Friday, 31 August 2018

Imaikka Nodigal: Keep your eyes wide open

Nayanthara is expanding her star value movie after movie by donning roles that were, for long, essayed only by men. After a bold district collector ('Aramm') and a drug peddler ('Kolamaavu Kokila'), now her avatar in 'Imaikka Nodigal' is that of a CBI personnel investigating a serial murder case.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

மேற்குத் தொடர்ச்சி மலை - கல்லெறிந்து விரட்டப்பட்ட யானை

புவியியல் அமைப்புகளைச் சார்ந்த வாழ்வியலையும் மனிதர்களையும் விவரிக்கும் படங்கள் என்றோ ஒருநாள் பூக்கும் குறிஞ்சி மலரைப் போன்று தான் தமிழில் வெளிவருகின்றன. சீனு ராமசாமியின் 'தென்மேற்குப் பருவக்காற்று', ம. செந்தமிழனின் 'பாலை' என அக்குறிஞ்சி மலர்களை விரல்கள் கொண்டு எண்ணிவிடலாம்.

முல்லை நிலத்து இடையர் குல மக்களின் அன்றாடத்தை, களவை, காதலை, தாய்மையை இக்காலத்தின் கதைக்களத்தில் தென்மேற்குப் பருவக்காற்று ஓரளவுக்கு அப்படியே படம் பிடித்துக்காட்டியிருக்கும். மறுமுனையில் பாலை, சில ஆயிரமாண்டுகளுக்கு முன் இருந்த தமிழர் வாழ்வியலை இலக்கிய, அகழ்வாய்வுச் சான்றுகள் கொண்டு மருதம் எப்படி பாலையாக மாறுகிறது என்ற சூழலியல் மற்றும் மாந்தரியல் செய்திகளைப் பதிவு செய்திருக்கும். அதன் உட்பொருளில் ஈழத்தமிழர் வாழ்வுரிமையையும் பற்றி பாலை விவரித்திருக்கும்.

இப்படி நிலம் சார்ந்த படங்களின் வரிசையில் பூத்த ஒரு குறிஞ்சி மலர் தான் லெனின் பாரதியின் 'மேற்குத் தொடர்ச்சி மலை'. இம்முறை குறிஞ்சி நிலத்திலேயே பூத்துள்ளது.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Merku Thodarchi Malai: More than just a movie

An outsider like Logu for whom Thevaaram hamlet was ready to offer a livelihood and make him a successful entrepreneur, ironically employs Rangasamy who is a local. And what connects their lives is this gigantic Western Ghats, the living fount of innumerable resources from, rains and cardamom to wind and electricity. Filmmaker Lenin Bharathi's Merku Thodarchi Malai is a documentation of such contradictions bound in the ecosystem of the mountain range.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Echcharikkai - Idhu Manidhargal Nadamaadum Idam: Just another kidnap rigmarole

There is a scene in the pre-climax of Echcharikkai - Idhu Manidhargal Nadamaadum Idam (EIMNI), where one of the antagonists, Thomas(Vivek Rajagopal) mocks at former DIG Natraj(Sathyaraj) as he seems to be a 'retired case', for which he replies like what to do, I am being called again and again for the duty. Not just this scene, but every other scene we see this 'retired' hero making a good show off and save the kidnap saga.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Chennai isn't old but, ancient - Do we really need a Madras Day?

For a city which has more than 2,000 years of recorded history and more than 4,000 years of literary evidence, celebrating the 379th birthday is simply absurd.

On this day, when a 'certain section' of the population of the city goes on celebration mode for the foundation day of modern Chennai,  I want to throw light on the historical values of this city that is several millennia old. I just discussed with one of the greatest historians of our time, who has to be celebrated, Orissa Balasubramani.


“You know what? As many as 42 temples in the city, including Mangaadu temple, Vadapalani Aandavar temple, Parthasarathy temple are all more than 1,000 years old. There are a lot of Saivite and other Tamil religious sites in the city that were constructed in the eighth century or before,” says marine historian Orissa Balu. Having visited a lot of harbours across South East Asia, Balu said the trade history of Chennai is several thousand years old.

There is also a claim by historians like Professor Nedunchezhiyan that most of Vaishanvite temples were actually invaded ones. These temples actually belonged to the Aaseevagam religion.

“There was a fishing and commercial port along the present Mylapore coast 2,000 years ago. Where there is a harbour, the influence of foreigners, too, would be high. That is why the area is still a mix of people from various descents. After the Aryan invasion, the Brahminical population saw a rise in the area,” claimed Balu.

He also quotes words like ‘bemaani’, ‘somaari’, ‘kasmaalam’, having origins from foreign and other Indian languages.

“All these words that are considered as current-day native Chennai words came to existence just because of the diverse ethnicity of the city,” he added.

However, Balu is not just stopping with the marine history of the city but also modern history.

“There is a claim that the word Chennapattinam was derived from the name of King Chennappa Nayakkar. But, the city got its name because of the Chenni / Chenna tree-filled forests along its coast. The Britishers bought around a 3-mile radius of this forest land and set up a harbour and later the Fort St George. And, this day is considered as the foundation day of the city,” Balu said and added that the population of the city was at least three to five lakh even before the British bought the land.

For his claim on Chennai's name, marine historian Orissa Balu pointed to various other towns and villages in the region that are named after trees: “Be it Mangaadu, Panaiyur, Puliyanthoppu, and Nellikuppam, all got their name from the trees that were grown there.”

On the literary side, Chennai is even older. As far as I know, the city was a part of Aruvaanaadu, Thondainaadu and Kurumbanaadu during various periods of time. Predominantly Cholas were ruling the city and its present suburbs.

