A lot of things have gone right for the Tamil film industry this year. We have seen some of the best music albums come out in succession on all quarters and films have tasted more frequently than one might expect. One of the highlights, however, is that the industry has seen highly talented filmmakers making their debuts. And boy, did they impress or what. Here's a closer look what they brought with them.
Pizza - Karthik Subburaj
For those of us who saw Pizza in theatres, it's quite obvious that the experience was spine tingling. The film won't be forgotten for a lot of reasons and right at the mix of things was Karthik Subburaj, who kicked off his Kollywood career in flying colours. Popular in the short-film industry, Karthik had a familiar face in Vijay Sethupathi playing the lead and actor delivered one of the performances of his and made audiences sit at the edge of their cities holding their breath.
"Pizza" also got the honour of being one of the best films screened at the 10th annual Chennai International Film Festival this year. Vijay Sethupathi and Ramya Nambeesan are the lead pair of this hit movie and the music was scored well by Santhosh Narayanan. With right toppings in the form of a taut screenplay, deft camera work, eerie sound effects and nice background score, Pizza gives you a lasting impression.
Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kanom - Balaji Tharaneetharan
A unique style of story telling, hilarious scenes that intended to bring down the roof and some great character roles, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kanom was a memorable debut for director Balaji. Based on a real life incident from cameraman Prem's life, NKPK is easily the most different film you could have seen this year. The director's effort is seen as Rajkumar, Vigneswaran and Bhagawathy Perumal play the hero's friends and impress.
Premkumar's camera is the movie's backbone and captures well each and every moment of a youth, who suffers from short-term memory loss during his wedding. The nightlife of the city and the hospitals are also well canned. Ved Shankar's background score is good, keeping pace with the script. Govindaraj's editing deserves a special mention. At a time when mindless masalas are the order of the day, a movie like 'NKPK' provides a whiff of fresh air, thanks to Balaji.
Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Eppadi - Balaji Mohan
Love has been narrated in many ways in Tamil cinema. But 'Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Eppadi' makes a point to stand out from the pack, and it quickly tasted success. Released as short film first, the director made an actual film of it due to its immense welcome by the audience. The earnest narration, natural
comedy provided by supporting actresses and Thaman's music lifted the film as it went on to become one of the biggest hits of the year.
From the word go, Balaji Mohan made it a point not to stick to formula films. He has painstakingly created scenes that are close to reality, one could see in the life of every youngster today. Nirav Shah's camera bring life to the scenes unfolding on screen and make them look like it's happening right around you. The highlight of the movie is the casual dialogues and is obviously a hit for the fresh director.
3 - Aishwarya Dhanush
Superstar Rajnikanth's daughter and Dhanush's wife Aishwarya directed this tragic love story while her husband and Kamal Haasan's daughter Shruti Haasan played the lead roles. The lead up to the movie introduced us to another talented musician in Anirudh Ravichander. The "Kolaveri" effect and a soundtrack filled with great numbers gave the film an amazing platform to set the stage on fire. A cocktail of emotions, the film travels through the life a young man and woman, their joy, sorrow, and how they try to make a life for themselves.
As a director and scriptwriter, Aishwarya R Dhanush scores big time in the first half. She handles emotions with ease, at least till the interval. In the latter half, Aishwarya surprises by offering things on a different platter as Dhanush adds immense value to the film with his stunning performance.
Sundarapandian - S.R Prabahakaran
A story of friendship and love, debutant S.R. Prabhakaran has managed to gain the respect of the audience and hold onto it for quite a while with his "Sundarapandian". Starring Sasikumar along with newcomer Lakshmi Menon, the film gained popularity in its opening week and went on to attract large group of audiences across Tamil Nadu. The casual slang and typical script of the film laid the foundations for its popularity.
Prabhakar, who has worked with Sasikumar as an associate, took center stage as he managed things from the helm with his mentor by his side. The signature style of his 'guru' is visible in almost every frame. And the technical crew comes to his rescue making the rustic rural theme look more authentic. 'Sundarapandian' is an honest attempt and Prabhakar does his best to make it an interesting watch.
Podaa Podi - Vignesh Shivan
Vignesh Sivan's Poda Podi has been in the making for more than three years. But when the release finally came, falls under the category of romantic comedies, although the latter is much less significant for one's liking. The story is rather simple and straightforward - love, ego clashes and misunderstanding in the life between the NRI hero and heroine. But with the music and comedy guiding it, it was soon to become another hit.
