The other day, there was a severe argument between two of my friends about which content fare better. One of them vouched for Kerala’s indigenous films while the other supported the rise of Tamil Filmy content in the recent times. The friend supporting the former stressed on the fact, that though Tamil films have dramatically improved, it still cannot be on par with the Malayalam films. At one particular time, the friend supporting the latter started to give up. This happened exactly where we took the last 5 bigger hits of each of the state and compared with respect to the content.
After the debate, as I often do, I started to introspect on reasons that stands in our way of making quality film. My first question to myself? Are we not creative enough? My second question? What makes them tell better stories than us? You can ask me whether we can rate a film only based on stories. My answer, Lets do it that way? Since content is the soul. Film is just one of the mediums to deliver the content. So Lets answer the first question? Are we not creative enough. Lets assume it as NO. Lets assume that we are creative enough, which should lead us to answer the second question: What makes us tell ordinary stories. Or put it this way what makes them tell better stories? The answer: they might be more creative than us. We will come back to this shortly.
Now lets assume that we are not creative enough. Most of our films are made in Chennai, by the people of Chennai. Tamil films are majorly represented by Chennai. Kollywood is just Chennai. What is Chennai? Chennai is a coastal plain situated on the banks of two rivers. But we don’t have these two rivers. Infact they are have become a storehouse of sewage. The only nature that is in ever contact with us is the Sun. Chennai is a place of survival. Can you expect creative thoughts to overflow within you in this sun city?
I know I am making a strange statement but hear me out.
Who are the people of Chennai? We are Tamils predominantly, not diverse enough. We are culturally one. Lets accept this fact. We are not open to other cultures. still culturally conservative. I will give you a recent example. There is a new web series out in the town. It is called Livin, directed by Praburam Vyas. Seven episodes have gone. Till now, I have not seen a lip kiss, considering the fact, that this series in out in the open internet.
Who are the people of Chennai? Most of us have a very similar lifestyle. We study, We work in IT, We marry, We Beget kids, We make them study. A formulaic society. What do we do in our past time. As families, where often we roam around apart from theatres, hotels and beach? As individuals, What are we passionate about? Lets exclude films here, Apart from films, what other passions do we perceive? Not diverse enough right?
How can we get diverse content, when you are in a city, that is surrounded by people who don’t experiment with their lives, How can you expect creativity to ooze out of you when you are in a city, that has destroyed its nature aka rivers and lakes and all it has now only bridges and roads.
Creativity has lot to do with the people around us aka whom you live with.
Creativity has lot to do with the environment around aka what you see and sense.
So How does people are making up with creativity in spite of not-so creativity conducive environment?
Recently I am seeing a lot of filmmakers dabbling around with science and incorporating into their fiction, A good majority get big-time inspired from films from the west and merge it in their content. A equally good majority are playing with Dreams (& hallucination) and super-human powers often accompanied with tragedy. A small minority are going to the extent of creating a universe for their films. A micro minority are trying to give life for non-living objects such as Rubber, Slipper, Tyre etc.
In my view, all of these methods to generate creative or out of the box content will be successful at some level. But still, Films are all about the place and its people. Tamil films should not be restricted to only Chennai. We have great places. We have different cultures to showcase. You know there is a cool place called Theni, where you get wind on the face all time. What films have come out of Theni, about Theni. There is a place called Bodinayakkanur. Heard about it? Wiki it. Recently I did watch a short film about a particular locality called Ayanavaram (Chennai). The films starts with the Director saying that You might have seen rich places such as Anna Nagar and Adyar, You might have seen poor places like Royapuram and Vyasarpadi. But have you seen rich and poor coexisting at the same place. Ayanavaram is one among them. The film then proceeds to showcase the micro-culture of Ayanavaram. The Film though amateur at large parts, won my heart, because of its simple approach to creativity.
PS. Revisit Kaaka Muttai Fame Director Manikandan’s Films. You will see that I have a point.