When Pallavas, who initially worked as commanders and captains in Chola army and navy, were given the area, they made Kanchipuram their capital and started to rule it independently.

Wherever Cholas ruled, they have had a Cholapuram. Apart from the banks of the Cauvery, if you see in Kanyakumari district, there is Cholapuram. Even on Chennai's outskirts, we have a Cholavaram - a popular locality for its air-strip.

I have even heard it from my dad that some early pieces of Sangam literature, Lord Muruga, who is depicted as the leader of war, is seen cruising on an elephant and not a peacock. Since Tamils had elephants as one of the significant war animals and clans, Murugan has used to. Analysing beyond religion, we end up with a fact that Murugan isn't a God but a clan leader.

“Many Murugan temples in the State have evidence of elephants used by fleets led by Murugan. And, one such temple is Vadapalani Aandavar temple. This is more than enough to say this area is as old as the pre-Sangam age,” says my dad.

In my personal opinion, the present-day celebration of Modern Chennai does not even do justice to the very ancient city - it's like cheering up for a drop of water, standing in the middle of an ocean. It is the 4,000-year tradition of Chennai that has to be celebrated - not a mere 3-century-old foundation day.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, August 22, 2018.

A part or complete version of this article by Santhosh Mathevan has appeared in newstodaynet.com.

Monday, 20 August 2018

The Eiffel Bridge of Trichy is no more

I just came across the news that two piers of the 800-meter long bridge across Kollidam river in Tiruchy have broken due to the force of the flood in the river. This bridge was one of the historically significant structures in peninsular India. I did a feature story on that for the City Express in 2015 when I was with The New Indian Express. Rightly three years after that, the bridge is now gone. It was the first feature I wrote as a journalist, so my language too would be primitive -  apologies. Here is an excerpt from that.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Marainthirunthu Paarkum Marmam Enna: It starts and ends with a kerchief

From the very beginning, all I saw was a 2016 flick Metro's look-alike crime drama, when watching Marainthirunthu Paarkum Marmam Enna(MPME). Leaving the similarities apart, this Rahesh directorial has a lot more eye-openers with some brutal and spine-chilling events. Yet, they declare it after the statutory warning that the movie isn't more vicious than the chain snatchings in reality.

Kolamaavu Kokila: Isn't dad's li'l princess but, her family's queen

One thing that I loved about Kolamaavu Kokila(CoCo) is how it breaks the cliches of cinema. This genuine attempt of filmmaker Nelson has finally served a thumping meal for the hunger of movie buffs who were expecting an unconventional flick. One cannot simply review CoCo in a single blog post. It demands a bigger forum to discuss and I am open for that. Here, I present whatever that struck my mind about the movie that made me laugh for hours even after leaving the cinema hall.

Odu Raja Odu: Different people run in different ways

Can a set-top box and a puff of weed push one to a convoluted plight? Says yes, the director duo Nishant-Jathin in their debut flick ‘Odu Raja Odu’.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Tamil Nadu Lacks Management of Surplus Water in Cauvery

It is paradoxical that we toggle between the demand for Cauvery water in Tamilnadu from Karnataka, and then let most of it go waste. With at least 2 lakh cusecs of water being let into the Bay of Bengal every day, through the Cauvery or its tributary Kollidam, the State's water management system draws serious criticism.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

And, we're at forty years of Mullum Malarum!

From an open jeep cruising through the hairpin bends of a remote hill station originates this humming by KJ Yesudas. Surprisingly, four decades have gone, and still today, this aalap of Senthaazham Poovil, along with the picturisation and the presentation intimidates goosebumps for movie buffs.

On this day, which marks forty years of the blockbuster 'Mullum Malarum'(15 August 1978), I am just revisiting on what has made this Rajini-Mahendran combo flick evergreen and refreshing even after two scores of years.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Pyaar Prema Kaadhal: Love (Kalyanam) Panlaamaa Venamaa

The moment their ideas about life get exchanged between the lead pair, filmmaker Elan leaves it to the audience for making a decision about their lives. His Pyaar Prema Kaadhal is all about this - how relationships have to be handled between family and ambition.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

M Karunanidhi: One among earliest zealots of Tamil cinema

For decades, till the late 1940s, the language used in Tamil cinema was elitist with a high influence of Sanskrit. It was the literary dialect called 'Manipavala Nadai' that dominated the dialogue blocks of the celluloid. Since the makers of cinema were from the creamy layer, the films they made were also highbrow. It was then that cinema witnessed the arrival of creators who wanted the art to be understood even by laymen.

The era that was kickstarted by Kalaivanar N S Krishnan with comedy in simple language and impact society. And, in the same era, Tamil film industry saw one of the most influential writers of all time, M Karunanidhi.

Monday, 6 August 2018

சென்னைக்கு மிக அருகில்... செங்கல்பட்டில்

குற்றங்களற்ற ஊரில் காவலர்களின் துணை தேவைப்படாது என்ற காரணத்துக்காகவே இங்கு மூடப்பட்ட காவல் நிலையங்கள் பல உள்ளன. அமைதியான சூழல், மகிழ்ச்சியான மக்கள் என நிரம்பியிருக்கும் தமிழ்நாட்டின் பல சிற்றூர்கள் காவல் நிலையங்களே இல்லாமலிருக்கின்றன. இது கொஞ்சம் விசித்திரமான சட்டம்தான். ஆனால், தருக்க அடிப்படையில் பார்க்கும்போது குற்றமில்லாத இடத்தில் காவல் நிலையம் தேவையில்லை என்பதே உறுதியாகிறது.