trend It is a brave new world as first-time directors and actors light up the Tamil screen. k. jeshi reports

It is official - Shruti Hassan will make her debut with actor Madhavan. A bunch of visual communication students is set to rock in another film Mayilu. This film from Prakash Raj’s production house marks the directorial debut of cinematographer Jeevan. And, there is a buzz about Kangalum Kavipaduthey, directed by K. Chandernath, which launches six freshers in lead roles. Balaji Sakthivel’s film, Kalloori, also has an all-new cast, and it is already drawing crowds.

It is boom time for newcomers in the film industry, and, for the skilled and the talented, the time is just right to hog the limelight. What has set the new trend? “The myth about cinema being beyond the reach of the common man is gone,” says director R.V. Udayakumar, who launched new faces Vikranth and Lakshmi Rai in his comeback film Karka Kasadara.

“Now, several corporate houses are coming in and there is more transparency in the way the industry functions,” says the filmmaker who made films such as Kizhakku Vaasal and Ejaman.

Opportunities galore

Acting, cinematography, editing or direction, the industry has opened up opportunities for newcomers to showcase their talent. Thanks to media awareness and the growing number of institutes in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Kolkata that mould young talent, more and more newcomers are considering films as a lucrative career option. Of course, content is king. And, as long as the story is engaging, the audience come back to get up-close and personal with the not-so-familiar stars.

Director Udayakumar says it is the arrival of new film-makers and their novel ideas that has kick-started the trend. “Out of 100 movies made, may be the top 20 are conceived with big stars such as Vijay, Surya and Ajith in mind. The rest of them bank on newcomers,” he adds.

Director Supa Nagendiran, who turns director with Kotti, that features new faces Sree and Karthika, agrees with that. He has worked as an assistant to director Dharani in films such as Dhil, Dhool, Gilli and Bangaram (Telugu). “There is creative freedom while working with new faces,” he says. His cameraman is newcomer Swaminathan and all the technicians are freshers.

With a popular hero, a filmmaker has to make a lot of compromises. Be it the entry song, the climax sequence or the sentiment sequences, everything has to be planned with the mass audience in mind. Besides, one has to wait to get the nod from the stars.

“In the last two months, about seven films involving newcomers were released, indicating a healthy trend,” says S. Kamala Kannan, short-film and documentary maker. “It is after all a director’s media and he can bring out the best from the actors, from freshers too,” he adds.

The entertainer Polladhavan marked the entry of Vettrimaran, as a director of promise. Director Bharathan’s first movie Azhagiya Tamil Magan dealt with ESP and had Vijay in a dual role. Evano Oruvan starring Madhavan and Sangeetha is making waves. It also marks Marathi film director Nishikanth Kamath’s entry into Tamil films.

Director Udayakumar says actors Arya and Jeevan, who are from outside the industry, have already worked their way up. The movie Chennai 6000028 marked a commendable debut of filmmaker Venkat Prabhu. “Actors Karthi and Priya Mani were extraordinary in Paruthiveeran. Newcomers Prithiviraj and Naren are also doing well. Whether you are from the industry circle or from outside, talent matters to climb the ladder of success,” he adds.

With new faces, it is easier to experiment with offbeat themes. “The audience can easily connect with the characters,” says J. Balasubramanian, who will soon launch newcomers in his video album “Infatuation”. “In some cases, directors turn actors too in order to ensure realistic story-telling. Cheran in Autograph and Thankar Pachchan in Pallikoodam are good examples. This way the movie reaches the audience without any compromise in their creativity,” he adds.

Though marketing unfamiliar faces is difficult, the success of films such as Paruthiveeran (with all new faces) gives filmmakers hope. “The entire film-viewing experience is different now. You have state-of-the-art theatres and the audience are open to watching newcomers. However, what matters is the story and how it is presented,” says director Nagendran.