Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2007 - The Top 10

This post was definitely more enjoyable than the previous post as it brought back memories of the best among 2007's movies. Here in reverse order are my choices for the 10 best Tamil movies of 2007...

10. Pollaadhavan
A familiar story of a youth unwittingly pulled into a life of violence was converted into a fast-paced thriller with a surprisingly soft heart here. Dhanush's realistic family and the uniquely level-headed villain added a touch of realism to the proceedings while narrative techniques and visual touches spruced up the familiar story. It slowed down when one of the two bad guys was out of the picture but had a high-energy, visceral climactic fight sequence.

9. Ammuvaagiya Naan
Rules and conventions regarding our heroes and heroines were thrown out the window in this movie that had a very different, unusual story about a prostitute trying to blend into society. Its leads were two people we don't see in Tamil cinema all that often and that uniqueness was exploited very well in several segments. There were no issues created because ofof the heroine's past and the one problem, when it occurred, was cliched but that was a minor grievance about an otherwise mature, serious film.

8. Periyaar
This was a solid film on an interesting personality whose impact on Tamil politics and history can even be felt today.Backed by a fantastic performance by Satyaraj, the film succeeded in portraying Periyaar as someone who believed strongly in himself and wasn't ready to give up on his beliefs or ideals for anything or anybody. The film felt a little one-sided since other characters had little screen time and barely made an impression but it was a good effort that gave an interesting personality the film he deserved.

7. Evano Oruvan
This film tackled the vigilante theme in a new fashion. While many films have focused on the subject of a single man cleansing society off its evils, this film took a realistic look at it. The dose of realism worked well and helped us identify with the protagonist as he responded realistically to realistic issues. It was unfortunate that the director became over-ambitious and made the later issues rather cinematic but the low-key climax had an impact.

6. Katradhu Thamizh
This was a serious movie about a man who was dealt the worst cards in life. Its tone was stark and serious throughout and Jeeva's transformation from a promising, idealistic student to a man on the brink of mental imbalance was charted in a believable, realistic manner. The director's attempts to link the state of Tamil today to the life of its protagonist were artificial and even a little jarring. But as long the movie was seen as the life story of a man, it was like an accident - violent, bloody and sad but difficult to look away from.

5. Oram Po
This was a film in the same mould as Chennai 600028. It was based on a very local sport, it had an interesting group of characters(in particular, the loud 'Son of Gun' character) and it told its story with the same style and quirky sense of humor. Its uncommon - almost offbeat - sense of humor in characterization, picturization and script gave it a lot of energy and kept us smiling throughout. The climax was different but didn't have the intended effect but overall, it was an entertainingly fresh film

4. Sivaji
This film delivered exactly what one expected from a combination of Rajnikanth and Shankar. An all-out, unapologetic tribute to Rajni's star power and solely intended to showcase his ability to carry a movie single-handedly, the film was the work of a director who fully understood Rajni's image and set out to depict it in the grandest way possible. It was weak on logic and seemed like a watered-down version of Shankar's favorite 'social vigilante' theme but Rajnikanth's style, charisma and screen presence were exploited to the fullest extent(especially in the mottai boss getup) to make that easier to overlook.

3. Mozhi
With this film, director Radhamohan proved that a realistic movie can be made by focussing on the brighter side of life too. With down-to-earth characters facing everyday issues, subtle humor and a clean romance, it was a sweet and charming film that offered a wonderful, welcome change of pace from the loudness, violence and glamour of Tamil movies today. The likeable characters made sure the film's conflicts didn't seem contrived and the director's imagination and sense of humor shone through in his many deft touches. This film ensured that Jo, who gave a very natural performance, left Tamil cinema on a high.

2. Chennai 600028
This fun, youthful and stylish film finally gave Tamil cinema a noteworthy film about cricket, our national obsession. Aiming low by focusing on gully cricket, debutante director Venkat Prabhu fashioned a slick, visually stylish film that created an immediate connection with anybody who has played cricket at some time in his life. The romances were a little weak but the fun, light-hearted nature of the film and the wonderfully ironic climax ensured that we never less-than-thrilled.

