Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tamil Cinema vs Hindi Cinema

It wasn't too long ago that I vehemently argued, with anyone who held a contrarian opinion, that Tamil cinema was way ahead of Hindi cinema as far as quality goes. That wasn't the Tamil chauvinist in me getting riled up or me playing devil's advocate just for the sake of an argument either. I sincerely felt that Tamil cinema had better subjects and stronger stories while Hindi cinema churned out films that were mostly rip-offs of foreign and South Indian films. Their films looked good but lacked soul as they were mounted on lavish budgets and pandered shamelessly to the NRI fraternity. It was around that time that I wrote an article on how Tamil cinema could boast of the best talents in Indian cinema(best actor - Kamal, best director - Manirathnam, best music director(s) - Ilaiyaraja/Rahman, best dancer - Prabhu Deva, etc.).

But the tables have slowly but surely turned. Hindi cinema has seen a remarkable resurgence and Hindi films of late have showed a marked increase in quality. They are exploring diverse and unique subjects, tackling fresh stories and experimenting with new styles and approaches in storytelling. At the same time the quality of Tamil cinema has slid to scary levels with recycled stories, lacklustre screenplays, over-the-top heroism and a 'follow the herd' mentality.

The biggest factor in Hindi's cinema's transformation is, I believe, the complete lack of 'image' among the Hindi actors. They are willing to take on any role that interests them and provides enough fodder for their acting. Proving their versatility to themselves and others seems to be their priority. Its no longer even a surprise to see Aamir Khan play a terrorist or Shah Rukh Khan play the coach(without a romantic pair or a duet) of a hockey team. Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan play bad guys as easily as they play action heroes and Abishek Bachan and John Abraham, who have achieved heartthrob status, are getting ready to play gay men in their next film. The actors' receptivity to varied roles obviously allows the directors more freedom in coming up with interesting stories and creating intriguing characters.

Another big factor is that Hindi films don't seem to be stuck in the past and have made changes that keep moving their cinema forward. Lets consider the three staples of cinema - comedy, action and romance. I haven't seen a separate comedy track in any of the recent Hindi films. And I'm not talking about just the offbeat, non-mainstream films either. Even romances like Kismat Konnection, fantasy-comedies like Thodaa Pyaar Thodaa Magic and action-comedies like Singh is Kinng don't have comedians striving to make us laugh in a track that has little or no link to the main storyline. They do have comedians but blend the comedy in to the main track. Action is another department where the change is obvious. Gone are the days when a lone hero, defying all laws of physics and human ability, bashed up an assortment of goons in fight sequences. The action is now in chases(on foot or in many different kinds of vehicles) and gunfights. I'm not saying that all laws of physics are adhered to in these action sequences but it is easier to accept the breaking of the laws(like in Dhoom 2 or even Dus) when they are picturized with style. The changes in romance aren't as obvious as in the above cases since we still see the weak romances and duets in foreign locations. But there is a lot more maturity in the way subjects like affairs - pre-marital or extra-marital - are handled and there does seem to be a trend towards songs playing in the background rather than being lip-synced.

Before I'm branded a Tamil cinema-hater, let me say that I do understand that the situations in Tamil and Hindi are different. Hindi cinema has a pan-Indian reach and this wider reach means that Hindi films have a bigger budget since costs can be recouped much faster. The budget is what gives the film its 'look' and Tamil cinema is at an obvious disadvantage here. The wider audience also translates to more opportunities for films targeted at niche audiences since a small number of these audiences in different pockets could still add up to sizeable number of viewers. But the limited reach of Tamil films makes the niche audience really small, making a film targeting them a losing proposition right from the start.

Tamil cinema has done pretty good in the past with these same constraints but something's gone wrong along the way and its pretty clear that it is definitely in need of a major overhaul. The aforementioned changes in Hindi cinema are probably good first steps to take. But its not going to be easy. Unlike other professions, where a strong leader with the right goals can assemble a team with similar thinking and bring about a change, Tamil cinema's future rests on the shoulders of many people. And all of them need to change for the industry as a whole to change. We need heroes who set aside their egos and welcome new characters; directors who take risks and experiment; producers who fund such promising ventures; and distributors who buy such films and take them to the people. The day these happens is well worth waiting for. The question is if - and not when - the day will arrive.


