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Kollywood: What was in vogue in 2018

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From the emergence of a new political voice to the presence of strong female characters, the year was filled with surprises. As 2018 comes to a close, we look back at five significant developments in the Tamil film industry

Sequels galore

Any idea how many sequels released in 2018? Eight. It goes on to suggest that filmmakers were falling short of fresh ideas, or were hoping to bank on the popularity of the first part. Either way, it wasn’t something encouraging for the audience. Vishwaroopam 2 was perhaps the only one that qualified as a ‘sequel’, as the story was written in two parts. Unfortunately, the Kamal Haasan-starrer was let down by some weak screenplay. Even Rajinikanth’s ambitious 2.0 was more of a spin-off on Enthiran than a sequel. In fact, 2.0 worked as a standalone film, which was nothing short of a visual spectacle. Among a slew of films, the sequels that turned out to be pleasantly surprising were Tamizh Padam 2, directed by CS Amudhan and Maari 2, directed by Balaji Mohan.

A still from Maari 2

A still from Maari 2  

Game of politics

In Tamil Nadu, the relationship between cinema and politics is that of an umbilical cord. However, the year saw politics slowly seeping into mainstream cinema, with a bunch of political films that were critical of the establishment. Leading the pack was Kaala, in which its director Pa Ranjith humanised the demi-god that is Rajinikanth. Considering the current political climate, its relevance couldn’t have been more appropriate, and the film made a powerfulcommentary on casteism, fascism and land mafia. The trend was followed by NOTA, whose premise was similar to the Telugu blockbuster Bharat Ane Nenu. Following the roots of Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, Vijay began to test the political waters with Sarkar, directed by AR Murugadoss. The film courted a huge controversy after two AIADMK Ministers objected to scenes that criticised the State Government for propagating freebie culture.

Ready for OTT?

It’s important to address the elephant in the room: OTT platforms are the future and are shaping the way films are being consumed. And it’s safe to say that 2018 was the year when Tamil cinema finally embraced this change. Filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj was quick to acknowledge the market shift and went ahead to bankroll Kallachirippu, directed by Rohit Nandakumar. The murder-mystery series had a subtle feminist take and raised several questions that are usually brushed off as taboo. Amrutha Srinivasan of Meyaadha Maan fame gave a memorable performance in the series. Following the success of Kallachirippu, the Internet was populated by a cluster of web series such as Nila Nila Odi Vaa, America Mappillai, Madras Mansion and Door No 403 to name a few. Amazon’s first-ever Tamil series Vella Raja saw actor Bobby Simha taking the plunge into the online platform.

A still from Vella Raja

A still from Vella Raja  

Lack of rhythm

Music lovers were left disappointed when filmmakers, unapologetically, decided to do away with the use of a soundtrack. For instance, when ‘Mazhai Kuruvi’ from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam became a rage online, fans were hoping for the visuals to complement the song. Inviting a lot of criticism, none of the AR Rahman-composed songs featured in the film, as they were intercut with scenes. This was also the case with 2.0, whose director is known for his gorgeously-shot songs. The earworm ‘Endhira Logathu Sundariye’ didn’t make it to the final film. Vetri Maaran’s Vada Chennai, despite having some incredible numbers by Santhosh Narayanan, had very little scope for songs on the screen.

Arvind Swami and Vijay Sethupathi from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam

Arvind Swami and Vijay Sethupathi from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam  

Cheers to the ladies

There’s no denying the fact that some of the best performances in 2018 came from women. But there are two ways of looking at women-centric films. On one hand, we had films written around women. Be it Nayanthara in Kolamaavu Kokila, Keerthy Suresh in Mahanati or Aishwarya Rajesh in Kanaa, these films brought in a sea of change in how women were being represented in mainstream cinema. On the other hand, filmmakers etched out powerful female characters. For instance, Eswari Rao’s character as the nagging wife Selvi in Kaala or Andrea Jeremiah’s performance as the femme fatale Chandra in Vada Chennai stood out for the right reasons. After fighting for footage space in star-vehicles, these women are slowly but steadily carving a niche for themselves.

A still from Kanaa

A still from Kanaa  

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 8:40:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/kollywood-what-was-in-vogue-in-2018/article25870319.ece

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