Monday, December 27, 2010

Kamal Hassan- A lost wonder?

I got the chance to watch Kamal Hassan's "Manmadhan Ambu" in second day of its release depsite the huge crowd (thanks to online ticket booking). Movie was quite entertaining and a nice time pass too. I can clearly see the bright chances of it making big in box office business with its solo release (Kamal should thank Udayanidhi Stalin for using political power and struggling hard to stop the release of other biggies like Kavalan to get the maximum advantage of all theatres). Despite that MMA is entertaining, at one point of time towards the end of the movie, I strongly felt that this is not the kind of cinema that we expect from Mr.Kamal. That too at the present scenario when tamil cinema is realy moving forward with so many realistic movies hitting the screens and taking up the audience's cinema viewing experience to the next level. This particular perception gave me the push to share my views on Kamal Hassan and his movies in the recent times.

At first place, cinema is a business and the cinema people are there to make money. I am a cinema fan where everything matters to me... right from pakkaa masala entertainer to realistic world cinemas. There are directors, actors, technicians who openly declare that cinema is purely for fun and entertainment and their movies will be based on that idealogy. We know that very few actors have made it very big by simply following this notion. But how far and how long will that satisfy the audience? thats the seperate issue. They will pay the due price when they cant satisfy the audience within that scope of cinema making. There are other kind of cinema makers who always speak of meaningful cinemas of high quality... for them cinema is not just cinema. Its something more than that where realism should blend with the perfect cinema language. Ofcourse, only when their movies and thoughts are in same wavelength, audience will accept and place them in that wonderful league of artists. Kamal Hassan is one such film personality who has always projected himself as an actor and a technician believing in the outcome of meaningful cinema. He has proved this many times in the past. But what about the present? Let us have a look.

I can surely say without hesitation that the present period is the most healthy time in the last few decades of tamil cinema. Almost each and every novel attempts in presenting a different kind of cinema in terms of screenplay or realistic film making or new dimensional subjects or new technology... everything is receiving the never seen before appreciation and recognition accompanied with box office success. I can say countless examples to prove that there has been a tremendous change in tamil cinema audience's viewing level... right from Sethu to Autograph, Kaadhal, Naan Kadavul, Paruthiveeran, Subramanipuram, Imsai arasan, Anjadhey, Veyil, Nadodigal, Chennai 600028, Pasanga, Eeram, Angadi theru, Madarasapattinam, Kalavani, Mynaa... all these movies with its unique presentation in one way or the other has fared well in box office and also got appreciated in all class of audience(a,b and c) which is really a very rare thing to happen in the past. The most striking evidence for the fact that the tamil audience are no longer ready to accept the old wines in the new bottle can be clearly seen from the recent failures of many big budget movies with great star power. Star value has no value right now. Its only the content and way of presentation that clicks with the audience now.

With this quick glimpse of present tamil cinema's healthy trend, let me come back to the point of discussion. Kamal Hassan was undoubtedly one among the few creators who laid the foundation for the upcoming of innovative meaningful tamil cinemas. No one can doubt his profound knowledge on all facets of film making.. acting, direction, cinematography, production, music, dance, lyrics... after all he is an artist with 25 years of experience. Who can forget his classics like Nayagan, Moondram Pirai, Mahanadhi, Gunaa, Kuruthipunal, Thevar Magan... all these movies were unique with its realistic characters and sensible film making. But what about his present age movies? Sadly, the truth is that Kamal has slowly deviated from this inspiring path and caught himself somewhere into the commercial format of cinema. This can be easily understood by looking at his movies that got released after 1998... from Kaadhala kaadhala, Hey Ram, Thenali, Alavandhan, Panchathandhiram, Pammal K. Sammandham, Anbe Sivam, Virumaandi, Vassol Raja M.B.B.S, Mumbai Express, Vettaiyadu Velaiyaadu, Dasavatharam, Unnaipol Oruvan, Manmadhan Ambu... Out of these movies, only Anbe Sivam deserves to be considered as a ground-breaking movie. Hey Ram was a novel effort but it has so much flaws.. first of all it was presented in a very compllicated manner which is not understandable for a common man even upto to a reasonable level. Other than these two movies and Unnai Pol Oruvan, all other movies were centered on the commercial structure.

Kamal seems to have got struck with the monotonous type of comedy films.. kaadhala kaadhala, panchadhandhiram, pammal k.sammandham, vasool raja, mumbai express and latest to join this list is manmadhan ambu... all these films have more or less same brand of comedy where group of people talk non-stop irrelevant to each other making a complete mess out of situation... its fine and enjoyable to a certain level.. but watching it again and again... even in 2010 it continues... give me a break! Next question is why Kamal for this scripts? anyone can do this. So, where is the Kamal we saw as a father of two childrens (mahanadhi)... where is the kamal we saw as an mentally affected innocent lover (gunaa)... where is the kamal we saw playing diverse role of very down to earth real life characters? its hard to find that Kamal in screen these days. I can hear someone saying "hey he has played ten different roles in a single movie (dasavatharam)?"... Dasavatharam cant be placed in the classic league of Kamal movies as it can only be considered as a mammoth advertisement for Kamal's acting. Its a fantasy movie no where near to the realism. When good sensible movies are releasing and getting recognition with the casting of new comers itself, why is not Kamal using his star power to make the impact even stronger and deeper? I sincerely doubt that Kamal has lost his passion for sensible cinemas.

