A friend on Twitter asked, “Which is your secret spot for “me time” in Chennai OTHER than beach?” and I replied, “A Full weekday at any multiplex with continuous shows (morning, noon, and matinee) and a seat in centre of the last row!” I have done this quite often and it has helped me overcome numerous situations where I was a despondent mess. The joy of discovering gems like Mouna Guru, Demonte Colony, Island City, Ozhivudivasathe Kali, etc. in a sparsely populated multiplex either alone or with friends, kept me going. Of course, I had to endure a fair share of duds which added to the happiness while getting to watch something fresh & indie.
The Gothenburg International Film Festival for 2018 concluded couple of weeks ago. The largest film festival in Scandinavia had close to 450 films from 80 countries this year. The 10 day festival was managed in splendid fashion by the Team including the volunteers who help in every little detail for the attending audience irrespective of their knowledge of the Swedish language. It should also be added the festival does not restrict itself to films but has seminars, live music performances, art exhibits, etc.
April started with a bang for Tamizh Cinema with opinions cluttering our social media feeds on Kaatru Veliyidai and 8 Thottakal being accepted almost unanimously for its daring content. With Kadamban being passable, it was Pa Paandi that became the talk of the town for its mature content and music, with the additional attraction of being Dhanush’s debut directorial venture. The magnificent Baahubali storm took hold of not just Kollywood but Indian cinema as a whole for a few weeks with only brave independent films like Lens managing to sustain despite releasing in its aftermath. Films like Saravanan Irukka Bayamaen and Yeidhavan (which was well-intentioned) could not break the spell of Baahubali which had audiences thronging the theatres for repeat viewing and multiplex programmers giving it the prime shows. The end of May saw some good efforts like Sangili Bungili Kadhave Thorae and Brindavanam get good response from the critics as well as the box office. Samuthrakani’s much-delayed Thondan was as usual panned by the critics for being preachy yet it managed to attract the masses. Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu, fresh from its premiere in 17th edition of The New York Indian Film Festival managed to get fantastic reviews from a majority of the critics but could not get widespread audience acceptance due to the lack of shows. Gautham Karthik’s much delayed Rangoon opened to excellent reviews with the debutant filmmaker Rajkumar Periasamy’s scripting and attention to detail being praised. Vikram Prabhu’s Sathriyan directed by S.R.Prabhakaran was disappointing while Peechankai was dismissed for not being able to achieve the quirkiness of Soodhu Kavvum in the Black Comedy genre in spite of the interesting knot. Uru suffered the same fate as Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu due to lack of shows and the reviews could not sustain the film long enough in the big screen. But one’s loss is another one’s gain as Maragadha Naanayam which released in the same week became one of those rare films that got critical and commercial acclaim. The fantasy storyline and the hilarious unravelling of the knot worked big time with the masses. Silambarasan’s much talked about Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan [1D] opened to disastrous reviews which aided films like Maragadha Naanayam, Vanamagan and Ivan Thanthiran capture more screens. Vanamagan was praised for the monumental effort of the entire team in terms of performances and CG, it was however derided for being quite similar to Kadamban which released few months back. Ivan Thanthiran got some great comments from both the youth and the critics and it was two in a row for Gautham Karthik with Rangoon also doing well. However, due to the GST and local municipal tax issue and the theatre strike that followed, all the films releasing in June suffered in terms of collections. Overall we at PipingHotViews ended with the below 5 picks of the films that released in this quarter with films like Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu, Ivan Thanthiran, Brindavanam and Uru narrowly missing out.
Beaten-to-death Bairavaa, Bogus Bogan, Sonorous Singam 3, Cocky Kavan - The less said about the big films of 2017's first quarter, the better. There have been quarters when our team has had a tough time in deciding which film to leave while making the Quarter's 'Top Picks'. This one too was difficult but for the exact opposite reason! Of the 43 releases in the quarter, 4 off 5 films that made it to our list are small films from inexperienced film makers that endeared us with their charm and intent. So biggies in pipeline, beware. We see a shift in pattern coming along. Heading to our Five (yes, we were forced to cut down from 'Six' to 'Five') picks now:
The last quarter of the year, for all practical purposes over the last few years, is an extended one going by the latest trend of movies releasing in the last couple of weeks in December. Such schedules have gone on to become a film editor's nightmare who would otherwise have his/her list prepared in time for the New Year's Eve. Precisely for that reason, we have our last quarter's coverage extended to the week before Pongal. Over this extended quarter, there were two grand festivals - The Navarathiri week that was lit up by the Remo, Rekka, Devi trio followed by Deepavali, which, despite the lack of a huge star film release, clicked with the release of Dhanush's Kodi that surprised us with its meaty role on offer for the female lead! Gautham's reunion with Simbu in AYM was the big release in November & with the Chennai Sharks' reunion in Venkat Prabhu's Chennai-28 II early in December, the holiday mood got set in advance. The year ended on a fine note with 21 year old Karthick Naren's Dhuruvangal 16 coming literally out of nowhere and knocking the viewers over with its presentation. 2017 might be that year, after years, when films of all the four big stars in Kollywood might have a release. Which 4 are we talking about?! We will leave that to your imagination. On that note, let's head to give one last good-bye to 2016 with our picks from its last quarter.