Top 15 Tamil Movies of 2014: Year in Review

Here are my top 15 Tamil films of 2014, in no particular order.

1Goli Soda:

golisoda

“How will you react, if you are forcibly stripped off your hard-earned identity!?” asks Vijay Milton in this offbeat revenge drama, which traces the adventures of four teenagers, as they travel through the ups and downs of life. Despite being guilty of a few logical loopholes and cinematic exaggerations in the script, and accused of promoting on-screen teenage violence, director-cinematographer Vijay Milton and director Pandiraj (dialogues) join hands to give us a racy, engaging entertainer and the first refreshingly promising Tamil movie of the year. The whole team of Pasanga are an absolute treat to watch in this ‘coming of age’ action film. And the director definitely deserves accolades for choosing the unusual premise and keeping away from formulaic fare. Here is a movie that shows how a little, just a little, inventiveness and restraint in the commercial cinema space wont make the audience look like dim-wits.

Here is our full review.


2. Pannaiyarum Padminiyum:

pannaiyarumpadminiyum

Pannaiyarum Padminiyum is an example of how an ordinary logline on paper can be translated into an ‘endearing’ piece of cinema onscreen, just by a little intelligent scripting, adding some out of the box sentiments and characters written right out of our neighborhood. The debutante director Arun Kumar never lets any of the commercial ‘must-haves’ come in his way of storytelling, still managing to pull off a riveting drama, especially in the last sixty minutes. The real hero of the movie, other than of course Arun  is the all-talented Jayaprakash, who living the role of the Pannaiyar, shares some sizzling on-screen romance with Thulasi, who again gives another cracker of a performance. Despite its slow pace, you couldn’t but fall in love with this one. The gamut of emotions, a non-living element ushered in the viewer, as the climax unfolded, was proof enough of what the director, the cinematographer and a sincere script is capable of.

Here is our full review.


3. Thegidi:

thegidi

Not just a breeze. Not just a wisp of fresh air. Not just a gust of seasonal winds. Its a storm. Thegidi is proof that the young directors of today are taking Tamil cinema to the next level by storm. Debutant director Ramesh gives Tamil cinema the perfect recipe for an investigative thriller ‘Masterchef’ style- taking the ‘base’ of a novel script, topping it with some ever-lively buoyant and fiery screenplay ‘sauce’, giving a few clever cool twists and tweaks to the way it is usually made, and finally adding a pinch of a unique tasty ‘secret ingredient’.The secret ingredient? – a well panned out guessing game! The tense ‘unease’ and the ‘nail-biting’ tension in the narration, which the director is able to generate, and sustain in the audience might actually be the real success of the film, the director and the producer. Easily the best suspense thriller in Tamil cinema in recent times.

Here is our full review.


4. Cuckoo:

cuckoo

Be warned, this piece of artistic work which is equal parts brilliant and overtly melodramatic is not for all. Certainly not for people who have predefined notions about entertainment. It’s deliberately slow-paced and takes its own sweet time to unfold and strike a poignant chord. And the director also takes some liberties in exaggerating the world of the disabled, especially in showcasing their highly developed senses. A lot of logical discrepancies plague the second half, and conflict seems conveniently forced in. Despite all this,it is only once in a while, there comes a film which kicks all commercial cinematic banalities at its butt, and leaves you stupefied by its raw emotional intensity. Add to it, many overwhelming moments and some exceptionally authentic performances, what you get is a near soul-stirring experience, if you choose to look past the flaws. Watch Cuckoo to understand how, we as an audience have collectively elevated the tastes of the movie fraternity, thereby giving the confidence to directors like Raju Murugan to come out with movies of such class. Definitely not a classic, but for what it is, Raju Murugan, take a bow!

Here is our full review.