1. Paruthi Veeran
This raw, emotionally powerful tale took an ordinary tale of young lovers and transformed it into a character-based story that was earthy and entertaining. Director Ameer proved his versatility once again as he imbibed the film with a completely rural atmosphere and developed unforgettable characters who seemed very real. The climax seemed a little overtly manipulative but the sense of dread leading upto it was palpable and gotten only because we had come to like the characters. Karthi showed none of those first film jitters and was fantastic in a difficult character.


At 12:13 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Good list here. I've seen 8 /10. My top 10 would've included "Kalloori", though I know opinion is divided out here :)
But the bad part about this list is that it pretty sums up what could've been watched in 2007. 10 or 11 out of the hundred odd movies is not so encouraging. Hope we reach 20% landmark soon.

At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its sad to see Sivaji at No 4. It could have been at No 3 and Ch-28 at No 4.

I think you havefn't watched Kreedam. Its a definite candidate in this list. My Top 10 would be

10. Pollaadhavan
9. Ammuvaagiya Naan
8. Kreedam
7. Periyaar
6. Katradhu Thamizh
5. Oram Po
4. Chennai 600028
3. Sivaji
2. Mozhi
1. Paruthi Veeran

At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji!

80% - I agree with this list!
The remaining 20% I do not agree is because of two movies: Sivaji & Evano Oruvan.


Evano Oruvan: It's a honest try. I APPLAUD MADHAVAN FOR PUTTING HIS MONEY & EFFORT in making this movie. Even though his intentions were noble - the movie had huge problems in ENGAGING the viewer. The "SNAP" did not come across very convincing. It FAILED in MOVING me to tears/anger when MADHAVAN dies in the end.

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

Did you guys hear about Saranya Bhagyaraj attempt to commit suicide ? It seems she was dumped by her bf from Australia ? It'll be sad to lose such a talented young actress.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

Good list Balaji! I'm yet to watch Periyaar, I got it so I'll get to it.. Satyaraj irks me a bit so I've been putting it off.

I got to watch Sivaji finally and it was a very good entertainer.. It's a Rajini movie alone and his mottai boss absolutely rocked.. he looked great!

I absolutely agree with Paruthi veeran's spot.. though I think Mozhi deserves to be in #2.. hmm


Speaking of suicides and deaths though... Heath Ledger was found dead yesterday... kinda blew my mind!! He was a talented boy!

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice list, BB...some very good movies out there. Katradhu Thamizh was the only one I havent watched in that list.

I echo Bart's sentiment about Kalloori. I actually loved the movie for the everything except the climax which I thought stuck out like a sore thumb. It was neither powerful nor a logical conclusion to the movie. It felt very, very tacked on. I loved the characterizations, esp. the girl who was chamathu, serious and focused on two things - a good education and strong friendships...
really loved the first 95% of the movie :-)

reg. the others, here's my list:
1. mozhi - 3.5
2. chennai-28 - 3.5
3. pollaathavan - 3
4. periyaar - 3
5. paruthi veeran - 3
6. kalloori - 2.5 for the rest
7. ammuvaagiya naan
8. oram po
9. sivaji
10. evano oruvan

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, i meant "I felt it was very, very tacked on."

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Filbert said...

I think you pretty much covered all the good movies that were released this year (though I haven't watched 2 of these 10 movies)

My list would have been something like this:
1) Paruthiveeran
2) Sivaji
3) Chennai 600028
4) Pollaadhavan
5) Mozhi
6) Kattradhu Tamizh
7) Ammuvaagiya Naan
8) Oram Po

I watched Children of a Lesser God after watching Mozhi and I will have to say that Radhamohan had more than just gotten inspired from that movie. That alone brought down Mozhi for me since there were some scenes (like the one where Jyothika feels the music by placing her hands on the speakers) that were copied too.

