Same gun, new bullets: Jayam Ravi in Miruthan
There's a quote in David Fincher's The Social Network wherein Mark Zuckerberg's character says "Fashion. Fashion is never finished."
It's true, isn't it? From the beginning of time, fashion has changed over centuries, years, decades, and now even weeks or days. And much like fashion, film industries change too. Indian cinema was(and sometimes still is) known for having gazillion songs, an invincible moustachioed hero and a pointless, a scantily-clad heroine and a hyperactive villain who can't help but keep shouting. This was only until a few years back from when Indian cinema, and specifically Tamil cinema started going through a slow metamorphosis.
The rate at which our industry has grown is remarkable. Audiences have gotten smarter, directors have gotten better and producers have gotten broke-r. The best part of this change is the fact that the audiences are much more open to new themes that might have been previously taboo or 'too Western'.
Previously, many actors and directors have had unsuccessful sprees where they made movies which were termed "Way ahead of their time". I think this term is overused for no reason at all. It's basically a dig at the audience for presumably being dumb. With regard to yesterday's context: Hey Ram celebrated its 16th anniversary yesterday, another movie which was coined "way ahead of its times". Most of the movies we watch today are what we called "ahead of our time". But if you think about it, it's not the them who have changed. It's us. We have been exposed to many more films from all around the world which had made us more "welcoming" in out regional context.
If you told someone that a movie like Jigarthanda would be successful a decade back, they would've laughed at you. It's nice to see how people have gone past cliches and started appreciating good or rather new cinema. A good example for reception and changing time would be Vaalu. Post its release, the film received a lot of criticism, few of which said that if the movie had released at its first mentioned date (2012) then it would've been received well. Frankly, it could've gotten a better response if it was.
Breaking new grounds within the commercial mould: Jigarthanda
Now back to the present day. Today marks a small milestone in Tamil cinema. Miruthan, starring Jayam Ravi and Lakshmi Menon in its lead roles is touted to be "Tamil cinema's first zombie movie". Even if go back a few years, such a theme wouldn't have made it past the Producer's front door...and look where we are right now. I'd also like to point out the fact that it's only the second zombie movie made in India after Go Goa Gone in Bollywood. We should acknowledge the fact that this is a bold attempt from the makers, exploring something that hasn't been explored in our industry. A lot of actors have started welcoming such films with different genres and Miruthan will play a big role in paving the way for many more such films. It could also mean the beginning of a lot more exploitation as the concept of Zombies isn't new to Hollywood because there have been numerous movies like Zombieland and even shows like Walking Dead that have been based on the same. Instead of being quick to say "Macha copy adichitaanda", we should rather appreciate it and be like "Naamallalayum mudiyum da". Because to go from "Dai vandi edunga da" or "Avana Vettunge da" to "Dai zombie da" it's like going from Anjaan to Visaranai. And that's awesome.
I've always believed that no matter what, good and positive cinema will always stand taller than movies made just for the sake of money. And whether it's the 90's or now, good content will always find its place in the pages of history...we just have to make sure that its 'present' doesn't go unnoticed.
It's not in their hands, it's in ours.
Written by Kishen Das