The Tamil Cinema Handbook: 2013

Presenting mini-reviews of all the prominent Tamil movies of 2013 – The best, the good, the bad and the ugly! (In chronological order):

January:

1. Alex Pandian:

Alex PandiyanThe agony of having sat through this film can’t be described in words. Cold, callous, unbelievably boring, insanely dull and insensitive, this film is strictly for masochists!

February:

2. Kadal:

KadalDo u need reasons or recommendations to watch a Mani Ratnam movie? But personally, I felt Kadal is not one of his better films. The film starts off very promisingly with a powerful plot, but digresses in the middle because of some unappealing and predictable scripting! Lack of depth in the actual story-conflict makes it a tiresome viewing affair after a point. Having said that I would recommend that you give this one a shot for three reasons – power-packed performances by Arvindswamy and Arjun, eye-pleasing and raw visuals by cinematographer Rajiv Menon, and finally a highly imaginative addictive soundtrack by A.R.Rahman! And not to forget, it’s after all a Mani film! And it matters!

3. David:

DavidThe plot tagline of “Two lives. One name” and names like Vikram and Jiiva sharing screen space with the likes of Tabu and Lara Dutta is reason enough to watch this one! But be warned, in-spite of the refreshing one-liner on paper, the director Bejoy Nambiar fails to translate it cleverly on screen! The final script is not so appealing nor the screenplay that engaging, and so after a point, you start feeling bored, which clearly indicates the film’s lack in pace and intent! But nevertheless, Vikram with his powerful portrayal of an inebriated Goan hunk, and Jiiva as the energetic sensitive youngster give the movie immense strength and appeal. Also worth mentioning is a group soundtrack, with the ‘Kanave Kanave’ number by Anirudh, becoming a favorite melody! May be because of its ensemble cast also, the film feels like a dubbed movie at times and ends up lacking nativity! Definitely a brave attempt, but could have been much better!

4. Vishwaroopam:

VishwaroopamKamalHaasan, with a lot of political and philosophical undertones gives us a controversial commercial spy-thriller film this time. Award-winning acting performances,and world-class production values (Exhilarating cinematography by Sanu Varghese, Taut editing by Magesh Narayanan, riveting back-ground score by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, first-class art-designing by Lalgudi and spine-chilling stunt choreography by Lee Whitaker) make this one a special Kamal style ‘Hollywood-ish’ action thriller. Do watch it to know the heights, Indian cinema can touch in the technical department. Fingers crossed for the second volume.

5. Haridas:

HaridasA very honorable sincere attempt to showcase the sacrifices a parent has to undergo in raising a ‘special’ challenged child and the efforts he puts in making him realize his true potential! A very poignant tale, told in a very convincing manner, sans any jarring commercial elements, by director GNR. Kumaravelan! Songs could have been totally avoided, but alas! Great casting, experimental subtle color variations in shot composure for depicting different moods by cinematographer R. Rathnavelu, and an endearing performance by the child artiste (Prithviraj Das) make this movie a fascinating watch! A heart-touching tale, told with a lot of sensitivity and restraint – Totally recommended!

March:

6. Paradesi:

Paradesi“A Bala Film” does have the potential to pull film buffs to the theatres because of the niche he has created and associated himself with – ‘brutal and mercilessly real-life’! And without doubt, that’s what also, Paradesi is all about!. This time, Bala bases his script on real life incidents that took place before independence in the 1930’s, that majorly deal with bonded labor in the tea plantations and the hardships associated with it! With all the actors literally living the roles, and Bala showing no mercy in his actual interpretation of the laborer’s hardships, this film by itself is not an easy watch. It tugs at your heart, shocks you to the core at places and evokes all kind of emotions in you, ranging from pity, warmth, fear, anger, disgust, distrust, anticipation, shame, indignation to surprise! Bala’ passion for the subject he has taken on hand, and the confidence with which he sets out telling his tale are both praiseworthy! The atmosphere of cold reality that Bala manages to create and sustain throughout the movie, touches a very deep emotive chord and leaves you with a lump in your throat. No doubt, a dark film! Definitely not for average movie goers who want fun, cheer, and popcorn in the theatres. This one hits at you, and hits hard! Clean unadulterated cinema, which stays with you for a long time after leaving the theatres! But again, in my personal opinion, not Bala’s best work!

