All that glitters is not gold; but all that doesn't, is not dirt either. When 52 weeks of artmanship is summed up, we stumble upon the list that did not make it big at the box office, yet made a lasting impression and was under the lens, on various screens and in a lot of minds. It's these movies that's appreciated a great deal by the critics and most often the ones that travel farther than the others, to the cross-cultural film festivals across the globe; and here's a run up on the not-so-big-yet-hugely-appreciated films of 2013, which has drawn the critiques' attention, travelling the road seldom taken, making Kollywood proud with out-of-the-box minds.
This year put it's first critical glance on 'Samar', which was Vishal's first release for 2013. Kollywood is not yet mature to the concept of doppelgangers, while director Thiru brought it in. At about two hours of running, chasing and action over a lot of confusion, 'Samar' was not as well received as it was anticipated to be. However, the critics fixed their gaze on this, scrutinizing the various unexplored aspects that were covered in the story. Neither a complete disappointment, nor a runaway success, 'Samar' stood on the precarious wall of appreciation and critique.
Soon afterwards happened 'Haridass'. Trust Kishore to take up roles with an edge, and he played the sorry father in khakhis, as the story drove home one of the neglected concepts - autism. It is not a disease and cannot be cured, but can be treated with extra care and affection. Being a smart and focused cop by profession, the father does not manage his time on his autistic son whose teacher, played by Sneha, puts him on the right track. 'Haridass' was a movie without masala, but a lot of meaning, which was lauded by everyone, though not particularly enjoyed on weekends with family in packed screens.
Director Bala was discussed over cups of coffee, newspapers, train travel and movie tickets. In a recouping comeback, Bala launched his period-set film based Paul Harris Daniel's 1969 page-turner 'Red Tea'. With a strong foundation of history and heavy influence of drama and fiction, the novel guns for documentary, and Bala made it a two-hour feature film. 'Paradesi' could not be called an entertainer in particular as it was more of history and fictitious cruelty than enjoyable scenes. Nonetheless, it won Poornima Ramaswamy a National Award for the best costume design. Known to extract the best out of his crew, not only did 'Paradesi' become famous, but its bogus video of crew members getting beaten up also trended huge number of views.
Differentiating puppy love and lust which are often misunderstood to be love at first sight, director Suseenthiran launched his path-breaking quick film on Independence Day - 'Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer'. The film carried a strong concept, practical screenplay and a touching climax. Critics enlisted a lot of positives about the movie, on how the different characters were etched, and how the film is unique. It has already featured in International Film Festival, and is held high to be a trend-setting movie, although it saw only average success commercially. One of the many critiques that this movie received, highlighted the father-daughter relationship and the way it has been crafted to be highly understanding, caring and supportive. Later that month came another movie - Ram's second - which praised father-daughter relationship in further detail. With just one film prior to this ('Katradhu Tamizh'), Ram created an unshakable image about himself in the cine industry with this emotional movie, 'Thanga Meenkal'. However, this did not create much money either. But the film had the distinction of being the only film on Indian Panorama at IFFI, 2013 held in Goa. It is worth mentioning that it was unanimously voted as the movie of the year at Chennai International Film Festival..
One of the growing concerns in the society is alcoholism. Every movie speaks about it and strictly warns in subtle labels in minute font at a corner of the screen on scenes involving smoke or drink. 'Idharkuthaane Aasaipattai Balakumara', releasing on the auspicious Gandhi Jayanthi was a movie based 85% in wine shop, but carried the heavy message that drinking sure is injurious in a multiple ways, including comic ones. This received mixed reviews among audience - some enjoyed the fun, some cursed the over-involvement of alcohol - but the critics liked it. Releasing a few days earlier, 'Onayum Aattukuttiyum' also makes it to this list. Director Mysskin advertised his film first hand on the streets of big cities, but that did not favour him much, considering the lack of screens that were open to this movie. It had every desirable aspect of Myskin's previous thrillers viz. nail biting narration, neat performances, riveting re-recording, natural lights and as an addition to these there is no songs spoiling the narration in the movie.
2013 has indeed been a vein of the golden period in Tamil cinemas. From globally disregarded topics like prostitution ('Vidiyum Munn'), to simple yet striking lines like changing times in a man's life ('Neram'), fatal changes on a bus route ('Jannal Oram'), travel to a whole new planet ('Irandam Ulagam'), messy affair of Tambrahm weddings ('Kalyana Samayal Sadham'), chase for life ('Chennaiyil Oru Naal'), escape until marriage ('Udhayam NH4') to action flick like 'Ainthu Ainthu Ainthu' and black comedy 'Moodar Koodam', this year has seen the longest swing of creativity and audience in recent times. With this, we hope to have a longer and stronger list of movies with a change, and coordinating viewership in the new year.