Are Tamil-speaking heroines doomed in Tamil cinema?

Posted on July 19, 2018

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/southern-lights-heroines-tamil-cinema-sayyeshaa-kadaikutty-singam-baradwaj-rangan/

Our filmmakers are artificially creating a demand for “north Indian” heroines by withholding opportunities from local actresses.

My review of Kadaikutty Singam, starring Karthi and Sayyeshaa, got a fair bit of social-media flak, so I thought I’d have an imaginary conversation… No wait! Been there, subjected you to that. Anyway, this is the line that people took objection to: “For a film that extols the produce of local soil, why transplant a heroine from Mumbai? Why relegate the Mayiladuthurai-born Priya Bhavani Shankar to a secondary role? (She was a news anchor on Puthiya Thalaimurai, so she also knows the language.)”

One reason for this statement was the galling hypocrisy in the film: Given its (glancing) focus on farming, if the hero is a “son of the soil,” why not go for a heroine who is a daughter of the same soil? But what bothered me even more was this statement by Sayyeshaa in an interview to Film Companion: “[Kadaikutty Singam] was a new and painstaking experience, as every day I had to put on makeup about four shades darker than my original skin colour. I also had to spray my hair black as I have naturally brown hair. It has taken a lot of effort to look the part.”

The usual logic for using a maidamaavu-colour heroine (thanks, CS Amudhan and Tamizh Padam 2, for the coinage) is that they fit the urban, loosu-ponnu prototype to the T. They don’t know the language, so their lip sync is weirdly off (though Sayyeshaa, to her credit, seems to have worked on this aspect in this film), and their parts are so outlandishly written that they look “bubbly” (see definition below) in a way our home-grown heroines can never be. (“bubbly”: adjective: effervescent; enthusiastic; reminiscent of a Hansika character opening her eyes wide, clapping her hands, and jumping up and down after a raindrop falls on her nose…)

Continued at the link above.

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