Thursday, October 06, 2005

Being regional

Taking cue from Nanditha Das post here on regional cinema.Mukund has posted a blog here on how "hindi cinema does not define Indian cinema".Even though i agree with his intentions, i completely oppose his arguments. And his arguments are just not his, it is a reflection of many peoples views.I have heard these kind of arguments so many times. I thought, through mukunds post i will answer some of the misconceptions against hindi movies Visa vis Tamil movies.

Before i begin i question the basic assumption of all the hindi movie bashers. Everytime you guys compare, you only talk about the mushy mushy romantic movies in hindi but when it comes to regional movies you talk about directors like maniratnam and balachander. why dont you compare a sharukh/salman/aamir khan movie with a chimbu, vijay, S.J.Surya movie??. you know what?. on that case i would rather see a khan movie, even though it is dumb, stupid and uncreative at its best, still it is non vulgar, non degrading and aesthetically better than the movies of those tamil actors. Atleast the hindi movie has successfully separated soft porn and family movies, whereas tamil movies are still in the masala mode.In what way is a rajini movie superior to a govinda movie? they are both stupidity at its best, just because one is your favorite hero you guys are arguing that it is a diverse movie.

you want to talk about maniratnam and balachander then compare them with satyajit ray, mrinal sen, shyam benegal ,govind nihlani, sai paranjpaye, syeed mirza and hrishikesh mukerjee. But you don't, u compare them with the directors of the khan movies and are happy to declare that the south directors are superior. The more quality hindi movies you see, you will understand from where balanchander, kamal and maniratnam lifted there stories.
"The so-called "regional" cinema has showcased Indian culture far more than Hindi cinema has done (especially the ones coming out now, many of which are financed by the underworld). What has been good about the said "regional" cinema is that it has mostly wanted to reflect reality (the social, economic and cultural reality of everyday life in India) as opposed to a totally cosmetic, unreal one that Hindi cinema has been portraying for quite sometime now (it would look to foreigners as though all Indians came home in a BMW, wore Armani suits and Gucci shoes and would take off to the US/UK at the slightest hint of boredom)".
Again the same scale is being used, shyam benegal and govind nihlani are not considered as hindi directors, they are somebody who don't belong to hindi movie at all. And what realistic movies did tamil nadu and andhra is making??. Poor rickshaw puller T.Rajendar pulling rickshaw with levi's jeans and nike shoe is reality??.Are rajini/vijay/danush/ajit/chimbu all making realistic movies??. Even in tamil, if the hero is bored he goes to switzerland to dance in lungi and banyan, what is the big difference. well, if you want to talk about movies like 'autograph' then you have to talk about rituparno gosh's 'raincoat' and not the khan movies.
"Movies in the south, especially Tamilnadu and following its footsteps, in Andhra Pradesh occupy a large part of the consciousness of the average person on the street - in his gestures, in his walk, in his repetition of "punch" lines and in his blind adulation and reverence to even elevate his favorite actors and actresses to Godhood."
Mukund is completely off the map here.I find all the above as signs of the audience being illiterate and lacking the intelligence to separate art from real life.There is nothing to be proud about here, it is actually a thing to be ashamed off. In rest of india, tamils are still those crazy movie buffs who built temple for kushbhu and blindly made CM out of dumb actors. On that aspect, i think hindi audience are far more civilized.

Senthil, I think some explanation is in order here.

If you notice my lines, I say "especially the ones coming out now" and by that I even include the ones that came within a few years back like DDLJ, HAHK and all those four letter acronym combinations, because in a time continuum I can either hark back to the Satyajit Ray days or refer to a whole lot of movies that started projecting "neo-modernism" and "aspirational urban" lives. By that token, I am comparing "realistic" movies in Tamil in the recent past like Nandha, Sethu etc. and the scores of other non-Tamil movies that get undeservingly clubbed under the "regional" banner.