7. Chennaiyil Oru Naal:

A highly sincere well-made remake of the cult Malayalam hit ‘Traffic’ starring Sarath Kumar and Cheran. The film boasts of a very realistic racy screenplay and top notch performances from all the artists. A must watch, if you haven’t watched the original!

April:

8. Settai:

SettaiA bad forgettable remake of the cult ‘Delhi Belly’! You are well warned to stay off this and watch Delhi Belly instead with/without subtitles! (Subtitles will surely help in case you are not very strong in Hindi!) But remember, never ever be fooled into this!

9. Udhayam (NH4):

Another debutante from Vetrimaaran’s stable, director Manimaaran joins the bandwagon this time! A uniquely made slick thriller which has many things going for it – unexpected twists, a racy feel, strong performances, pleasant musical score, an endearing climax and a pretty heroine! But still, strangely, Udhayam (NH4) is not brilliancy personified because of the predictability in the script! All said and done, a very well crafted movie!

May:

10. Ethir Neechal:

This film, for what it is (another rom-com), is definitely much more than what it promised. The first half of the movie is a laugh riot with Siva Karthikeyan, in top form. If you are not in a mood to question or analyse much, you can definitely have a hell of a time with your friends. Only post-interval, when it pretends to turn as a wannabe inspirational sports flick, it falls flat on its face. Still, there are a couple of brilliant moments, where Siva shines as the athlete. Priya Anand, in probably a rare weak film in her career, just needs to look pretty and she does it naturally. Another average mindless rom-com, which you can catch up on DVD on one of those lazy afternoons! Definitely, not bad fare!

11. Soodhu Kavvum:

Soodhu Kavvum“Soodhu Kavvum” marks the directorial debut of the maverick young director ‘Nalan Kumarsamy’ who by this single movie, shows Tamil cinema the ‘knack’ of doing commercial, yet intelligent and offbeat comedy films. His potential comes to the forte right from the start and sparkles till the end, where he keeps the audience hooked to his narration, not even letting a moment of boredom, banality or platitude creep into the script. Smartly conceived and executed, with relatable ingenious characters and entertaining situations, the movie takes us through a wacky fun ride! Vijay Sethupathy breezes through his role will able assistance from all the supporting characters. Two other aspects stand out – the astute and brilliantly funny dialogues of Nalan and a great background score by Santosh Narayanan. This clever, quick-witted, landmark attempt at dark comedy is a ‘riot of laughs’! An absolute joy to watch! Definitely in contention, for the best movie of the year!

12. Neram:

NeramDirector Alphonse Putharen makes his directorial debut in this novel rom-com-thriller bilingual (Tamil and Malayalam) starring the on-screen hot pair Nivin and Nazriya. A fresh non-linear narrative style and a slowly accelerating script, which steadily sucks you into the proceedings, are definitely the film’s strong points. The lead pair look ravishing and share some great chemistry, which is thoroughly enjoyable! But, the lazy languorous pace of the first half, and lack of more genuine laughs gets us a bit uninterested towards the interval. The film picks up some steam post interval, mainly because of some compelling performances by the supporting artists! Overall, a refreshing script on paper, which couldn’t translate as so much engaging on screen, thanks to some sluggish pointless segments and logical ambiguities. A narrative which strives to be stylishly different, great visuals by cinematographer Anand C. Chandran and foot-tapping music by Rajesh Murugesan are surely reasons enough, you would like to catch up with this jolly good light-hearted thriller!

