Sethu is not an ordinary love story. There is no boy-meets-girl, runs around trees, sings duets or the hero overcoming inane odds to win the woman. This is a story of obsessive love – a love that is all-consuming and powerful enough to drive a person to madness. Sethu, when released in 1999, stood out for his sheer darkness, a complex, haunting love story and stellar performances from a virtually unknown cast at that point in time. The twist in the climax was unpredictable and a rarity when most directors were unwilling to let go of ‘bankable’ feel-good endings. The movie blitzed lead actor Vikram into a superstar overnight winning him several awards.
Nandha delves into the psychological realm of man and touches upon the mother-son relationship and the dire consequences of depriving a child the love and attention it deserves. The movie won wide critical acclaim both at home as well as in Sri Lanka for its sympathetic view towards Sri Lankan refugees. Surya, as the lead character, gave a riveting performance. In his inimitable style, Bala takes you on a journey through dark, twisty passages in our human mind, questions relationships and breaks the mould on every pre-conceived style in Tamil movies.
In this movie, Director Bala comes together with his previous two Leads – Vikram and Surya – to create yet another haunting tale. Vikram plays a dysfunctional, often violent, “a Shakspearen “Caliban”esque role who grows up in a crematorium with minimal contact with humanity. The story etches the growth of his relationship with a small-town hustler – Surya and the way it transforms and humanizes him. Pithamagan has been doing the rounds at International festivals too. The Royal TropicalInstitute in Amsterdam screened the film along with a few of the best films in Tamil cinema of all time. (April 22, 2005)
Naan Kadavul chronicles the life of Rudran, an ascetic from Varanasi and his trysts with a seemingly normal life in the temple city in south India, Pazhani. Abandoned as a child by his father in a strange land with strange people, he grows up among the sadhus and the babas adapting to their way of life and becomes one of them. The rest of the plot is formed by the interaction between Rudran, a detached ascetic who has no moorings or bonding with the world and how he unwittingly, unwillingly gets sucked into the world of the beggars which leads to drastic, life altering changes to all of them.
True to Bala's inimitable style, this film explores the fringe elements of society. Unlike his darker fare, Avan Ivan is more a comic satire than a tragi-drama. But that doesn't stop him from etching a film rife with deeply complex and intriguing characters. The story revolves around two half-brothers, played by Arya and Vishal - who despite their differences and rivalry come together to help their godfather. The two protagonists form a perfect foil to each other and often make you question gender.
A visual vocabulary of the true events depicted in the novel, ‘Red Tea’ by P.H Daniel, Paradesi captures the ordeal and life of tea-plantation workersduring pre-independent India. Dealing with slavery, oppression of freedom and exploitation in the face of experiences encountered by the villagers, Bala once again have created a film that has influenced the mind of many through cinema’s mass reach. Innocent villagers were ripped out of their normal life, their known world changed overnight, making one to believe that only death could free them.
Atharvaa Murali, engages with the audience as Raasa, a carefree man with childlike innocence, which only heightens the devastation felt when the character is put through the utmost difficult time of his life.
Paradesi sheds a new light and dimension on the unexplored
acting skills of Atharvaa Murali.
Tharai Thappattai portrays the lives of folk artists and their agony in the modern world as the art form devolves to suit the growing ‘western culture’ in India. What happens when the only way of living you knew was demeaned? The absence and lack of sexual elements barricade the survival of the artists in a community where women are merely objectified. The underlying miserable twist of fate explores the characters’ circumstantial behaviors in unfortunate events. As the female hero of the film, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, like a phoenix rising from the ashes unleashed her talent and performed like a tornado aptly portraying the character, Sooravali. Tharai Thappattai also holds the pride of being Maestro Ilayaraja’s thousandth feather in his cap.