Drastic changes in the Transformation of Tamil movies in three decades

Tamil movies are famous all over the country and even those who do not understand the language see those. The trendsetters in some themes have been Tamil movies. However, the transformation of Tamil movies has been on certain lines. This article is an attempt to discuss these trends in transformation.


Some three decades or even four decades ago, the then two Superstars of Tamil movies were called Sivaji Ganesan and the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, whose name was M.G. Ramachandran. These two superstars acted in movies that had superb story lines. The stories and the dialogues were gripping. However, MGR never had big acting prowess when compared to Sivaji Ganesan who acted in superb movies that captured the entire range of human emotions. Today, they have been replaced by two Superstars, Rajnikant and Kamal Hassan. The latter is a shade of Sivaji Ganesan, while Rajnikant adapted himself to the same model of MGR.

Apart from these two aging Superstars, whose screen presence these days is rather limited, the other two Superstars in the 40-plus age group, Vijay and Ajith, are both in the same league and act in similar movies. These movies are clearly different from those of the two sets of former Superstars.

Let us understand the following trends are characteristic of the big transformation of Tamil movies, namely, a) Director-based movies b) New trends in songs and music c) Theme-based movies d) Movies that talk about social justice and e) Movies that do not conform to any format.

Director-based movies

During the heydays of MGR and Sivaji, the directors were present, but they were not brands. The two Superstars dominated every aspect of the movies. For instance, there was this fabulous movie called "Baabu", which showcased the affection of a rickshaw puller towards a family, under a given set of circumstances. Sivaji Ganesan made the audience cry every minute. This was released during the late sixties. Today, such movies are becoming very rare.

The two Superstars, Rajnikant and Kamal Hassan did give some importance to branded directors. For example, Kamal Hassan acted in a superb movie called "Sigappu Rojokkal", which was based on very unfortunate and shocking experiences with a series of women during his young age. He grows into a violent man, who would befriend women and then murder them, after having a brief affair with them.

He goes on to marry the late Sridevi, one of the most influential movie stars of Indian cinema and Tamil movies in particular. Sridevi escapes from an attempt to murder her and the police catch up with Kamal Hassan. This movie was directed by the ace director Bharathi Raaja. Two other directors, Balachandar and the most famous Mani Ratnam, who directed the superb film called Bombay, came into the limelight.

Alongside this development, other directors who have made a massive impact in recent times are Ranjith, Murugadoss, and Lokesh Kanagaraj. These directors are well known for their masala movies, particularly with Superstars like Rajnikant, Kamal Hassan, and Vijay. However, a fabulous breed of highly innovative directors like Samudrakani and Vetrimaran has come up as well. The latter gave the memorable story of two innocent slum children, who longed to eat a pizza. He was able to capture the subtle emotions and feelings and the actual environment of slums in his movie "Kaakka Muttai"(the egg of a crow) and which won a national award in that particular year.

New trends in songs and music

Sivaji Ganesan had movies with highly meaningful songs, the lyrics of which were written by the very famous late expert, Kannadasan. The same expert worked alongside MGR and produced songs like "Unnai Arindhal, nee Unnai Arindal"(if you understand yourself, you can win). He was able to promote positivity in society and he was a teetotaller in his real life as well. The songs had meaning and were melodious.

Today, all such songs are history. The influence of Western music and loud backgrounds, with at least sixty dancers dancing alongside the hero, is so common. The songs do not register at all. The young crowd, however, enjoys it to the maximum extent.

Yet, nothing is lost, even now. The super duper hit called "Annathe", which showcased Rajnikant chasing a gang of bad boys in Kolkatta to save his dear sister had the highly melodious "en uyirae, en uyirae", that had some meaningful and was a mixture of the old and the new. This particular song has been a smash hit. It is high time that directors understand that melody will still work in today's times. Perhaps the impatience of the younger generation is reflected in the loud songs and this makes them dance to the tunes, literally.

Theme-based movies

How about a movie that talks about the unconditional and pure love of a father towards his son and the latter does a big mistake, but makes up for it and reciprocates it in life? On to the famous director called Cheran, who showcased all this true love in "Thavamai thavamirunthu". This literally translates into a situation where one goes on praying so hard to get a son who would really care for him in his old age. Samudrakani made a fabulous movie called "Sattai", that talked about how an honest teacher can still survive in a complex world if only he had good leadership qualities. This is a new trend and a real-life incident of caste-based oppression were brilliantly showcased by Director Gnanavel, and the movie had Surya as the hero. A very young man belonging to a most backward community dies in police custody, on a false case. The young lawyer, Surya fights the case in court and takes on the bad boys and the System. This movie, called "Jai Bhim", is one of the most powerful Tamil movies of recent times. It has already won several awards, including the national award.

Movies that talk about social justice

Jai Bhim talked about social justice and caste-based oppression. So did "padiyerum perumal", the story of a backward-class boy who falls in love with an upper-caste girl. Such movies are now becoming so common. They have already created ripples in society. In huge metros and big cities like Chennai and Bangalore and Coimbatore, caste barriers between various communities of Tamils have already broken down. Inter-caste marriages are already very common. Movies of this generation talk about breaking such barriers. It should be noted that these movies are very well-received and reviewed. The social changes may not happen immediately, but modern technology and rational thinking, combined with a huge highly educated middle class of Tamil Nadu, can still make the social changes in terms of breaking caste barriers work in a big way. We are already seeing some welcome developments in this regard.

Movies that do not conform to any format

Movies made by other not-so-famous directors or new directors do not follow any big format. These Tamil movies are the usual masala movies. They have songs that no one can remember, they have a pronounced local feel, and some acting that relates to everyday life. The big actor who fills this unmet need is Dhanush. His movies follow the masala format. He never looks like a hero but has carefully cultivated the "boy next door" image. Though he is no younger, two decades of hard work have taken him to where he is. Another hero in the same slot is Jayam Ravi. He did act in the highly entertaining "Thani oruvan" but has acted in other masala movies that did not make it very big at the box office. The new hero called Vijay Sethupathi shows promise, but he is another Dhanush in the making. The masala movies like the recently released Varisuhad a slightly different theme, but within a pronounced general format for masala movies, without strictly going into any theme or anything ambitious in terms of a compelling storyline. Yet, it had the Superstar called Vijay in it.

We still have a long way to go before Kamal Hassan is ever replaced. His acting talent was showcased in the superb "Nayagan", the story of a Mumbai-based Tamil gangster. This film, a direct copy of the English movie "The Gangster", however, had superb acting by Kamal Hassan and a storyline that was so gripping. There has been no movie of the same class for decades now, irrespective of format. Yet, the welcome changes in Tamil movies in terms of meaningful movies do promise a bright future.


Certain clear trends in Tamil movies have been discussed above. There is still a vast scope for improvement and none does hope that this improvement will still happen. Directors like Mani Rathnam do hold a big hope and have a big role to play in this regard.


Author: Umesh Chandra Bhatt03 Mar 2023 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

Regional cinema in India had gone through various ups and downs but their has been a phenomenal growth in the recent times. It has happened in most of the regional cinema including Tamil movies.
When we talk of Tamil movies these are well known for their good story line, twists and turns sometimes associated with action and drama. That is the reason why they have got a good number of viewers. Many good Tamil movies are dubbed in other languages and have got good applaud from the cinema watchers.
There are many Tamil movies which were remade in other languages in India. Some of them were superhit in the respective territory.
For example movies remade from Tamil in Hindi like Aadmi, Andaaz, Bhai-Bhai, Devta, Do Kaliyan, Kala Bazar, Raja Babu, and many others were very popular.po

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