Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, Vada Chennai, 96… and assorted thoughts

Posted on October 19, 2018

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/chekka-chivantha-vaanam-vada-chennai-96-baradwaj-rangan

A mini-flashback of what’s been a remarkable few weeks for Tamil cinema, and the issues they bring up.

The responses for my review of Chekka Chivantha Vaanam were interesting, to say the least. My reaction to the film was that of bewilderment, but so many people jumped to its defence and began to argue about it the way I argued about Kaatru Veliyidai. A reader from my blog even made a meme to this effect (see below). And in a Film Companion interview, Santosh Sivan wondered aloud about my star rating. But here’s the important thing: 35 years after Mani Ratnam made his first film, we are still talking about him. He still makes us love him, hate him. He makes us want to respond to his work – even if it is a negative response. In my case, given my profession, it’s my job to respond to his work – but I am talking about the general public, who want to weigh in either way (love/hate), the way they don’t feel compelled to do with many filmmakers who came after Mani Ratnam.

This, to me, is real success, where the individual films don’t matter as much as the body of work, what this oeuvre stands for. The worst reaction to a filmmaker is indifference – and to steer clear of it for three-and-a-half decades is something else. So many people in the industry (trackers, producers, actors, directors) have told me how happy they are that Chekka Chivantha Vaanam is a big hit, regardless of what they felt about the film itself. Because here’s a man who works in the mainstream, who keeps making very personal films, which big stars are still drawn to… It’s a rare thing, and I guess it’s reassuring for the industry folks who want to do something personal that still reaches the public in a broad way. A big-name director marvelled at the money Chekka Chivantha Vaanam has made in a particular circuit, and he wondered if the way forward is to produce his own films, the way Mani Ratnam does (under the Madras Talkies banner).

Continued at the link above.

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