At 1:01 AM, Blogger KayKay said...

Well written BB! I too, get despondent as a South Indian, when faced with the increasingly hackneyed approach to making Tamil films, when Hindi movies continue to reach and break new boundaries in their approach to concepts and themes.And I agree with your point that heroes, established and upcoming, need to shed this ridiculous "fan-pandering" approach to role selection. The confering of "titles" above their names (Ilaya Dalapathi, Ultimate Star, and one gentleman who conferred on himself the tag of "Little Super Star" in his debut!),ego-massaging roles built around the flimsiest of plots hobbled by clumsy executions and the perenially chauvinistic attitudes towards women still on display, all need to go.
I personally think there is a growing market for films with a difference, else Anjathey or Subramaniapuram would not be the successes they are.
There is talent aplenty in the Tamil film industry. They just need to take the path less trod.

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that hindi films have gone up a few notches but it is entirely due to south indian technicians.Mani ratnam sucks up to the pan indian audience making films like guru and A R rahman has made sure the tamil film music world had reached the full circle.MSV was popular till the seventies before he unwittingly made tamils hear R D burman becoz of own music.IR changed the trend and made sure Tamil film music reached the pinnacle of glory.ARR followed him but now unfortunately the situation is tamils who were producing regional music but in line with international standards are forced to hear udit and sukhwinder singh raping and killing tamil in broad daylight.

Not just music.Camera,direction,screenplay and almost everything post roja and rangeela the hindi film world owes a huge debt to south indian technicians.

We have cheran and bala who have fortunately up till now made films without looking for a further audience and craving for 'pan indian' attention.Shankar in my opinion would not go the mani ratnam way.These three offer some hope for tamil film buffs.

As i said earlier the quality of hindi films which have increased of late is entirely due to south indian technicians

At 1:33 AM, Blogger srijithunni said...

To a great extent, I agree with Sri. Technicians like Ravi K Chandran, Santhosh Sivan, Sabu Cyril, Mani Ratnam, A R Rahman, Prabhudeva etc, have helped shape the bollywood of today. Because at least as far as technicians are concerned, they are given more of a free hand.

This 'image' issue like you said is one major sickness, the south indian film industry in general is plagued by. It is the Vijay's and Perarasu's who cause it in TamilNadu, In kerala, the entire film industry is made of Mammooty and Mohanlal alone. It is these very technicians who have to outright reject them and make good cinema without them and make it a success as well.! At least then we wouldn't have a Sundar C as a minimum guarrantee hero.

But there is hope.! I would disagree with Sri, when he says Shankar/Cheran , because they are tending to stick to a formula. People like Bala, Ameer, Selvaraghavan, Venkat Prabhu or even Sasikumar etc. do lend hope as they are playing around with different genres.!

Surya is experimenting well, but otherwise even others like Vikram seem to be getting caught in an image trap.!

It is upto the filmmakers and technicians to keep the stars grounded and bring out actors, both known and unknown for the benefit of the Film Industry down south.

At 1:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As i said earlier the quality of hindi films which have increased of late is entirely due to south indian technicians"

No doubt there is some truth to this statement but I wouldn't use the world 'entirely'. Like Balaji says, it has a lot to do with the actors too. Hindi film actors and actresses are much more experimentative with the choice of their roles and seem to care more about their performance than living up to any image.

What annoys me the most is we have actors in Tamil that have such potential but choose to go for the tried and tested route! Vikram who garnered much praise for his performance in Sethu and a lot of respect has done one bad masala movie after another! Surya too continues to dissapoint in his choice of roles. And it truly blows my mind as to how these upstarts (Vishal, Simbu, Ravi, etc) have developed such an ego and such bad taste. And to think the future of Tamil Cinema is in their hands!

Actors like Vishal and Simbu obviously have the monetary resources to back the production of their own movies. I wish they would concentrate on finding young & original screen writers and better stories. or Perhaps its time to start poaching some talents from Bollywood!

