Thursday, 20 July 2017

Is there anyone to inform dead artistes? Vasanthabalan

It was a Super Thursday for filmmaker Vasanthabalan last week, as his movies bagged a total of 12 awards announced by the Tamil Nadu government for films from 2009 to 2014. He won the best director award of 2009 for his movie Angadi Theru. His leading lady in Angadi Theru, Anjali, picked up the best actress award for 2009. What was even more pleasing was that Kaaviya Thalaivan, directed by Vasanthabalan, has picked up 10 awards in various categories.

Despite this, Vasanthabalan has a serious unanswerable question too, which he shot at me when I had an interaction with this coming of the age filmmaker. Here are some excerpts from that.

Vasanthabalan in Kaaviyathalaivan set - Source:
"Every year, when the announcement of the State film awards gets delayed, I would be disappointed, as one of the recognitions for a good artiste is missing every time," he told once I congratulated for the fete. "But, now I am happy that the State government has finally announced the awards for all the six years and two of my films, Angadi Theru and Kaaviya Thalaivan, have bagged a number of awards. This is recognition," said Vasanthabalan.

The director, who began his career with the movie Album, got his first break and international recognition through his second movie Veyil, which was the first Tamil moive to be screened at Cannes Film Festival, France.

Following this, Vasanthabalan came up with Angadi Theru, that dealt with the struggles of salesmen and saleswomen at commercial establishments in T Nagar. The film has bagged two State awards of which one is for Vasanthabalan for best director and an award for the female lead, Anjali, under best actress (special prize) category.

A still from Angadi Theru - Source: Chennai 365

But, what makes Vasanthabalan more happy is the list of awards announced for his epic movie on Tamil stage play troupes, Kaaviya Thalaivan, starring Siddharth and Prithivraj Sukumaran, which as bagged 10 awards. For Vasanthabalan, this will be the 45th award for all his movies put together.

"I researched on the lifestyle and history of stage play troupes of pre-independent era for almost four-and-a-half years. It was a classic film for me. Though the film was not received well by the audience, this award seems to be a greater recognition for Kaaviya Thalaivan," he said, and further added that the film was not sent to the jury of the National Film Awards by the producer. 

"Due to this, it missed a national-level recognition. But now through our art director Santhanam, who helped us apply for the award, we have got this honour. I believe these 10 awards announced by the State government will at least attract people to watch Kaaviya Thalaivan now. I feel like the movie has received delayed recognition," he added.

A still from Kaaviya Thalaivan - Source: Internet
When asked about the delay in the announcement of awards, Vasanthabalan said, "These delays will not only disappoint artistes but also would discourage them. Also, legendary film personalities like Balamuralikrishna, Na Muthukumar and T E Kishore have now been announced awards posthumously. They do not even know that their works have received such huge appreciation and recognition." Vasanthabalan paused for a while and asked me, "Who will inform them now that their works have finally been recognised?"

So, the director has come up with some demands. "The State government should regularise the announcement in a systematic manner. The awards should be announced before or in the same time as national awards. Likewise, struggling technicians who receive awards should be given some more welfare-related recognition along with these awards. They can be given houses like it is being conferred on successful sports-persons," Vasanthabalan said.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, July 20, 2017.

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