June:

13. Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru:

TVSKThis flick guarantees a couple of hours of laughs without taking itself too seriously, and still managing to entertain for real. Rj Balaji clicks big-time in his limited role, Santhanam has tried an image makeover and has succeeded to an extent (No double entendres mostly). Some of his scenes are truly super funny. Hansika looks slim, chic and pretty. Period. Songs are below average, and the placement of songs are all the more terrible. But overall, a great way to relax, unwind and spend the evening with your loved ones! I believe the director of ‘Soodhu Kavvum’, Mr. Nalan kumarasamy taking on screenplay and dialogues has worked big time for the film.

14. Thillu Mullu (2013)

Thillu MulluWith Shiva in the lead for the remake of the legendary Thillu Mullu, which showcased the versatility of our very own super star, it’s only natural that you could be a bit skeptical! But for strange reasons, (mainly because we choose to watch with very low expectations), this remake partially works and is somewhat funny too. Agreed Shiva goes overboard at times, but Santhanam is again in its elements. Another brainless average comedy film, which you might care to watch, if you want to while away some jobless free time!

July:

15. Singam 2:

Singam 2Hard core masala – For the hard core fan of that genre! Nothing much to write home about.

16. Maryan:

More than the plot, Maryan is about two power packed performances by both the male and female leads. Set in a fishing village called Neerodi and then moving on to Sudan, the script is something not very innovative or engaging. But Dhanush and Parvati by their near-flawless acting take the film to the next level. In fact they compete at heights much above their contemporaries for best actor in their respective categories. Soul-stirring music by A.R. Rahman and breathtakingly contrasting water and desert visuals by Marc Koninckx are, in one word, magnificent! This one is watchable for the strong lead performances and the charm of A.R.Rahman!

August:

17. 555:

555This is a good fresh thriller script which resorts to many commercial compromises, losing its lofty ideals in the process to become a rather average film, which has very few moments of charm and brilliance. But the reason behind Bharath working out that 8 pack abs to get that cachectic look, which the film fails to explain or exploit still escapes me! Regular passable action fare, which could have easily been much more, with some more imagination and credibility!

18. Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer:

Suseenthiran comes back to his elements in ‘AKS’ after the debacle of Rajapattai. He keeps the script simple, grounded, yet appealing this time. He follows a very linear narrative style, not very innovative for his caliber, but strikes nice and hard in the climax, catching the whole of the audience ‘off guard’! Weaving a tale around a sensitive issue, ‘irresponsible romance’, the director- for the most parts- keeps us engaged with witty dialogues to begin with, and situations which feel very genuine, thus giving the ‘slice out of your own life’ feel to the whole film! With themes centering on pre-marital sex and teen pregnancy becoming almost a rarity in Tamil cinema, director Suseenthiran definitely has to be congratulated for his deft and sensitive dealing of the issue. In spite of its flaws (monotony and predictability, at times), definitely a captivating watch!

19. Thalaivaa:

ThalaivaaAn ambitious young female undercover cop who goes to challenging extents to nab a don (our protagonist), has a change of mind, falls for the gold-hearted don, resigns her job, she got by clearing the IPS, wears a saree, mangalsutra, and the works, and ends up offering coffee to the guests by the time the story ends!!!! Yeah you read it right!
Dreams- hard work- persistence- power- fame, in that order for the male lead.
Dreams- hard work- ogling – falling in love – resigning to marital bliss, for the female lead.
So much so for a claimed revolutionary cinema!
Time to lead? Nope! Time to typecast the ladies again!
On a lighter note, maybe we didn’t notice the director planning a shocking twist coming in the second part (Oh my God!) that the wife s actually still an under-cover agent working with crime branch again to nab her husband with concrete evidence… Ha ha.. In my dreams!

P.S: Yes, it’s a Vijay film. And a bloody boring one at that. So much so, for all that ‘leading’ hype!

