high school and college crowd was his Thuluvatho Illamai, which definitely can't be classified as a decent film. But, the content and storyline drew many youngsters to this director's style of film making.

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger TamilPonnu said...

Kudos to SR..

- MANI is my all time fav!

 
At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Folks.. why would Bala figure in this list? Looks at all his films: Sethu, Nandha, Pithamagan.. where is the youthful, trendy stuff in any of these films? Moreover, Bala has definitely much more of a "dark and bleak" approach, even worse than Selvaraghavan.. and there is rarely any compromise from him (with the occasional Simran 'old song medley' a la Pithamagan! Sethu was probably the only film with the maximum number of compromises from him, being in fights or in songs).. I really don't think Bala will make it into this list any time this century.. His style is definitely not considered attractive to youth or teenagers.. Unfortunate but true..

What's worse... Bala doesn't know the first thing about song picturization (which he probably thinks is a total waste of time!).. On that subject, what is so great about Selva's song picturization either? (you can probably make a case for "Devathai Kandaen" "Thottu Thottu Pesum" and "Kaadhal Kaadhal" in Kaadhal Kondaen.. but really that's about it! Are any of us dumb enough to claim that 7G songs were picturized well? Was there anything in the picturization that was unique or different in them? Any claims that "Kanaa Kaanum" or "Kann Paesum Vaarthaigal" was picturized innovatively?)..

I think not!..

If anyone has been consistent in the last 15 years in the song picturizations category (say from the time he made Mouna Raagam!), it is definitely Mani. He tends to fair far far better in the consistency, creativity and enjoyability scale when it comes to song picturiation than any of the current crop of directors (even better than Shankar. On a song by song breakdown, you'll find Mani wins hands down over Shankar!).. Who can compete with his picturization of "Kannalane," "Uyire," "Pudhu VeLLai Mazhai," "Pachchai Nirame," "Kaadhal Sadugudu"... this list will stretch into eternity.. Mani is revered and will continue to be revered for his coherent, commercial (class not crass) filmmaking style with the special Mani touches that you won't find with any other director..

 
At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am i the only person who thinks manirathnam is a total cornball? the blocking in his movies (esp iruvar) is often amateurish, his gimmicky topicality, sluggish pacing, portentiousness... mani knows how to hook up with good cinematographers, that i will give him.

jevya

 
At 1:40 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

karthik, yeah i think the survey was done in college campuses.

me, the 'aaydha ezhuthu' comparison occurred to me too since both 7G and AE r about college students. but the issues they dealt with and their way of showcasing with them r just so different. and good pt on lack of versatility. so far 'pudhuppettai' looks like it'll be different.

zero, for me the biggest crib about 7G was the character of sonia's fiance. he was just so cliched and a pathetically convenient cardboard character. then comes the vikraman-like story u described :)

anon, thanx a lot for taking the time to gimme the list. almost half the list is made up of directors who have directed very few movies. i was surprised to not find 'kaadhal' balaji sakthivel on there...

sriram, i agree. but i've always thot that the 2nd film is a director's acid test. too many directors have stumbled on their 2nd film after impressive debuts...

ttg/raju, i still havent seen 'thulluvadho ilamai' :(

kumari, i disliked the 1st half of 7G for the same reason but thot the 2nd half and the climax saved the day. whether depression or insecurity, they can arise only out of love or romance. considering all our college students do in movies is love, smoke and drink, what else can we expect??!!

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Babs said...

I know its a cliche but lemme start saying that "Lies, Damn Lies and Statictics"...These results depends totally on who were being asked or which colleges they visited and hence doesn't reflect the entire youth let alone 60% of it.
The result looks like they have mostly visited Non co-ed south (may be, not generalising here) where teens r dry, prev every inch :-). They shd probably have a online pool along with this and every schools who wish to participate in every centers.
I would like to know how many participated in this first of all which wud give us an idea to draw the distribution.

 
At 7:07 PM, Anonymous ram said...

I liked Kadhal Konden a lot...Danush was absolutely mesmerizing as Vinod...and, yes, the screenplay writer in Selvaraghavan was really noticed...

but this is what i thot of 7G:

9. 7/G Rainbow Colony: I absolutely *loved* the movie…for the first two hours but absolutely *detested* the last twenty minutes. The movie is so delightfully realistic – sometimes even making us cringe with its extreme realism – in its depiction of a wayward youngster and his love for an apparently snobbish girl, that I thought I was watching a great movie. Great songs, great dialogue, realistic situations and nuanced performances but the director (Selvaraghavan) lets everything go down the drain in the last 20 minutes. I felt like I was being jerked around by the screenplay in the end (I wont reveal the ‘twist’ here) that I yelled, “Is that the damn point of the movie?”

 
At 8:37 PM, Blogger Venkat Radha said...

Selva raghavan def'tly gives more dose of reality of today's youth or college going students.
But how can he be considered better than Manirathnam?

Selvaraghvan plays with today's youth mind using extreme vulgarity
and crude mentality. 7G Rainbow colony was a classic example of how ugly he can think of a heroine. Still I couldn't digest his thought process of making that
movie...he is def'tly screwed in his head.

Watch for SR's career after 2 years.

