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The administration of the Nehru stadium in Chennai has reportedly levied a penalty on the production company of the new Vijay-starrer Vaarisu because fans damaged the seats in the indoor stadium at the film’s soundtrack release on December 24.

Earlier in the day, the fans made a mad scramble into the indoor stadium, adding grist to the 24×7 social media mill.

Not to be outdone, Ajith’s new film Thunivu made a splash when its poster was majestically released from a parachute in Dubai. The competition between films of the two top stars – Vijay and Ajith – has been heating up ahead of their release. These incidents demonstrate the unabated craze for films among the people in Tamil Nadu.

Let’s see what was in store for the fans this past year and how they received it.

The words of R K Shanmugam Chettiar, India’s first finance minister, seem apt at this juncture. “It is not proper to blame the people for the obscenities in films, saying that the people want and enjoy this or that. It is the duty of cinema personalities to educate the people rightly in terms of knowledge and art. Cinema is a good art accommodating all art forms – writing, music, drama, painting, sculpture and dance. I think that such a lofty art must be developed ethically and properly and that will be one of the greatest services to Tamil and Tamils.”

About 10 films including Kamal Haasan’s Vikram, director Maniratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan-I, Vijay’s Beast and Ajith’s Valimai have raked in revenues ranging from Rs 50 crore to Rs 500 crore. Suriya’s Etharkkum Thuninthavan set the cash registers ringing with Rs 200 crore

It’s probably been over 70 years since the scholar said those words about the deplorable state of cinema. But nothing has changed since. That is what one makes out, going by the list of hits this year.

About 10 films including Kamal Haasan’s Vikram, director Maniratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan-I, Vijay’s Beast and Ajith’s Valimai have raked in revenues ranging from Rs 50 crore to Rs 500 crore. Suriya’s Etharkkum Thuninthavan set the cash registers ringing with Rs 200 crore.

Also Read: 2021 showed Tamil movies could ascend to world class

No doubt, all these statistics are surely a shot in the arm for commercial cinema which was floundering during the covid lockdowns. But this year has been a letdown for those who view and pursue cinema as an art. No film like Karnan, which was released in 2021, was made this year. Though Karnan had the heroic macho ingredients playing to the gallery, its inherent expressionist art cannot be brushed aside.

Such good films in form and content have not come out this year except a couple of OTT releases such as Taanakkaran, Muthal Nee Mudivum Nee etc.

On the day of Pongal this year no big actors’ films hit the screen. Those of the lesser mortals could not make a great impact, seemingly confirming the general belief that only films from the movers and shakers of showbiz are crowd-pullers. Yet, one small budget film, Love Today, became a big hit. It reinforced the truth that, big budget or small budget, films rich in content and form would hit the bull’s eye.

The film Writer, released at the end of last year, did raise hopes of more good cinema following it in 2022, and Love Today came as a whiff of fresh air. Yet, unlike Writer which teems with oodles of social consciousness, Love Today just played with base human instincts, striking a chord more with the impressionable young. In this respect, Love Today joins the league of films such as Vikram.

At the same time, director Samy’s film Akka Kuruvi and Santosh P Jayakumar’s Poikkal Kuthirai became flops, surprisingly, despite their earlier films having been received well.

The list of successful run-of-the-mill entertainers from 2022 included Vikram, PS-I, Valimai, Beast, Thiruchitrambalam, Sardar, Viruman and so on. But certain films can be considered alternative cinema, such as Kadaisi Vivasaayee, Kallan, Kuthiraivaal, Saani Kaayidham, Natchathiram Nagargiradhu and Witness. Unfortunately, they did not hit the spot.

Surprisingly, films dubbed into Tamil from other languages such as Kanthara, Seetharamam made a good impact on the audience

The most notable incidents of 2022 in Tamil cinema were the demise of director-actor Pratap Pothan and the announcement by Udhayanidhi Stalin, quitting acting to don the mantle of minister

On the one hand, common commercial potboilers have hit the mark, enabling filmmakers to go laughing all the way to the bank. On the other, alternative films have fallen by the wayside. But somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum, certain films have come off as a hybrid of art and entertainment, like Maamanithan, Gargi, Nenjukku Neethi etc. But the films did not become money-spinners. The film Maanaadu, released last year, was probably the only critically acclaimed as well as commercially successful film.

Besides, the films released this year which grabbed some attention were R Parthiban’s Iravin  Nizhal and Nambi: Rocketry Effect. While the former, though innovative in film-making style, was not much spoken about the way the director did, the latter had nothing special about it except that it was actor Madhavan’s maiden directorial attempt.

Also Read: Sita Ramam — a medley of cliches wrapped in patriotism

Surprisingly, films dubbed from other languages such as Kanthara, Sita Ramam and so on made a good impact on the audience.

The most notable incidents of 2022 in Tamil cinema were the demise of director-actor Pratap Pothan and the announcement by Udhayanidhi Stalin, quitting acting to don the mantle of minister.

One of the attention-grabbing reports from the world of Tamil cinema was the marriage of top actress Nayanthara with director Vignesh Sivan.

2022 also saw the re-release of Rajinikanth’s Baba in a more glossy form, and met with the same fate that befell the film two decades ago.

By and large, 2022 is yet another year of Tamil cinema following the same-old beaten path. No film robust in art and entertainment has hit the screen. Will 2023 be different?


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