20. Thanga Meengal:

Thanga MeengalOnce in a while, there comes a film, which tugs at your heart and plays fiddle with your raw emotions! After a while, you stop resisting and give in to the manipulation. This film belongs to that category. Though filled with cinematic ambiguities, ThangaMeengal brims with true heartfelt emotions between a father and his daughter. An endearing script which stays clear of any commercial inclusions, showcases some breathtakingly beautiful visuals and hits hard with raw persuasive performances, making this one- a brilliant watch, although its narrated in a high pitched melodramatic way! This one will work magic on you, if you love to surrender yourself to your feelings!

September:

21. Varuthapadaatha Valibar Sangam:

Strictly for those who want to have some pure silly fun at the cinemas with friends , or looking out for a light-hearted (intentionally imbecile) film which entertains, and doesn’t tax their brains much, or for those wanting to stress out at the end of the day! Sivakarthikeyan and Soori with their impeccable comedy timing, are mostly a riot to watch, but tend to get repetitive! A jolly good mindless watch, but not even close to brilliance!

22. Moodar Koodam :

Moodar KoodamMoodar koodam (Fools gathering), in spite of having its share of flaws, bowls you over with its innovative brilliance! Director Naveen, attempting the rare black comedy genre in Tamil cinema, comes out flying colors. Funny characterizations, creative visuals and top-notch detailing in screenplay makes this an absolute must-watch!

23. Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum:

OAMysskin arrives in style, yet again, after the debacle of “Mugamoodi”, with loooong shots ,unimaginable creativity, lingering surreal imagery, Myskinisque camera angles and a level of brilliance, which never ceases to surprise you! Add to it, a haunting background score by the maestro! What more do you want?
Dark and Intense! Yet, captivating! Obviously done on a shoe string budget, Onaaiyum Aattukuttiyum engages you for most of time and enthralls you typical Mysskin style! The super talented writer-director, in spite of accusations of ‘being inspired by Korean movies’, elevates Tamil cinema to an entirely new level through this one! An edge of the seat thriller, which remains an exemplary film in the genre. Easily, 2013’s best Tamil movie and a ground-breaking one at that!

24. Raja Rani:

Raja RaniThe director has tried to narrate an entertaining romantic tale on the premise of “There is life, after love failure!”
Why would you want to see it!
1. Nayan as the leading lady- Her charm n screen presence is infectious!
2. Awesome technical stuff- feel-good background score, well-shot engaging songs, and attractive visuals!
3. The amazing chemistry between Nayan as the daughter and her on-screen dad played by Sathyaraj
4. Jai’s characterization, although he goes overboard with the whining sometimes.
5. Spirited Santhanam, but only when he is talking less and emoting more
5. The romantic juices flowing all over !

Why would you rather skip it!
1. Santhanam going overboard with the punches and one-liners, starts getting on your nerves at times
2. The director resorting to provide a very convenient resolution for the failure of both love angles – Unlike in real life, where, its almost always unresolved, messy, and dysfunctional relationships that end in break-ups. The artificial made-up feel of the film predominates!
3. A very predictable ‘testing-your-patience ‘second half compared to the taut and racy first hour.

One of those less clichéd, beautiful looking, romantic comedies that you can go with your date/spouse/friend and have fun! Mind you, most of the ‘entertainment’ might be ‘mindless’ and ‘meaningless’!

October:

25. Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara:

IdhaabaEven in a heavily caricatured character (Sumaar Moonji Kumaaru) Vijay Sethupathy is in his elements. And that’s the only thing talking about in this movie. Everything else, including the script, mostly falls flat. Pedestrianism runs rampant in the name of comedy. Very ordinary fare!

6. Naiyaandi:

NaiyaandiNational award winning director Sargunam and National award winning actor Dhanush join hands to take a tutorial on ‘How not to make a movie’! Non-stop nonsense! Not worth any sort of review.

