What if Viay did not do a kuthu number? What if Surya did not reveal his six packs? What if Vikram did not to physically metamorph himself? Ajith guarantees a blockbuster opening but would he also guarantee a blockbuster? Or do we experiment with new faces, taut screenplays without songs and suspense dramas? Can a movie succeed without a comedy track or a duet set in a pristine European locale? Does commercial cinema featuring top actors succeed over small budget films relying on just plots and scripting? Year after year the same debate rages amidst film buffs, critics and movie makers. Does 2012 give us the answers?
Surya as conjoined twins piqued our curiosity and the technical aspects of filming set our expectations soaring. Yet Maattrraan did not match up to the superlative standards. Meanwhile, Attakathi which neither featured a six pack hero nor a glam doll girl kept our smiles intact until we walked out.
Mugamoodi was touted as Tamil cinema’s first superhero movie. The amazing mask man did nothing to the folks who had lapped up comic book heroes from Hollywood. Yet a simple drama about a housewife’s travails over English taught us how resilience triumphs. The superwoman was one among us and we cheered for her unabashedly in English Vinglish.
Karthi’s intricate political moves in Saguni fared pale in comparison to Balaji’s attempts in succeeding in love in his debut movie Kadhalil Sothapuvathu Yeppadi. An honest attempt at everyday love debacles was rewarded richly than a political drama that left a sour after taste.
Sundarapandian introduced Sasikumar as the mass hero and the movie had all true elements of a commercial film. Poda Podi shot extensively abroad featuring Simbu and Varalakshmi with a superior soundtrack did not work up the magic that the former could even while staying rooted in our villages.
Charulatha featured Priyamani as conjoined twins but the movie was not half as spooky as the story about the “Pizza” delivery boy. Pizza broke box office records and Tamil cinema has finally found its thriller genre.
Billa 2 was Ajith’s biggest opening till date. Yet even his presence could not mask the movie’s weak storyline. Naan E did not feature a big name hero nor was the hero human. The fly triumphed over mortals and proved that for a movie to succeed duets, humor and drama are all secondary.
Thaandavam’s promotions screamed of echolocation. While the movie hardly made use of this technique, Oru Kal oru kannadi had no techniques to boast off. Humor and Santhanam carried the movie all way to the top.
With movies with big heroes bombing and debut directors weaving magic and setting the cash registers ringing, 2012 steered through a clear path. Yet if there is one movie that dispels our mantra about established stars, it is Thupakki. Thuppaki races as the straight shooter where the story does not play second fiddle to the hero’s image. We need an entertainer and one that wouldn’t make tall claims about its genre and then fall flat. We can do without logic but we cannot sit through songs that interrupt the well woven plot. We want to cheer our hero but an intro number is not half as important as an engaging screenplay. A guaranteed blockbuster is a happy marriage between mainstream commercial cinema and an air tight storyline. Hence, proved.
An edited version of this article was published in behindwoods.com.