What's in a name?
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."
Gautham Menon is said to have applied for the title 'Kaaval' meaning Police for his next film with Ajith. The project was earlier called 'Thuparium Anand' meaning Detective Anand. There was already a film titled 'Kaaval' in 1985. We are sure the imaginative Gautham Menon who has given poetic titles to his films like 'Kakha Khaka', Vetaiyaddu Vilayadu, Pachaikili Muthucharam and Vinaithandi Varuvaya can surely think of a new better original title.
But what's in a title?
There's a lot. Juliet's interpretation of rose is in a different context. Ask Kamalhasan he will tell you a lot. The ordeal his 'Sandiyar' went through, only he can talk about it. Rajinikanth could not have his way for 'Naan Gandhi Alla' in 1984. SJ Suryah had a tough time after announcing a film called 'BF' by which he actually meant only Best Friend. Those titles were forcibly changed by forces that are to Virumandi, Naan Magaan Alla and Anbe Aaruyire respectively.
Many of Tamil film industry's big and better brains in the new millennium doesn't seem spent too much time to look for a new never-used-before title for their films. That's what it seems. The rampant usage of yester years film titles prove this. But the same gang will rattle not only their brains and also their associates' if there is a tax rebate for the title. Just as there is a tax rebate for pure Tamil titles, you can expect new original titles only if there is a tax rebate for new imaginative titles.
Is selecting an original title for a new film is that very difficult? In the early years of cinema some directors had not one but two titles for the same film. Kambar (a) Kalviyin Vetri, Aaraichi Mani (a) Manuneethi Cholan, Thasipenn (a) Jothimalar, Vedavathi (a) Seetha Jananam, Manimegalai (a) Bala Sanyasi are some film titles in the early days.
Later writers and poets who were put in-charge of the scripting departments in major production houses. So film titles were taken from either literature or related. They were very imaginative and most importantly suited to the story and theme. Aayiram Thalai Vaangiya Apoorva Chinthamani was the title of a film in 1947 which will not suit to any other film. Kalyana Panniyum Brhamachari was the title of a Sivaji Ganesan film in 1954. The director preferred the title to even if it wasn't about the hero of the film.
You will be amazed to know the following titles were for some hit films ...
Read these names good-naturedly and understand them. Pasiyin Kodumai, Arumai Magal Abirami, Penn Kulathin Pon Vizhaku, Aasai Anna Arumai Thambi, Uzhavukkum Thozhilukkum Vandhanai Seivom, Manaalane Mangaiyin Bakiyam, Thaayaipola Pillai Noolai Pola Chelai, Mala Oru Mangala Vizhaku, Petraval Kanda Peru Vaazhvu, Neelavukku Neranja Manasu, Maniviye Manithanin Manikam, Mamiyar Mechiya Marumagal, Paanai Pidithaval Baagyasali, Thai Pirantal Vazhi Pirakkum, Maamiyarum Oru Veetu Marumagale, Mangaiyar Ullam Mangatha Selvam and Ontru Patal Undu Vazhvu are some of the Tamil film titles in the fifties. Today it may send shivers down the spine of directors if you ask for a similar title however best suitable it is for the story.
Those days even super stars who can dictate every aspect in their films left it to the directors and writers to name the film. In 1959 one of MGR's films was titled 'Thai Magalukku Kattiya Thali'. In the film a mother herself ties a thali (mangalsutra) on her daughter to keep villains at bay. Titles were very simple and to the point. In those days you will not find a film repeating an old title.
Another easy way the directors opted to name their films was to have the name or character or the profession of the protagonist as the title. That was very easy when mythological and historical movies were extensive. Aravalli, Manohara, Madurai Veeran, Thillana Mohananambal, Kattu Rani, Thapalkaran Thangai, Porter Ponnusamy were some films with easy titles. This idea has many and many takers even today and will have many more even tomorrow. Most of the recent films of super star Rajinikanth in the last fifteen years are of this genre only. Annamalai, Pandian, Veera, Basha, Muthu, Arunachalam, Padayappa, Baba and Sivaji are the only films of Rajinikanth in Tamil since 1994. Only his come back film Chandramukhi was named after the female protagonist. But again he got back with Sivaji.
When the angry young man era began in the 70s, film titles spew fire and connoted negative thoughts. Savalukku Savaal, Thirudan, Thirudanukku Thirudan, Thappu Thalangal, Krodham, Pick Pocket some old titles. When actor Rajinikanth turned Super Star Rajinikanth he invariably opted for fiery titles. Kuppathu Raja, Billa, Pollathavan, Ranga, Pokkiri Raja, Payum Puli, Thanikattu Raja, Sivappu Sooriyan, Naan Potta Saval, Naan Sivappu Manithan are some of the Rajini titles. But these bully titles did not come in the way of those films becoming big hits.
Even off beat titles were interesting in those days. Mamvbazhathu Vandu, Padhai Marinal, Rusi Kanda Poonai are tiles of films which talked about the shady lives.
The greatest consolation even today is that Tamil film titles haven't stooped to such ridiculous levels as Telugu and Hindi films did.
And was there any body in the industry ever to scorn at demeaning or negative titles for films? Yes. There was one man. And he was a one man industry. Who's that?
To be concluded...
Click here to read - All in the Name of... a Film -II