Thursday, June 15, 2006

Inspirational Movies

The American Film Institute (AFI), as part of its continuing ‘Top 100’ series, yesterday selected the 100 most inspirational Hollywood movies. A Wonderful Life came out on top and To Kill a Mockingbird, Schindler's List, Rocky and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington rounded out the top 5.

Among Tamil movies, I can think of a few genres that will automatically earn the tag ‘inspirational’. Movies on freedom fighters ofcourse come out on top. When well-made, they are capable of kindling feelings of patriotism in all but the most cynical of viewers. Movies about social vigilantes too are capable of being inspirational. As they strive to clean up our society, we invariably end up wishing someone like that would show up in real (or even think about doing our bit to change our society for the better). Then you have movies about people who are abandoned by their relatives/friends but succeed in life and rub their noses in it. They are real underdogs who make us root for them to succeed.

Based on AFI’s list, I can think of two key factors that make up an inspirational movie. One, it has to have a strong, memorable protagonist. Ideally, he should be an underdog who fights great odds to emerge a winner and imparts (and maybe even learns) a lesson or two in the process. And two, whatever hardships it portrays, it should be a positive, life-affirming movie that makes us feel good about ourselves when we walk out of the theater. That doesn’t mean that no film ending tragically can be inspirational. As Braveheart’s selection showed, a movie can be inspirational even if the protagonist himself is not around at the end.

So, with the above, admittedly vague definition of an inspirational movie, here, in no particular order, are my ‘first draft’ choices for the 10 most inspirational Tamil movies.

Anbe Sivam
Indian
Kappalottiya Thamizhan
Karnan
Mudhalvan
Pudhumai Penn
Pudhu Vasandham
Roja
Thavamaai Thavamirundhu
Vaazhkkai

51 Comments:

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Srijith Unni said...

I would have liked to see "Unnal Mudiyum Thambi" on the list, balaji.!

Also is Indian, that inspirational.. or am I missing something. ?

Yes, but different movies inspire different people in different ways..

With Regards,
Srijith.

 
At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji, No offense but I didnt expect to see Pudhu vasantham on your list. I am not sure where this movie inspires anyone...Kindly clarify...


Anon.

 
At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji I live in the bay area and was wondering where you got to see Jery. If you saw it on DVD, do mention the name of the video library.

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

srijith, yes UMT would definitely be a good addition to the list. maybe u can come up with a top 10 too :)

and 'indian' belongs to the social vigilante list. the dialogs on eliminating corruption, etc. were inspirational. and ofcourse the patriotic flashback...

anon, there were 2 things in 'pudhu vasantham'. 1 was a group of singers making it big. that has become cliched now but i think PV was among the 1st movies to do it. also the woman selecting friendship over marriage was radical.

'inspirational' is not to be taken at face value. its not like people see the movie and are inspired and go out and do something. as i wrote, there were a couple of factors i considered as making up an inspirational movie and PV fit the bill :)

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unnal Mudiyum Thambi should be there.

Roja?!!!

I think Vazhkai is an inspirational film.

-Kajan

 
At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wonder if people from disadvantaged backgrounds find umt "inspiring" -- the scene with kamal lecturing the poor kids on going to school, as if what stopped poor kids is their own preferences, struck me as incredibly arrogant on balachander's part -- and typical of any number of scenes in his movies in which middle-class social work consists of lecturing the poor -- including manadhil urithi vendum, which is inspiring enough in other ways.

 
At 11:45 PM, Blogger Rajesh Thiagarajan said...

Some movies that comes to my mind(other than the ones Balaji mentioned)
Vedham Pudhidhu
Porkalam
Poove Unakagga
Kurudhi Punal
Vannamey Ellai

 
At 11:54 PM, Blogger Pradeep said...

My additions Porkaalam, SandhyaRaagam,Gentleman, Desiyageetham and Andhimandarai.

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous ram said...

Balaji, I think you've taken up a very interesting topic for discussion. Even a tad controversial, as I see from the above comments!

