Imaikkaa Nodigal, Maanaadu, 2.0: Tamil cinema goes back to basics with focus shifting from directors to screenwriters

Raja Sekar

October 31, 2018 18:54:19 IST

If you ask any industry veteran, they would say that Tamil cinema was perfect and witnessed films with strong storylines before the ‘90s. The digital boom improved the technical quality of Tamil cinema as the look and feel reached great standards because of the arrival of several stylish filmmakers but what we forgot is the importance of writers — the heart of any film.

The successful production houses like AVM, Gemini and Vijaya Productions had dedicated group of writers, they used to call the department as ‘Kadhai Ilakka’ (story department) to constantly brainstorm interesting ideas — ones that were further improved by brilliant filmmakers. SP Muthuraman, who worked with Rajinikanth in nearly 25 films and also made many blockbusters with Kamal Haasan, often collaborated with writer Panchu Arunachalam.

Imaikkaa Nodigal poster

Imaikkaa Nodigal poster

“Those days were the golden period of Tamil cinema. Writers like Panchu Arunachalam and Kalaignanam ruled the industry with many interesting stories," says Ajay Gnanamuthu, who recently worked with veteran writer Pattukottai Prabhakar in his blockbuster film Imaikkaa Nodigal.

Panchu Arunachalam is the unsung hero behind some of the blockbuster commercial films including Apoorva Sagodharargal (Appu Raja), Murattu Kalai and Sakalakala Vallavan. Even Tamil cinema’s two most celebrated filmmakers, Mani Ratnam and Shankar, are known for their collaborative efforts with legendary writers including Balakumaran, Sujatha, and Jeyamohan. The reason why Shankar and Mani Ratnam's films remain classics even after several years is because they believed in their writers.

“The problem actually started when producers started giving chances to directors based on their story narration skill. The first thing a producer would ask is for a story and only after that, he will decide whether to give chance to the director or not," says Ajay who believes that some stories demand the input of writers. “For my age and what I experienced so far in my life, it would be impossible to deal with some topics. With the help of writers, we can fine-tune the script; they bring many interesting things to the table with their expertise. As Imaikkaa Nodigal is a thriller film, I chose Pattukottai Prabakar, who is known for his crime novels. Just like how filmmakers are running out of ideas when they wrote their own stories, we should not work with same writers again and again because, after a point of time, the same flavour will be repeated," says Ajay.

Ajay's point is valid because audiences have started finding that filmmakers like Hari, Ponram and others are stuck in their comfort zone as they only make films in their own style which has become stagnant. Even Gautham Menon is often criticised for his trademark coffee shop scenes, his love for locations in the US and denim shirts in his films. Maybe, if Gautham teams up with a writer who has contrasting ideas, audiences will get a different film from the director.

Director Venkat Prabhu says that for his upcoming film Maanaadu, he has plans to join hands with a professional writer. “The core story is mine but the political genre is not my cup of tea so the input of another writer will fulfill the script, he can also bring a new flavour to the film," says the Mankatha director.

2.0 bolsters Superstar Rajinikanth's power with Akshay Kumar's. Images via Twitter

2.0 posters. Images via Twitter

Director Ashwin of Maya fame is teaming up with a writer named Kavya Ramkumar for his upcoming film, Game Over. The filmmaker says that they jointly conceived the idea right from the inception of the script. Director Sarjun has also got the help of Priyanka for Nayanthara’s horror thriller film Airaa.

Irumbuthirai, one of the year's biggest blockbusters, was also jointly written by a set of new generation writers and the trendsetting film Thani Oruvan was penned by writers duo Suresh-Balakrishnan along with the film’s director Mohan Raja.

Mani Ratnam often labeled as a filmmaker who only makes movies for multiplex audiences but he proved everyone wrong with Chekka Chivantha Vaanam which made a mark even in the ‘B’ centers. The film was co-written by Siva Ananth and the story had elements suiting the taste of the mainstream audiences. Lingusamy, who faced a big blow with Anjaan, joined hands with writer SR Ramakrishnan for Sandakozhi 2, which received decent reviews and is considered to be the filmmaker’s comeback. Call it a coincidence or calculative move, all the upcoming Tamil biggies are penned by professional writers. Suriya’s new film with KV Anand has been penned by Pattukottai Prabhakar, Shankar’s 2.0 is jointly written by Jeyamohan who also wrote the dialogues for Vijay’s Sarkar.

Sources say that the producers are ready to pay good remuneration to writers like Jayamohan, Suresh-Balakrishnan, and Pattukottai Prabhakar but if someone has excellent writing skills and prefers to work with professional filmmakers, producers are reluctant to pay them more and in most cases, they don’t give chances to such aspiring writers.

Malayalam and Telugu industries are shining because producers encourage professional writers. For example, the respect Malayalam industry gives for MT Vasudevan Nair is at par with the top actors. Leading Telugu filmmaker Trivikram Srinivas started his career as a story writer and we all know, Vijayendra Prasad is a big asset to his son SS Rajamouli.

The new generation filmmakers and some of the leading directors in Tamil have understood the importance of writers so as of now, we can say that the future looks quite bright for Kollywood.

Updated Date: Oct 31, 2018 18:54 PM