My Favorite Tamil films

I was deep in sleep, dog tired after a hard day’s work and the power had just been restored (after the daily scheduled power cut), so I was off to noddy land to freshen up a bit before evening duty and my mom was shaking me awake “your favorite movie is no Raj TV….” I slowly came awake and murmured “how far is the movie gone?” she said “it’s just got to the interesting part” and I woke up completely to head to the TV in the hall. The movie playing on the screen was Vedala Ulagam. And the hero had just about reached the Vedala Ulagam after singing a dozen songs along the way and the story was about to get interesting.
So started the idea for this post. Which were the movies I loved watching again and again- every time they showed on TV?. Which ones I even had cd’s off at home to watch when the mood struck me?  Being an absolute movie buff- there were literally dozens of films which fill these criteria and I had to whittle it down to manageable limits. So here goes.
Vedala Ulagam:
Lets start with this huge favorite of me- from my childhood days. An absolute cracker of an adventure movie for one made in 1948…it contains an iconic song..and one of my ever green favorite- Ayyo Ayyo Pakka Kannu Koosudhe…..sung by the comedian Sarangapani at the Demons or Vedalams. Another favorite from this movie is the mantra “Rajeevi” as uttered by the Hero T.R.Mahalingam whenever he runs into trouble……got a problem? Call Rajeevi- is now a standing joke in our family. The movie is even scientific for its times- the hero threatens the villain the demon king- with Anu Gundu or Atom bomb….think nuclear weapons in 1948? But more than the other hero its Sarangapani, a now forgotten comic actor who plays the hero’s sidekick who gets away with the best gags and lines always starting with “ada mada vedalangaley”…..and one scene in the movie is vaguely reminiscent of the Micheal Crichton Book/Movie- Sphere- where a Sphere from outer space manifests as actual whatever you desire. The same is shown as part of Indian Mythology- the Sanjeevani Tree below which Sarangapani sits and asks for food and drink which he gets immediately and while enjoying them suddenly gets fearful and thinks about Vedalams and they turn up in droves. This one is a must watch for all Tamil film aficionados.
Anbe Vaa….
I actually almost ate a whole finger nail, chewing over the decision to include this movie on the list beating out my other MGR favorites like Guleb-Bakavalli, Alibaba and 40 thieves and Ragasiya Police 115. Guleb-Bakavalli has a great story line, Aliababa has outstanding music – remember Masilla Unmail Kadale? And Ragasiya Police- was a typical MGR action thriller. But Anbe Vaa beats all this…story, humour, music and action. MGR’s fight with Sitting Bull would have the theatre erupting in claps (I watched this movie in Select Theatre, George Town in the company of my mother and aunts- as the mandatory male escort – at an age of 7/8 years) when MGR bodily lifts the huge villain – Sitting Bull -over his head with absolutely no graphics. And the music- Once a Papa, Met a Mummy is so ingrained in our family’s subconscious that even my 6 year old neice can hum it. And to top it all the outstanding Nagesh-Manorama comedy duo took this movie a notch above everything else. Punnaku Puniyakodi, anyone? Every scene, every dialogue of this movie rocks and remember this was not a typical MGR movie..he was not typecast as the usual do-gooder character he always played but as someone who almost loses his girl to his best friend Asokan, before everything comes right at the end. This movie was  the ultimate romance film of the olden days.
Thunive Thunai…..
If there is one tamil movie which can be said to be of Hollywood standard this is the one- made in 1976 the movie deals with the busting of superstitions-a Vampire film before Twilight became famous. The opening sequence before the credits is one of the best horror sequences in tamil films ever. And the movie has the mother of all punch dialogues- way before Rajnikanth- “Maapla, alavedukkava maapla?” uttered in his inimitable style by SA Asokan….when he wants to measure Jaishankar for his coffin. Let me confess that I am crazy about Jaishankars “Bond” films and I had a tough time choosing between Nilagiri Express, Yaar Nee and Thunive Thunai….but this wins out for the sheer gripping screenplay. Jaishankar’s bold replies on the cart journey to the haunted village has to stand out for the sheer brilliance of dialogue writing. And SA Asokan absolutely rocks among the whole host of villains – as does CID Shakuntala.
There are lots of other movies I enjoy greatly too- Adhe Kangal of Ravichandran, Edhir Neechal of Nagesh- a sadly underrated actor compared to the more hyped NSKrishnan/ChandraBabu, and Pattinathil Bootham of Jaishankar and Nagesh combo with the incomparable Javert Seetharaman of Andha Naal as the eponymous ghost….but those have to be for another day. 
Now tell me which are your favorites?
(Pics: courtesy Google Images )

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Tamil films

  1. wow!!! thats quite a list containing some great movies and actors…i actually had to leave out a lot more because of space constraints and maybe i will write some other day about the first Action Star of Tamil cinema – Ranjan of Chanraleka, the Superstar MKT Bagavatar, who can forget Haridas and Manmadha Leelai? and one of my personal favorite's Anandan (disco shanthis father) who acted in just a few films like Veerthirumagan but made a mark with his athletic swordplay..would love to discuss this love for old movies with you V…we should really get together over some coffee on a weekend and talk about them….we have so much to share.

  2. My favorite movies?MGR's thirst for freedom:How about Malai Kallan? "Innum ethanai kaalam dhaan emaatruvaai indha naattile" a favorite song to sing against the establishment (College Dean)Enga veettu pillai – MGR – in caps – he rocks. "Naan aanai ittaal" song was a landmark song in good triumphing over evil.Ayirathil oruvan – with songs "Yaen endra kelvi.." an anti-establishment song and "Atho andha paravai pola vaazha vendum…" a song about freedom. No wonder DMK captured power in 1967.The Golden era of Sivaji:Parasakthi – Is there anyone even near to Sivaji in his histrionic talent? His dialogue delivery in this movie was the cornerstone of the Dravida movement in Tamilnadu.Paasa malar ("Malanrdhum malaraadha…", "malargalai pol thangai uranguginraal…") Paava mannippu ("Kaalangalil aval vasantham, malargalile aval malligai…", "Manithan maari vittaan …") a romantic movie.Gemini Ganesan (Kaadhal mannan):Kalyaana parisu – a romance like no otherSumai Thaangi (Mayakkamaa, kalakkama, manathile kuzhappamaa, vaazhkkaiyil nadukkamaa…" – the immortal words of Kannadasan that brightens up up the mood of those in the most depressing situations)Suriya Gandhi – featuring Muthuraman and Dr JJ giving a gender perspective on earning women.Nagesh:Kaathalikka neramillai, Ethir neechal, Server Sundaram, Major Chandrakanth, Thillana Mohanambal, Thiruvilaiyaadal. He was a classical multi-faceted actor.Oh Ganesh – there are so many more… SV Subbiah, Ranga Rao, Asokan, Jaishankar.Tamil movie industry has indeed been lucky to have such a rich heritage.Thanks for this post I was able to reminisce on the good old days.-V

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