At 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We need heroes who set aside their egos and welcome new characters; directors who take risks and experiment; producers who fund such promising ventures; and distributors who buy such films and take them to the people. The day these happens is well worth waiting for."

The flip side is We also need the audiences to lap up offbeat Films. Seriously the Audiences from B and C centers are not ready for such a paradigm shift. How can one Justify the success of Sivaji (Shankar is capable of a better screenplay), Thirupachi and Sivakasi, Hari's Vel (atrocious) and a Lame remake like Billa. This adds up to the Ego quotient of Vijay and Ajith and influences wannabe Thalapathy's and Thalais like Vishal, Chimp, Bharath, Ravi.

At 3:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.........are you Madhavan in disguise? =D

The main issue is that Hindi films have no real ambition to achieve success in B and C centres, as their overseas market is that huge.

Whereas Tamil films need to reach for the Bs and Cs as most have no overseas market.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are quite a few reasons - but the MOST IMPORTANT one being - MULTIPLEXES!

We do not have many Multiplexes (even Bangalore is much better with these and Hindi films do extremely well there because of that!) - we have only very few. What multiplexes assures Hindi films is this - A FANATASTIC INTIAL - which means the films recover their cost in no time and hence they are able to take risks!
A film like ANBE SIVAM or even HEY RAM! would have recovered the cost if they were released in Multiplexes. That's my take on it.

Secondly, the thalapthi, thala, ultimate, supreme, super or little super ............ the "Image-hungry" stars who wants to double their salary after every release is a BIG obstacle for creativity!

With corporates coming in and many more multiplexes popping up - there is light at the end of the tunnel I guess! (I only hope that the light I see at the tunnel is NOT ACTUALLY A TRAIN of EGO-TRIP of these stars!!!)

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

kaykay, well said. the scary thing is that things are moving backwards. while one would expect newer heroes to take more risks and try new roles, we see this masala, ego-massaging routine catch on earlier with each new hero(simbhu, bharath, vishal, etc.). so as soon as they have 1 hit, we see them getting introduced body part by body part in slo-mo, spouting punch dialogs and turning into superheroes :)

sri, i agree that south indian technicians have contributed to the revolution. but i think the reasons they went looking for greener pastures up north is that the opportunities provided by the films there is better. i was surprised manirathnam made any tamil films after 'iruvar'! and do u think ARR is more excited by scoring music for 'rang de basanti', 'jodha-akbar' and 'guru' or 'azhagiya tamizh magan', 'sakkarakatti'? i think these talents would come back if they felt they could put those talents to good use in Tamil cinema :)

srijith, yes mallu cinema is dominated by M&M but i dont think they can be put in the same category as our heroes. they r not as caught in the image trap and still balance masala films with good films that challenge them.

and agree with the list of promising directors there. our hope lies with them. but we also need the actors to work with them :)

priya, yep, vikram is a perfect example of the disastrous route our actors take. he earlier made films like 'sethu' and even 'kaasi'. i knew we'd lost the actor when i heard that he had considered remaking that dilip film which had him play a very effeminate man but then dropped the plan because his "fans wouldn't accept it". so now we have to see him in crap like 'bheema' and possible 'kandasamy' :)

anon, thats the same argument our heroes put forth - that the audiences arent ready for it. but there r so many films(though they've reduced in recent times) that have proved that the audience does accept good films as long as they're well-made. an offbeat film could flop because its not well-made too and those r not the films we should take as an example :)

prin, but then we are automatically assuming that b and c centers dont accept good films. i dont think thats true. and films like 'mozhi' have proved that good tamil films do have an overseas market :)

apala, instead of multiplexes we have actors who have a huge draw. ajith for instance can probably guarantee a bigger initial than most stars in hindi. so if he acts in a medium-budgeted film that includes some risk and experimentation, maybe that would get a good initial and help recover the cost of the film. i guess everything comes back to our actors who should set aside their egos and reduce their salaries :)

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, Yeah the stars have the "initial draw" but which is a 2-way sword! (Recent example - Kuselan!)