You say what difference between watching a Rajini movie and a Govinda one. You have to realize that Rajini has fallen into a "stereotype" on account of the masses whereas he has also come thru the Balachandar school and so is capable of an even wider range of acting skills (think "aarilirundhu arupadhu varai", "moondru mudichchu" or even the off-beat role of Raghavendra Swami) than I am sure Govinda can muster.

Also the reason I quoted why the so-called "regional" cinema is such a huge draw with the common man was not to justify his holding camphor in the theater but to buttress my argument that the film industry in the South is MUCH MORE than can be simply dismissed with a small "regional films" header under newspapers run by biased north-Indian groups.

For your information, I have seen enough of good Hindi films in the past to know what I am talking about and am very familiar with the language but you should understand that there is a far greater tolerance and acceptability of Hindi in the South than any of the South Indian languages in the North and West. I rest my case :-)
// i think hindi audience are far more civilized // ROTFL......
I haven't read Thennavan's post, but I'd like to write a few lines on the state of tamil movies.

One word - It sucks.!! There is one movie out of a 100 that is good but it just flops.! That's the taste of Tamil audience is it? I don't know.!!

I agree with you in that comparisons generic is not right.

Recently I watched Black and was very impressed. Though I am tempted to watch more HIndi movies, I don't understand Hindi...have to depend on sub-titles which sucks.!!

What can we say about the Tamil audience when a movie like 'ANBE SIVAM ' flops.!!

To the defense of Tamil - It is seen only in 1 state. But Hindi movies run in all states. So even if it runs decently in A centers in all the states they make the money, Not true with tamil...isn't it.!!
yeah, the bollywood-bashing among tamil movie watchers is pathetic, to say the least. I get real irritated when people ramble about how bad "bollywood" (they kinda use this term as a pejorative) movies are. So this might look like more of a rant.
Let's be frank. We make much worser movies...
For a more serene discussion, I should write a post myself.. on why Bollywood will remain better than tamil cinema (in popular cinema, that is), considering the much bigger domain they handle and their inherent ability to be able to afford to experiment more than what ppl in Tamil cinema can do.

Btw, may I point you to a condescending discussion in this blog too? ;)
When I read this then, it was like the very similar condescension which we are talking about now.
Well, for most of the hindi films watching public - regional movies are those that feed songs for midnight masala :)

And i dont think they are wrong

As you and narayanan sir have mentioned here, most of the tamil movies are crap.

Hindi movies are far more aesthetically done than the tamil movies.

Very rarely you get a Azhagi, nanda, anbe sivam and stuff

I fully agree with you


Seeing your recent posts, I think you have the full rights to talk about the good movies from Hindi. :-)

But hey, those movies and directors you mentioned were from an old age. Those were the good ol' days of Naseerudhin Shah, Ompuri, Shabana Azmi, Smitha Patel etc, but it doesn't show up anything anymore.

See the presnet scenario. Kamal still take movies like Hey Ram, Anbe Shivam, Mani Rantnam still keeps his standard even in a romantic flick like Alaipayuthey, Shyama Prasad, Adoor, Jatyaraj and Shaji N. Karun and some new comers still support the good cinema. But what happens in Hindi from 90s onwards? How many movies can you count? Do not count Bengali with the Hindi movie scene and now count it again. How many???

But I do watch some of the Hindi flicks (like KHNH, DDLJ etc) just for the entertainment sake.
Well, if SI films are midnight masala feeder, what about the 'family' movies of Sharukh Khan? I havent seen a Sharukh movie in which he doesnt do a Kamal on his heroines - even a married Kajol didnt escape in KKKG!
Not that I am complaining, note :-)

Well, jokes apart, I think the problem is each person is addressing an imaginary advrsary not obvious to others.
For Thennavan, he is irritated by Hindi fanatics who compare their Sharukh movies with high production values to Shakeela movies and complain that regional movies suck. So, his post is addressed to those morons

OTOH, Sen has encountered morons who compare stupid bollywood films with best Tamil films and he is naturally irritated by those guys. SO his response is to this constitutency.

