I read the article Revive Kollywood with great interest. The article discussed the issue of Tamil movies in contemporary times. And while the authors hit certain points square on the head such as the damsel in distress and use of fair looking women, they miss an important aspect when they say “Why aren’t there enough storylines on real people, real situations and real expectations?... Why don’t we focus on valuing women and talking about issues in the world, issues real people face – and of course good humour, romance and fun.”
As I’ve told numerous friends who might watch Vijay’s or Ajith’s latest movie and then complain it was terrible, you’re sampling the wrong movies. These movies are made for their fans. But to you, as a person in a Western country, you will find zero value.
There is plenty of great cinema in Kollywood. It's just that we fail to see or notice them. For example, the movie Aarohanam, which focuses on a bipolar woman in a village, was critically acclaimed and considered one of the best movies for that year. The new movie Irudhi Suttru looks at a young woman through her boxing journey, her struggles and eventual success. Both of these movies were filmed by a female director.
If you want movies that focus on relationships, then certainly Amma Kanakku focuses on a mother-daughter relationship and the pursuit of goals, while Thanga Meenkal deals with a father-daughter relationship. Or why not Papanasam where a family has to come together following an unfortunate circumstance. Cuckoo focuses on a blind couple and their resolve to be together, and the recent movie Pa Paandi focuses on a grandfather trying to find his place in society and find meaning in his life.
There are countless examples of movies that focus on various aspects of human lives and issues real people face, but rarely would we line up to see these movies in at a theatre. We have an idealism of what we want, but rarely do we follow through with our actions.
Maybe in our social media fueled society, we just wanted to be entertained with the highlight reels, not the real emotions or tribulations of a character because that’s messy. Just ask Netflix. They know you would rather watch a mindless comedy over a serious movie, and you’ve probably paid for a movie about luxury cars driving on ice and blowing up submarines over a movie like Manchester by the Sea.
One concept I’ll also discuss is time. The thought of watching a Tamil movie with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes screams agony. Heck, if a friend sends you a 3 minute video clip, it better be a DAMN good clip for you to watch. We live our lives in haste, our short attention spans and hyper stimulation making it hard for us to focus on anything (if you got this far in the article, kudos). Kollywood is starting to have tighter scripts, and it should consider reducing or removing the songs (oh god, what will future engagement e-shoots feature).
A few movies already fall below the 2 hour mark include Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru with its slick editing focuses on solving a crime and Kuttrame Thandanai, a thriller about a murder from the perspective of a person going blind. Both are around 1.5 hours and have no songs. Or consider the fabulous comedy, Kalyana Samayal Samdhan, which explores the topic of male erectile dysfunction in an artful manner in under 2 hours (I don’t how much more modern of a film you can ask for at this point).
Are all the movies I mentioned a perfect 10/10? Definitely not - they still have issues. But are they moving towards something greater, exploring relationships and real people in real situations, then certainly I would say yes.
I consider it a privilege, as a Tamil person, to hear the beautiful words of my language in this medium. It has value and importance to me. But if you have never heard of any of the movies above, then maybe the issue might be what you're failing to notice.
Kollywood, like other film industries around the world, is already undergoing a shift in this new digital age. Take the time to find the good movies, support and discuss them. Kollywood won’t revive itself just because you read an article about it. We, the consumers, need to pay attention and be part of that change.
- Prathipan Ratnam