Multiplexes offer GOOD opportunity for Corporats, or any producer who wants to take risks with little known artists or new-comers and let the direcotr tell his story - as they are sure of their return on investment!

Also, I do not know why in Tamil the director has to also write or tell a story ALWAYS! (There few who have the capability and they can do that. But NOT ALL!) Why can't they adopt GOOD NOVELS, STROIES into their screenplay and present that convinsingly?

I really get angry when these AHOs come on small-screen and talk about "HARD-WORK" that they have put in! What the fu...........?!! What do you know anything about HARDWORK - I WANT TO ASK THEM!!!
In their second movie, they want an opening song, punch dialogue (Thier fans(!?!) would be upset otherwise, you know!!), and gravity defying stunts!! That's one BIG reason I HATE VIJAY, AJITH....(except Billa) films with PASSION so much!! I only hope that good sense prevails over and these stars change their ways soon for the sake of Tamil Cinema!

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog. Should invite some good view points and in fact it already has.
Hindi cinema has been helped by professionalism in recent times. Major corporations have started investing in movies. I wouldn't be surprised if there are market surveys and ROI charts alongside screenplays and scripts. UTV, Yash Raj films et al seem to have a product road map. The results are there to be seen. Now, Warner Brothers and Sony entertainment are joining hands with North Indian production houses. Hindi movies are making regular inroads into overseas markets - not only in the festival circuit but also in monetary terms. The audience is truly global for Hindi cinema. There is also a revival of something akin to indie cinema with Aamir, Mithya etc. As someone else pointed out, Multiplexes have only helped their cause. They have allowed the release and profitability of movies like Metro, Chak De India, TZP etc. B and C centers are catered to exclusively by the Deol family in my opinion. I haven't heard of minimum guarantee, distributor's first copy, regional disputes, tax relief for movie name and other non-cinematic elements when Hindi cinema is discussed today. Almost all the major players in Bombay seem to have a blog or a TV show to promote their movies. Finally, it has been a while since we had movies with Dil, Deewana etc. in their titles. In short, the Hindi cinema scene is new and refreshing. Tamil cinema needs more focus on cinema.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Anu said...

I agree, but I also think a certain level of responsibility lies with the tamil cine goers. Kabhi alvida nahi kehna, did well in overseas markets, but not so much in india. Even if te distributors, bring a tamil film to the US shores, which deals with non traditional topics, how many people are willing to pay $10 here and $250 back home to watch "intelligent cinema". A certain openess in watching different kinds of work needs to be incorporated in our minds too

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Srivatsan Sridharan said...


Cannot agree with you more, after the recent mega budget mediocres I get a feeling that every kollywood actor wants to Rajini (or) Kamal overnight.

Personally I'd like blame the above two lesser because they have contributed much to the art already and may be looking to earn some good money during their sunset years? ;-)

At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point Balaji.
Tamil cinema was soaring ahead when it did a sudden break and went back to formua-istic masala movies while Hindi films started embracing independent small budget films like Mithya where story and screenplay are kings. I am sure the bug will catch on down south as well. And along the way, hopefully lead to the the exit for the Vijayakanths, Arjuns, Sarathkumars and other 50+ actors shamelessly parading with 20somethings in silly films.

Hopefully actors like Vijay and Vikram take a cue and start doing meaningful films, while churning their commercial fare on the side to achieve a balance. What we sorely lack are Classy metro targeted movies such as Dil Chahta Hai or Life in a Metro. Alaipayuthey I thought started this trend but film makers added too much crudity from then on and havent caugh up effectively.
Oh well, fingers crossed..some day.

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

nice article bb.

I also feel Hindi films use technology in an apt fashion. Aren't you sick and tired of those jump cuts and fast camera movements that are used indiscriminately in Tamil movies (You know...the one where the camera pans fastly with a "whirr" sound accompaniment and then comes to a sudden stop)? I am just like I am with those cheesy cartoon like graphics that prop up without rhyme or reason.

