2013 was an eventful year for Tamil cinema with around 147 releases. Even though very few of them were able to achieve Box-Office success, there were many films that were innovative and steadfast in the quest to be different. Presented here are a few films that we, at Piping Hot Views, consider to be innovative and have some sort of novelty associated with it. As a result of this, a certified Box Office Hit like ‘Singam 2’ will not make it to this list, but a film like ‘Paradesi’ would. Please note that we have refrained from ranking the films and have presented it in alphabetical order.
Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer
Aadhalaal Kaadhal Seiveer was a teenage love story like none other. A sensitive topic of pregnancy before marriage was dealt with unobtrusively proving Suseendhiran is the best bet when it comes to painting the true picture on subjects involving domestic issues . The climax was bold and shaking to say the least with the truth in it stinging the viewer and making one feel for the many kids being brought up in Orphan houses.
Chennaiyil Oru Naal
Chennaiyil Oru Naal is a message-oriented film endorsing organ donation presented in a gripping fashion with an ensemble cast. It should also be noted that in spite of being a non-commercial flick this film satiated both the audience and critics alike.
Sports is a genre often untouched in Tamil Cinema and more so is thinking beyond cricket/football for sport . The focus on Marathon as a sport, giving it an authentic feel for most part of the climax and a mainstream hero working on it were refreshing to see in Ethir Neechal. Also noteworthy was the choice of weaving a flashback which pressed on the agonising gender testing scandal an athlete had to face a few years ago.
Even though this film has its flaws, its director Selvaraghavan should be given credit for having the guts to tell a story of true love spread across two universes. In addition, the film has excellent Visual effects and will serve as a path-breaker in the years to come.
Kalyana Samayal Saadham
A never-attempted-before subject in Tamil Cinema presented sensitively without stepping into obscenity. Hats-off to director Prasanna for debuting with such a complex theme for his first film and to producer Arun for agreeing to fund without any compromises. Lead actor Prasanna deserves a special mention for agreeing to take up such a challenging role since many of the mainstream heroes would not readily take it up.
Films focusing on human survival instincts are not as common in our country as it is in Hollywood. Maryan was one of that kind. Bharat Bala's gutsy effort in showcasing it well, dedicating about an entire half of the film to Maryan's struggle in the dark continent and how he beats the external villains and his inner demons of hallucination to survive is praiseworthy. The authenticity of the villains chosen can be appreciated by anyone who had seen Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips involving similarly characterised villains in a similar setup.
Moodar Koodam represents a very ambitious experimental attempt at black comedy by director Naveen. The scripting of the madcap characters and narration of their individual flashbacks through enjoyable montage songs are a novelty. The film’s reach and success can be clearly ascertained by the overwhelming praise given by ace director Maniratnam for the content and presentation.
Neram was among the few films that tested waters on the dark humour genre this year and emerged successful. The additional striking highlight about Neram was the innovative, catchy and maddeningly energetic Pistah Jamakiraya song which more than helped in promoting the film. In becoming the most visited South Indian Music video on youtube with nearly 46 lakh views, it was the Kolaveri di of 2013!
Mysskin's Onayum Aatukuttiyum was replete with symbolisms, metaphorical touches uncommon for tamil films & the fact that he had mentioned them in end credits so that such film techniques have a wide audience reach deserves a pat on the back. With OA, Mysskin also brought the role of music from the background to 'foreground' - the word he uses to credit Ilaiyaraaja's mesmerising score which added girth to the tale Mysskin presented inspite of the film not having any songs.
Bala’s Paradesi, based on the novel ‘Red Tea’, is rich technically as well as in content. The fact that the film has brought to light some of the deplorable conditions faced by the poor labourers while working in tea estates in the 1930s makes it all the more precious. The absolute lack of any commercial elements in this film has deemed it a Box Office failure, but that is precisely why we believe this is Bala's best work.
Soodhu Kavvum was the pick of the dark humour based films to come out this year and its content was as wonderfully packaged as it was unique. The usage of an imaginary character in the film (In Mr.Brooks style) and the characterisation of the protagonist as an elderly man were additional highlights. On a lighter note, makers of Soodhu Kavvum can be proud of their thought of using a drone even before Amazon's Jeff Bezos came up with the idea, later in 2013!
Thalaimuraigal represents a throwback into the 80s for the current multiplex generation bringing the reunion of Balu Mahendra and Ilayaraja. The simple narration, unassuming acting and soul-stirring background score bring about a whiff of nostalgia to the viewers.
A heart-warming tale of a father and his young daughter filled with moments that claw onto one’s heart. The film highlights some stark realities of state of teaching in our education system without being overly dramatic. The child actor gives a performance that defies her age and she has a very good shot at the National Award for her earnest portrayal. In addition to the brilliant script, breath-taking cinematography and soul-stirring music make this one of the very best Tamil films to have come out in a long time.
The concept of pedophilic influence has seldom been touched in Tamil Cinema. Vidiyum Munn stands out in its handling with a prostitute braving everything to get a kid from the evil grasp of a pedophile. The technical crew stands to be credited for the way they have picturised moments in dark to be in line with the dark side of life
The geographical restrictions Tamil film scripts have had in the past were broken by Kamal in Dasavatharam but he took it to the next level in Vishwaroopam bringing to the screen Al Qaeda, Bin Laden & the Taliban land to the screen. The Madhusudhanan led VFX team deserves a note as VFX in Vishwaroopam was mind-boggling. Kamal revealing it in the TV premiere of the film was a lesson for any aspiring filmmaker as to why the scope of a script need not be restricted by elements neutralisable with VFX. Vishwaroopam also became the first tamil film to have released for which a properly planned sequel was already in the making. Talk of confidence about the success of a film you have !