A scene in Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Oru Kal Oru Kannadi (2012) involving Santhanam, the hero himself, and Hansika Motwani as an air hostess has seven million views on YouTube. Santhanam, who has steadily grown from inoffensive to offensive comedy and his ‘nanban’ Udhayanidhi harass Hansika as she goes about her work. In what looks like drunken banter during which one apparently has the license to say and do things they please – in movies, at least – Santhanam and Udhayanidhi indulge in a cringe comedy of sorts, with dialogues that help them along. The movie, of course ends with Hansika getting together with Udhayanidhi. Comments on the video, meanwhile, range from remarks on Hansika’s physical attributes to appreciation for the comedy, with just a couple of them calling out the dialogues for what they are.
That’s why, Manithan when it released in 2016, was quite a pleasant departure from the movies that Udhayanidhi has come to be known for.
Manithan though, is much more than its tale, because it transformed Udhayanidhi from someone who had only been playing the romantic sort, helped along by a sidekick, to an actor whose expressions can flit seamlessly between portraying a struggling lawyer tempted to make a quick buck to a struggling lawyer with a growing conscience. It was a fascinating watch, especially since the Legislative Assembly election was right around the corner then and it seemed like a smart campaign. But the movies that succeeded Manithan dragged the actor back to his comfortable haunt.
Coming up: Ippadai Vellum, releasing today, Nimir (the Tamil remake of Malayalam blockbuster Maheshinte Prathikaaram)
After a cool debut with Vennila Kabbadi Kuzhu in 2009, Vishnu Vishal, who recently launched his production house, surfaces every now and then with a film that piques interest. Following Neerparavai and Drohi (a 2010 Sudha Kongara Prasad directorial), he starred in Mundasuppatti as a photographer who goes to a village on an assignment only to discover that the residents are highly superstitious and mortally scared of the camera. The film, often featuring Kaali Venkat in hilarious moments, was something CV Kumar came to be known for – quirky movies that swam against the tide. Sean Roldan’s music elevated the proceedings, and this song – quite a jaunty one for mourning, woven with some soft, romantic notes is a great sample of Roldan’s music for Mundasuppati.
Jeeva, a 2014 release, received largely positive reviews while Indru Netru Naalai, yet another CV Kumar production, was just as entertaining and innovative as Mundasuppatti:
“It’s probably a first for Tamil cinema – and just like the previous ventures of Thirukumaran Entertainment, rides very little on heroics. No flashy introduction to the leads, no mind-numbing songs, and negligible action. The jokes are straight-faced, borne brilliantly by the screenplay, and there’s a solid theme which is worked out pat to the last detail. It also has an awesome premise, where ‘science’ – loosely defined– and astrology co-exist easily, and are talked and laughed about in the same breath, with some humorous commentary on a society that remains trapped between the two.”
Read review here:
The movies that followed INN, except Maaveran Kittu which tried to tell the story of the oppressed, were quite the disappointment. Kathanayagan, a recent Vishnu Vishal production, tried to make a hero out of him,was all muscle power and flooring a dozen villains at once.
Coming Up: Silukkuvarapatti Singam, Idam Porul Yaeval, Cinderella
Vidharth’s debut may have been a small role in Minnale in 2001, but his long association with Prabhu Solomon, culminated in the 2010 film Mynaa – a haunting romance that had lovely frames. What followed Mynaa were forgettable at best for Vidharth, until Kuttrame Thandanai happened in 2016 with Manikandan at the helm:
“The actor is at his sublime best as Ravichandran, the soft-spoken bill collector with severe tunnel vision. His life is marred by this disability. Regardless, he soldiers on. The film’s storyline has enough twists and thrills to tune out the music, and Vidharth’s transformation from an everyman to a master manipulator is a treat to watch.”
Read review here.
A year later, Kurangu Bommai, the 2017 movie saw Vidharth play the understated lead to perfection, but it’s perhaps Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu – directed by Suresh Sangaiah, a protege of M Manikandan – which is the best of all:
“The way the director establishes the chemistry between Ramamurthy (Vidharth) and Seetha (Raveena Ravi) seems innocuous at first. He has seen no action since their wedding night and when he is expectant, she sits down to unwrap the gifts.”
Read review here.
Coming up: Ula
Sundeep Kishan, who made his debut in 2009 with Prasthanam, could be quite the star in Telugu cinema, but his moment in Kollywood, arrived in the form of the 2017 film Maanagaram. A film that connected disparate incidents that occurred over the course of a night:
“Maanagaram is well within the league of inspired cinema. No songs, no really lovely heroines who become the target of offensive humour, no offensive humour, just a you’d-never-believe-what-just happened tale that has firm targets. Slice-of-life stories all of them, it begins with a young man from a small town getting to know the big bad city.
Read review here.
Coming up: Mayavan, Naragasooran
Kalaiyarasan first made an appearance in the 2010 Mysskin film Nandalala, followed it up with supporting roles in Madras (2014), Urumeen (2015) and Kabali (2016), and finally had a memorable lead role in Adhe Kangal (2017), in which he played a visually-challenged chef. A thriller ably shouldered by Sshivada Nair and Kalaiyarasan, it had some novel ideas:
“Varun is not treated as a hero – a character with disability – rather, he’s a character with a disability that is enabling. When his mother despairs that he’s difficult to live with – in the way that mothers often do – I sit up, interested. This really isn’t how a character with disability is usually treated; they’re revered, doted on, with the background score on a set scale – sad, sympathetic, or a mixture of both.”
Read review here.
Coming up: China, Pattinappakkam, Kala Koothu, Kalavu