For the first time, movie buffs in the city will be treated to Malaysian Tamil movies. A three-day Malaysian Indian Film Festival opened at Sree Devi preview theatre, T.Nagar, on Monday.

Unlike the Tamil film industry here, Malaysian Indian filmdom is small and has less patronage. Vijay, Chairman of Malaysian Indian Film Festival, said the Indian population in Malaysia is less than 10 per cent and Tamil-speaking population is much less. Only two Tamil movies were made between 1960 and 2000. After digitisation, the number of movies produced has gone up to six or seven a year.

Majority of movies were made on shoe-string budget except for a few like ‘Appalam', which was produced by a Malaysian company. “Most theatres there prefer to screen Tamil films produced in India and only one or two Tamil movies made in Malaysia get released in theatres.

The major source of revenue is through DVD sales and there is no question of piracy,” he added.

Actors also promote their movies by installing stalls at Thaipoosam festival. Haanii Shivraj, who took up acting two years ago, juggles between anchoring shows in Tamil channels here and acting in Malaysian Tamil films, said: “I gave up my job as flight stewardess and became full-time actor. There is no divide between television and films and many actors opt for TV serials for more recognition.”

Of the 26 Malaysian Tamil movies that were released in theatres, 10 were nominated for screening in the festival. T.Mohan, Youth Wing Chairman, Malaysian Indian Congress, said the festival would provide a platform to recognise the talent of Malaysian technicians, improve the quality of movies and market films in India for more revenue.

Inaugurating the festival, Radha Ravi, general secretary, South Indian Artists' Association, said the Malaysian Tamil film technicians must seek opportunities to expand the industry and must develop better interaction with the Tamil filmdom here. Vagai Chandrasekar, treasurer of South Indian Artists' Association, suggested the Malaysian Tamil film industry share its technical equipment and cast actors from Tamil Nadu as the movies would have better business in both the countries.

E.Thangaraj, general secretary, Indo-Cine Appreciation Foundation, said the fete was organised at short notice to promote new talent in the industry. The movies screened at the festival would be adjudged by actor Charlie, Fatima Babu, actor-turned-director Manobala for awards in six categories. Actor Saranya Ponvannan also took part.

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