2015 has been a mixed bag for Tamil Cinema. There were some great films, campaigns, and events. Some big films bit the dust. Some specks of dust made it big. Overall, there were lessons for everyone – the filmmakers and the audience. Here’s the top takeaways from 2015:
1. ‘New’ Is In :
The year belonged to debutantes. Debut films like Maya, Demonte Colony, Tamizhukku Enn Ondrai Azhuthavum, Kaakka Muttai, Rajathandiram, and Kirumi, among others, went on to become the best films of the year. Backed by great writing, these films struck a chord with the audience and left lasting impressions.
On the technical side as well, many talented new entrants made their mark. Music composer Leon James’s impressive music in Kanchana 2 was followed by an equally impressive album with Ko 2. Ron Ethan songs and background music really enriched the chilling effect of Maya, amply supported by the sound designers of the film.Music director GV Prakash shown promise as an actor with a convincing performance in Darling. He improved on this with his role as the testosterone-charged hero in Trisha Illana Nayanthara. We didn’t particularly like the film, but who knew GV had a closeted acting side for so long? Other impressive debuts were mostly from child actors – Ramesh and Vignesh from Kaakka Muttai, Amaan from Thoongavanam, and Vaishnavi from Pasanga 2. Nikki Galrani too, had a promising debut in Darling, and followed it up with Yagavarayinum Na Kaaka.
2. Language No Bar :
Premam, which released on May 29, is still running in Chennai theatres, seven months later. A film which runs for over fifty days is considered a great success. But here’s a Malayalam film running in Chennai for over 200 days. It’s a record that’s likely to stay a while. This love story revolving around its hero, George (Nivin Pauly), and his tryst with women at different stages of his life, transcended language barriers, and became a hit among youngsters in all four Southern states. Malar, Celine, and Mary (characters from the film) became household names. Premam has shown that when it comes to films, it’s the content that wins, every time. Language is secondary. Premam is being remade in Telugu, and there’s some mockery around its casting choices.
The Chennai floods rocked the very foundations of our beautiful city in the first week of December. And while Kollywood actors were only answering a basic humanitarian call, they have to be applauded for the effort they put in towards relief work. Using their popularity, they mobilised help for evacuation and bringing in supplies. This definitely galvanised the public into taking part, and helping out. If Chennai is back on its feet now, it’s because of public involvement. And Kollywood actors can proudly say that they were a part of the movement. We salute them for that.
4. Tone Down The Hate :
This year, Kollywood’s most discussed event was the Nadigar Sangam Election. Tamil news channels covered election day like a general election, with 18 hours of live telecasts from 7 am to 12 am the next day. The hype was fuelled by mud-slinging from both parties. Sarathkumar’s party was the bigger culprit when it came to hate speeches. From calling Vishal a ‘cunning fox’ to calling Kamal Haasan a traitor. The team received deserved flak from the public for their comments, and their image took a beating.
Another controversy surfaced with Simbu’s private composition, the ‘Beep Song’. The song was widely circulated at a time when the city was recovering from the floods. Leaked or not, the song was in bad taste, and only added to Simbu’s ‘bad guy’ image.
5. Never Write Them Off :
2015 also witnessed some stellar comebacks. Jyothika and Arvind Swamy showed that years don’t diminish talent, or on-screen charisma. Arvind Swamy joined the elusive list of villains the audience can’t help but love, with his performance as Siddarth Abhimanyu in Thani Oruvan. Jyothika was the same as before, with her look and acting. Gauthami Tadimalla delivered an earnest and moving performance in Papanasam. These comeback actors proved that the best simply cannot be written off in this business.
6. Content Wins :
The failure of some big-budget films like Vijay’s Puli, and Shankar’s overhyped I proved that no matter who the star is, or however great the promotions are, in the end, only content wins. Debut films with minuscule promotions and great content did much better than these epic fails. Hopefully filmmakers take note of this trend in 2016, and deliver innovative and noteworthy content.
7. Need For Women-Centric Films :
This year saw some great women characters – Hemanika in Yennai Arindhal, Aishwarya Rajesh in Kaakka Muttai, and Sivagami in Baahubali, to name a few. But there were few women-centric stories. It seems like Tamil cinema will have to wait a long time to see a film like Queen or Margarita With A Straw. And appreciated for the right reasons. Noteworthy mentions in terms of women-centric films include Rudhramadevi and Inji Idupazhagi (both starring Anushka Shetty). But the films had poor writing, and didn’t do well at the box-office. Our hope for 2016 is – more stories with female leads.