The reason why I would not include a single Shankar film on my list is coz they are all so far away, into the realm of fantasy that I dont think they ever touched a chord in me. Sure, I was entertained by his movies but it stops there. Even the wildly entertaining Indian, one of my all time favs and one of the greatest ever screenplays, is something I forget abt after coming out of the theater. Sure, Sujatha's dialogues sizzled in the Nizhalgal Ravi murder scene but it's all packaged as a commercial fantasy that prevents the movie from leaping out of the screen and becoming a part of my memory...and, without much further ado, here's My list...these are the movies that have made me think, have made me change my outlook towards things and have essentially "inspired" me in one way or another:

Rhythm -- filial love and affection

Anbe Sivam -- all about the 'saga' manushan.

Sigaram -- says all there is to be said abt "resilience."

Vedham Pudhidhu

Avargall -- Kamal's character and his attitude towards his failure in love is incredibly poignant, esp. his one line which is a great piece of scripting, "Kaadhal Niraivu Kudukkara Sandhoshatha Vida Kaadhal Ninaivu Kudukkara Sandhosham Adhigam."

Mahanadhi -- the loudest wake-up call ever...this is probably too depressing to evoke any emotion other than immense sadness but dig a little deeper, there're several 'lessons' to be learnt...

 
At 12:10 AM, Anonymous deepa said...

good list balaji, i've wacthed most of the them...

my list would contain these too -

kurudhi punal
kaakha kaakha
samurai
achamillai *2
to some extent anniyan (felt the message was good)

 
At 12:27 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, i saw it online. but i think spice valley has it now.

kajan, 'roja' made it on the strength of that 1 flag-burning scene. but even otherwise, it showed how 1 man holds on to love and patriotism in the face of death. that i thot was inspirational :)

anon, wow interesting take.

rajesh, cant believe i missed out 'vaaname ellai'. and good pick in 'poove unakkaaga'. inspirational movie on true love :)

pradeep, 'desiya geetham' was 1 of the movie considered also.

 
At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ram,

i thought crazy mohan did the dialogue for Indian...are u sure it is Sujatha?

Sri

 
At 3:38 AM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Balaji, Your list very much attracts me. It have pieces from all the decades. And Vaazhkkai is really a surprise selection.

 
At 8:01 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

The moment I sqw the topic, the very first film that stuck my mind was Unnaal Mudiyum Thambhi. And I am glad that many of the commentors here have felt the same too. My list will be replete with some of Cheran's movies including Thavamaai thavam Irundhu, bcos to me his movies have been so inspirational. And yeah, Aayitha Ezhuthu would be there in my list :)

 
At 8:18 AM, Anonymous ram said...

Sri, 200 % sure!

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

Any one watching World Cup!

 
At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come you left 'Veedu' off your list? Another good addition would be 'Haridas'.

 
At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come you left 'Veedu' off your list? Another good addition would be 'Haridas'.

 
At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come you left 'Veedu' off your list? Another good addition would be 'Haridas'.

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous ram said...

Oh yes! Veedu-- how did I forget that...here're my thoughts on the movie:
www.geocities.com/ram_aishoo/Veedu.htm

 
At 1:57 PM, Anonymous ram said...

here's a trivia question...letz find out the real tamil cine geeks among us...which movie ended with a saying that begins with this line, "Vidhaikkindra Pozhudhile Vilangaadha Manasaakshi..."

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

I loved the movie "Thalai vaasal" and "Vaaname ellai"... I'm not sure Thalai vaasal was inpsirational, been ages since I watched it... but Vaaname ellai definitely should be in the list :)

 
At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Krishna Sivaramapuram said...

Shankar's movies are inspirational?? To me he is a bits and pieces director who cannot tell a cogent story without an overdose of violence (Case in point: Jeans). The only movie where he kind of succeeded in doing that was Boys. And our hypocritic society won't accept any movie that deals with the taboo subject. I don't understand why people like violent movies so much. I've seen people take their little kids to movies like Indian and Mudhalvan, but won't think about taking them to Boys... I'm not advocating children watching Boys. But I definitely feel, they should not be watching violent movies, however entertaining they are...