Its quite puzzling that Kamal who gave meaningful cinemas when audience are not ready to accept (gunaa, kuruthipunal are failures) is avoiding himself to make such attempts at present when tamil audience have evloved themselves as quality viewers. Unfortunately, Kamal has started to believe that using english dialogues to a greater extent can improve the quality of the movie and can take the tamil cinema to the next level. Sorry Kamal sir, you are simply doing a greater mistake with this kind of approach. Movies like Mynaa, Subramaniyapuram, Paruthiveeran... which are very close to our nativity takes us forward in the cinematic experience rather than your so-called english dominated ventures right from Vettaiyadu... unnai pol oruvan... to the latest Manmadhan Ambu.

Then how about Kamal Hassan as producer? When fantasy director Shankar is producing novel quality cinemas like Kaadhal, Imsai Arasan, Eeram... what about the true cinema lover Kamal's "Rajkamal Internationals"? Can you name a product from raj kamal company in the recent times with high quality content that refrain commercial elements? I dont mean that there should not be any commercial elements.. whats the issue here is how much and how far artist like Kamal who project themselves as a believer of good cinema are continuing to make efforts on their side for the outcome of the same.

Kamal can learn a lot from Aamir Khan. Aamir is doing a great job and contribution to the hindi film industry (even I can say Indian film industry) with his excellent movies. Be it as an actor or a producer... he is surely taking the indian cinema standard to a higher level in each and every movie of his. Have a look at his recent movies... Lagaan, Dil chahta hai, Mangal Pandi, Fanaa, Rang Se Pasanthi, 3 Idiots, Ghajini, Taare Zameen Par, Peepli live and the latest "Dhobi Ghat" even before its release is already doing rounds in many film festivals. All these movies released at a stretch justifies and speaks for the true commitment of Aamir towards the making of sensible cinemas. The highlight is that even though his movies are of high standard, they are not complicated in any way in the name of inclusion of other languages or subject wise or whtsoever, which makes a common man to understand it with ease. He make it a point to take the cinema experience to the next level in each of his movies. That surely onething which Kamal misses to do completely these days. "Kamal sir, please learn the commitment towards the meaningful sensible cinemas from Aamir".

I cannot expect all this from Rajinikanth or Vijay... but I can surely expect and demand it from Kamal because of his projection as lover and believer of good cinemas. He has done justification to his stand before but now its not the same... which make way for this article in search of that great artist lost by us.

My concluding words to Kamal Hassan...

"Neenga nalla padam yedukkalanu sollala, yeduthaa nallaa irukkum nu dhan soldren"


  1. Hi Philip, Very nice post. Actually he wish to do MarmaYogi first and he told the story to Udhaya Nidhi and he only choosed this story (to my knoweledge). Good luck!!! Keep writing....

  2. Hi Philip. In this period even newcomers and low budget films comes out with novelty either in story or presentation. Sure Kamal Sir has got potential to experiment new things. We don't want all these oldies dueting heroines less than half their age and grinding the same old masala or foolish stunts and dialogues.We are ready to feel the cinema of international standard. The films need not be serious but sensible.People Like Kamal Hassan should do movies to elevate the taste of common man towards good cinema.

  3. @ Ashok, Thanks for ur comment. Kamal is not in a position now to get chances.. he is in a great height to give chance to others. even if udayanidhi choose this story, kamal should have insisted to go on with marma yogi script if he is truly biased towards sensible cinemas.

  4. @ Thenmozhi ji, You are right anni. Thanks for sharing ur nice opinion.

  5. Hai Philip, what you are saying is correct. We can expect good cinemas from Kamal not from vijay, Ajith or Rajni etc.

  6. @ Nattu anna, we though we cannot expect good cinemas from rajni, vijay, or ajith... they are better than kamal in the sense that they dont speak of sensible cinemas... even they openly declare that their movies will be only commercial entertainers. but kamal speaks the other way but disappoints in many of his movies which stand far away from his projected view of cinema.

  7. Aha....aha....aha.... Abirami abirami.... enna supera sollita Philipu......(Guna style).....



  8. Philip, the post kindles many thoughts.

    (i) I gained the news, that the sure confusion/ambiguity in the flow of MMA was due to post-release cut off of a so-called "religiously conflicting" song.

    (ii) Even though Mr. Kamal claims, to be a "pathfinder" for Tamil cinema, when it comes to money, marketing and sustainability, everybody charts only a successful formula (commercial add-on). Kamal can never be an exceptional, even though he claims/wish to be one.

    (iii) Not blaming only Kamal, it is a moral responsibility of all cinema lovers (who wish to uplift the standard of Tamil cinema) should have a forum to convey the message to the person concern (Kamal here). So as it knocks their door.

    (iV) Apart from the flaws you mentioned about him, a clear kudos deserve him for his effort to incorporate latest technology behind the screen, in terms of cinematography, kind of editing and artist selection.

    Over all, i go by your saying "Neenga nalla padam yedukkalanu sollala, yeduthaa nallaa irukkum nu dhan soldren"

  9. @ Santhana Raman anna, thanks for ur detailed comments. i have few points to make as a reply for ur comments. its true that because of that conflicting song, the flow of MMA was little disturbed. but what i meant as confusion is the way characters confuse themselves in the name of comedy (its the script wise included confusions wantedly). kamal is mainly following this type of comedies only in his movies.

    You made a nice point that there should be a forum to convey the message to the concerned person. I also agree with you in terms of technical contribution that kamal made as the first of its kind.

    Thank you again for sharing ur thoughts naa.

  10. I accept it. Any way you know very well that money makes many things. Even Kamal is also not exceptional for that.

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