Revisiting Ramarajan's 1990 film Paattukku Naan Adimai: Of village heroes and small-town favourites
Paattukku Naan Adimai was released in 1990 and stars Khushboo, Rekha and Disco Shanthi, which means there will be an item number. Which is awesome. Which is also probably problematic to say.
Allegedly Problematic' is a monthly column by Kuzhali Manickavel, which takes a cheeky look at literary/cultural offerings from the past that would now be considered, well, problematic — and asks, 'But are they really?'.
Read more from the series here.
Hello friends! Again we are back, writing about various things that no one really cares about, because why not! In the last couple of columns, I wrote about some Tamil movies of my youth. Can’t whine about English things all the time, no? Anyway, today I continue that trend by writing about a movie which featured one of our small-town favourites of that time — Ramarajan.
Once upon a time, the movie Enga Ooru Pattukaran was a huge hit in our town. The songs were bop. The comedy scenes were funny. I mean, we laughed at them. Ramarajan was what we considered a “village” hero. And we liked village heroes. They didn’t navigate big cities, they didn’t speak English, they wore veshtis and they had moustaches. We could relate. We believed it was possible to find men just like them among our local bros. And that was a possibility everyone liked.
Because of this and because we are a rather accommodating people, a slew of Ramarajan movies rolled in and out of our town. They were all basically called Enga Ooru Something or Other, had Ilaiyaraaja music and white-white heroines like Rekha or Gauthami. They followed a nice formula which was simple, problematic and timepass. Being a woman who writes in English on the internet (aren’t they just the worst?), it behooves me to wonder about the ‘problematic’ part of that formula.
I don’t really want to, because part of me is like like ugh whatever feminists, like you really needed to ruin Ramarajan movies for all of us. And another part of me is like, ya it’s going to be problematic. I better write a column about this.
To be honest, I always felt like the “village” movies with the “village” heroes tended to be problematic in a laid back, I-will-sing-to-my-cows-instead-of-stalking-women kind of way, while the “urban” hero seemed to be problematic in a more psychotic way. The village dudes were usually chill, “innocent” fellows. The “urban” dudes were going to slit your throat because they loved you.
Or something. Of course, this could all be because in the “village” movies, dudes usually didn’t have to deal with English-speaking, pant-wearing ladies. They may come to take pictures and extol the virtues of the village life, but they generally didn’t wreak havoc like they did in other movies.
Because these ladies are the worst. I mean, they speak English, they wear pants. It’s the worst. And dealing with them generally takes up a lot of movie time. You have to molest them on different kinds of transport, you have to terrorise them. These things take time, bro. Our village dude generally just slaps a girl or says something gross and that’s it — we can collectively heave a sigh of relief that the problematicness is over and enjoy the rest of the movie.
So there IS going to be problematicness (thank god) in this movie. I guess it might not be…that bad? Is it problematic to say that? It totally is. Anyway, the Ramarajan movie I am going to watch now is called Paattukku Naan Adimai (I Am a Slave to Song). Which is a great title because everyone can be a slave to songs. Unlike a title like Adimai Penn (Slave Woman), which leaves all the dudes out. I chose this movie because I haven’t seen it and because the title isn’t Enga Ooru Whatever.
Paattukku Naan Adimai was released in 1990 and stars Khushboo, Rekha and Disco Shanthi, which means there will be an item number. Which is awesome. Which is also probably problematic to say I DON’T KNOW YOU GUYS!!!!
Anyway, in our next toasty column, we will assess the movie Paattukku Naan Adimai and answer the burning question — oh my God this is so problematic, should we tell someone??? Stay
Kuzhali Manickavel is the author of the short story collections 'Insects Are Just like You and Me except Some of Them Have Wings' and 'Things We Found During the Autopsy', both available from Blaft Publications