Actually, both of them are saying the same thing - there is a stupid section of people both in Hindi heartland and Dravida THirunadu which belives wrongly in their supremacy and roots for nonsense stuff because it is in their language. When Thennavan rants against the stupid hindi moron, as a corollary, his post covers Sen's tamil morons so there is no need for Sen to write a rejoinder at all! Similarly the converse also holds true
Idhu purinja, there is no need for a discussion!
In my first comment, I said
Let's be frank. We make much worser movies...
What I mean is, we make much worser movies here in T.N. than what we would like to believe attributing this aspect to presence of some "serious" filmmakers. I am not saying we make much worser movies in Tamil than Bollywood films.
What can I say? Except that I have had similar arguments with scores of my telugu brethren who claim we churn out better stuff than Bombay. Believe it or not I have come across people who say Bachchan is merely a hyped figure -overrated when compared to the heroes from the south who played hindu gods on screen. I would often dismiss it as subconsious jealousy owing to the fact that we do not have an actor like him.

I dont understand it when people say that a lot path breaking cinema,experimental cinema is being made in the south
If it is really so, i am missing out on all those fabulous movies. here me let me clarify that when I say south I am referring to telugu movies. But from the discussions above it would appear that the situation in telugu is not much different from tamil.
Recently a movie called Maine gandhi ko nahin maara was released. The film flopped. Critics pointed out that
the film had several flaws. But what is very heartening is that a film like that was made in the first place. I cant imagine a
similar film in telugu.Today I see a lot of fresh ideas and experimentation being done in Bombay. Shyam benegal, govind nihalani,rituparno ghosh , gulzar are still producing quality work. They are not a 'thing of the past'. Agreed their current films may not be good as their
best ones, but they are still working in a league that is markedly different from mainstream bollywood.Also some chaps from RGVs factory are making a conscious effort to produce different cinema.Anurag kashyap, whatever be the fate of his films
tried to evolve a new cinematic language through his ventures. From Shakespeare to sharat chandra,works of literature are being adapted to the big
screen in bombay. And all this is current not from the good old days.

Your point that in Hindi there is a marked distinction between 'soft porn' and 'regular cinema' also makes sense. Films like
Kya Kool hain hum or the recent No Entry were clearly marketed as sex comedies/adult comedies. If you have seen those films
you will realise that the brand of comedy in them (double entendres, toilet humour,etc) is an integral part of every telugu film that is released.Even the biggest mega blockbusters that are projected as family entertainers can not do without vulgar comedy. Lets face it. If I had a child , I would rather take him to an over the top SRK film which is pretentious, unrealistic,with armani suits , bmws, chiffon sarees, switz locales than a telugu blockbuster. Simple reason - absence of vulgar comedy in the former.

Also when people say that the north looks at our movies with derision and ridicule, i find it surprising. Every bollywood biggie in their interviews seems to heap praise on the south indian film industry. They probably look at one mani ratnam and believe all films in ths south are of similar quality, just as we look at a salman khan film and pass a judgement against 'bollywood'.
you are again wrong.if you see the timeline of both tamil and hindi movies for the past 10 yrs since DDLJ again hindi movies have produced lot of quality movies.Again dont comapre sethu and nandha with DDLJ and HAHK, compare them with maachis, zakhm, chandhni bar, maqbool, 3 deewareen, hazar chaurasi ki maa, black, swades,agni varsha, god mother, well i can keep on adding to the list.You have forgotten that shabana azmi/nanditha das/tabu/om puri are still acting and govind nihlani/shyam benegal are still taking movies.Yes we are producing some quality movies, but they are far less than the Hindi movies.And want to reiterate that Hindi movies are not just khan movies it is like sayint tamil movies are just the 'KANTH' movies.

If we are talking about movies that are coming lately then we dont have to go back couple of decades to dust out rajini's old movies.let compare the latest flicks of govinda and rajini, they is not much difference in them.

yeah 'cinema as a way of life' might sound romantic, but it is bad as far as iam concerned.

