2017 was the year of low budgeted or indie films in Tamil cinema. There were 203 releases in 2017 and out of which we had 19 movies that were profitable for the producers and distributors. I had a lousy year concerning critiquing movies on my blog because of my travels and technical issues with my blog. My best Tamil movies 2017 list might not have some popular choices, and I will explain the reasons below. There are no break-out movies like Uriyadi in 2016. Most of the film in the list received 3 or 3.5 stars in my reviews.
1. The choice of movies is based on my preferences as a reviewer. It doesn’t reflect popular selections like my Annual music round-up
2. The box-office collection and popularity of the movie are not criteria for the selection
3. The films are listed in chronological order and NOT ranked.
Best Tamil Movies 2017
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
Producer: SR Prabhu through his Potential Studios
Maanagaram brought out the lives of unknown faces in a metro city. Lokesh Kanagaraj’s screenplay was the star of the movie along with Charle. The delectable performances by the supporting cast made this movie one of the best in 2017.
Director: Sri Ganesh
The movie that gave MS Bhaskar the role he deserves. It was like watching an aged Al Pacino on screen and MS Bhaskar is the hero of the year for me. Based on Stray Dog by Akira Kurosawa, Sri Ganesh’s 8 Thottakal worked because of MS Bhaskar and other supporting cast. The movie did have a problem with the “so-called” hero in the movie.
Producer: Dhanush (Wunderbar Films)
Pa Paandi or Power Paandi is the feel-good movie of the year. Simple story-line, amazing music, beautiful performances from the leads (Raj Kiran, Revathy, Dhanush and Madonna) and above all it had the heart in its place. It was pleasing to see Dhanush choosing such a story to make his directorial debut.
4. Our Kidayin Karunai Manu
Director: Suresh Sangaiah
Producer: Eros International
I watched this movie little late and I wished I had watched the movie earlier to write a review. Suresh Sangaiah’s Our Kidayin Karunai Manu was all about subtlety – he never tries to overarch his storyline with a message and he leaves the story as is, allows it to unfold and suck you into the drama. Like Maanagaram and 8 Thottakkal, the movie features some marvellous performances from supporting characters like Yezharai, Oor Muzhungi, Vengala Thonda and many other (check out the movie to know who these people are). It’s a part thriller and part social commentary, but mostly it’s how villagers run their life. The equivalent movie that I can think of was Azhgarsaamiyin Kuthirai.
Director: ARK Saravan
Producer: Axess Film Factory
This is hands down the most hilarious movie of the year. It was genuinely funny and it also proved that Nikki Galrani is not just a diva. Ramadoss, Anandraj and Arunraja Kamaraj gave some splendid performances in the movie.
Producer: Catamaran Productions
Although I still can’t fathom the end, I still give the movie a place in this list because of creating a realistically plausible relationship movie and a strong female character. Nobody else could have played Althea Johnson like Andrea did. And I loved Ram’s meta-satire on our lives through his “status messages”.
Producer: Vishal Film Factory
People laughed at Mysskin and Vishal for trying to create a Tamil version of Sherlock but they did succeed in creating Tamil’s own Kanian Poongundran. I wish we could see more of Kanian and of course, another brilliance from Andrea. Vinay too.
8. Meyaadha Maan
Director: Rathna Kumar
Producer: Stone Bench Creations
Finally, a movie that handled one side love sensibly. But the beauty of the film is the love story between Idhayam Murali’s sister Sudarvizhi (Induja) and Vinoth (Vivek Prasanna). The references to Idhayam were perfect and enjoyable (including the ringtones).
Director: Gopi Nayanar
Producer: K.Rajesh (KJR Productions)
Aramm is one of the substantial anti-establishment movies in recent times. Gopi Nayanar never digresses from the idea that he wanted to show but at the same time his screenplay keeps you on the edge. Nayanathara stays true to her lady superstar tag and I think we are going to see more of Madhivadani.
Producer: SR Prabhu through Dream Warrior Pictures
The only big budgeted movie in the list and the movie should be on any list just for the meticulous research and detailing by Vinoth and his team. Vinoth proved that he is not a one-hit wonder and finally a reprise for Karthi after a series of disappointing outings.