27. Vanakkam Chennai:

Vanakkam ChennaiVanakkam Chennai is not by any means a path-breaking film! But it is for sure a Priya Anand film. And it’s not your regular “Shiva film’ too! With a believable plot, funny sequence and a strong female lead character, this one is another pretty good romantic comedy, which doesn’t mock at your intelligence. Music by Anirudh is funky and contemporary! Seeing Priya do that action segment must have given the audience their money’s worth!

28. Sutta Kadhai:

Sutta KadhaiA disastrous attempt at black comedy by debutante director Subu, which falls flat at all levels. Nothing worth mentioning about the movie other than the unique title, which turned out to be a joke, alluding to the director taking a shot at the brains of the audience!

29. Arrambam:

ArrambamWith huge logical loopholes in the script and screenplay, Arrambam turns out to be just another slick action flick, lifted directly from any random Hollywood -Bond/Statham movie, the only extra-special element here, being Ajith’s charisma and dare devil stunts! Ajith caries the salt and pepper look successfully yet again! Songs hinder the flow of narration big time and it’s sad to see Ajith resorting to mass- introduction songs again, especially after his brief stint at moderately experimental cinema! The average background score by Yuvan doesn’t help the proceedings much! Arya is getting typecast, Tapsee is cute and Nayanthara, surprisingly has nothing much to do! Rana Daggubati, as a cop, is a revelation though! Like all of VishnuVardhan’s earlier films, illustrious cinematography, top-notch action sequences and colorful costumes are definitely the positives! An action thriller, alright, but not a very intelligent or innovative one at that!

November:

30. All-in-All Azhaguraja:

All in All Azhagu RajaAs much as I would refrain from reviewing a film like this, I can’t keep away from the temptation of saying; it ‘sucked donkey balls’. Unbelievably boring fare!

31. Paandiya Naadu:

Pandiya NaaduWhen definitions of heroism blur, good cinema is born!
Vishal by agreeing to produce and act in the most restrained down to earth role of his career, and Suseenthiran by putting tremendous confidence on the maturity levels of the audience, strike back with a sensible riveting revenge tale, putting quite a lot of hush-hush about Tamil cinema becoming unrealistic and hero-oriented, to rest.
The compulsive climax, where Vishal stands with trembling hands and staggering legs, constantly searching for props to defend himself and determined to survive, is reason enough for you not to miss this one!
May be you will find loopholes and logical ambivalence’s as the film sinks in, but the success of the director lies in his ability to make believe that they don’t exist. A soul stirring performance by veteran Bharathi Raja, pleasing music by Imman and some breathtakingly believable stunt choreography by Anal Arasu make the film, a sensible and captivating revenge drama!

32. Pizza 2- The Villa

Pizza 2The second part of the Pizza franchise is so named just because of its similarity to the new genre Pizza created- Soft horror (No overt gore. No excessive scares).
Touted to be a psychological thriller, the film’s only high point happens at the pre-interval block, which gives the audience a bit of jitters! Before that, and after that, debutante director Deepan Chakravarthy, though having got the basic premise and plot convincingly on paper, loses it on screen trying to give overtly boring scientific lectures, for all paranormal activities.

Having said that, the film does have its moments of brilliance and shock, but they are very few and far apart. The climax is however conceptualized and shot well! An original fiery plot, which had lots of potential to be really scary, turns out to be a rather ordinary affair dealing with the supernatural!

33. Irandaam Ulagam:

Irandaam UlagamAnother experimental film, which went awfully wrong from maverick director SelvaRaghavan. Mindnumbingly boring screenplay and some pedestrian VFX spoil the whole viewing experience! Brilliant visuals and some great music by Harris and Anirudh are the only life-savers!
But dear Selva,
What I felt about the movie are all inconsequential -compared to the million dollar nagging question, which was eating my brains – throughout the running time of one sixty five minutes. What the hell, do you smoke, man?