Mukund i agree that the tolerance in south is more, i think that is a factor that you should be proud off and not complain that the other person is not reciprocating the same.That is exactly where you fall from grace.
"To the defense of Tamil - It is seen only in 1 state"

This is the root cause of all the arguments .Whether branding the state movies as regional is right or wrong.

you are right, the larger domain makes it easier for them to experiment.My earlier post was more about how the main stream movies itself are changing and how there is a wider audience acceptance for that.But i guess the way i have written is completely wrong, it does sound condescending.

Many of the good actors and directors are still making movies.But my whole perspective was from tamil films.I saw these kind of arguments more with tamil blogs where people compare hindi movies with maniratnam etc.I will never argue if someone would have mentioned adoor, shaji karun etc.

Good point, there are morons on both sides.There is only good movies and bad movies, all we have to do is be openminded towards the other language.

Agree on what you say.You should watch mallu movies, they are the best.
there better regional movies with substance made than main stream hindi movie period.
The arguement is now turning into exclusive tamil vers hindi.
Look at good movies of marathi,malayalam,kannada not just tamil of telegu.
Jo has correctedly pointed the movies sen has watched are great movies of yesteryears if started counting the great movies of bollywood not much there is more sound,hoopala etc over substance.

@sen-i am playing with templates let me know if you like the new look.
I would say you guys are comparing oranges to apples. Agreed that lots of times, movies made in Hindi are remade in Tamil/other regional and vice versa.

I have seen lots of stupid Hindi movies and equally stupid Tamil movies.

One thing I have noticed in recent years, hindi movies have either super rich or super poor, no middle ground, whereas, in Tamil, it is not that common. Most Hindi movies are targeted for the NRI pop, so an overdose of Indian/Hindu sentiments. They stress on the packaging, so you get clean and pretty sets, beyond what is real. And of course, there is more money too.
Tamil movies have vulgar lyrics and/or dances, which is less common in Hindi movies. Of course, of late, we are seeing a lot of R rater movies being made there too, but they are a different genre.
On the whole, Indian Cinema needs a revamp (pun unintended).
I meant in the recent years.

the point hindi movies alone doesnt represent indian cinema and they arent the final authority.
If you think only hindi movies should be sent to oscar or other movie awards i got nothing to say, please read the post of shekar kappor and Nandita

I think you miss my point too. Look at my post. It is not about "good" and "bad" movies although there is a passing refence to those. It is only about the way the term "regional" is used "dismissively" by those "up north of the Vindhyas".

Again let us not get into "right" and "wrong" about the adulatory aspect of the common man (for Thamizh movies). It is about the "influence" of the medium itself and so a term "regional" which is used to mean "hey we are THE movie industry in India and here is the REST OF THEM" smacks of contempt, derision and ridicule and does not take into account what a mammoth history these films have had and are thus no second-class citizens (I mean in films) in the same country. Hope I made my point clear.
I think again the problem is that each of us relate more the kind of experiences we have.If I face more of Hindi morons, my primary instinct is to develop a dislike for those morons - the degree of my contempr for Tamil morons is lesser simply becauuse I havent encountered too many of them. COnversely, if I face more of Tamil morons, I tend to develop a primary dislike for them and am softer towards Hindi. This is what is happening here. All of us are harping on the same point and yet, we cannot seem to agree :-)
It must be mentioned that Tamil movies, as such, find it difficult to be released if they dont include a Kuthu/fast song. Why did Azhagi have Kuruvi kodanja koyyapazham? Why did Kakka Kakka have Thoodhu varuma? Dont the movies work fabulously without those songs?Damn, even Anbe Sivam had to have Madavan smoking pot and breaking into a needless song!

Atleast, they can release movies like Maine Gandhi Ko, Black and Swades. I am sure if Swades was made in Tamil with, say, Vikram,(now wouldnt that have been great - Sharukh was bland and just about okay). there would have been a village vamp swooning for him one-side apart from the main heroine!

