Talking Movies: Of fact and fiction
In this weekly column, we take a look at the films releasing this weekend and this week it is Padman, Aramanai 2 and Savarakathi
A biopic without controversy
Padman is finally here. The Coimbatore man, Arunachalam Muruganantham, on whom the film is based, will be called by a different name in the film, and will also be shown to belong to a different part of the country. It’s all ostensibly done with the approval of Muruganantham himself, who reportedly refused numerous offers from Tamil directors, in the belief that the message of the film would spread further if done by Bollywood. His instincts have been vindicated, it seems, given it doesn’t get any bigger than an Akshay Kumar-starrer, and made by a reputed director like Balki no less.
In a recent conversation with me, the director explained that the reason the character doesn’t go by his real name, and is shown to hail from North India, is to do away with the awkwardness of having a Coimbatore man speak Hindi in the film. You get what he’s saying. Even in a terrific film like Slumdog Millionaire, it’s hard to reconcile with the idea of people from the slums talking flawless English — even if an Indian accent. To have Akshay living in Coimbatore and speaking in Hindi would have been rather offputting. I do think though that it should have been conceived as a bilingual, as complicated and time-consuming as the making would, no doubt, have been. Something seems odd about a film that calls itself a biopic but can’t retain the name and setting of the person it’s based on. But it isn’t altogether difficult to forgive it for this, given it’s arguably the world’s first film centred on the topic of menstruation. Period.
Sundar C’s forte
For Sundar C, it’s a return to his favourite zone — comedy — with Kalakalappu 2. His last film too, Aranmanai 2, was a sequel, and the lesser said about that, the better I think. But this time, the signs seem positive. It also comes at an interesting time in Tamil cinema, a time when dialogue-driven comedies are more or less extinct. Every time a Pammal K Sambandam or a Panchathanthiram plays on TV, I still watch with such deep longing. And with the controversies that biopics seem to bring with them — Kangana Ranaut’s upcoming biopic on Rani Lakshmibai has already sparked some protests — perhaps it’s only a matter of time before filmmakers embark on a mass exodus towards innocent comedies. But who knows, those fringe groups will likely have a problem with these films too.
What’s the genre?
Trust a Mysskin film to thoroughly befuddle you with its promotional material. The first teaser of Savarakathi that he has produced and acted in, suggested that the film is a comedy. Both lead actors, Ram and Mysskin, were a tad over the top with their acting, and the almost cartoonish music confirmed your suspicions. But then, it’s Mysskin we are dealing with after all, and so, there came a second teaser with more or less the same visuals, but this time, slightly slowed down, and more importantly, with Arrol Corelli’s poignant music. And this suddenly makes the whole film feel like an emotional drama. So, is it a comedy or an emotional drama? Well, that’s one way to get the audience coming to theatres.