(Part 1 of a two-part series)
A couple of days back, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the press from his Ottawa cottage and he flipped his hair with his hand. While there were reactions from world over, Tamil film fans started gushing about how it was the signature ‘Thalaivar style’. For those who do not know what it means, Thalaivar means ‘leader’ or ‘head’ in Tamil.
In Tamil Nadu, Thalaivar can only mean one and that is actor Rajnikanth.
A friend once asked me, why is the hero in Tamil movies always introduced in a ‘slow-mo’ scene and why does he always have to have a majestic sitting style?
My answer to that was simple. We like our hero (whoever it may be) to be a macho man, who is way beyond ordinary. We celebrate our heroes!
Many of my friends from other states complain of the over-the-top adoration cinema and celluloid heroes are awarded in Tamil Nadu. If keenly observed, this phenomenon is not specific to Tamil Nadu, there are such examples in other states too. However, Tamil Nadu is the only state in India which has had so many celluloid stars parading their way to Chief Ministership – C N Annadurai, Kalaignar M Karunanidhi, M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa. What goes unnoticed is that there are an equal number of movie stars who have failed miserably in the political arena.
I am not here to debate as to whether actors should turn politicians or not. Anyone can, it is democracy, after all! Ultimately it is for the people to decide if the actors are worth being elevated to the citadel.
SP Abhishek, who dons the hats of music composer, voice actor, music supervisor, singer and creative producer says, “For me, watching a movie is not only absolute entertainment but also a learning experience (be it musical or technical) since I am part of the industry. I keep going back to scenes and background scores to understand how a composer has scored for a scene and how it could have been done differently at times. It’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of the process of film making.”
Abhishek speaks about how much he adores ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth. As his fan boy from the age of 4, he says that he adores the actor’s positivity and how he spreads it among people around him. “Both Mr Rajinikanth and Mr A R Rahman inspire millions of people and instill hope and confidence in fellow artists and creators.”
Despite his personal choices, Abhishek says that Tamil movies are not being taken seriously by people and hence does not influence their lives.
“Off late, people have started watching movies more like film critics and less like the audience. Easy access to information and multimedia have made people aware of reality and the illusions that cinema creates. I have heard that many people started learning classical dance only after watching the Kamal Hassan-starrer ‘Salangai Oli’. Now, people realize that film makers, directors, artists etc. are also people who have their individuality and express it through a medium like cinema. We tend to be ourselves in spite of how movies portray the characters and that imitating them is not necessary.” (I would recommend you to watch Salangai Oli where Kamal Hassan plays the role of an aspiring classical dancer.)
For D.G. Eugene, professor of visual communication at a prestigious institution in Chennai, watching a good movie means a mindful experience. He refuses to agree to the popular belief that movie is an escapist medium. “A movie to me is the highest form of art. It is all about being mindful, being here and now, being spiritually connected. A good movie can truly transient time, shift perspectives and sometimes create a lasting impact,” he says.
Eugene talks about his adoration actors for their work and their contribution to the craft.
“I don’t follow the style of actors off-screen, but I do follow some of their shared experience,” he says when asked if he celebrates actors blindly.
While Abhishek said people don’t take movies seriously, Eugene has a different viewpoint.
“Yes, I do think Tamil movies are taken very seriously by the people. Tamil audience, by and large, take movies as a direct reflection of society and vice versa. So the content of the movies in Tamil are more often social dramas. Most Tamil movies are shouldered on one central character with heroic saviour undertones. But times are changing and we have much larger variety of narratives than ever before,” he adds.
Vocalist and musician T Kalaimagan, grandson of Villupaattu Exponent ‘Kalaimamani’ Kavignar Subbu Arumugam talks about how watching a movie is an experience in itself.
“I watch many genres from yesteryear films to latest films. Being a musician, music has been an important connect in making me watch various genre films and I also look up how a music composer produces background scores and songs when he juggles between one genre and another.”
Kalaimagan admits that he adores yesteryear actor ‘Nadigar Tilagam’ (loosely translated as supreme actor) Shivaji Ganesan. “My grandfather has worked with the ace actor in many films. I would listen to the stories of how Shivaji Sir used to concentrate during narration of scripts, grasp even the minutest of details, rehearse before the shoot and be on time for the same. I draw great inspiration from such stories, both as an artist and as a fan.” Kalaimagan believes that only films with good content or films by established heroes get a good reception in the theatres.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Tilak Chronicle and TTC Media Pvt Ltd.