A few years ago, Tamil Cinema was dishing out the worst movies in India.  There was absolutely no attempt made to show reality in any way, and it was quite common for the hero to be glorified as the man for all times. Each and every hero would bash up more than eighty bad boys at any point in time, and he would go around dancing with heroines who would be fit enough to be his daughters.  Rajnikant was and still is, the worst guilty hero in this respect. He had very successfully followed the MGR formula, and the leading lady of any movie would fall head in heals in love with him, the moment they saw him.  He would never chase any heroine, and would never show any emotion till the girl showed her love for him.

Even in movies like "Sivaji", which had several comic scenes where he would try to woo the leading lady, he was shown as the hero who would do no harm, and in one particular scene, would bash up more than one hundred bad boys, single-handed. The much larger than life personality of his, is there for all to see, and it is a big mystery as to how he has survived for such a long time, when age was easily seen on his face, in spite of all the make up.

This particular image trap of Rajnikant has inspired other heroes like Vijay and Ajith, both of whom, are also shown as larger-than-life heroes. So, Tamil Cinema is caught in a big spiral of masala movies and the all too familiar story lines.

However, some changes are now coming and, in a big way.

Just over fifteen months ago, there was this movie called "Kaaka Muttai", which was a very realistic account of how two small slum kids from a North Chennai slum, long to eat a plate of pizza, just once in their lives. Unfortunately, even when they earn the money to have the pizza, they are beaten by the security man, and an employee of the pizza outlet.  The scene goes viral, and becomes a big issue.

The mother of the two children cries out for help, and when the two children really get to eat the pizza, in the full glare of the media, they do not find it fascinating, and go back to their own ways of picking up small pieces of coal that get dropped from railway wagons and selling them for a small amount.

The stark realities of life, in a North Chennai slum, was brilliantly depicted.  The film went on to win international acclaim, and also won the National Award. 

The film woke up the entire Tamil movie goers to realities of life.  It brought to the center of all discussion, how Tamil films should be made.  There has since been a huge discussion in the print media about the need for Tamil cinema to be focused more on movies like Kaaka Muttai, and move away from the masala movies and the traditional stories.

The likes of Rajnikant, Vijay and Ajith,  suffer from an image trap of gigantic proportions.

There are quite a large number of movies where the stories have been different, and have been based on realism, and have avoided the masala trap, and this includes those of the aforesaid heroes as well.

For example, several years ago, that is, almost thirty years ago, Rajnikant acted in one of his best movies called "Mullum Malaram", which showed the real affection of the hero for his sister.  The sister was played by one Shoba, who was such a superbly talented actress.  She committed suicide for some unknown reason.  The movie brought out the different talent of Rajnikant.

However, since then he has acted in movies that simply took his image to a huge larger-than-life myth of all sorts.  This continues till today.  Ditto for the other two heroes.

However, there are several reasons why Tamil cinema should move out of this trap. 

Firstly, the fact is that movies like Kaaka Muttai, simply stir up the conscience of an entire State population.  It does make people think and makes them have some empathy for others. 

Secondly, when such movies reach the foreign shores, it is just as well that those abroad understand what life in Indian slums really is.  With all sound and fury about the emerging India, it will make such people look at India as a highly tolerant nation, and look at several aspects of life in India.  In fact, spirituality of the kind that is practiced in India, is now appreciated the world over. 

Thirdly, realistic movies also bring out the creativity in a huge number of directors and even producers.  Such movies get produced at a huge fraction of the cost of masala movies.  So, it does make economic sense too.

Fourthly, Tamil movies are now the second largest or the third largest number of movies produced in Indian languages, with Hindi leading the way.  So, producing creative movies will enhance the popularity and reach of Tamil cinema.

Fifthly, the huge number of movies that are different will certainly bring some new thinking among the Tamil population, more so, when it is at cross-roads, what with a huge melting point of political parties systematically robbing them of all wealth, and creating a record number of drunkards in society, who are only interested in the crumbs thrown around by the parties as freebies.  The creative movies will certainly make the Tamils think about the virtues of hard work, sincerity and honesty, as these values come out loud and clear through and in such movies.

So, the message is loud and clear.  We certainly need a push towards the best of creative movies like Kaaka Muttai in Tamil.  The number of such movies should not only increase substantially but increase at a good frequency as well.  Yes, the Government had announced tax breaks for Kaaka Muttai and one is sure will do so, for other similar movies.  This should motive our creative directors and producers even more.

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