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Kaatrin Mozhi

Chennai and Tamil Cinema! A Chennai Day Special

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 • Tamil Comments

Today (August 22, 2017) is the 378th year of the official formation of the Madras city whose name is now changed as Chennai. This day is being celebrated every year as the Madras Day! or Chennai Day!.

Tamil cinema over the decades has depicted Chennai in its various shades and lifestyles. The unique Tamil dialect of Chennai known as 'Madras Baasha' has been popularised only by Tamil films. The pioneers of the same as Cho Ramaswamy, Loose Mohan, Janakaraj and Kamal Haasan,

Chennai's connect with Cinema dates back to the days of emergence of cinema. It was the place where most of the South Indian films were shot during the black and white era. This is because the city housed many studios such as AVM, Vijay Vauhini and others when there was no such studio in the big cities of other states.

Veteran directors Sridhar, K.Balachander, Bharathiraja, Balu Mahendra, Mani Ratnam and Shankar have used Chennai as a regular trope in their films. When the film shoots were confined to studios, it was director Sridhar who shot an entire song in the beach sands making the hero Gemini Ganesan just walk through the statues located in the Marina beach for the film 'Sumaithangi'. Bharathiraja who is known for making slice of life rural films made a brutally honest film 'En Uyir Thozhan' which depicted the innocent youngsters of Chennai slums being conned by politicians for their benefit. Mani Ratnam's fascination for the Napier's Bridge is well known as it comes in at least one shot in most of his films. Shankar's films such as 'Indian', 'Mudhalvan' and 'Anniyan' have captured the slices of the ever busy Mount Road.

In recent years directors Hari, SP.Jananthan, Verimaran, Pa.Ranjith and a lot of new directors are exploring the various facets of Chennai life in their films. These directors also changed the negative stereotype on the Chennai's dialect, life style and also its people. Major credits for this should go to Pa.Ranjith whose 'Madras' celebrated the life of North Chennai which was portrayed as a den of criminals in many other films. Director Hari's 'Aaru' is another film that captured the innocence and affectionate nature of people living in the slums of Chennai.

Many young directors have started depicting Chennai's lifestyle especially North Chennai could be seen more often than before in Tamil films.

This year's critically acclaimed super hit film 'Maanagaram' is another film that carried a good message on how Chennai beyond all the problems it poses to the outsiders also gives them a life and support from unknown strangers.The recently release 'Taramani' also speaks in depth about the transformation of the location Taramani as the hub of IT companies and a lot of other businesses thereby attracting more and more outsiders to the city for job opportunities.

There are a lot of other things about the multilingual, multicultural and multi faceted Chennai life that have been left unexplored in Tamil films and we hope the filmmakers and producers of Kollywood will make use of them.