Inside / Outside

Posted on November 9, 2017


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It’s fascinating how an outsider watches a different film than one familiar with a culture.

One phrase was used a lot in the reviews for the Tamil horror film, Aval, released last week. (Its Telugu version, Gruham, is expected soon.) While acknowledging its world-class technique (sound design, and so forth), there was a constant refrain of “for a Tamil film…” or “for the first time in Tamil cinema…” In this particular case, it was to point out how the film stood out from the way horror is typically handled in Tamil cinema, with a schlocky comedy track almost as loud as the jump-scare sound effects. Aval, on the other hand, was promoted as a “pure” horror film, which is what brought about those phrases in the reviews.

Is that enough? I am not talking about Aval, but about films in general. When I saw the Telugu romantic comedy, Pelli Choopulu, I found it sweet and pleasant (I’m a sucker for the genre), but hardly the earth-shattering rebirth of cinema I was led to expect. In fact, a few minutes in, I had to recalibrate my expectations to “is this film doing a good job of being a rom-com?”, as opposed to “is this film breaking all rules and giving me an experience I have never had before?”. Those initial expectations came from reviews and social media, where I kept hearing “for a Telugu film…” and “for the first time in Telugu cinema…”

Continued at the link above.

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