Thamizh Talkies: A festival of lights and action
The writer is a content producer and art curator
“Film, film, what film do you choose?” Like we have a plethora of choices for clothes, sweets and things to do in the festive season, cinema has also been giving us options every Deepavali. Superstar Rajinikanth storms the theatres with Annaatthe, and there’s the Arya-Vishal starrer Enemy, while Suriya calls you to the OTT space to watch him take on legal bigwigs as he relives the true life-story of Lawyer Chandru in Jai Bhim. A festival release is always about celebration, family, colourful songs, and splendid action. Amongst this year’s Tamil movie releases for Deepavali, Jai Bhim is unique as the film is of a different kind… It is truly about good winning over the bad.
The human spirit is capable of winning over all odds, but the fight is never easy. The way the world is bouncing back from the pandemic is an example for all of us. A template story for any hero-led film is just a single line: an ordinary man faces extraordinary situations and hurdles and emerges victorious. I’m sure Annaatthe or Enemy fall into this one line. As does Jai Bhim. Winning justice for the oppressed is the tale of the hero. From time immemorial, our idea of storytelling has always been about this end result of success. But what sets apart one heroic story from another is the journey to that end result.
Success demands sacrifice, and the person we are at the beginning of such a journey is not who we will be, in the end. Watching Rajinikanth deliver trademark punches in the trailer of Annaatthe reminded me of his whole journey. The determination to work like this beyond physical limits and command the superstardom for forty odd years without compromising on his roles, is an example of true grit. Rajinikanth’s life story is no fairy tale—it is the rise of a man from ordinary beginnings whose strength has been his confidence in his talent and his fighting spirit.
Similarly, what Suriya has achieved with Jai Bhim is a triumph for 2D Entertainment, his company which produces movies with an aim to create social impact. Suriya plays a lawyer in this film for the first time in his career. Courtroom dramas, if not written well, can tend to be tedious, but this film, directed by Tha Se Gnanavel, has an engrossing narrative. More on this film when it releases on November 2. Let’s return to the hero template! A famous film in this hero template, coincidentally a courtroom drama, got released one October in 1952. It launched an actor who stormed the silver screen with his dialogue delivery, macho body language and acting skills. The hero? Sivaji Ganesan. The film? Parasakthi.
Almost all heroes aim for a Deepavali release every year as it is considered a lucky release time (a film industry sentiment that has some truth to it), given that most films releasing during this time end up making money and causing the hero’s status to grow. Deepavali releases often have scenes and songs addressing the festival, just so the audience can have a gala time. The mood is effervescent, and the ambience, fresh and colorful. At home, relatives and family throng the drawing room to watch favorite stars talk about their movies. But this year with the advent of OTT platforms, you also have movies that can be watched in the comfort of your home. Films are being sold as a cluster of new movies to OTT platforms and the premieres on TV (or on your phone if you prefer) is also considered an “opening day” bonanza. An OTT release does not have the vibe of a theatre release but the expanse of having a film screened across 20-odd countries to several crores of viewers is certainly a big draw for a producer.
In days to come, cinema will continue to be made for the silver screen, yes, but it will also have to rope in an OTT release plan. A Deepavali release won’t just be for the big screen.