Anyway, I'm really surprised that no one is mentioning many of Sivaji's classics that were truly inspirational... (except for Karnan and K. Thamizhan).

One movie that readily comes to my mind is "Andha Naal". Even though this was taken from a Akira Kurasawa's movie, this is one of the best movies I've ever seen with a very good message... Most importantly this movie doesn't show even an iota of violence.

Krish

 
At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

where is "october sky" ?

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

ram,

the movie is moondru mudichu.

balaji,

good list. was mugavari considered for the list? i thought the ending where ajit chooses his family over his dreams, making him an everyday hero, was rather inspirational.

gayathri

 
At 6:34 AM, Blogger Ms Ch said...

This came as a surprise to me, but since nobody has raised their eyebrows about it, I guess people do think of 'Anbe Sivam' as inspirational. I didn't really get a chance to watch the movie from start to end without interruption, however from what I gathered, it looked extremely socialistic and communistic. Now, we do know from history how those two really aren't the solutions to society's problems. The movie may have probably been inspirational from the points of view of the hero's personal tragedies/life, but if the inspiration was affected at all by the socialism/communism, I am not sure it is a good thing.

 
At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These would be some of my choices:

unnal mudiyum thambi - Inspires to do something for the society
Samsaram Adhu Minsaram - Lakshmi's smart moves to make the family reunite is definitely inspirational. Did someone say society starts with the family?
Vedham Pudhithu - Brilliant movie against casteism without cheaply mocking the individuals of a particular caste/community. Crisp dialogues criticising the practices, no lecture. Being a brahmin will not stop me from appreciating this movie.
Mugavari - unstinted support to the protagonist by all loved ones around.
Edhir Neechal - you would definitely want the protagonist to succeed in his life.

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon, samsaram oru minsaram struck me as one of the most (brilliant!) depressing movies i have ever seen -- and the family doesn't reunite in the end, and nobody gets what they really want.

re: vetham puthithu, i wish sathyaraj had converted his adopted brahmin son to atheism -- that would have been inspiring!

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other good one would be 'Aapirikkaavil Appu'.

 
At 8:34 PM, Anonymous ram said...

anon, in vedham pudhidhu, the kid throws away his poonall in the end...and, calls Satyaraj, "Appa" after he dies...think Bharathiraja shouted out "Anbe Sivam" from the rooftop long b4 Kamal did!

 
At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ram, i saw the poonal casting into the sea as rejecting brahminism rather than theism -- paarati also threw away his poonal, but was not an atheist.

has anyone seen puraitchikkaran that came out a few years ago?

 
At 10:14 PM, Anonymous ram said...

anon, who's "paarati?"

and, yes, I have seen Puratchikaaran...in fact, BB has a nice review of it on bbreviews...

my views--> good movie which could've been great had it been all abt satyaraj and how he changes the velu prabhakaran character...being an agnostic myself, i appreciated the frank, biting dialogues...but didnt think much of the kidnap drama, the final rescue n all...loved the song sung by satyaraj...remember this line from that song-- "roadu poattavan nee thaandaa, aana roattu oaramaa kedakkura."

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, 'avargal' and 'mahanadhi' arent movies i'd call inspirational. yes the latter imparted some lessons about greed, etc. but that doesn't equate to being inspirational i feel...

btw, is gayathri right?

deepa, interesting list. barring 'samurai, which was a social vigilante movie, the other made me think a bit b4 understanding how they could be considered inspirational :)

filbert, yes TT was really inspirational when it came to showing how a father's love should be respected and paid back(even if not fully!). UMT and 'vaaname ellai' would displace 2 movies on my list but TT wouldnt be 1 of them :)

anon, 'veedu' was realistic but not sure i'd call it inspirational. if anything it was the opposite since it showed the troubles 1 went thro trying to achieve a simple dream...

