We use repetition all the time in everyday speech, whether it’s ‘Come on, Come on’, ‘Jaldi Jaldi’ or ‘Seri Seri’. But why do films use repeated words in their titles? Well, for one, it has a certain musical quality to it. It’s subtle, but effective. Liar, Liar (1977) immediately conjures a playground, loud children, and sing-song teasing. No matter its charm, a single ‘New York’ is a signpost. But, New York, New York (1977) becomes a nostalgic, poetic tribute. There’s something very disarming about repetition. Consider the British musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). You don’t need to understand a word of English, or be over the age of 10, to have fun with the name. Leave behind Hollywood and British films and we have even better titles. There’s the Taiwanese film Yi Yi (2000), which literally means ‘one one’. Then there’s the Spanish Jamon Jamon (1992) which means ‘ham ham’. And Je T’aime, Je T’aime (1968) might make us wonder what’s really going on – after all, a single ‘I love you’ should be enough, right?
However, there’s no contest when we compare with Tamil films. In the last five years alone, there have been over 10 films with repeating words. Maybe we’re more musical down South. Maybe we like a little lullaby-like repetition in our lives. Who knows? As for the title’s relevance to the story, well, it isn’t always obvious. Take a look for yourself:
- Thaaka Thaaka (2015): After receiving appreciation for his performance in Pandiya Naadu, actor Vikranth is back as a solo hero in Thaaka Thaaka or ‘Attack, Attack’. Releasing this Friday, we must wait and see whether he attacks the box office or not. Here’s the promotional video.
- Katham Katham (2015): This title (‘Everything is over’) and Rajinikanth are directly connected. Remember that epic dialogue ‘Katham Katham Mudinjadhu Mudinji Pochu’ in Rajinikanth’s film Baba? This film was directed by newcomer Babu Thooyavan, son of veteran writer Thooyavan. Unfortunately, it was called predictable, amateurishly shot, and its songs were considered ‘mood-killing love tracks’. Katham Katham only managed an aggregated score of 0.55 when it came to people actually liking the film.
- Maha Maha (2015): There must have been a really good reason for the title, but we couldn’t figure out what that was. This film had a bunch of debutants and was mostly shot in a little country town in Australia. Maha Maha had only three tracks, all composed by Ilaiyaraaja’s nephew Pavalar Shiva, and all three tracks were well received. Including the title song ‘Maha Maha’ sung by Pavalar Shiva. Maybe the filmmakers thought it would be an easy title for non-Tamil speakers to remember.
- Malai Malai (2009): The film is about two brothers (Arun Vijay and Prabhu). There’s no significant analogy between the title and the movie. Unless the ‘Mountain Mountain’ refers to the Palani Hills in the background.
- Dum Dum Dum (2001): Starring Madhavan and Jyothika, Dum Dum Dum is another rendition of opposites attract. With the inevitable ending of ‘then they eventually get married’. What’s most memorable about the film was the song ‘Ragasiyamai‘ where the marriage traditions of different religions are shown.
- Pagadai Pagadai (2014): This movie marked a comeback for director Sasi Shankar after almost a decade. ‘Pagadai Pagadai’ literally means ‘Dice Dice’ and the film is a thriller revolving around deception, dice, and an international mafia gang. Unlike his earlier film Perazhagan, though, this film wasn’t a gamble that paid off. Despite a striking resemblance between the lead actresses of the two film.
- Thiruda Thiruda (1993): A classic Mani Ratnam film dealing with two good thieves (hence, ‘Thief Thief’) who rescue public money stolen by an underworld gangster. Only Mani Ratnam and Ram Gopal Varma could combine a gripping thriller with subtle comedy.
- Achamundu Achamundu (2009): ‘There is fear! There is fear!’ – The film starred Prasanna, Sneha, and Emmy-award winner John Shea. The plot revolves around a married couple in New Jersey, living happily with their young daughter. All is well until a paedophile enters the scene. How the parents save their daughter from this menacing presence is the story of the film.
- Kaaka Kaaka (2003): A typical Gautham Menon cop story, ‘Protect Protect’ is the sole duty and lifelong mission of the ideal policeman, Suriya. Not too different from Menon’s other films, Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu and Yennai Arindhaal.
- Ainthu Ainthu Ainthu (2003): The storyline is pretty creepy. The hero loses his girlfriend in a car accident, and the rest of the story involves people trying to convince him that his memories of her are just hallucinations. Is there a massive hostile conspiracy going on, or is he just a little crazy? We do find out in the end. The title means ‘Five Five Five’, or just 555. According to IMDb, this name was chosen because actor Bharath developed six packs without drinking water for five months.
- Lesa Lesa (2003): This was supposed to be Trisha’s debut film, but Mounam Pesiyathe beat it to the release. The film had music sung by a 14-year old Madhumita, as well as an extended guest appearance by Madhavan. The title means ‘Weightless Weightless’ and true to its title, the film was a breezy, light-hearted romance. The title song ‘Lesa Lesa’ sung by Anuradha Sriram is considered one of Tamil cinema’s evergreen songs.
- Inidhu Inidhu (2010): This remake of the Telugu film Happy Days, revolved around college, friendship and love. With eight newcomers in the lead, the film was shot in VIT Vellore, and depicted the ‘Sweet Sweet’ days of college life and youth. After quite some time, Prakash Raj had finally produced a film full of life, leaving us with some rather sweet memories.