2015 has been a good year for Tamil cinema. Some films which came with high expectations fails. Many others met with a lukewarm response. But there was plenty for the cinema connoisseur. In fact, keeping this list to just 10 films was no easy task. But here’s our list of the top ten Tamil films that released this year, in no particular order:
Kaakka Muttai : Easily the most loved film of the year, Kaaka Muttai had innocence written all over it. It’s a classic tale of love transcending materialistic desires. The story is about Chinna Kaakka Muttai and Periya Kaaka Muttai, two slum-dwelling brothers, whose great wish in life is to taste pizza. It won everybody’s heart. Both CM and PM showed us the plight of children who yearn for a better future. In a light-hearted, endearing way. Special kudos to Aishwarya Rajesh for a stellar performance. Director Manikandan may have missed an Oscar entry by a whisker, but this film will remain special for ages to come.
Papanasam : Whether the film was better than the original (Drishyam in Malayalam), or slightly under par, is a never-ending debate. As a remake that stayed faithful to the original, Papanasam will be one of the best thrillers we have seen this year. Only Kamal Haasan could have pulled off this role so convincingly. His brilliant portrayal of Suyambulingam, the family man who will go to any length to protect his family, was perfect. (Even though his fake moustache in the film was not.) The film also belonged to Jeethu Joseph’s brilliant writing, which pulled off another winner.
Demonte Colony : The only bad thing about Pizza (2012) was that it began a trend for horror films in Kollywood. And most of the horror films tended to be comic mish-mashes in the name of horror. But Demonte Colony stuck to its genre. There were a few predictably scary moments in the film, but it was, for the most part, a cleverly written thriller. The film led to the popularity of Demonte Colony in Chennai, which turned into a tourist spot between 12 am and 3 am for weeks after the film’s release. We hear that someone even started a tea shop there, to cater to the film’s enthusiastic fans.
Kallapadam : A small time meta-film which didn’t get much attention, Kallapadam was about four youngsters – a director, cinematographer, music director, and editor, who plan to loot money from a producer. The producer had rejected their dream film because it wasn’t ‘commercial’ enough for his tastes. Casting real-life technicians for the roles might have been unimaginative, with their acting abilities falling short in parts, but that’s the only flaw in the film. Lakshmi Priya made a classy debut with her handling of a grey-shaded role. And the tight screenplay and well-written scenes make this a great film to watch.
Baahubali : It’s a winner on a list of Telugu films, but this bilingual was easily one of the most entertaining films to hit screens in Tamil Nadu. Despite a few dubbing glitches, the Tamil version of Baahubali had some great dialogues, courtesy Madhan Karky. The film made Prabhas a star in Tamil Nadu, and Rajamouli a household name in Chennai. All praise to the director, who made a ‘done to death’ story look brand new.
Kuttram Kadithal : A nondescript incident at a primary school snowballs into a situation of severe gravity. Of class-division, corporal punishment at schools, guilt, and retribution. It has an intelligent and compelling storyline, well-written dialogues, unseasoned, yet terrific actors, and brilliant technicians. Kuttram Kadithal was a poetic take on a serious issue that needed public attention. Director Bramma’s use of intelligent motifs throughout the film was also praiseworthy.
Indru Nettru Naalai : Science fiction has been an unexplored territory in Tamil cinema, and Indru Netru Naalai was a welcome entry in Kollywood with its fresh concept of time-travel. Thankfully, the sci-fi elements in the film didn’t leave the audience scratching their heads. An otherwise typical commercial plot undergoes a topsy-turvy twist with the introduction of time-travel. Backed with memorable comedy by Karunakaran, debutante Ravikumar had everything to be proud of with this film.
Rajathandiram : Another film that deserved a lot more attention than it got was Rajathandhiram. Last year’s con-movie Sathuranga Vettai had surprised everyone, and this year, Rajathandhiram stole the show when it came to heist films. Brilliantly written by debutante AG Amid, the film was an edge-of-the-seat thriller, interlaced with fun one-liners, courtesy of Darbuka Shiva. Notable mention: Pattiyal Shekar, who played the conniving villain.
Thani Oruvan : Nearly everyone who watched this film, gave it great reviews. Mohan Raja’s labour of love, Thani Oruvan was another thriller with everything right about it. Especially, the suave Arvind Swami. With this film, we finally got a Tamil film with an equally (if not more) likeable villain. The cat-and-mouse chase sequences between the hero and villain were smartly written and succinctly performed. Mohan Raja shed his ‘remake man’ tag with this film. In fact, it’s Thani Oruvan which is being remade in multiple languages now.
Maya : Maya employed all the known clichés of the horror genre – shapeless figures, shadows, wind blowing, lights flickering. And somehow, it worked. Director Ashwin Saravanan (another debutant) delivered a film that made the audience use their imagination. The result: Maya was a standout winner. Nayanthara proved that the ‘Lady Superstar’ tag wasn’t just a tag. She really owned her scenes.
While these were our top 10, there were several films that deserve a mention: Kirumi, Yagavarayinum Naa Kaaka, Thamizhukku Enn Ondrai Azhuthavum, Enakkul Oruvan, Yennai Arindhaal, and Oh Kadhal Kanmani. And with that, here’s to 2016, and more great films that await us next year!