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Tamil Film Industry – Trends in Recent Times!
A film becoming a hit or a flop cannot be the only guideline to declare its worthiness. The right way is to judge its content and narrative style, I mean the script and the screenplay. Without them, the very purpose of filmmaking cannot be served properly. More than two hundred films are released every year and their quality: quantity ratio does not look very convincing. No one would have thought that we would deliver such mediocre films when compared to the black and white era.
With the demise of legends from the Shivaji Ganesan era, Tamil cinema shifted its focus from script oriented films to profitable films with few exceptions. In the 60s and 70s, movies used to have strong scripts and we could see actors emoting with passion and it was as if we were seeing ourselves on the screen. This is lacking in today’s movies. We may get inspiration from a Hollywood movie (or even Korean movies) or remake from other languages but never inspire people around the world to follow us. Even the name Kollywood (a word that is not in the dictionary) is inspired from the west. We still love our Tamil movies, thanks to our limited exposure to Hollywood.
Today, Tamil cinema is in a mold with a predetermined template that defines the mandatory number of songs, fights, comedy, love and emotions in a film. And we call it the “perfect blend” for a blockbuster. Apparently, actors have also got into this mold, making it a safe bet for hits. So directors no longer try and adapt to what the audience wants. In Kollywood, every actor is associated with some type of roles. There are mass heroes, romantics, action kings and others. Hence, time and again an actor is forced to choose a role according to their fan’s expectations. Our artists are very good. They are better than we give them credit for, but what their fans expect, is what stops them from trying out different characters. So who do we blame? fans? artists? directors? I will tell everyone, in the same order. A film must be consistent in the first place. If this is a comedy movie, then this is a complete comedy treat. If it’s a thriller, it should be tightly packed with twists and thrills. I don’t understand the need for a romantic song in a thriller film or fight scenes in comedy flicks. No more unnecessary songs unless the situation calls for one, and overall, we don’t want to watch 2 hour 40 minute movies anymore. The film concept based on this template had to change.
The reason there aren’t many futuristic movies is that the directors don’t see the future. Except for a few passionate directors who put their soul into their films, other directors think of filmmaking as a profession. Filmmaking is an art and if we turn it into a profession, we will lose that magical charm, which films used to have. A director needs to be able to visualize the outcome of a film, which is really important because it creates a road map for his team and motivates them. A director needs a lot of grit to bring out such visionary ideas. The director had to make a lot of compromises to please a lot of people along the way and when he looks back, the film might be a little different from what he intended to make. To think, make a film and stick to your theme requires a different kind of courage, which very few directors have. A director needs courage to stick to his script and not change according to the hero’s image or fan’s expectations. If this small change is made, I’m sure the quality will increase.
Today, a film’s opening week success depends on extensive marketing by the film’s promoters. They read the TV channels of trailers which contain only good movie scenes. Fooled by the trailer, we walked into the theater to find the real story. And that’s how distributors make money in the opening week. Cant blame them, they are just business people. They do their job and accordingly even the directors have to stick to their job, which is to create quality films and not worry about profits and opening sales. Basically, everyone needs to stick to their jobs and try not to blow their noses.
There has to be films like Kahaani and Arundathi that focus on the heroine. It’s time we stop using our girls just for songs and romance. Directors have to write scripts for these talented women to showcase their skills. Making an Indian movie is more difficult than Hollywood because of the sophisticated masala factor in every frame. Directors need to focus on a single storyline in an effective manner. Even stunts in Indian films look very unrealistic and unearthly. In short, Indian and Hollywood movies share the same theme, good fighting evil, good trying to save the country, with little fighting and little kissing. But the way it comes out as a package is different. This means a method of delivering the same message in a gift-wrapped box. If you take movies like Xmen, harry potter, they may not make sense but that is fantasy. Although illogical, westerners know the art of presenting the dumbest things in the world and still getting away with a huge applause from the audience. It could all be a performance. Even if we fantasize, it will still contain songs, fights and basic “masala” ingredients.
It hurts me when the Tamil audience stands and applauds for characters like superman, batman or anyone. Actually, we are not envious of them but it makes us wonder when such an ovation will happen to our artists. I am sure our script writers are very smart to think out of the box but they are being redirected by the image of the hero who is being redirected by their fans. How long will we continue to watch mass masala movies, with no quality script? Furthermore, it is the matter of the audience being educated enough to accept the creativity of the directors. The fear of not being accepted by the audience is what keeps many great directors from changing their scripts and screenplays. Until the audience changes their perspective and accepts all kinds of good movies, the quality will not improve.
People are busy fighting over who will be the next superstar but are not worried about the future of Tamil cinema. We cant bat, yet we criticize Sachin, we cant lead, yet we mock our Prime Minister, all we can do is talk within four walls in front of the TV. Salman Rushdie once quoted the Indian film industry as “Epico-Mythico-Tragico-Comico-Super-Sexy-High-Masala-Art”. So complicated and so true! Thanks for adding the word “Art”, sir.
We need to change, so they can change and make better movies.
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