5. Inam:

inam

This to me is more a experience than a feature film. A disturbing tale of love and war, captured brilliantly on-screen by Santosh Sivan. With his signature on almost every frame, he has managed to make the public have a discerning look and dwell on the only question which had haunted the lives of many innocent war victims in Sri Lanka…”Why should we suffer for no fault of ours?” The director  even amid-st  all this agony, manages to make a strong statement that there is more to these people’s lives than just blood, bullets, shells and smoke by showcasing their moments of love and cheer. Impressive casting, detailed characterization traits and natural powerful performances by the whole cast makes ‘Inam’ a hard one to digest, and harder to ignore.  Even with all its faults in clarity and focus, this is contemplative unsympathetic cinema at its best, which would sure leave you ashamed, stupefied, startled and staggered.

Here is our full review.


6. Vaayai Moodi Pesavum:

vmp

After ‘Kaadhalil Sodappuvadhu Eppadi’, Balaji Mohan attempts to raise the bar for experimentation with this ‘daringly different’ whacky film, that combines the genres of fantasy, rom-com and satire. With his keen eye for innovation, emotions and sarcasm, he keeps the audience engaged through-out with his unsuspecting hilarity and down-to-earth sentiments. Vaayai Moodi Pesavum definitely comes across as a refreshing and welcome change, in times of mindless ‘crap comedy’. Some liberal doses of gags, sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek irreverence make it a pretty delightful watch. Despite its moments of logic-less and repetitice blemishes, it’s a must watch for its ‘first of its kind’ inventive theme and super-cool funky treatment. Definitely, one among the best romantic comedies of the year.

Here is our full review.


7. Mundasupatti:

mundasupatti

The comedy of errors that happen when two photographers visit the primitive village, is told in an engagingly funny way by debutante director Ram Kumar. Ram weaves several interesting characters in his tale and takes us on a joy ride filled with rip-roaring jokes and endearing smiles. Through out the running time of nearly one-fifty minutes, despite a few lethargic segments, he never lets the audience off the hook. His knack of writing unassuming humour out of relatable ordinary situations makes it all the more entertaining. Yet again, a mainstream Tamil movie which succeeds in entertaining without established actors and ‘done to death’ formulas. The no-nonsense, sensible, hilarious family entertainer of 2014 has arrived. In style.

 Here is our full review.


8. Sathurangavettai:

sv

Vinoth as a screen-writer/ director impresses with a brilliantly crafted con-caper which incorporates elements of humor, drama, adventure, unusual cleverness and professional audacity in perfect measure. He also shows promise as a film maker in his attention to detail and elaborate shot-making. Sadhurangavettai is basically about a man with a two-pronged ideology 1. Anything which is done without guilt is not wrong and 2. Money is the only thing which doesn’t get clichéd in this insensitive and cruel world. The journey he embarks on, in his mission to make millions in the least possible time-frame and the obstacles he faces is told in an almost fresh and engaging manner by Vinoth. With this film, there is no denying the fact that Tamil cinema is on a role with its experimentation of genres. This hunting game despite having a few dull moments, several logical loopholes and bordering on melodrama for a fraction of a moment certainly deserves a watch for it is at heart – a fresh, sensible and engaging con drama, a rarity by itself.

Here is our full review.


9. Jigarthanda:

jig

In one of the most magical and captivating films ever, director Karthik Subbaraj gives us an audacious blend of contrasting antithetical emotions as he sets out to tell the story of how a filmmaker’s life gets intertwined with that of a a violent rustic criminal who is seemingly ruthless and cynical on the surface. The writing is refreshingly brilliant and reflects Karthik’s burning desire to bridge art-house and mainstream cinema, even if it amounts to resorting to the extremes. in arguably the best character developments in recent Tamil cinema, we get to witness a multi-dimensional protagonist with grey shades all over, but you have to give it to Siddharth for his courage and vision. But the film truly belongs to Simha, who has a field day with his punny punches and dialogue delivery, keeping us thoroughly entertained. Both the scriptwriter and the con-man in Karthik are in their elements in Jigarthanda, as the script keeps us guessing throughout. Jigarthanda is a beautiful work of art and is perhaps one of the best genre defying efforts in contemporary Indian cinema. Hats off, Karthik Subburaj for giving us an entertaining film, where art and commerce make a cheerful pact.

