Readers Write In #36: Ram and his madness

Posted on March 11, 2018


This article was written by G Waugh.

I know a lot of people who hate Kattradhu Tamizh. I know a lot of people who hate Thanga Meengal. I know a lot of people who hate Kattradhu Tamizh and Thanga Meengal but love Taramani. Why?

Taramani is made by someone who is far more mature than the one who did Katradhu Tamizh and Thanga Meengal. Well,’Mature’ is too usual a word to use. I am trying to substitute something with ‘Mature’. What I can substitute it with? Let me find out.

First of all, let us understand the fact that Ram is not you or me. When he did Kattradhu Tamizh (and around the same time), he gave you interviews bashing Abdul Kalam, globalisation at one end and even the communists at the other end of the spectrum. What would one call someone who criticises Narendra Modi and his antithesis, Sitaram Yechury (for want of a better leader!) as well? Mad. Insane.

In other words, Ram looked like a misanthropist. One who had discovered only that evening that nothing in the world could be relied upon. Like a young IT employee who in his first appraisal gets a 4-rating for none of his fault even after working 55 hours a week. Like an Angadi Theru Lingu who shockingly discovers that behind the glowing facade of the Tall Sneha-adorned Saravana Stores, lurks a dark dungeon of obnoxious shit where he is condemned to live the rest of his life. Again in other words, someone who badly wants to get rid of one life only to land in another unlivable one.

Ram’s realisation must have been deeply disturbing. He was so angry with everything in this world that he allowed himself to wander around the city, hunting couples who make love in the scorching beach-sand. Killing a railway employee who would not give him his change back. Pressing the breasts of a girl who would dare anyone except him to touch her!!

In short, he did whatever he wanted to do through his protagonists in his own world. Wish -fulfilment.

I could see people hating Katradhu Tamizh. Fine.

Thanga Meengal was Ram’s second movie. It was very much a sequel to Katradhu Tamizh. Ram wandered again this time as Kalyani and not as Prabhakar. Ram wanted you to sympathise with a father who would not pay fees for his daughter. He wanted you to sympathise with a loafer who would slug it out with a foreign traveller on the road to take a peek at his laptop.

Again, to sum up, Ram wanted you to sympathise with whatever he did in his anger. His madness. Yes. Ram was mad. He was not dishonest. He believed in what he was saying. He was not a Shankar’s Sivaji who would rate a Tamil-cultured girl above other women but would have no qualms about allowing her to dance semi-nude for an Aambal Aambal number.

Ram was honest. Sincere. But was mad. Appreciating his movies would require some amount of imbibing his madness. To allow yourself to be mad during the film’s running time atleast.

And above all, Ram was a film-maker. No, I did not mean it in the sense of what he was doing for a living. I meant that he knew how to make films. How to make Cinema. He knew how to write scenes. He knew how to stage them. When, as an audience, after paying your 120 rupees at the box-office to enter the cinema hall, if you only allowed yourself to let your scientific-rational-nerves loose for 180 minutes, Ram could offer you a fulfilling drink of his warm, exotic insanity. You could not say that of other film-makers in Tamil. Not even the borderline Bala.

Taramani, after nearly 9 years from his debut, however, is a welcome deviation. But only a minor deviation.

He now respects women who wear short-skirts. He now respects women who frequent pubs. He now respects even women who let loose their ‘morals’ (in Tamil) for momentary returns.

So does it mean, Ram has reformed? To put a more apt question, does it mean he has been cured of his madness?

No. Not at all. He has not been cured even in the remotest sense of the word.

I only told, ‘He now respects women who wear short-skirts’. It does not mean he has become a Gautham Menon. Women who wear short- skirts are still “Women who wear short-skirts” for him. They are not equals to “Women” of his world.

As a result, he cannot stop himself (Prabhunath is Ram in Taramani) from asking questions about this.

He is still uncomfortable with Women who hug other Men in public. Again, it does not mean he will wield a gun to shoot those women like what he did in Katradhu Tamizh. He is uncomfortable and only that. All he needs is an explanation. An explanation would do. He is angry still. He is mad still. But very much at peace with that ‘fact’. Yes he is made peace with his madness.

So that is why people who hated both Katradhu Tamizh and Thanga Meengal like Taramani. Because Ram has recognised that he is mad at last. Because his films have started to become, in some ways, apologies for his incurable madness. He wants people to empathise with his madness. For that bit of empathy from you, he has found out that he no longer needs to hold a gun at your temple. He now knows that a nicely-worded apology letter would do.