At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point about the "image" trap is a really good one, but what's wrong with comedy tracks or lip-synching? And all of this bemoaning that the country bumpkins are dragging us down from the heights of -- movies made by market survey no less! Really, it makes me say why don't you watch Hollywood if that's what you really want rather than complaining that Tamil cinema is not like that.

I don't like recent Tamil cinema that much either -- but that's because all the Madhavans and Trishas can't pronounce Tamil very well and nobody can dance worth a damn.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

apala, its unfortunate that 'kuselan' turned out to be a bad film because people r only gonna remember that "it was a rajni film and it flopped" while the reasons it flopped are different(unnecessary characters, vulgar comedy, unnecessary glamor, etc.) if the film itself had been good, the results might've been quite different. that would've been a good thing :)

inadeeptrance, i think u hit upon a key word - 'professionalism'. everybody in hindi cinema is behaving professionally these days and that's leading to a lot of the changes :)

anu, i think good and well-marketed cinema will bring in the crowds anyway. i remember movies like 'mozhi' and 'veyyil' having big crowds when screened here. and even if the theaters arent packed, the low budget will help distributors recoup their costs and make them happy :)

srivatsan, it took those 2 a while to get where they are. and they've taken risks in their careers. the younger stars arent taking risks even now and want to jump to where rajni is :)

shwetha, a complete new wave and exit of those actors may be asking for too much. i'd be happy with simply more balance between good films and bad films. in the same vein, i'm not sure if vijay will even take the cue. but i'm hoping actors like vikram and surya will and become role models for the younger actors :)

anon, yep. those fast camera movements and quick edits and indiscriminately used graphics :)

anon, i didn't say comedy track per se. i've enjoyed comedy tracks in movies like 'run' and 'parthiban kanavu'. i meant comedy tracks that have no link to the main story and/or are out-of-place in the film. check out 'kannum kannum' for an example of the kind of comedy track i was talking about :)

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

We actually have a fair number of directors at the moment capable of making quality cinema with varying but adequate levels of realism.

An incomplete list I've been trying to make:
Balaji Shakthivel
Cheenu Ramaswamy
Karu Pazhaniappa
Vasantha Balan
Venkat Prabhu

As many of you have mentioned the problem is that barely any of the "big name" actors associate themselves with these talented directors.

On the few occasions they have come together, take for example Ajith and Vishnuvardhan in Billa or Sarath and Gautham in Pachaikili Muthucharam, the director has to adhere to the image of the actor.

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

I completely agree that bollywood movies is several times greater in quality than tamil movies! I think the trend in bollywood started in 2000 - the year when Amitabh Bachan started doing character roles. He lost his image as an action, angry young man hero and since then most of bollywood actors except shahruk are not worried about their image...

In Tamil cinema, every actor wants to become Rajini... I think the trend will change only if Rajini goes the Amitabh way of starting to do character roles and act to his age... In that way rest of actors will come out of their "image" mentality...

Bollywood also make multi-heroes movies without any problems. Tamil and southern movies are full of egoistic stars hence mutlihero subject has become impossible...

IMHO, just like Mr. Bachan did characters roles and lead by example by breaking his image and doing varied roles, I think Rajnikanth should break his image and lead by example for all those idiots who are trying to copy him to become next superstar!

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall an interview in which Kamal lamented that a few honchos, masquerading as pundits of Tamil cinema, vehemently defend commercial and intellectual aspects of movie making. They dictate terms and influence all others in the industry to nail the fact that above all, it is the commercial aspect that is crucial. They seemingly are pessimistic about allowing new technologies to be introduced, fearing the unexpected. Box office collections are preached as the final determinant for good movies.

Therein lies the twisted irony... how is quality determined / defined in Tamil cinema? What does this spell for the future? Does anyone in Tamil cinema actually invests - or even considers - for the future. The saddening reality does not look too promising ...

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well Balaji, I am quite surprised with your post. Lets say that I agree with your point of Hindi Cinemas getting better of late vis-a-vis tamil cinema, tell me something (keeping in mind what Sri mentioned earlier), the movies in Hindi are 'still' rip-offs (the point you made initially).

