Wednesday, June 12, 2013


This is unprecedented.

These Hindi movies copy plot-points, at times even frame-to-frame sequences from foreign films and even fail to acknowledge the source. When someone points out the similarities, they’d simply say, they not copies; they were inspired by the original.

In this context, here is a film and here is a filmmaker, who puts boldly his inspirations on the front of the end credit of his film. Not that his film was inspired by the films mentioned, or by the two books he mentions in the end credit, but it is heartening to see a filmmaker acknowledging the works of other filmmakers, and if Michel Haneke is in the list, you know, it’s something special.

The filmmaker in question is Vetrimaran and the film is the Tamil film ‘Aadukalam’ for which Dhanush won the national award for Best Actor.

As the film ends (which is a riveting watch by the way), we see a list of seven films under the title ‘Filmography’ and two books under the heading ‘Bibliography’. It beats me why these lists are here. But the content of the list is impressive. It contains Haneke’s ‘Cache’, also known as ‘Hidden’ in the English-speaking world. It is considered to be the Austrian director’s most inscrutable work, and considering it’s Haneke, it’s saying a lot.

The list also contains three films by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu — ‘Amores perros’ (2000) and ‘Babel’ (2006) and the short film ‘Powder Keg’ (2001) (part of the "The Hire" series for BMW) . Someone told me a long time back that Indian filmmakers have a special love for Iñárritu’s fractured narratives and almost-pessimistic worldview. I did not know there was this much love.

There’s also three Tamil films — ‘Devar Magan’, ‘Virumaandi’, and ‘Paruthi Veeran’. Now, ‘Paruthi Veeran’ is a film I really, really love. It’s a film that makes it’s hero a villain and keeps him a villain for the length of the film and yet let us root for him. And, it’s so much fun!

I did not see any apparent ‘inspiration’ of these films with Aadukalam, which tells the story of illegal rooster fights and its fighters in Madurai, and what happens to the unsuspecting protagonist who is one of the fighters.

Like Paruthi Veeran, Aadukalam is also set in Madurai.

Like in Iñárritu movies, Aadukalam begins with various scrambled scenes in the future till it finds the track for a linear narrative in the present.

Other than that, I found Aadukalam to be an extraordinary work of art.

Among the books mentioned, I agree with Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’, it’s a great work. The same I cannot say about the other book mentioned, Gregory David Robert’s ‘Shantaram’.

Aadukalam (English: Arena) is a 2011 Indian Tamil drama film written and directed by Vetrimaran. The film stars Dhanush, Taapsee Pannu, V. I. S. Jayabalan, and Kishore. The film was released on 14 January 2011 to highly positive reviews. The film won six awards at the 58th National Film Awards, including the awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. It was also felicitated with 5 awards in 59th Filmfare Awards South which includes Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Music Director and Best Cinematography.

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