5 movies that didn’t make it to the list
Producer: 2D Entertainment
I wish I could have this movie on the top 10 list. The film gave a glimpse at the life of homemakers that we see on a day-to-day basis, their desires and how they have lost their friendships after their wedding. My review was vindicated when my colleague’s mom (a homemaker) asked him to take her to the movie and loved it.
Director: Nithilan Swaminathan
Producer: Shreya Sri Movies
A slow-burning thriller that engulfs you gradually and punches you with a brutal climax. Vidharth (who is becoming a darling for Indie movies), Bharathiraja and Elango Kumaravel shine in their roles, and Nithilan makes a mark in his debut movie.
Director: CV Kumar
Producer: CV Kumar (Thirukumaran Entertainment)
This movie just missed the cut. It was a true-blue sci-fi thriller that even worked out the minute details. I was astounded to see CV Kumar choosing such a story to make his directorial debut. The movie lost out because of excessive praise that Aruvi received. The idea of having an “intelligent” brain as villain, vulnerable protagonist and providing the right dose of thrills, this movie is worth watching.
The next two movies were deliberately left out of the list as I didn’t agree with the widespread view.
Director: Arun Prabhu Purushothaman
Producer: SR Prabhu through Dream Warrior Pictures
Aruvi is an earnest attempt at showing the mental state of a protagonist who didn’t have control over her life. The beauty of Aruvi is the performance of the actors especially Aditi Balan (as Aruvi) and Anjali Vardhan (as Emily). It’s better than lot other movies in 2017, but the excessive praise for the movie is unwarranted. I found the movie more anti-feministic (the most significant violence against women is done in the name of love and affection), absolves rape and probably didn’t provide the necessary impact that I expected from the movie.
5. Vikram Vedha
Producer: Y Not Studios
The idea of telling the story in the Vikram-Vedhal pattern is structurally innovative, but it seemed to be a forced narrative. There is no reason for Vikram to sit and listen to the stories of Vedha (in the fable, Vikramadityan sticks to the Vedhalam because his head would blow into pieces). Yes, the performances of Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi were brilliant, but I am not able to fathom the structural flaw in the movie. So it didn’t make the final list.
5 movies you wouldn’t have seen but you should give them a try
Director: Mahendran Rajamani
Producer: Shan Sutharsan – Vansan Movies
An adult comedy that didn’t get the due it deserved. The movie is about a guy who tries to commit suicide after his girlfriend breaks up with him and his three friends are trying to find him. It’s not perfect, but Enakku Vaitha Adimaigal can be watched for the characterisation and performance of Karunakaran, Kaali Venkat and Naveen George Thomas.
2. Kootathil Oruthan
Director: TJ Gnanavel
Producers: SR Prabhu through Dream Warrior Pictures
A movie about an average Joe had the same fate as the theme itself. But it’s worth the watch for the performance of Ashok Selvan. The film got into a ruckus because of entertainment tax fiasco, and when the theatres were back in operation, the movie was taken out of theatres.
Director: Arun Vaidyanathan
Producer: Passion Film Factory
A straightforward thriller with another vulnerable lead protagonist (wonderfully portrayed by Arjun) is worth a watch. You might have problems with logic loopholes and lack of detailing, but the movie will not bore you.
Producer: Vijayalakshmi Agathiyan – also Feroz’s wife
It’s tough to see pure action thrillers with intense action sequences. Pandigai is one such movie and if you are not ok with action, skip it.
Director: Vijay Milton
Producer: Vijay Milton – Rough Note Pictures
You will see Rajakumaran in a different light after this movie, and I think Vijay Milton took it as a challenge to break all stereotypes by casting Rajakumaran. Bharath was in an equally compelling role, and the film is about overcoming guilt. It’s worth giving a shot.
Out of the 20 movies listed here, 13 movies (7 from the best Tamil movies 2017 list) are by debutants, and it shows that Tamil cinema is going through a healthy period. As a movie fan, we need to support these small movies by watching them in theatres or legal means. The producers should start exploring alternate methods of distribution or quicker releases on online platforms.
Hoping for a better 2018 with respect to movies and reviews.