Here is our full review and here is the Part-1, Part-2 and Part-3 of our trilogy breaking down Jigarthanda..


10. Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam:

Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam Movie Posters

This is the kind of film, that amusingly takes a dig at each and every rule of screenwriting and film making  ever written on paper. The movie doesn’t have a structured plot structure, any kind of act breakages, or the much emphasized scene flow.  In fact it doesn’t even worry about taking the action forward. The narrative in fact moves from one character to another whenever it feels the urge, and refuses to organize itself around any theme except a good-natured insistence that people are always fascinating to watch, even when they don’t appear to be doing much of anything. Burlesque at times, mostly hilarious, quirky, intelligent and original, this is not the sort of thing you ordinarily find at your neighborhood theaters alongside the latest ‘family action entertainers’. But thanks to Parthiepan, here it is. This interesting experiment by the maverick film-maker deserves a watch, just for its innovation and freshness if not anything else. But in addition, it turns out be engaging and brilliant. If you are a fan of quality cinema, go for it!

Here is our full review.


11. Jeeva:

Jeeva

There are quite a few directors in the industry who push their limits by trying their hands at a variety of genres, and among them, Susseenthiran’s versatility continues to awe me. In ‘Jeeva’, writer-director Suseenthiran who last made the critically acclaimed ‘Pandiya Naadu’ traces the politics involved in the selection process of a sports team in a country like India, and attempts to explore the mindset of a cricketer who is on the verge of ‘defeat’. For that he chooses to portray a talented protagonist who dreams of featuring in the National team one day, and goes on to describe his valiant struggle for recognition in a power dominated industry. Well having said these, Jeeva is not a brilliant film because of Suseenthiran’s need to allot almost one hour of the film’s running time to a largely insipid and uninspiring teen romance, and mundane song sequences.But once it picks up steam in the second half, there is no stopping it. The last forty-five minutes in particular have plenty of heartfelt moments. A good film, that could have been great!

Here is our full review.


12. Madras:

madras

Madras interestingly revolves around a supposedly ill-fated wall of a housing complex in North Chennai and the enmity of two rival political groups over it.  The plot is not something that has never been done before, but Ranjith injects his grippingly realistic way of narration into it and the result is pure awesomeness. They say the context/mood of a film is a cup, and content is what you fill it with. The mood in all probability makes or breaks a film. Ranjith takes us to the lower middle class suburbs and presents the context in bewitching detail. He then writes exciting characters who feel frighteningly real and makes them walk with us.  His deftness at showing these characters help him build up on the existing conflict in style, which catches us constantly on the edge of our seats. It’s a joy to see Karthi on screen and what a hell of a comeback! Great to see that his faith in the script and film-making technique has paid off so well.  Madras reaffirms the fact that good cinema is here to stay.

Here is our full review..


13. Kaaviyathalaivan:

KT

Despite having a very interesting and promising premise, Kaaviya Thalaivan might be falling a tad short in execution.  But I would rather not mind it for the man behind it, Vasantha Balan. He is the kind of film-maker, who does films for the sheer joy of making them, not letting financial concerns bother him. He makes films that he wants to make (not the other way around) and sincerely attempts to make us see through his vision, as in Kaaviyathalaivan, where he sets out to explore the mindset of stage artists of yesteryear, focusing on their personal and societal facets. He aspires to transport us to lesser known worlds, and tries to guide us through the nooks and corners of that milieu.  Yeah, the canvas is obviously exquisite and the intent is more than commendable, but regarding the execution, I would say that he has managed to translate more than half of his vision to the screen. And that to me, is definitely not a mean feat. Kaaviya Thalaivan, for this man and his efforts, proves to be a cinematic experience, actually one of a kind, that can definitely be cherished looking past the flaws.

Here is our full review.