krishna, 'andha naal' is a great movie. i had it as one of the top 10 movies of all time. but it never struck me as inspirational inspite of its theme. probably bcos of its structure and the absence of real 'goosebump' moments...

anon, guess u're talking about AFI's list? yes, 'october sky' should've been on it...

gayathri, i'd think 'mugavari' was kinda like 'veedu'. pragmatic and realistic but not what i'd call inspirational.

missy, 'anbe sivam' was inspirational mainly cos of kamal's attitude. his belief in doing good and in love and the way it was conveyed was really inspirational. communism didn't come into the picture at all :)

 
At 11:50 PM, Anonymous deepa said...

balaji, i guess i get carried away by extreme things :)

in reality normal ppl usually dont go to absolute lengths to do the right thing endangering themselves, family for the sake of their profession / common good etc. but its still a good ideal to live for.

looks like most of my choices were along this theme...

btw, i remembered one more :)

thevar magan

 
At 12:15 AM, Anonymous ram said...

bb, i feel "inspirational" is a loose term...as long as a movie makes u think and "inspires" u to do something +ve or something different, it fits the bill...and, i think i kinda explained my reasons for avargall and mahanadhi...sure, i didnt walk out of these movies feeling invigorated or with "goose bumps," but these are movies that have changed my outlook towards things in one way or another...which is why i listed those over movies like mudhalvan which give the viewer the illusion of a utopian society...

 
At 12:16 AM, Anonymous ram said...

and yes, gayathri is right...i meant to reply to her entry b4 but forgot...moondru mudichu is indeed the rite answer.

 
At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sivakasi was inspirational to me. It inspired me never to watch Perarasu's films again!!

 
At 7:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi,
in my opinion mudhalvan does not deserve a place anywhere in the list and even not any movie by shankar. but kamal acting may be indian can be considered but not in the second place.

anbesivam is a good choice and even mahanathi would be good also.

 
At 9:22 PM, Anonymous karthik said...

How about "Love today"? The movie has a really good message. List of movies missing..(IMHO)

1. Love Today
2. Bharathi Kannama
3. Vetri Kodi Kattu
4. Another movie from Balasekaran (director of love today) where Kushboo makes 4 guys understand the meaning of life.
5. Varavu nalla oravu ( Might be inspiring for Old people)

 
At 9:45 PM, Anonymous ram said...

karthik, ur #4 is the wonderful thulli thirindha kaalam which had great performances by karan and raghuvaran.

and #5, i thought was a bad rip-off of Vietnam Veedu...V N Uravu is actually among my least fav Visu movies...of course, thaz just my opinion...I 'got' a lot more out of Vietnaam Veedu (lines like "Aduppadi Neruppula Veragaa Vendhaaley...")

 
At 10:21 PM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

#4 is nothing but Thulli thirinthathoru kaalam

 
At 12:38 AM, Blogger Maverick said...

Lagaan

 
At 7:42 AM, Blogger Zero said...

Ram, I think that anon meant Bharathi.

Velu Prabhakaran, really??? Rama. Narayanan, at least, had a target audience.

 
At 9:13 AM, Anonymous ram said...

zero, thanks a bunch for the clarification...worey the kozhappings of america...coz i was thinking maybe he meant, 'saarathi,' the name of the actor who played the kid in Vedham Pudhidhu, but wasnt sure...!! yeah, u r rite...he must've meant, "Bharathi."

 
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At 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All,

This is Balaji from Bangalore wanting to join this blog....


Hats off to our Balaji... the listed films are really inspirational....


but i would like to have the film RAMANA in this list...

are we not really inspired by the climax dialogue/speech by vijayakanth?

Please share your thoughts

Thanks
Balaji (Bangalore)

 
At 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All,

This is Balaji from Bangalore wanting to join this blog....


Hats off to our Balaji... the listed films are really inspirational....


but i would like to have the film RAMANA in this list...

are we not really inspired by the climax dialogue/speech by vijayakanth?

Please share your thoughts

Thanks
Balaji (Bangalore)

 

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