I agree that there are good hindi movie makers (very few) but there are great tamil movie makers (very little scope bcoz of 'mass' hero' status). All this pan-India reach is bcoz of the marketing strategy in Bollywood. They talk about the new "Ghajiji" hair cut and dont even consider its a remake of the tamil version (I know about Memento, lets just talk about the hair cut!).

Where can you get variety when it comes to comedy (from NS Krishnan to Vivek), and you mentioned that Hindi actors have adapted themselves to comedy (arent we tired of movies like Singh is Kinng, where the comedy is braindead? Mind you, this movie forms the base to decide 'king' status in Bollywood, in comparison to the current/erstwhile King or Baadshah who fails to impress and still has a 'Global' reach)

I wanted to make the point on technicians but its already been discussed in detail (quite aptly).

Balaji, I could go on and on in this topic, but I am surprised with your post (having been an avid reader for quite some time). Let me make it clear, I am not cursing bollywood movies. There are very good movie makers, but what gets projected and marketed as a super world class movie is not theirs all the time. There is a great deal of marketing gimmickery, which tamil cinemas movimakers (given their limitations on making mass heroes) fail to understand. This is where my discussion ends!!

At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like someone said, the day Rajini reverses his current acting skills to his earlier times and his fans are willing to accept him, that's when these fellas will also change.
I really wish there wasn't an actor called as Rajini post thillu mullu (except thalabathy).

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

I think well-made low-budget films(Veyil,Mozhi) provide a better solution to solve the crisis.:)

At 6:24 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Really can't understand why Bharath and Vikram do not seem to plan their careers well,as they're the better actors of this generation.:(

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Arun Annamalai said...

Balaji, seriously, do you think guys like Perarasu know to make movies in any other way? Every movie has an audience and a movie-maker has limitations dictated by his education and experiences. There is a place for everybody. This pandering for quality by sophisticated audiences like us is a risky proposition for tamil filmmakers, pleasing B and C centres with a standard formula and making 75% collections is plenty for them and easy too. Who are we to tell stars to put aside egos and salaries? This is a line a fan cannot cross, a star is a person who can choose to live life the way he wants to. Sometimes I feel we need to be industry persons to empathize better in order to be closer to the truth.

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One side of me wants to slap you for saying things they way you do about cinema. The other side wants to pat you on the back to appreciate a well-written and objective blog! I went thro' a lot of thoughts as I read it and when I read all the responses, all of my points (and a lot more) were well addressed. Yup its true that we do not have the money power and range that Hindi movies do but a number of good movies have been well-accepted by the audience. Mozhi comes to mind immediately in that it was an extremely decent upscale sensitive movie with a good dose of humour and it did very well. Shankar himself has been involved with some exeptionally good movies as a producer but chooses to make "over-the-top" movies when he directs. He had mentioned this in an interview where he said that its not the audience but the perception of the audience that people in the film world have (about having 3-4 fight scenes, 5 songs incl. 1 item song!!).

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sujay, great list there. had a few i usually miss when i came up with my own list. btw, who is cheenu ramaswamy? :)

stranger, thats an interesting thot. but i think amitabh began to play his age and went to character roles because he was forced to. a long line of movies where he played the young hero flopped and he took a break and came back with character roles. considering 'sivaji's success i don't think rajni is there yet. and if he goes the character roles way, other actors will just aim to fill his place instead of copying him. not sure they'd change :)

anon, wonder who these honchos are. they're powerful enuf to guide the whole industry? :)

rags, but i'm not talking about BO success or even general perception here. that may be the result of marketing. this post came out of my own opinion after seeing a string of quality Hindi movies and a string of equally disappointing Tamil movies. and there were things i appreaciated even in the Hindi movies I disliked :)

sahana, then the young actors would've tried to emulate MGR :)

ganesh, I agree. low budgets would encourage experimentation and risk-taking :)

arun, i'm not saying masala movies should be eliminated completely. they do have their place and i've enjoyed my share too. as i mentioned earlier, i'm just looking for balance. i can tolerate perarasu too as long as there r equal number of good movies :)

anon, I'll take the pat thank you . yep, there've been quite a few different, good movies that have been hits. unfortunately, they've not become trendsetters while a hit masala film immediately becomes one :)

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year collections of Mozhi + Paruthiveeran was less than the collection of Pokkiri...thats why right from the producers to distributors want these kinda movies...

