I’m going to come out and just say it: I don’t watch Tamil movies. Before you start labeling me as "white-washed" or "anti-Tamil", let me explain why. First, let me correct myself and say that I don’t watch Tamil movies anymore. If Kollywood was still churning out films like Karnan, Veerapandi Kattabomman, Kaathalikka Neramillai, Pathinaaru Vayathinile, Naayakan and Bombay I’d still be into Tamil movies.
The last Tamil movie I watched was Enthiran in the hopes that the first Tamil Sci-Fi film in recent memory would be innovative, exciting and leave me with a renewed respect for Kollywood. Finding another "masala" film with a B-movie plot, cliché dialogue, caricature like characters and visual effects stolen from Star Trek left me severely disappointed once again.
There have been quite a number of movies - such as the Karthik and Reema Sen starer Aayirathil Oruvan or Mani Ratnam’s Raavanan - which were put on a pedestal for incorporating historical elements into the screenplay. However, I found that the rich history and mythology that could’ve been portrayed were buried under shoddy editing, ill thought-out characters (in the case of Aayirathil Oruvan) and a plot riddled with holes and contradictions. In other words: same shite, different pile.
Since I personally love action-adventure, fantasy, sci-fi and historical films, here are 6 films that I think Kollywood should make. Best of all, these wouldn’t even lose mass appeal!
1. An Apocalypto type film about the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. There has been much speculation that ancient cities like Harappa and Mohenjo Daro could’ve been built by a proto-Dravidian people who spoke a language similar to Tamil. An action-adventure based on the subject would cement this theory into popular culture and I personally would love to see the ancient ruins come to life on the big screen. Who would you pick to direct?
2. A futuristic science fiction romance about a young and hopeless woman who was transported in time during her attempted suicide. She finds herself in a futuristic India and has to come to terms with not only her new and unfamiliar surroundings, but also the trauma of her past. A host of supporting characters and a slew of adventures would supplement the character driven screenplay. And who wouldn’t want to see what a futuristic India would look like? Which leading lady would be your choice to play this stand-alone lead role?
3. A sweeping epic multi-part action-adventure set in the time of the Four Kingdoms: the Pallavas, Cholas, Cheras and Pandavas. A brazen thief with a meter long rap sheet, a bold and ambitious social climbing courtesan, an usurping prince who covets his brother’s throne, a righteous scribe with a shady past or a plain-Jane wife who suddenly finds herself on the other side of the law would all make excellent protagonists. This would have all the typical Tamil movie elements of romance, action, comedy and sentiment, but with an original, gritty plot that puts the fate of the known world in the balance, realistic characters and well executed dialogue. This would be any costume designer’s dream project, a chance to make history and set the tone for historical costuming for decades to come. Who would be a part of this ensemble cast?
4. A Tamil version of the story of Alexander the Great. To make this different from any Hollywood version, Kollywood can use the obscure theory that the Hindu god Skandha (identified with the Tamil Murugan) was actually based on the Macedonian Alexander, known in Persia as Iskander. A historical fantasy with a blend of myth, legend and scholarly research portraying the deification of a great warrior would be fascinating to see on the big screen in Tamil. Which southern star can take on this role of a man who became a god?
5. A modern rendering of Sillapatikaram. The love triangle between the wealthy merchant Kovalan, his wife Kanaki and the courtesan Maathavi would make an exciting contemporary romance. A new twist ending, updated dialogue, believable characterization and soulful music a la Sara sara saara kaatru would make this the movie that Raavanan should’ve been. My pick to compose music for this film would be the newcomer M Ghibran. Who’s yours?
6. How about the sensational Hindu myth about how the god Ayyapan was born? Not the boring old serialized version, but an action packed, the-fate-of-the-world –in-the-balance type dark fantasy with the seduction of the god Shiva by Vishnu and the birth of the ‘new hope,’ as the starting point? Shot at least partly in 3D with streamlined costuming, stellar cinematography, detailed set design and decoration and cutting edge visual effects would make this a sumptuous visual treat. Who would you pick to be the cinematographer?
The powers that be in Kollywood, I hope you’re reading!