Cinema in India has a profound influence on the way we think and act.  It can influence decisions we make in our life, or the people with whom we would like to relate to, or even marry.  Cinema has a widespread influence on fashions, on ethical values or decline thereof and so on.

Tamil Cinema is no exception.  The reach of Tamil Cinema reached its ultimate limit, when the late Mr M G Ramachandran, three times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, used cinema to not only enter politics through the then undivided DMK party, but also carve out a niche of his own, through his high moral standing, when compared to his opponents.

Be that as it may, today, Tamil Cinema is caught at cross roads, but the signs are becoming loud and clear.  Each and every movie tries to bring out some message, and the heroes of Tamil Cinema are only very eager to project such images to the society and to the public who flock to see their movies.

The one significant trend is to make movies for the masses in the villages and the tier three or even smaller towns.  The audiences here are more likely to see movies that closely reflect the way they live, they talk and eat and fight among themselves as well.  These are low budget movies and these movies seem to be making merry with smaller budgets, new stars and fairly realistic stories, often mixed with a huge range of emotions and feelings.

Some three years ago, a very new film maker tried his hand with a totally new story -- a bus accident on the Chennai to Tiruchi highway and how two deaths --- one to one hero and another to a girl who appears as a second heroine, in the accident changes everything.  The story seemed realistic and was totally different.  It was shrewdly combined with a strong script that appealed to the local masses -- people of towns such as Villupuram, which is a district headquarters town on the highway, and villages near it.

A superbly crafted "kadal meengal", was a story of a very small girl, who was intelligent, but could not cope with the horrible teasing of teachers in an English medium school.  How a very poorly earning father realizes his mistake and takes the child to a Government school, was told was such realism.  The film went on to bag some good awards, through it was not a great commercial success.  The education system and its pitfalls where very shrewdly discussed in the movie, with a superb message that if harsh attitudes persisted, many a child will be totally discouraged to rather discontinue his or her studies.

The emphasis on a strong story, is now more acutely felt, than ever before.  Every single new director or the producer wants to do something different. 

Sometimes very daringly different movies in the commercial format do make a huge difference.

One such example, was the hugely successful, "Mangaththa", which had a superb story of how four people plot to steal five hundred crores of black money from a smuggler.  The hero, and ex-police official, connives with another in service police official and the booty is looted by them, through shrewd strategies.  Though the movie had many unrealistic moments, superb music and excellent acting saved the day for the movie.  The slickness of the direction was a treat to watch.

It has now been acknowledged that new talent is available aplenty in Tamil Cinema.  What is more interesting is that the new faces do not take on the sexy roles or indulge in cheap publicity.  They go on to bag the best of roles through sheer acting talent.

High on this list of new faces is an actor, whose name is Lakshmi Menon.  This girl, from Kerala, brings to the screen a range of natural emotions and is seen as a natural beauty.  She is always shown as the girl next door. Tamil Cinema is rather experimenting with this sort of new talent, and it is a great news that she has all the talent to make it big in the world of Tamil Cinema.  She, of course, is not alone.  Anushka, for example, has also acted in a few good movies.

The last decade has been very defining.  The credit for the success of any film, now, goes to the director, as much as it goes to the hero.  Murugadoss, Shankar and Gautam Menon belong to this exclusive club, and these three directors now command a good following, a great name and star value as well.  For example, the Rajnikant blockbuster, Endiran, was made by Shankar.  It rocked all the box office records.  The Hindi version was appreciated too, for its technical excellence.

A day will soon come in the history of Tamil Cinema, when the audience will become more mature and will favor not only the pacy and lively masala movies, but also ones that have superb stories, cultural aspects and good direction, but made with low budgets and in village settings, often with new faces.

The actor Sasikumar, has brought about such a new trend, and his films are all based in the rural settings.  The story is good, the script is good and the audience appreciate something that is new and is more suited to the rural audiences.

Cheran is another director, who has his own class.  A few years ago, he produced a stunning "Thavamai Thavamirunthu", a superb movie that spoke about the true lover of a father, who supports his son all the way and dies a slow death, unable to bear the loss of his wife.  The lead role played by Rajkiran, was done so well, and this film went on to become a very famous one, though it did not do well in the box office.

Tamil Cinema is thus breaking new ground.  The aforesaid trends are mostly healthy ones and need to be appreciated for whatever they are worth.  Moreover, the trend of making money through movies is all but lost everywhere and only good stories, good scripts and good direction, keep the audiences glued to their seats.  The new trends are quite healthy.

A superb pride of place should go to the evergreen hero Kamal Hasan, who has also acted in a few Hindi movies.  His latest Vishwaroopam, had a very strong message against terrorism.  His acting was simply world-class. 

In just about five years from now, only the fittest will survive.  Nothing less than perfection in every field will work.  Tamil movies made very meaningfully will surely bag the National awards in the years to come.  This is itself such a great change.  Kamal Hasan has already got a couple of national awards.  More actors will also get the same very soon.

Such new developments certainly augur very well for Tamil Cinema, in the years to come. 

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