34. Vidiyum Munn:

Vidiyum Munn‘Vidiyum Munn’ is definitely worth your time and money! Dealing with an uber-sensitive issue, Balaji K Kumar delivers a master-stroke of sorts, bringing you to the edge of your seats for most of the two hours. Slow paced, but top-notch engaging thriller! Great performances by the two female leads – Pooja Umashankar and Malavika Manikuttan, and innovative cinematography by Sivakumar Vijayan makes this one a compelling watch! ‪ ‎Another must watch movie of 2013!

December:

35. Kalyana Samayal Saadham:

KSSKSS comes as another wisp of fresh air in Tamil Cinema. A delightful film ,with a neat script, a charming screenplay and endearing performances – Kalyana Samayal Saadham totally bowls you over! Director R.S Prasanna has tried his hand at adult comedy taking a sensitive theme, and handles it with maturity and style. A mighty show of guts by actor Prasanna, who by accepting to play the role, shows ‘what manliness is al about’ and ‘what it means to stand up for your girl’. Strewn with some funny dialogues, this one is a must-watch unique film, Tamil cinema has come to age with!

36. Ivan Vera Mathiri:

With undue over the board action sequences, a linear narrative style with no obvious twists or turns and another comical flimsy romance, ‪Ivan Vera Mathiri‬ disappointed me a little! But there are quite a few instances which are gripping and endearing too. But coming from a director like Saravanan, the expectations were much more and the director definitely hasn’t lived up to it You can give this one a miss if you are pressed for time! ‪ Just ‘better than average’ fare!

37. Dhoom 3 (Tamil)

Dhoom 3 is definitely a technically loaded, action thriller- the surprise package this time, being Aamir! Though it’s sheer joy to see him perform, sometimes we do get a feeling that it does no justice to his full potential! Also the film looks and feels like one of those direct rip-offs from Hollywood! The screenplay is mostly incredibly dull and predictable. Top notch cinematography and the usual breathtaking Dhoom stunts combined with Aamir’s screen charm, makes the movie barely watchable!

38. Biriyani:

BiriyaniOne of those numerous unremarkable ‘ten plus one’ tomato rice-biriyani, served in the name of ‘dum biriyani’! What a sacrilege? Things do get better towards the very end, but the damage has already been made- done and dusted! Arguably, the director’s worst film till now! A VenkatPrabhu cliche!

39. Endendrum Punnagai:

Endrendrum PunnagaiA ‘done to death’ run-of-the-mill bromance -comedy, which ‘tries’ to be different, showcasing a super arrogant protagonist, played convincingly by Jiiva! Gorgeous looking trisha and in-form Santhanam are the saving graces! Overall, the film is nothing but a few smiles and more than a few sighs, and will appeal to the fans of the bromance genre!

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4 thoughts on “The Tamil Cinema Handbook: 2013

  1. First of all I really appreciate the work that you’ve put in for compiling the whole thing.And the memes are all fantastic,three cheers for the same :). While I do agree with your take on most of the films mentioned- here is a little on what I slightly disagree on-
    1. Udhayam NH4 was disappointing- expected more because of Vetrimaaran’s involvement. But the film had too many loopholes & overall a very average film @ best.
    2. Thillu Mullu- while the 1st half was like not bad,the film completely goes downhill in the 2nd half & hence doesn’t work for me.

    • Sethu Sir,
      1. Udhayam NH4 worked for me.. yeah, it was a bit predictive and had lots of ambiguities.. but maybe for strange reasons, I kinda liked it!
      2. Thillu mullu felt better only because i went in expecting a disaster…not all it was a great film and all.. doesnt hurt you!

  2. Errata: 1) In Vishwaroopam last line, it must have been ‘touch’ instead of ‘tough’ 2) In Endendrum Punnagai last line, it must have been ‘appeal to’ and not ‘appeal for’

  3. This page is Entertaining than watching a movie. Kudos to the writer. Though Vijay movies are sidekicked… He is one for large audiences…also moodar kudam is pirated version of Korean movie….. Gas station….

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