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Ilaiyaraja spoke during the release of Akka Kurivi, but his comments did not kick off a controversy, only deep introspection. As an artiste and a composer, Ilaiyaraja asked why Tamil films were not reaching to world standards. He said this at a press conference relating to Samy’s upcoming film Akka Kurivi.

Samy gave us Uyir, Mirugam and Sindhu Samaveli. Akka Kurivi promises to be a different fare, as if to make up for some of the elements in his last films.

Tamils who like World Cinema would have seen Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven. It tells the story of siblings who have only one pair of shoes but they share it. The film tells the story of their family. Akka Kurivi is a remake of Children of Heaven.

Children of Heaven is a film that is not very different from a Vannadasan story. Well observed, full of details but depicting a world where there are no villains, Children of Heaven tugs at our heart. For critics, it’s only a feel good movie. But few Tamil films come even to that level.

There are very many Tamil films with childlike themes portraying childlike characters. Established directors have made movies with children as key characters. But were they truly made for children?

In the mid-1980s, there was a pathbreaking My Dear Kuttichathan. Dubbed from Malayalam, it was a massive success. It was a growing up experience for children of that time – the 3D glasses transported them to another world.

My Dear Kuttichathan was a rarity, a rare film made for children. Ilaiyaraja who composed music for that film has composed music for Akka Kurivi.

On the other hand, Tamil film Anjali was full of children. The main characters were children but it wasn’t really a children’s movie. But it was the best Tamil cinema could do with a noted director.

Tamil cinema has been around for a hundred years. But the list of Tamil children’s films is practically a no-list.

A possible exception was Mazhalai Pattalam. Based on Hollywood film Yours, Mine and Ours, Mazhalai Pattalam was directed by actress Lakshmi. Just like the Hollywood original, Mazhalai Pattalam could be considered a comedy film for the family. Rajinikanth’s Raja Chinna Roja, released in 1988, used animation but it talked about drug addiction.

Tamil cinema has been around for a hundred years. But the list of Tamil children’s films is practically a no-list.

When Tamil cinema struggles to make women-centric films, how could it conceive a children’s movie? The closest that come to family entertainers are Rajinikanth or Vijay films. Many movies that we take our children to often have double meaning dialogues and gory violence.

In recent times, we have been seeing more movies revolving around children characters. Thanga Meengal, Pasanga, Kakka Muttai and Kedi Karuppu Thurai are some well known of these. But, again, they were not for children. A film called Goli Soda came out in 2014. Children should not see the film. But the makers even thought it fit to make a sequel.

In 2001, Kutti dealing with child labour got an award for its debutante director Janaki Viswanathan. Ilaiyaraja scored the music for that film too.

It must be said that children’s movies are attempted in every period. While the movies may have childlike films or even children as the main characters, they are not made for children to watch.

A children’s film should picture society for children. It should play to their creativity. It should give them faith and confidence about values. But Tamil filmmakers don’t seem to understand the basic requirements, or perhaps they feel those elements will not work.

If we reflect on this question, it appears some of the worst films for children have been made in Tamil. They deserve the razzies.

Thanga Meengal, Pasanga, Kakka Muttai and Kedi Karuppu Thurai were not for children. They were films for adults told through children.

At the national level, awards are given to best children’s films. Only once has a Tamil film got this award. It was Kakka Muttai, which really can’t be called a children’s film. It was a film for adults told through children.

Sometimes clichés best capture a thought. Only time will if Akka Kurivi will be a true children’s film.

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