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The combined budget for Mozhi + Paruthiveeran was probably less than Pokkiri's.

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Actors like Satyaraj, Bhagiaraj, and Ramarajan had tried to emulate MGR, but their success rate was low. Had there been no "Superstar Rajini", there would been a big void between MGR and the present crop of actors.

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the next question to ask is: Do we need another MGR? Do we need a larger than life screen persona that is so grand and great that the actor disappears and an IMAGE / BRAND is born ie Superstar, Ulaga Nayagan, Mega Star, Ulimate Star or whatever...

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Babs said...


I don't know where you get that fact from, but even if its true Pokkiri wud have taken Rs.30 Crores to make with which you can make 10 Paruthiveerans and 5 Mozhi's ;-)
We are talking ROI, not BO alone.

BB, Nice blog, very valid points...
The only other point I think would make some difference to Tamil cinema's future is getting in more independent producers willing to risk some money for art and not money making...
the more we get in the more formulaic movies get away from us....
A talented director will make brilliant movie with less money and a mind blowing with more money later....

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that the need for good cinema is somehow misunderstood as urbane movie such as Mozhi. I am not sure how many of you remember/know the movie "Kutty". Do not remember the director, but was an excellent movie about a village girl that comes to work in a family in the city as a servant. All the emotions in there are real and something that you can relate to. I am sure "B" and "C" audience can lap up a movie as such as much as they can a Sivakasi. Why dont producers understand that?

Also, all this stuff about Kamal complaining is all crap! Gautam in one of his interviews has said himself how much he had to corrupt the original VV storyline so that Kamal felt it would pander to his fan base. Dasavatharam (I enjoyed the move for most part) was a insult to his acting skills. All he wanted to do was to make money. Vikram's talk about a "performance role" is all lip-service now.

Another issue I think we have is a boy-girl relationship. It is perfectly okay for a boy and girl to be friends and remain that way in Hindi movies and people accept it. Whereas in Tamil, people expect the time when friendship converts to love! Imagine Chak De India or Taare Zameen par made without a heroine for the the central character. At a bare minimum, the hero has to lend his hand in the last scene and the heroine will hold his hand... and then the ultimate hug! Hopefully things will take a better turn.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thts the point here..When you have a big hero like Vijay,rajni or ajith the budget will be obviously high and you cant take risk with the subject or roles here...The RISK is too big here for them and there is lot at stake...

These stars guarantee a grand opening that even their flop films like kuruvi,aalwar dont bite the hands of the distributors that much .But if they move off from teh tried and tested roles and do something different even this opening gets lost as their fans also dont like these movies..Thts where Kuselan mistake happened.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is article which came in THE HINDU late last year..some good points about the Hero-centric, masala movie industry....

some experts from the article

From time immemorial Tamil commercial cinema has been ruled by the top stars who call the shots. Nearly 90 per cent of box-office gross in domestic and overseas theatrical, satellite, audio and DVD rights every year comes from the releases of the top five stars in the industry. The message is loud and clear — Tamil cinema is star-driven and male-dominated.

Post-2000, Bollywood commercial films have moved close to reality, as they are now targeted at the multiplex crowd and NRIs. In sharp contrast, Tamil cinema audience are more in villages and small towns, where there are no multiplexes.

Take the case of Vijay, the second biggest star after Rajnikanth at the Tamil box-office, his Diwali release Azhagiya Tamil Magan (ATM) was conceived as a slightly different movie from his usual mass masalas. ATM has music by A.R. Rahman (the maestro’s best Tamil film album in recent times), the lead pair Vijay and Shriya sport a urban chic look with designer labels, songs have been shot by director Bharathan in music video album style, story and presentation are different from the regular Vijay formula movies.

But at the end of the day, ATM after taking a fantastic opening started sliding as die-hard fans of Vijay found the packaging not to their liking.

the most imp point of all

“Long live the formula”, says Tamil film trade which was a little unhappy with the recent trend of making films for multiplex audiences.