And like I had commented before, I loved Pollaadhavan as much as I did Chennai 600028. So, I would rate Pollaadhavan better than Mozhi :)

At 12:34 AM, Blogger D.E.V said...

why has no one inserted "Unaale Unnale " in thier list? it is also one of the best films of the year for it's savy freshness, chick look, good music. It is entertainment level is pretty high compaired to "Amuvagiya naan" or "katradhu tamizh". it is shame that such a nice cute film being left out.

At 6:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's because Unnale Unnale needs to be in the bottom 10 list. I guess it was the music that saved it!


At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't agree with you. The story was good...practical approach of mismatch couples..No tears, no sentiment dialogue.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger D.E.V said...

Balaji, i know this is ur top 10 best film. But honestly speakiing. so u ever thinl u can repeatly watch "periyar". "amuvagiya naan" or "evano oruvan" again and again, i cant imagine u buying the dvds of these movie either.

"Pokirri" is also good and shouls have been in the list. it was definetly one of the most entertaining movie of the year!

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the Pongal releases have been damp squibs it seems at the BO

Atleast our audiences have been more discerning and have not disappointed this time

At 9:08 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

bart, 'kalloori' seems to be 2007's 'emtan magan' in how my opinion varies from most others' :)

but u're right about this list pretty much being the year's good movies. didn't have trouble selecting the top 10. just their order :)

anon, yes i've seen'kireedam'. good effort from ajith but i didn't the movie was anything special. familiar story. only the climax was different :)

apala, for 'sivaji', i went in looking for a rajni movie(as opposed to a shankar movie with rajni as hero) and i was completely happy with the result :)

as for EO, i think isaid this b4 too. i had no problems with the 'snap' because of that quick rundown of his life in the beginning. it was the 2nd half that spoiled the film for me. but the climax did move me :)

pushpa, yeah pretty sad...

merino, considering satyaraj's recent list of movies, i'm not surprised he irks u. but this one - and i hear 'Onbadhu Roobai Noattu' also, though i havent seen it yet, were exceptions :)

yeah ledger's death came as a bad surprise. esp. since he is the joker in the new batman movie and we've been hearing a lot about him...

ram, can't say i loved 'kalloori' until the climax but i did like it. but the climax completely destroyed the film for me. but considering u loved 95% and still gave it only 2.5 *, it looks like the climax had a rather big effect on ur opinion of the movie too :)

filbert, i too have seen that remakes whose originals i have seen tend to rate lower for me. that might be why i liked movies like 'mozhi', 'pattiyal' and 'sivi' so much. and thats also why i don't plan to see 'kadha parayumbol' before 'kuselan' :)

skanda, as my review shows, i didn't like UU all that much. 1st half was good but 2nd half, until the climax, was pretty bad.

and the criterion of me watching a movie repeatedly can't be used here. movies that affect me emotionally rate higher but those r exactly the movies i don't watch repeatedly i don't wanna feel heavy again! i've never seen 'sethu' or 'kaasi' again simply cos they really involved me the first time around. while i actually own movies 'gilli' and 'dhool' since i just FF them and watch only scenes i like :)

vijay, i've seen 2 so far and am not surprised that they were damp squibs :)

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it looks like the climax had a rather big effect on ur opinion of the movie too :)"
--> BB, if you remember I reacted the same way to the movie (esp. the climax) of "7/G Rainbow Colony" that is probably my least favorite climax for a movie that i actually "loved" for the first 2 hours!

At 6:59 AM, Blogger Balaji Sivaraman said...

Great list as always BB. :)

My personal top 5 is posted in my blog and I have to say I disagree with you on the top movie. While I thought Paruthiveeran was great, the climax just maybe pushed the handle a bit too much for me. Anyways, my absolute favorite from 2007 was definitely Mozhi which was wonderful and I think had unanimous praise from all parts of the audience.

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Mozhi, B. For me, it was the best!! LD


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