The entire picture is painted as if Poda Podi is more of a musical film whose purpose is to make you feel good at the end of the day. Dharan Kumar's music filled with impressive numbers surpassed its age and produced chartbusters even as big name films flooded the market. Simbu and Varalakshmi's combo was the magic of the movie and made Vignesh's eventful and enjoyable.
Attakathi - Pa Ranjith
Director Venkat Prabhu is known to make breezy entertainers offering something for all kinds of audiences. When his protégé Pa Ranjith took the director's shoes for the first time, it was evident that the apple doesn't fall far away from the tree. His film Attakathi forays independently into its own genre, and making viewers laugh in glee thorough simplistic dialogues and expressions.
Ranjith deserves a pat on the back for touching upon the lives of the young from the semi-urban areas, perhaps for the first time on screen. He has ensured that the film is no tearjerker and the scenes drive the story. The highlight of the movie are songs by Santosh Narayanan. The background score is another plus. The movie has its own moments in the form of dialogues that are the ones we can hear often when we travel in a bus among students of today.
Naan - Jeeva Shankar
Jeeva Shankar, a former protege of cinematographer-director Jeeva, came up with Naan, his very first. A crime thriller with twists and turns, Naan works out in conjunction with the director's strengths and shortcomings of newcomer Vijay Antony. There are no romantic duets or emphatic dialogues for Vijay Antony, and the music director turned actor fits into the puzzle well, never looking out of place or stranded.
The movie comes with a tag 'nobody is perfect'. The screenplay tries to substantiate it. As a music composer, this is perhaps Vijay Antony's best ever album in terms of background score. Long story short, Naan is a racy crime thriller that took everyone by surprise. It gained momentum slowly and turned out to be another interesting take on things.
Kazhugu - Sathya Siva
Tamil cinema has evolved a lot in the recent past and it has come a long way from clichéd hero-centric films. 'Kazhugu' by Sathya joins the list and has good reason to be yet another different project from 2012. The script turns our focus to few ordinary people who do extraordinary things everyday and hardly get noticed. The plot outlines the tale men earn their livelihood by locating and retrieving bodies from the hills of Kodaikanal.
Krishna, after 'Alibaba' and 'Kattradu Kalavu', gets a movie that is apt and appropriate for him. He plays 'body lifter' who has no place for emotions in his life and does justice to his tricky character with such ease. He is complimented well by Bindhu Madhavi, who gives a matured performance, while Karunaas and Thambi Ramaiah as Krishna's friends steal the show with their quality character roles. Yuvan's music is a highlight for the film while the location and cinematography adds to the magic.
Saattai - Anbazhagan
Directed by debutant M Anbhazhagan, Sattai spoke about the pitiable condition of primary education, especially in government schools. The need to upgrade the knowledge of teachers, make them interact more with children and get to know their strength and weakness is what the movie is all about. Though preachy at places, it brings out attention to the need of the hour. Anbhazagan's homework is clearly seen on screen and had apparently been to several government schools, to sketch out his screenplay.
Dayalan, played by Samuthirakani, introduces novel methods, gives confidence to school students and motivates them to evince keen interest in education. But he faces hurdles in the form of assistant headmaster Singam Perumal (Thambi Ramaiah) who plays a comical yet cruel villain. Produced by Prabhu Solomon and John Max, 'Saattai' is a film to be appraised for the noble intentions of the director, who in his very first film has touched a sensitive, issue and trumps.
English Vinglish - Gauri Shinde
Gauri Shinde's razop sharp script and relatable screenplay took immediate impact. It didn't take too long to take off, and halls were filled across states as English Vinglish convinced fans of its subtlety. Sridevi, who was last seen 15 years ago in Tamil cinema, is back at her vintage best. She brings the anger, agony, frustration and joy in the character Sashi out well. Her little nuances and body language adds more depth to her characterization.
Forced to go to New York for assisting her sister for a family wedding, the 'real' journey begins for Sashi as she tries to speak English. There she resolves to master the language and is exposed to various cultures. Keen to realize her dreams, she puts in all efforts. Gauri Shinde treads the path taken by her husband Balki in films like 'Cheeni Kum' and 'Paa'. She has chosen to narrate things in a simple way without any melodrama. Welcome to the gang, Gauri!