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest distribution area for a atamil film is the NSC area which is a B & C center area...When the most of the collections for a film in general comes form B & C center , no wonder most of the movies for a tamil film are targeted there...

Its no use for us sitting in chennai or in US commenting about the number of MAsala films in tamil.At the end of the day its the money that matters for everyone involved and they are taking teh safest route possible for it...

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest distribution area for a atamil film is the NSC area which is a B & C center area...When the most of the collections for a film in general comes form B & C center , no wonder most of the movies for a tamil film are targeted there...

Its no use for us sitting in chennai or in US commenting about the number of MAsala films in tamil.At the end of the day its the money that matters for everyone involved and they are taking teh safest route possible for it...

At 3:07 PM, Blogger chaaichaai said...

Sorry to say, I stopped watching Tamil movies 8 years ago and I don't regret it. I watch old hindi Movies and not latest ones as they are boring.

Love older Tamil and Hindi songs. The latest ones make me puke.

BTW, my mother tongue is Tamil and know Hindi and Gujarati.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger D.E.V said...

i do have to agree with Anon regarding tamil films have to satisfy the audiences in the B and c centres as well. That's where the profits are actually coming from. The only thing producers can do now is make small movies with new stars and resonable budget. Films like "mozhi" and "kaddhal" have gone against the norm and succeded. It all now boils down the Producers who want to support such movies. If they start producing experimental films, directors have no choice but to come up with new subjects as producers would not support the age old formulas, our 'mass' heroes would also have to reduce the salaries and follow suit, if they want to stay on. If these happens, tamil cinema would be completely transformed...

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

People speak about ajith, vijay, simbu, dhanush... what about our super star rajini ? he also generates great initial... if he reduces his salary and his EGO, he can avoid nayantara's sexy item numbers, vadivelu's vulger comedy and give us a clean entertainer.. despite so many hits, he is unable to come out of this image syndrome and is taking his EGO seriously. once he starts this, other stars being labeled *deliberately* as wannabes will follow this unless they have zero acting skills like vijay or simbu...

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if no one invests for the future, there inevitably is no future. That is the lamentable state of Tamil cinema... so far.

At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am totally with the anon regarding the business point of view of the issue. When multiple crores are involved, investors look for the safe bet. Out of curiosity, I searched for the information on how the films are priced and distributed and ended with this excellent link.
This would give a better idea on film trade in Kollywood.

At 7:09 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

If Movies are a business and the audience is the end customer, and if the customer is always right, then the movie maker has no choice but to give the customer what he demands!

the % of population with expectations similar to you and the commenters are a minority is my humble opinion! Internet savvy, bloggers and blog readers probably contribute 2% to the sales proceeds!

while we are also customers, we are not the biggest consumer segement in this market!

your point on "local reach" is the biggest factor for what is being observed!


At 1:15 PM, Blogger AV said...


At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't blame contemporary tamil films at all since they are a reflection of the tamil society that is taking root and shape in tamil nadu.
For people in Tamil Nadu, films are nothing but an escape from the reality around them. As a person who has seen tamil films from the golden age to the present, and witnessed the horrendous deterioration in standards and values, I would simply conclude that I have never witnessed such shallow, putrid, classless, unrefined piece of drivel that are present day tamil films. It just shows the buffalo herd mentality of tamilians allways wanting to follow things blindly larger than life (Actors, actresses) worshipping them, mimicking their mindless one-liners and thinking it's cool and modern to actually engage in such juvenile crap in real life. The most atrocious of these actors who are neither gifted actors nor look good on screen (Basically they remind me of saliva dripping hirsute apes) who portray themselves as very desirable men (vijay, simbu, thumbu et al) chased by north indian beauty queens/hookers onscreen (though in real life they would be just doormen for them), seems to give me the impression that tamilians have extremely low self esteem and they need this sort of portrayal on screen (in addition to being fiery, strong and superman like who can win plenty of olympic gold medals on screen *sigh) just to keep them self assured momenetarily.
You deserve what you get!

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