Tamil cinema, commonly known as Kollywood, is one of the largest film industries in terms of number of films produced. Audiences for Tamil films span Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh – a tribute to their popularity. Outside India too, Tamil films are distributed to foreign destinations which include Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malaysia, Japan, North America and many other countries. ‘Keechaka Vaadham’ was the first Tamil film, produced and directed
by R. Nataraja way back in 1916. Since then, there has been no looking back for Tamil
Considered to be the first superstar of South Indian cinema, M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar holds place of pride in the industry for his brilliance on the silver screen. Rajnikanth and Kamal Hasan are two other names which need no introduction. They have made memorable contributions to the industry with their brilliant performances over a period of time and still continue to be ‘super hits’. Sri Devi was the first women superstar of the industry although she took a different path later and went on to become a well known Bollywood actress. P. U. Chinnappa, M. G. Ramachandran, S. S. Rajendran, Sivaji Ganesan, T. R. Rajakumari, K. B. Sundarambal are a few names from the older generation of actors who brought worldwide acclaim to Tamil films. Today, actors like Surya Sivakumar, Joseph Vijay, Naren, Dhanush, R. Madhavan, Kushboo, Ramya Krishna, Trisha, Asin are continuing the vibrant traditions of a flourishing industry.
The film’s role in Tamil Nadu’s cultural mix provides an important look at how different regions create popular ultural forms. The export of these forms, as has begun to the Tamil expatriate community, will also export the cultural form.
Tamil cinema has a very rich culture of music and it all started with the maestro Ilaiyaraaja. Currently A. R. Rahman has taken music to new heights and won two of the world’s most prestigious Academy Awards for his music. G. Ramanathan, K. V. Mahadevan, M. S. Viswanathan, T. K. Ramamoorthy are a few music directors who have excelled in their field and Yuvan Shankar Raja, Shankar Mahadevan are two of the most popular names today.
Emile McAnany from Santa Clara University wrote in the Editor’s introduction to ‘Communication Research Trends’ (Periananygam Jesudoss), “Out of curiosity, and because I know little about Tamil cinema, I went to the master mind of knowledge, Google, and did a simple search for Tamil cinema. In the blink of an eye I was provided 476,000 hits. After a little surfing I could see that Tamil cinema was as popular as Periananygam Jesudoss says it is.
The other surprise is the author’s assertion that television is still subordinate to film in its popularity with audiences, despite the fact that the Tamil Nadu Government gave a colour television set to all poor people in the state. Film, he reminds us, has a solid place in the lives and hospitality of the people of south India. Jesudoss also points out that all of the major political parties own their own TV stations and use them to great effect. Adding to the importance of film in everyday life, the author also states that all of the last five governors of the State have emerged from the
film industry. A final note of why this story of a film industry might be of importance to others around the world is the author’s argument about the cultural influence that film has wielded in South India: ‘Cinema technology has brought a revolution in creating different cultural forms: mass culture, public culture, popular culture, cinema culture, star culture, etc., which are different from crowd culture. What was considered high culture, great culture, classic culture, elite culture, official culture, traditional culture, and Brahmin culture . . rediscovered and reconstructed the identity and cultural value in popular culture in a positive manner’.
The film’s role in Tamil Nadu’s cultural mix provides an important look at how different regions create popular cultural forms. The export of these forms, as has begun to the Tamil expatriate community, will also export the cultural form.”
All actors have become businessmen, regrets Kamal Haasan
He has a filmography of 150 and enjoys superstar status but actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan says he is a dissatisfied man. He wants to learn and achieve more on the creative front and also wants his movie business to flourish.”If I have the sense of satisfaction, I won’t be working or giving this interview. There is a lot more to learn and I am a dissatisfied man. I am happy, but not content,” Kamal told.
“I came as a technician first and by default I became an actor. But I am happy and not complaining,” he added. The multi-faceted star, who is a National Award winner as well as a Padma Shri awardee, is afraid of losing his zeal to perform. “Achievements are decided by people and I think necessity is the mother of invention. I live by the necessity, but somebody will call it as invention or achievement. What scares me most is when I lose the need to perform with the excitement of any creativity. If it happens, I will live with it too. I will find something else,” he said.
He started as a child artist in 1960, and established himself with movies like “Moondram Pirai”, “Saagar”, “Sadma” and “Pushpak”. Currently he is looking forward to the release of his next Tamil film “Vishwaroopam”, which will release as “Vishwaroop” in Hindi. Directed by Kamal, the film and the cast includes Shekhar Kapur and Rahul Bose. Kamal, whose daughter Shruthi too is in showbiz, rues how almost all actors across the board have become “businessmen”.
“Most stars are businessmen. The moment you become a star, you are talking about money and fame. It’s not about the content or artists’ skill any more. Always the collection matters. The numbers have now increased to match along with the population,” he said. Having said that, he admits that if “Vishwaroopam” doesn’t cross Rs.150 crore, then it’s a failure for him.
“If this film doesn’t cross Rs.150 crore, then it is a failure for me. I would call it a weak attempt if it doesn’t. It has to cross Rs.150 crore, and we really hope that we cross in the first week itself,” said Kamal, who has made lavish films like “Hey Ram” and “Dasavatharam”. At 58, he still feels he is a part of the competition. The star culture is different in Bollywood and the southern film industry, he admits. “Yes, it is different. People are the same. The love is unanimously the same,” he said, adding that fans in the south show their love by “building a temple”, while in Mumbai “we have some religious rituals”.
Source : Hill Post