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Friday, January 19, 2001

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Hits and misses of the year that was


THE YEAR 2000 was not a good one for the Tamil film industry. Some 47 days were lost in a tussle between the producers and the artistes, and film production came to a standstill. Certain trends were set and certain styles were quietly forgotten.

It was the best year for director Vikraman whose film ``Vaanathaipola'' was the only film which ran for 250 days. The film is a pure entertainer in which there is no villain. The director has taken a story and woven the screenplay with absorbing incidents which can happen in anybody's family. Vijayakanth who has donned the role of a police officer in a few other films plays two characters, that of the eldest and the immediate younger brother.

The story revolves round three younger brothers who on no account will go against the wishes of the eldest brother. Vijayakanth as the eldest brother gives a mature performance. But it is the screenplay and the directorial ability of Vikraman which made the viewers sit through the film. Prabhu Deva, Livingston, Meena and a host of other artistes also contributed to the success of the film.

The second best film was ``Kushi'' which gave a boost to both Vijay and Jothika. It was directed by Surya. A love story with good songs, it gave the needed pep to the proceedings.

In ``Sethu'' Vikram and also its director Bala got a great break.The hero and the heroine got enough frames to prove their mettle. For Abitha, though it was her debut film it never showed in any of the scenes in which she had figured. In ``Mudhalvan'' it was director Shankar's touch which made the character of the Chief Minister played by Raghuvaran and that of the commoner played by Arjun clash with finesse and made us enjoy it.

``Vallarasu'' was an out and out action oriented film of Vijayakanth with a twist here and a turn there. For Ajit the high point was ``Mugavari'' and he has not looked back after it. For director Ramanarayanan,who has completed 100 films and is still going strong, it was one more hit with ``Tirupati Ezhumalai Venkatesa''. ``Parthaen Rasithaen'' and ``Alai Payuthey'' cannot be put in the same grade but both are love stories which had enjoyable performances by the lead artistes and deft direction by the respective directors.

The heroine of the year was Kousalya, who starred in eight films. Among the heroes Prabhu and Prabhu Deva acted in five films each.

Cameraman turned director Rajeev Menon's ``Kandukondein Kandukondein'' may have been inspired by ``Sense and Sensibility'' but the way in which he had projected the story with enough incidents and proper casting led to the success of the film. ``Vettrikodi Kattu'' and ``Ezhayin Sirippil'' also joined the hit list.

But it was in the latter half of the year that bureaucrat turned director Gnana Rajasekaran came out with a film, which was thought highly of by every other director who is someone in the industry. The celluloid version of the Tamil poet's life, ``Bharathi'' was an instant success.The film also got tax exemption from the Tamil Nadu Government.

The film making trend in the industry is slowly changing. The technical nuances have vastly improved. This can be seen from films such as ``Hey Ram'', ``Alai Paayuthey'' and Kandukondein Kandukondein``. But the storyline and the needed pep have not been taken care of by the respective directors. In 165 films released last year, dubbed movies were 96 and the original films were only 69. This shows that the dubbed movies are gaining momentum and it is not something over which the industry bigwigs could be happy about. On any day telling a story with crispness and cohesion will fetch rewards. But when a director thinks that he is doing a different thing and tries to play upon sentiments of the people in a way they do not like, then the film lands in trouble. This was proved beyond doubt in the case of a majority of the releases last year.

In Indian movies, comedy plays a vital part and surely the style of comedy has taken a turn from the duo of Goundamani and Senthil to rising star Vivek who figured in 19 films. It was a sweeping change which was eagerly awaited by the people, as the duo's comedy had become stale. Vivek started off with style trying to include some message or the other aimed at social reformation and his attempt succeeded.For music accolades it was Ilaiyaraja in ``Sethu'' and ``Bharathi'', for A. R. Rahman it was ``Mudhalvan'', ``Kandukondien Kandukondien'' and ``Alai Paayuthey'' and for Deva it was ``Kushi'', ``Ezhaiyin Sirippil'' and many other movies totalling 21. All the three have retained their respective places in the industry.

The distributors are reluctant to buy films without big names. So 162 Tamil films and 147 dubbed films which had been censored till last year have not been seen in the cinemas. Six films got `A' certificate and 19 films received UA. Only two films were shot in the 35 mm format while 67 films were cinemascope.

Of the 69 Tamil films released only 14 films were hits. One can only hope things will change for the better in 2001.

S. R. ASHOK KUMAR

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