Thursday, 8 November 2018

Cinematic liberty vs responsibility: Where our political dramas fail

They use this escape term ‘cinematic liberty’, to stop all criticism. But these commercial-political filmmakers miss the point of ‘cinematic responsibility’ and fail to visualise the impact their propaganda makes after their movies hit the screen.

When it is a complete entertaining run-time of an action thriller, a family drama or a fantasy flick, people usually do not look for in-depth logic in the narrative. But, when it comes to a political film, it really needs to be sensible as it may backfire. That is because cinema has always been an influential medium.

In 1999, when Shankar’s Mudhalvan was released, it triggered a thought in people to expect a young and graduate Chief Minister. But, the movie did not stop there. It had some constitutionally impossible sequences in its screenplay, like addressing the unemployment issue of lakhs of youth in a couple of hours, Chief Minister taking down local goondas in an action block, and more. Though the movie, in its time was groundbreaking, it was preposterous as well.

However, the idea of youth politics was taken forward seriously by Mani Ratnam, who, in his hyperlink – political drama Ayitha Ezhuthu (2004) tried to ignite young minds to hop into election candidature. This time, the problem was having a diluted backstory and nativity.

Since Ayitha Ezhuthu was made in Hindi simultaneously as Yuva, the movie had to generalise the entire demography of north and south. Due to the overlapping of people’s identities, the movie failed to carry an essence of nativity.

Later, in 2011, it was K V Anand’s Ko, starring Jiiva and Ajmal, that was finally a sensible and logical flick that detailed the true colours of electoral politics and what it takes for youth to shine in it. Only because of the undercover support of Ashwin (Jiiva), a photojournalist, Vasanthan Perumal (Ajmal) could succeed in the elections. So, it was Ko, that could be sensible and commercial at the same time compared to its predecessors.

Unfortunately, the movie’s sequel, Ko-2, in 2016, could not meet the expectations as it again fell into the ‘cinematic liberty’ zone. All of sudden, from nowhere, hero Bobby Simha kidnaps the Chief Minister and the police force waits until he narrates the flashback, without taking any action against him.

This year, Tamil cinema witnessed a handful of political films. In the last two months, two movies were released with leading stars from the south. The first one is Vijay Deverakonda’s NOTA, which was a compilation of the last three years of Tamilnadu politics.

The movie referred to incidents like MLAs stay at Koovathur resort, decision-making of the government during the 2015 Chennai floods, handling the no-confidence motion and hospitalisation of a Chief Minister. Though they were sequential, the movie lacked a crux and remained just to be a serious spoof of the State’s politics. Also, the movie still was surrealistic from end to end.

The latest is Vijay-Muragdoss duo’s Sarkar. The actor-director combo, known for their socially sensational flicks like Thuppakki and Kaththi missed this time to create that sensation. Say, in a scene in Sarkar, the Governor of Tamilnadu receives a call in the middle of a swearing-in ceremony of the State Chief Minister to call off the event. What’s more absurd was that the call would be from the Chief Justice of Madras High Court himself. The Governor announces the rescheduled dates of Assembly elections right at that spot.

Though Sarkar touched upon some rights people were less aware of, like Sec 49-P, the movie lacked basic political logic. Also, there are scenes mocking at the freebies schemes of the State government, that have drawn serious criticism.

It is an irony that political satire flicks like Amaidhi Padai, Joker and Annanukku Jey, supposed to take a dig at politics, have always been more sensible than these serious flicks. It is time for writers and filmmakers in Kollywood to revisit their script-making and do ample research about the constitutional possibilities and be more cinematically responsible.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, November 8, 2018.

A part or complete version of this article by Santhosh Mathevan has appeared in This note is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.