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Passing the Baton

In a recent function organized by Vijay TV, Kamal Haasan was awarded the Chevalier Sivaji Award, something like a life time achievement. Among the audience were the crop of young and not-so-young actors ruling the box-office in the state. Kamal, as usual credited Nagesh, K.Balachandar and Sivaji for pushing his abilities, said that he has no plans of writing a biography, expressed that he felt immensely honoured to receive an award chosen by the general public and then went on to say something very important. Did those young guys with money overflowing from their pockets hear him?

He has been venting out his dissatisfaction at the level of performance among actors in particular and films in general in the past couple of years. Well, he's been doing that for quite some time, but I hear him groan often these days. He once said that as long as his senses are keen and aware, he would some how associate himself with the process of making cinema and expressed his wish to see Tamil cinemas that would make him jealous; that would have him crazy after a role upon seeing a movie - and yearn that he didn't get a chance to play one such and admire the actor and story at the same time. He also indicated that extrapolating the current trend, in his old age, he might just say "namma pannadhayedhan indha pasanga pannittu irukkanunga".

He clarified a point: he's not unhappy when his experiments fail and some lame movie succeeds. Because he didn't complain when his masala movies made money while some quality content were disregarded by the public. But he decried the lack of balance - there's a lot of masala and not much food for thought. When the trophy was handed over to him, Kamal said "It's very important that this statue doesn't remain in my hands for long. The industry should evolve to grab this from my hands as early as possible." He also took it upon himself to groom actors who might be worthy successors to him. Of course, he didn't explicitly praise himself, but he made it obvious that there's not any ground-breaking work going on in the industry.

After Kamal & Maniratnam, I don't see anyone trying to talk intelligence in a movie. Good cinema, as pointed out in a earlier post, is dying in the hands of star power and entertainment value. Earlier in the function, when Vijay received the best actor award he said that he wasn't sure if he was worthy of the honour. There is no room for doubt. The masses elect, just like in politics, a shallow showman. Kamal's speech could also be construed as warning to the mass. If the public doesn't encourage experiments, there is no point in blaming the film makers. But my question to Kamal is how many artistes & technicians have RajKamal Films introduced? When digital movies with newbies can be made at a budget under Rs.10 lakhs and marketed at a relatively low cost (at least in the cities), why hasn't he produced any? What has he done to change the situation other than leaving his films for the upcoming actors?

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5 Responses to “Passing the Baton”

  1. # Blogger Suresh

    He's right, Tamil cinema is really running out of decent actors (forget about 'good'). No, it's not the movies, these actors just cannot act. No matter how good the script is. It will take so many years for them to unlearn the nonsense they have internalized over the years. I think Prasanna is the only decent actor in the "young" lot (Bharath to an extent).  

  2. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Suresh,
    I think your soft corner for Bharath and Prasanna comes from the 'common man' roles they play. In actuality, they too have to mature - but at least, they choose a range of roles that might help them become better.

    Simbu is the worst of the lot. He projects himself as a star - he behaves as if he has the abilities of Kamal and the image of Rajini. What's terrible is some of his movies make money.  

  3. # Blogger Suresh

    Not exactly, Prasad. I mean, I agree with you that they have to mature but they show good potential. Even Dhanush has played some "common man" roles. It's not that. In Prasanna's case it's his dialogue delivery that has been the most admirable. He's one of the very actors who can pronounce Tamil words properly (Bharath has a big minus there). Prasanna, today, is way better than what Kamal (as an adult) was in his 5th movie.

    Prasanna has been very consistent with his expressions. He doesn't try too hard. Bharath, on the other hand, needs a good director and well thought out scenes to make him look reasonable. But, like I said, he has the potential to a decent actor.  

  4. # Anonymous shreeja

    I'm slightly nonchalent when it comes to the cast of tamil movies. What is the point of appreciating an actor's perfomance when the story itself lacks logic??(think Varalaaru and ALL of vijay's recent movies) With a strong storyline leaving adequate room for introspection, any mediocre actor would look fine delivering his role. By this, I don't mean extravagance, glamour, sophistication by way of latest technology, western concepts or the usual perceived grandeur of tamil(or hindi) movies. I'm only asking for one thing - intelligence please. It's pathetic when tamil movies persistently keep me amused for all the wrong reasons.  

  5. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Shreeja,
    Though there's a bit of truth in what you say about an intelligent role resulting in a decent performance, I side with Suresh, who said: "No, it's not the movies, these actors just cannot act". I recently saw a part of 'Kadhal Parisu'. Such a pedestrian story, still made lively because of Kamal. There's a dearth for intelligent screenplay in Hollywood too. There aren't many Charlie Kauffmans. But almost everybody performs, even if it's a pretty ordinary storyline.

    Another aspect of acting is maturing with time. Compare the extraoridanry growth of DiCaprio from his boyish role in 'Titanic' through tremendous performance in 'Blood Diamond' to any actor (Vijay, Ajith, etc) in the same period.  

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