Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quality difference in film scripts in different languages

Originally published
here on

I have heard repeated comparison in Kerala that tamil movies are much ahead of malayalam in terms of script quality. What is the real difference between those two? And how do they compare with current Hindi and Indian english movies?

I think the strength of tamil movies is in their treatment. When you examine theme wise there is not much variation. Most of them (we are talking about main stream movies) deal with criminal heros or a love story told in an unique way. Even if you take a movie like ‘Subramanyapuram’ which was recently acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of 80s you see ‘gone wrong’ criminal heros and a love story. Same with Selvaraghavan- one of my favourite directors. What makes them different is the courage for unconventional endings and unsuspected twists. The protagonists of these movies does not represent the life and concerns of majority of middle class Tamil population. Setting may be close to life but story is not.

When you come to Malayalam first thing you notice is the dearth of classy directors. There is no one now who has a signature in their visual style. As once John Abraham said every director is doing the ’supervising job’ for the script writer. Malayalam has its share of ‘commercial exercises’ like the recent Twenty 20. But in the last month there was another hit movie in Kerala called ‘veruthe oru bhaarya.’ (Roughly translates as ‘a wife of no utility’). Its about a wife who is stuck in menial jobs with no time for herself. So she informs her inconsiderate husband that she is resigning from the ‘house wife’ job (not a divorce - mind you). Movie is about her husband trying to prove that doing house hold jobs is not such a big deal. Needless to say he fails miserably. Such a movie cannot be generalized for presenting the status of scripts in Malayalam. But still theme wise Malayalam movies remain closer to life though in patches and stripes. They fail when they get into desperate comic situations. Of course tailor made stories for the mega stars doesn’t help either.

But I think currently the best scripts are coming out in Hindi. I am not talking about the movies in which you throw in a star and starlet with beautiful locations and 50 crores and you hope to get a blockbuster. I am talking about the so called ‘multiplex’ movies. Movies like Bheja fry, A wednesday, Amir etc has carved out a niche for themselves. They rely on a smarter script rather than star faces. Some times story situations go over the top but usually they get away with taut treatment. The reason these movies are good is that they understand the importance of a good script. You don’t have to cut your story to size to incorporate the image of the star.

I think that’s the message for the regional movies also- especially malayalam. Avoid stars and your writer is free to write a better story.


Gugan said...

I think there are very few tamil film viewers who are interested in parallel or the multiplex commerce takes over...tamil industry being a smaller market, compared to hindi,always like to tread on the known path..
but new type film viewers are evolvin too..its time directors catered to them...
i'd very much like to see movies made on freedom fighters in tamilnadu and kings who had ruled tamils...but its all a long way to go..

Temple oak said...

Definitely as you said market dictates the terms. And another thing is target audience. For tamil movies the target gp is different while for the hindi multiplex movies its mainly the upper socioeconomic status educated strata.

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