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Finally, Gnanodhyam is forced to resign from office by the Chief Minister who finds out about the kidnapping plan, and is also kicked out of the party because his honesty was costing the party millions in potential bribes and kickbacks from investors. Das and his kidnappers continue their business as usual after getting away by the skin of their teeth from Bramma, who has an unfortunate accident, as he was about to kill them vigilante cop style.
Soodhu Kavvuum is the triumph of the absurd and the taboo over the predictable and the conventional. According to its director, Nalan Kumarasamy, Soodhu Kavvuum is a dark comedy, dealing with serious crimes like kidnapping and political corruption without descending into the slapstick, to achieve its laughs. The thrilling progression of the micro-narrative, constant plot twists, the fast paced narration, the way we are invited to sympathize with the losers, and the manner in which the ending subverts all our expectations won over the unforgiving Tamil audiences.
Just like Das and his kidnappers, and Arumai who laugh all the way to the bank, so did the producers in real life. Soodhu Kavvuum was one of the biggest blockbusters of , which had its remake rights sold to nearly every major film industry in India, including Bollywood, with clones forthcoming. A polysemic text intended by its creators to be a hyperreal micro-narrative based on popular cultural memory, it nevertheless allows readings about contemporary Tamil and Indian politics.
With the ideological bankruptcy of Tamil nationalism, and the failure of the Indian state, unfettered capitalism and greed has now filled the vacuum. The death of the metanarrative in Tamil cinema accompanies the death of ideology, the failure of the political system, whatever model it chose, to fulfill national aspirations. From a historical perspective, K. Hariharan has argued in various essays that the corrupt politician figure in Tamil cinema, emerged as a result of the failure of the ethno-nationalist dream to turn the Tamil country into a utopia, as depicted in ancient Tamil classics, where their culture, language, and moral codes, would be protected from the threat of North Indian political domination and the intrusion of Hindi in the Indian nation-state.
However, every political leader who became Chief Minister claiming to defend the rights of the Tamils, rhetorical flourish aside, was more interested in retaining power and cozied up to the Congress Party and become an regional satrap of the Central Government in New Delhi. As the dream of Tamil autonomy harkening to a glorious past became more elusive, we should not forget that it was further jeopardized by the crisis of legitimacy faced by the socialist Indian nation-state, especially after the Indian Emergency of — Popular consciousness of widespread poverty, unemployment, environmental devastation a partisan judicial system, callous bureaucracy, police brutality, political corruption, and low intensity civil wars, was a double bind for the hapless Tamils.
Watching their Tamil heroes violently dispose of malfeasant cops, and, of course, corrupt politicians, rather than waiting for an inept judiciary, was a vicarious means of overturning existing power structures, using the weapons of subjugation on the oppressor.
In the '90s, economic liberalization came with greater promise. After an initial burst of success, by the end of the noughties, these hopes were also crushed. Indian capitalism had decayed into monopoly corporatism, and unfettered crony capitalism, accompanied by stagnating growth, inequality, worsening corruption, and rising crime rates. Let down by one modern ideology after another: nationalism, socialism, and recently capitalism, it appears that the third generation of Tamils in independent India has had enough of politics and ideology.
Fed up with the empty rhetoric of utopian ideology and highfalutin discourse, which promised great things but achieved nothing, and betrayed by a succession of charismatic leaders who positioned themselves as messianic figures who saved no one but themselves, the new generation of filmmakers took their frustrations out on the grand narratives of Tamil cinema. Rather than be seduced by grand narratives, the young avant-garde sought to make meaning of their post-ideological existence through petit recits , and pure phantasmagorias, inspired by postmodern directors outside of India.
When read against the grain, the new spirit advocated in postmodern Tamil cinema is a pragmatic one: to pursue individual aspirations within an imperfect present, and to carpe diem without waiting for favors from the state and system. Aaranya Kaandam opens with a quote from the Indian Machiavelli, philosopher Chanakya c.
Similarly, the theme song of Soodhu Kavvuum , eulogizes this transgression of moral codes for personal advancement in a text where the kidnappers are the protagonists and the corrupt politician-in waiting is the biggest winner where politics is the greatest gamble. Inversely, the morally upright politician is fired for a lack of enterprise and the uncompromising cop literally shoots himself in his backside while using a rusty old gun to kill the kidnappers after an extended torture scene.
Kodukkapuli, Pasupathy, and Subbu in Aaranya Kaandam , Michael and Anu in Pizza , and Vetri in Neram corroborate the refreshing new vision that to ensure survival within the circumscriptions of the corrupt superstructure, an attitude of enterprise, pragmatism, and utilitarianism, rather than ideological purity and righteous indignation, must be followed.