Yes, I know Autograph didnt have these but it was a mediocre movie anyways!
"Hindi audience are more civilized" - This has to be taken with a pinch of salt. It is just that there is no insane section in the Hindi crowd that would build temples. other than that, mainstream movie audience ellaam ore kuttaila oorina mattai dhaan. I am not supporting any side - it is simply that rendu mattaila indha mattai osathi, indha mattai mattamnu sonna othuka mudiyalai. (Oops, that is not a profanity!)
I havent read mukunds comments yet. Firstly, no language movie is better than other. No, i m not trying to play the good samaritan here. Depending upon the local ethnic tastes each language makes movies. Except for the best of the best and worst of the worst, the average movie in language X is same as language Y.
That said, it is also quite common to club other language movies with bollywood or brush them as regional movies. But, why should we require recognition from everybody.

Perhaps it is because of the media don't give publicity for the movies of Shyam Bengal or Nihalani (the movies that dont have Kareena or Karishma), I didn't notice that they still make good movies in Hindi (even if it is rare). But an entire new scenenario appeared with the Indian English movies. I should appreciate Rahul Bose for his contributions on this. Later, so many directors came into the scene like Dev Benegal, Aparna Sen etc.

Amongst the new guys in Bollywood, the only hope I have is in Asuthosh Gowariker. He can make wonders in the coming years if he doesn't go the Chopra or Johar way. All I'm saying this is for cinema as an art. But we need all the chopras, johars and khans when we see cinema as an entertainment medium.

As you have pointed out, most of the flicks coming out in all languages (be it Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu or whatever) are crappy ones.

And I back what Ganesh said in his second comment. -- "hindi movies alone doesnt represent indian cinema and they arent the final authority". It should change.

@Pawan -- I think Rituparno Ghosh recently stepped into Hindi cinema with his Rain Coat, but he is considered as a Bengali director. RGV boys do a lot of experiments. (although most of the story lines were copied from Hollywood) It is good to see, but it remains 'experimental'. Nothing comes out great. But I agree with you about Govind Nihalani and Shyam Benegal. But most of these movies are not released in the south or the media dont talk about it, thus go un-noticed.
I think its time for me to barge in and stop this ruckus. I have a simple question for Sen, How many Hindi movies have been sent for the Oscars in the last 10 years? Please give me the numbers and compare it to the number of tamil movies or for that matter other regional language movies. I would even appreciate it if you go back 20 years. Considering the small number of audience that watch a tamil movie and the large number of audience that watches a hindi movie let us just compare the number of tamil movies that have been sent to the Oscars in the last few years. You might argue by saying that the film board is biased, I would be surprised if you said that just because I would argue that tamils are a minority arent they?
I have another question for you sen... the technical crew of a few of the bollywood movies of recent times have also been swamped with TAMILIANS? cant bollywood produce good technicians? afterall tamilians are a minority:P.
I think that you with all your knowledge of cinema would surely be able to answer my questions and come up with some counter argument. I am waiting buddy... just waiting to hear back from you:P
The question is what you are comparing,and whether it is right to say superior movies are made in tamil main steam movies.I feel they are both on the same level.Yes the argument is against people who talk that tamil movies are better.Iam definitely not comparing malaylam film industry with hindi.Obviously they are far superior.You havn't read my previous answer to mukund, i have listed the contemporary good hindi movies.

Exactly that is what iam pointing out.comparing oranges and apples.Everybody seems to compare the bad hindi movies with good tamil movies.

I agree.As i said in the post,i agree your ultimate intentions, but the way you arguede was wrong.

maybe u r right :).

Azhagi example is good.yeah when i meant civilized that is what i meant.maybe not the right word to use.They are more restrained when it comes to expressing there affection to their stars.

My point also, both of them are on the same scale.why have a regional ego that tamil movies are better.The argument arouse because of the wrong comaprison scale followed by many.

