Why Director Atlee Shines and Sucks at the Same Time!

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Time and again, in any field, you would have heard experts say that Process is more important than the Goal itself. Goal or vision can be attained only if you have complete clarity in your methods. Probably why Film as a business is so fascinating, is that it is often more of a gamble. There are many factors controlling and influencing the success of any film. You never know how your audience would judge or take your film. However there are many directors who don’t give a damn about the result and always attempt an honest uncompromising film. Probably one could also say that this bunch is not so curious about controlling the result, or not even bothered about how their audience would receive it. Take the example of ManiRatnam’s recent film Kattru Veliyidai. What would have been in his mind during the production of the film. He might have thought audience would respond in a more likable fashion. Given a legend or a master, his film has not performed as he might have  expected. What would have been running in the mind of Bejoy Nambiar, the Director of Solo. The response for Solo is mixed. Bejoy even accepts, that he likes this unpredictability. He is not worried about spending huge sums of money to get a film, that he loves the most, lest the audience liking it.

And then there is another bunch, In fact presently I see just one Director spearheading this bunch, Who exactly knew what his audience ( read hero’s audience) expect. The rationale is simple. When you know what audience would expect, things becomes easy isn’t it. In other words, you have a formula for success. You must have seen or read books on these lines “formulas for success”. What Atlee has is a recipe. A recipe to make money out of Films. From the perspective of Film as a business, Atlee is definitely going to be the Director to pursue after. A contemporary social issue, some top notch professionals for the making, and a big star to market, and lets not forget the “Tamil” pride. All these above factors are sure to hamper the judgement of the audience. With good visuals and music, with your favorite star fighting for a social issue, Well you are going to give in, isn’t it and there are some mass moments to add to the masala as well, no way you are going to hate it as a viewer.

But here’s the thing

You know what sucks with Atlee is that, he thinks this is the best way to make a film. He preaches this to others. And there are people who idolize Atlee now. Pucca Business man, isn’t it?  It is just that one thing that bothers me most. Theri or Mersal is a box office hit. I have no problems with it. Among the films that released this year, an Average middle class Tamil film goer would prefer Mersal over any other film. Again I have no problems with it. But the whole problem lies in this Film inspiring many aspiring filmmakers to follow suit. To adopt or follow a formula. Somehow we have been tricked into thinking that is one of the best films of this year, as reflected in the IMDB which gives a rating of 9/10 much higher than other superb films of this year. We no longer are debating on the lines of art cinema vs commercial cinema. A sensibly marketed good art house film is now appreciated by our audience. This is actually an era of Intelligent vs no-brainer cinema. Intelligent cinema appeals to the minds of the viewers. It fundamentally ask you to think and then emote. But in no-brainers, there is only emoting. No space for logic or reasoning or thinking. Mersal belongs to the second type. It is a no-brainer film. Even worse, it is not original. For an aspirant to come up the ranks, and even our regional films to get noticed and have a bigger market overseas, a basic criteria is to be original. Mersal or Atlee’s formula rests on copying ideas from other films. That’s what sucks the most with one of our upcoming sensational directors of Tamil cinema.

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