Armed with new technology, social media connectivity, and exposure to transnational film cultures, the new generation of Tamil directors have created compelling new worlds out of the wreckages of the old, inspired by narrative traditions elsewhere. Aaranya Kaandam , Pizza , Soodhu Kavvuum , and Neram , were made by outsiders to Tamil cinema who began their careers making ad-films and short films. In interviews, these directors reveal that they started out making short films, the literal petit recit , as bricolages out of their own interest, paid from their own pockets, and with the recording material at hand.
The debutant directors of Pizza and Soodhu Kavvuum had both taken part in a cable channel film making competition, and got their big break through an independent producer, committed to raising the aesthetic quality of Tamil films. Proudly declaring themselves independent filmmakers, all four auteurs have indicated a deep love for Tamil cinema, but an equal fascination with Western directors like the Coen brothers. In particular, Pizza director Karthik Subburaj, has explicitly indicated a love for their open-ended aesthetic, while both Subburaj, Kumarasamy, and Putheran named Quentin Tarantino as their biggest influences.
Tarantino-himself famously made the transition from film buff to film maker, starting off with short films before going on to become the master of postmodern action films. The directors of postmodern Tamil cinema did not learn the tricks of the trade under the tutelage of a director, working as an assistant director, or by going to film school. They understood the medium by watching the proliferation of cable channels that bombard the senses with visual narratives, and gleaned ideas off of DVDs of other films as referenced in Pizza , where the couple spend hours watching horror film DVDs , and by watching the hundreds of Indian movies and foreign movies available on the Internet and all over YouTube.
Redefining guerrilla filmmaking, these directors have turned low budget independent filmmaking from a highbrow luxury doomed to perform poorly in the box office into a winning strategy. A testament to the power of the medium to awe, inspire, and shock, they would have us believe that judicious plagiarism is indeed the highest form of praise.
In late , a Tamil pop song took the Internet by storm, evidencing all the features of postmodernity discussed here: the discrediting of metanarratives, the good-for-nothing hero, the pastiche from popular cultural memory, the deconstructivism, and death of ideology. As a promotional for the psychological drama 3 Dir. Aishwarya Rajinikanth, , the making of a song from the soundtrack was released entitled, "Why this Kolaveri di? Rendered in broken English and Tamil, its nonsensical lyrics portray a inebriated broken hearted youth singing about his unrequited love. The music video went viral.
Within weeks, parodies, clones, and localized versions in different languages around the world emerged. Harnessing the sharing power of YouTube and social media, the anthem for angsty middle class youth rendered through Tamil folk beats had a cross-cultural appeal that baffled even the Tamil intelligentsia. Many Tamils decried that a classical language that was nearly unchanged since antiquity had been virtually butchered for the sake of marketing.
None of these criticisms mattered because the picturization of "Why this Kolaveri di? It appeared in 3 that late capitalism found a perfect ally in Tamil visual culture: loud, colorful, and carnivalesque. Those who understood this correlation have enterprisingly seized the initiative to make money out of it — a postmodern marriage of convenience as bizarre as the one in 3 where a Hindu wedding takes place on the crowded dancefloor of a night club. Not all entries in Best American Comics will down easy. Some might be undercooked. Some left too long on the fire.
But the strongest will satisfy for a long time. Amazon's eight-episode animation, Un done is a poignant reflection on grief, loss, mental illness, and heritage. That is, if you don't own them by now. Inspired in part by young activist Greta Thunberg, thousands of people participated in the Climate Strike march in New York, with many other events around the world.
If the best measure of success for a comic book film is how well it captures the tone for the central character, then Ryan Reynold's beloved character in Deadpool makes it among the greatest superhero films of all time.
Postmodern Chick Flicks - The Return of the Woman's Film | R. Garrett | Palgrave Macmillan
In Cauda Venenum is Opeth's most wicked record of the decade, signifying that their earlier evilness is still wonderfully intact. Jesse Dayton discusses performing for two members of the Cars, his distaste for genres, and what Merle Haggard told him about the art of singing. Other people, in the hip centers, did. New York roots rockers Mail the Horse still play with youthful abandon, but "Sweet Red Lies" and other songs on their eponymous LP focus inwardly on the post-party blues.
Continuing our celebration of PopMatters' 20th anniversary, we revisit our 10 picks for the best debut albums of It turns out our selections were prescient as many of these artists have gone on to storied careers. Travel back to and see them again for the first time.
PopMatters turns 20 years old this October and we're beginning to celebrate our history by taking you back in time a decade ago. Obama was in the White House and the musical times were very good indeed. Revisit through its best albums. Electronic rockers Swoll craft a powerful song in "Shudder to Think" that moves beyond boundaries.
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