As u pointed out this ignorance of good hindi movies is a rason for people doing the worng comparison

i dont have the list of the number of hindi vs tamil movies sent to oscars.But what can u say when in the same year shankhar's Jeans is nominated for oscars and shekhar kapoor's bandit queen is not.I agree with u that many of the technicians of the south are well recognized.But what is the use when a highly talented cinemetographer is used to shoot a tamil hero running a top on the navel of the heroine.
@Sen -- I didn't really notice that Jeans was sent to Oscars (perhaps because of Aish?) while there was Bandit Queen!!! Damn! How could they avoid that wonderful movie?!!

And what you said about the cinematographers, I was amazed to hear that Ravi K. Chandran was the cinematographer for the police movies of Shaji Kailas + Suresh Gopi (in Malayalam). But when he reached the hands of Mani Ratnam, his talents were uncovered.
I agree to most of your points (we have agreed to disagree w.r.t Kamal but i digress here)......
People who lap up mediocre fare in Tamil like Rajini's recent movies, Vijay's garbage and S.J Suryah's soft-porn delites don't bat an eye-lid when they say Bollywood makes senseless fare. Pot calling the kettle black.
Both BW and KW have their +ves and -ves but IMO,
1) the best in the south is better than the best in Bollywood
2) The worst in the south is worse than the worst in Bollywood
bala i agree and disagree, i will put another post on this and explain it.
Super discussion .But i think there are few basic things which is left out or not discussed exclusively.

1.In regional Movies the market is extremly limited .Hence a director who is directing a 7 crore film in Tamizh is compelled to do few things .

2.Secondly when we say Hindi films ,we get contribution from all over India .In regional movies ,except for the heroine there is no contribution.So they cannot be compared .

3.The composition of the people has to be considered here .Assuming 25% Urban ,35% semi-urban and remaining Rural a Regional film producer has few constraints .Whereas a Hindi film movie maker can make movie sjust for Metros ( RGV types) which will ensure his returns .In short teh constratint is 25% of India VS 25 % of TN ,which is unfair .

4.It also depends on the extent of Producers available .

In short ,the technology can be compared ,but the quality cannot be compared as they are for different people .Both Hindi and Regional films potray or use heroines as Dolls ,only with different aesthetics !
//What can we say about the Tamil audience when a movie like 'ANBE SIVAM ' flops.!! //

I am NOT sure of the exact reasons but ask yourself this question (this may NOT be the reason, still since its about anbe sivam)...

Why is it that the christian nuns are sooooooo good and take care of kamal when he is wounded but the villain is portrayed as a "shaivaite" with the traditional "vibhuthi" ???

Kamal talks about socialism against hinduism and NOT against religion as a whole - therein lies his double standards !

again, I am NOT suggesting that it is the reason for its failure.
//Hindi movies are far more aesthetically done than the tamil movies.//

aesthetic incest movies that rely on publicity and number of kisses ???
//1.In regional Movies the market is extremly limited .Hence a director who is directing a 7 crore film in Tamizh is compelled to do few things .//

Actually, the Tamil and Telugu industries have better market ...esp Tamil in overseas. Now, Telugu is also increasing its share.

That is one of the reasons that the top highly paid actors, Rajini and chiranjeevi are from Tamil and Telugu respectively (15 and 10 crores) for their last movie.
I also read somewhere that around 30-40 % of a bollywood movie budget is for publicity.

Total no. of theatres - 5289

Super block buster in 2005 – Bunty aur Babli

Total earning (Bunty aur Babli) – 45 crores

Movies per year - 246

Average viewers turnout - 35 to 40%

Aamir Khan – 7 crores per film

Shahrukh Khan – 5 crores per film

Nationals Awards - Movie, since 1954 11

Nationals Awards - Actor,since 1968 16
South (4 states)

Total no. of theatres - 7611

Super block buster in 2005 - Chandramukhi

Total earning (Chandramukhi) – 110 crores

Movies per year - 479

Average viewers turnout - 60 to 65%

Rajinikanth – 15 crores per film (30 crores for Sivaji!!)

Chiranjeevi – 10 crores per film

Nationals Awards - Movie, since 1954 14
Nationals Awards - Actor,since 1968 18
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