February 4, 2010

The Prespective that world cinema offers

This is a response of sorts to what I think was an escapist view of the influence of World Cinema on Tamil Cinema. No Offenses meant. Figured a new piece would be convenient than responding in the 'comments' section.

Every year, tens of thousands of movies are made throughout the world with Hollywood, European and Asian Studios being major players in their own right. Indian movie studios churn out a substantial number of films. The average Tamil audience is quite passionate about movies and doesn't mind long queues and wait times for the tickets. The average Tamil movie "star" enjoys quite a passionate fan following and almost always has been keen on playing to this dedicated gallery. Hence, it is not uncommon for an average Tamil "star" movie to be protagonist centric and we see stars relying on their 'success formula' (read gimmicks, wardrobe et al) leading to a hangover of sorts of their previous works. However, Tamil Cinema has also seen its share of stalwarts (directors mostly and a few actors) who refused to get stuck to this formula vortex and strived to make sensible films.

Now, how does watching World Cinema influence the outlook on Tamil films and film makers? There are many dimensions to this. Watching a lot of great works from the world and reading about great filmmakers helps us in understanding "our" films and film makers better. For starters, one tends to appreciate finer details and allegory better.

In Tamil Cinema, a bunch of visionary film makers have made inspired cinema out of their passion for the works of great foreign film makers. Exposure to these foreign films helps you acknowledge these inspirations and makes you awe at the thought process of how one great work inspires another, instead of calling them as rip offs. Recently, I saw a film called "Tie Me Up Tie me Down" and I was just blown away at how one 10 min block in it served as a seed for "Guna". It gave me the impression that while watching this film, a stroke of lightning hit Kamal and Voila, Guna was born.

Now, what is the influence on our expectations? Personally, I think what I expect from an average Tamil movie has gone up with the refinement due to watching a lot of foreign works. Does it mean that I benchmark an average Tamil film with a similar genre foreign work and find the Tamil film bad? No, I don't think it works that way. What happens mostly is that you tend to have better clarity in your thoughtprocess and possibly get pissed or disinterested(when the movie is bad) with the way a movie unfolds. It doesn't mean that you get access to a 'flaw detection' meter and watch movies to make good use of your new acquaintance.

Movies are primarily made for entertaining us and I don't watch one with any other intention. Most recently I watched "GOA" and it didn't entertain me, not even a wee bit. I found it boring because of the 'lack of interesting situations' and 'humorless conversations'. I found it be dull and boring while I was thoroughly entertained by 'Hang Over' and say even 'Euro Trip'. May be while putting my thoughts about 'Goa' on paper I might say that Venkat Prabhu has to learn from the writers of Hangover/Euro Trip on how to make a good teen flick. That doesn't mean my expectation was driven by the experience I had while watching Euro Trip. Now, these are mindless teen flicks right? Why would one even have these in mind while watching another mindless entertainer, eh? Now, what has watching these foreign teen comedies possibly done to me is help me put on paper as to why Goa didn't work for me. In other words, you can say that there is nothing wrong with the theme of teen flicks as there have been interesting and engaging movies in that genre too. Thats the drift.

And reg the accusation that watching World Cinema makes a person biased to one breed of film makers in Tamil Cinema, I think this is just plain bollocks. If at all the exposure has done anything, it has created more awareness on what is what.

More than anything else, watching these great works makes you yearn for great works from your home. I don't think there is anything wrong in that and it is better than living in denial world.

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