For those who are fond of international movies ( other than Indian movies and Hollywood), UTV World Movies is a boon. They run a series called 50 Movies to watch before you die handpicked by different directors like Anurag Basu, Kunal Das Gupta etc., A wonderful series of movies you cant miss.
I thought why not a similar list for Tamil Movies. Tamil movies had a very limited audience in the past. Globalization of movie world and the advent of Internet has given a wider audience to Tamil Movies. From Rajini fan clubs in Japan to Billa running full houses in China, Tamil movies have come of age.
Tamil movie world is called Kollywood as to hollywood and bollywood. It gets its name from Kodambakkam, a locality in Chennai, where the Cinema Studios like AVM are present. Tamil movies are a perfect blend of action, comedy, music, dances, fanfare, glamor and sentiments. The expectations of the audiences are so high that they expect the perfect blend for every movie.
I have tried to hand pick some of the unknown gems in the Tamil Movie world for the readers. All these movies are main stream movies and not documentaries from the racks of film schools. These are the movies which created histories, changed trends, broke the norms and entertained the Tamil Audiences.
1. Andha Naal (1954)
All the Tamil movies in the yester years ran for at-least 3 hours, had a minimum of 10 songs, one stage dance and few stunts. Andha Naal broke the norm being the first movie with No songs, No dance and No fight sequences. It was produced by the legendary A.V.Meyyappa Chettiar, directed by Veenai S.Balachander and the cast include Sivaji Ganesan, Pandari Bai, Javert Seetharaman ( yes, he got the name from Les Miserables character and it was his best portrayal in the Tamil adaptation) etc.,
The story revolves around the murder of Sivaji Ganesan, with each of his relatives claiming the other one as the killer. Each one gives a different version of the story and Javert Seetharaman is the CID officer, who cracks the case. Sounds similar?
As most of you think, it has resemblances with Rashomon, a Japanese Thriller by Akiro Kurosawa. But originally it was a adaptation from the British movie called Woman in Question by Anthony Asquith.
Although its an inspiration, the director had intelligently woven the national fervor with the murder coinciding with the Japanese Bombing the city of Madras on October 11, 1943. It has a vast significance in the plot of the movie.
What makes the movie so special?
The brilliant acting of the characters. Even the smallest of the roles, catch your attention. Pandari Bai as the enstranged wife, Sivaji with negative shades and the neighbourhood old man were brilliant. If they were brilliant the chemistry between Javert Seetharaman and his assistant was fantabulous. The dialogues (Javert) are crisp, sharp camera work (Maruthi Rao) and slick, flawless screen play (Javert), makes the movie so watchable.
Although the movie didn’t make money (which discouraged AVM to foray in to such movies), its hailed as a master piece in Tamil Cinema. I don’t think a director can become complete without analyzing the facets of this movie. A perfect study material for making a perfect screen play.
Why it makes to the list?
Just because it broke the norms and created history. It also stands as the testimony to the fact that Tamil Cinema is not about only song and dance. It tops the list of my all time favorite movies. And that’s why Andha Naal is part of the 50 best Tamil movies to watch before you die.
1. “Eye of the Serpent” by Randor Guy.