 
At 8:45 PM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Balaji,
Like the Directors list, in this week, Kumudham has listed out 10 from Singers (including both male/female).
1. Karthik
2. Chitra
3. Shankar Mahadevan
6. SPB
7. Unni

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger Bart said...

If SR could feature in the list after two movies, should not Radha Mohan, Priya, Amir, Jeeva, Vishnuvardhan also be considered in the list? Especially when I see SJ Suriya, Raja and Perarasu in the list. If Perarasu, why not KS Ravikumar? Even why not the currently active KB? A highly constrained, biased, meaningless poll..
Pudhupettai, I feel might be worth looking for but as Balaji says, it doesn't stand anywhere close to the expectations on say, a Sivaji or a MR announcement on his next..
Pudhupettai was launched to revive the career of Dhanush.. That constrained goal says it all... Look out for loads of contrivity and compromises.
Ideally I think he was to launch his "Oru Naal Oru kanavu" (titled used by somebody else later) with Dhanush, Soniya and only one another character in the whole movie. That experimental stuff was shelved for this. That might have been something different to lookout for in my view.

 
At 9:31 PM, Blogger Zero said...

Balaji,
same here. I did not crib about the extremely cliched circumstances in which she falls in love (the bad bad lover exploiting her; and the family hitting the financial bottom) with the protagonist coz you had already mentioned it. Again, you got company!

 
At 10:42 PM, Blogger pagala'k' said...

How many film makers make a film on Losers. The guy who is unemployable, unloveable, untrustful and a whole lot of other Un's. Selvaraghavan managed to do it in 7GR when the rest of the film fraternity made films with super heroes showasing their super powers:).Coming back to 7GR, a certain section of the audience was able to identify (and appreciate)with the story. A few of my friends after watching the movie remarked that it brought back memeories of their "colony" days. These were some factors that catapulted the film to success.
I thought the film was convincingly told even though the content was not to our liking.So the average college going youth might be able to empathize with such themes rather than Shankar's vigilante offerings or Maniratnam's multi-layered Aaiyudha Ezuthu.
You are 18, you constitute the bulk of the movie going audience. You want to have fun and shake your leg in the theatre. Movies that make you think just doesn't seem palatable.For all your efforts you will get to hear..."Torture panraaan yaaa, bladeuu thanagala". There are some people like Vijay in the movie industry who seem to take undue advantage of this fact and repeatedly churn out cliched mass masala movie entertrainers that really dont cater to the family audiences. Some people feel that Vijay is aping Rajini's formula. But a Rajini movie had both the 6 and 60 year old interested, I am not sure if Vijay has been able to acheive that level of penetration.

Selvaraghavan's movies are not the typical masala fares, he has a strong story to tell and makes you get under the skin of his characters. At the same time he manages to sustain the interest of the care-free college going youth. Mani managed to do it in the 80s and 90s.I think Selva will take over from Mani. Selva, in my opinion, has managed to do the balancing act quite admirably. A man who you can't afford to ignore.

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

nivas, true. i'm sure the current situation played a part. infact, the fact that 'pudhuppettai' is getting released soon probably played a part too.

sandya, i too think mani is light years ahead of the others as far as song picturization goes. shankar had some good ones in his earlier films but 'anniyan' was a disappointment.

jevya, so far it sure looks like it :) btw, what is blocking???

babs, going by the results it does look like some boys-only colleges...

ram, i remember that. one of the few cases where our thots were completely at loggerheads.

bart, some of those u listed wouldnt make the list for good reason. but ameer is a surprising omission considering his 2 films so far...

pagalak, nicely put. but isnt every other film these days about losers? guys who don't do well in college, are yelled at by their dad, fall in love, etc.? even as far back as 'anandha mazhai'. we do have films with superheroes but we do have an equal number with such guys. thats why i called 7G cliched.

and i think most of us agree that 7G made quite a few college guys identify with the protagonist. thats what scary :)

 
At 12:04 AM, Blogger Zero said...

Ram,
really agree with you (if you had not got that from what I have ranted about the movie in my above comments :)). I don't say the denouement was bad. But, it was just out of place.
I mean the straight-forward very-real story of an outright loser was a *fascinating* idea. But, the way he blows it (out of proportions) into a (tragic) love story and tell us how he "makes it big in his life coz of his love affair" and how she makes him do that, or whatever.

Damn, can't we really accept him (the protagonist) for what he is?

 
At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

blocking is the "trail" an actor moves through in a scene. in a horrible movie, people stand at attention or charge around without motive or result to keep their bodies occupied during dialogues. this is both unnatural and boring.

i also think park chan woo is a cornball, but they both know how to make their films middle class conversation pieces.

and while i'm disagreeing with you, vishaal in sandakkozhi is a bad dancer, as are so many heroes these days, like vikram. i pray vineeth gets more roles, haha.

jevya

 
At 1:14 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

jevya, thanx. i think i've read ebert using a different term for what u describe. but can't say i've seen something like that in manirathnam's movies...

as for dancing, i wasn't referring to dance talent in the classical or even modern sense. when i say "dances well", i just mean the actor can shake a leg and it looks good when he dances in a group dance or with the heroine. vishal did those in 'sandakkozhi'. watch maddy in 'run' and u'll know who i call a bad dancer :)

 

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