14. Pisaasu:

Pisaasu

‘Why not a movie in the horror genre space, which doesn’t have any of the horror genre cliches, but still manages to engage?’ asks Mysskin and takes us through a riveting journey of paranormal exploration in this film, aptly named ‘Pisaasu’. He seeks answers for some bizarre questions with his trademark panache in this film, while in the process narrating a poignant yet suspenseful tale of love, belief, good-will and guilt.Long shots, artistic frames, tasteful camera angles, lingering surreal symbolisms, a haunting background score –‘Pisaasu’ has everything that we love Mysskin for, but with a twist. The man impresses with his knack to inject unconventional scares and sly humor at the weirdest of places, displaying a level of brilliance, that never ceases to surprise you. Dark and Intense, yet refreshingly feel good, ‘Pisaasu’ engages you for most of its running time, soothing you with its compassion and disturbing you with its implications, and as a whole enthralling you typical ‘Mysskin’ style. Here is a filmmaker who pushes the limits not only by breaking the established rules of the genre, but by creating a praiseworthy technique of his own.  Pisaasu deserves a watch just for him.

Here is our full review.


15. Meaghamann:

meaghamann

Magizh Thirumeni who was critically acclaimed for his earlier film ‘Thadayara Thaaka’ uses every opportunity he gets in his latest film ‘Meaghamann’ (captain of the ship) to establish himself as a film-maker to reckon. Magizh in fact makes no bones about the fact that he is not doing a path breaking film or something that sends the critics into raptures. He wants to do a ‘commercial’ film with a certain amount of conviction and grace. He sets out to engage, thrill and entertain his audience for a little more than two hours and succeeds in style. He also impresses with his technique of overriding logical glitches in the script with irresistible engagement in story telling so much so that you tend to overlook these seemingly implausible things which can’t/wont probably happen in real life for the kind of entertainment it provides. Packed with fervor and lots of intelligent action, this neatly done action thriller is more a director’s film than an actor’s, as Magizh shows us how a commercial action thriller is made without belittling the audience’s tastes. That’s more than a cool reason not to miss it.

Here is our full review.


Special mention:

Vellaiyilla Pattathari:

vip

Vellayilla Pattathaari is not an exceptional film script-wise with all the makings of a mundane commercial potboiler, replete with the string of cliches that have been etched in our minds since the time we started going to the theatres. In the absence of an innovative story line,  a screenplay that is super-fast and engaging is needed to make the audience forget the obvious shallowness of the happenings on screen. But that is not enough. It takes a natural performer  like Dhanush with extraordinary screen presence to make a routine film seem special. With the last two points working in its flavour, VIP definitely impresses, more so in its first half. Though the plot is wafer thin, the writing is surprisingly fresh and devoid of the usual ‘beaten to death’ jobless hero antics and tantrums. Addressing a burning issue and filled with lots of local zeal, this smartly packaged film is sure to keep you engaged. But let me warn you, don’t go for VelayiIla Pattathari expecting something which it doesn’t promise. Go for it to be royally entertained.

Here is our full review.

 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Top 15 Tamil Movies of 2014: Year in Review

    • Richard, it would be great if you also mention why you think so. That would make it constructive feedback. Thanks

  1. Not at all impressed by Thegidi, Jeeva & Vaayai Moodi Pesavum with Madras just about making it…

    Jigarthanda tops the list followed by Goli Soda & Pannaiyarum Padminiyum for me till now.

    Will watch the rest and drop a comment accordingly…

    • Thanks Ajay. I can understand Jeeva and VMP getting mixed reviews, but I thought Thegidi was universally liked

  2. Have seen Jigarthanda, Pannaiyarum Padminiyum, Cuckoo & VIP out of these. While I loved Jigarthanda & PP and will make the cut for me amongst these films. I liked Cuckoo till a point but afterwards the melodrama killed the charm of the film. VIP is a good commercial entertainer and that’s it. Need to catch up with rest of the films from the list.

Share your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.