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Kollywood & Oscar – Friday Spl. Article by Naveen

Indian cinema in general and Tamil cinema in particular is pinning big hopes on ‘Visaranai’, which has been named as the country’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Though we have Oscar winners A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty in our midst, no Kollywood film has managed to win an Academy award so far. While wishing the Vetrimaaran movie to make an indelible impact in the Oscar this year, looks back at Tamil films that were named by India for Academy awards, in the past.
‘Deiva Magan’ is a 1969 film directed by A C Tirulokchandar. It stars Sivaji Ganesan (in three roles) and Jayalalitha in lead roles with Pandari Bai, M N Nambiar and Chittoor V. Nagaiah in supporting roles.
The movie was produced by Periyanna under Shanti Films. It was an adaptation of Bengali stage play Ulka by Dr. Nihar Ranjan Gupta. The dialogues for the film were written by Aarur Dass.
The plot revolves around a lawyer with a scarred face (Sivaji Ganesan), gets married to Pandari Bai. The couple lead a happy life and Pandari Bai gives birth to twin brothers, a son with a scarred face (also Ganesan) like his father and a brother (also Ganesan).  Their father unable to tolerate his eldest son’s face leaves him under the custody of another person and tells his wife that the first child is dead.
As years pass by, the father becomes a justice and his younger son, a happy-go-lucky college-going timid son, falls in love with Jayalalithaa. In the meanwhile, the elder son comes to know about his family and tries to meet his mother and brother but he is asked by his father not to reveal his identity to them.
‘Nayagan’ is a 1987 crime-drama film written and directed by Mani Ratnam and starring Kamal Haasan. It is loosely based on the real-life Bombay underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar, and sympathetically depicts the struggle of South Indians living in Bombay (now Mumbai).
The film also stars Saranya Ponvannan in her film debut. Karthika, Nassar, Janagaraj, Delhi Ganesh and Tinnu Anand play significant roles. The soundtrack and score of the film were composed by Ilaiyaraaja and was met with a successful response after release. The film has been inspired from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film ‘The Godfather’.
In 2005, the magazine TIME included ‘Nayagan’ in its list of “All-Time 100 Best Films”. The film was also included in The Moving Arts Film Journal’s list of greatest films of all time.
‘Anjali’ is a 1990 film directed by Mani Ratnam. It stars Raghuvaran, Revathi, Master Tarun, Baby Shruti Vijaykumar and Baby Shamili in the leading roles.
The background score and soundtrack were composed by Ilaiyaraaja. ‘Anjali’ was the composer’s 500th film. The film deals with the story of a dying mentally disabled child, and the emotional trauma experienced by her family.
The film was dubbed into Hindi and Telugu and released under the same name. ‘Anjali’ was critically acclaimed, winning three National Film Awards.
‘Thevar Magan’ is a 1992 film directed by Bharathan. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Revathi, Gouthami and Nassar in pivotal roles.
The film’s soundtrack album and background score were composed by Ilaiyaraaja while the cinematography was handled by P. C. Sriram. The film’s script was written by Kamal Haasan who also produced the film along with his brother Chandra Haasan under the production company Raaj Kamal Films International.
The film tells the story of Sakthivel who returns home to meet his father Periya Thevar who is a respected village chieftain to marry his girlfriend. Sakthivel comes to know that the villagers are facing huge problems due to his father’s stepbrother and his nephew.
After the death of his father, Sakthivel takes over the duty of his father. Rest of the film is about how Sakthivel solves the problems of villagers.
‘Kuruthipunal’ is a 1995 buddy cop action thriller film directed by veteran cinematographer P. C. Sreeram. The film stars Kamal Haasan in the lead role, with Arjun and Nassar in supporting roles.
The film’s background score was composed by Mahesh Mahadevan. Produced by Kamal Hassan, the story is a remake of Govind Nihalani’s Hindi film ‘Drohkaal’.
The film met with critical acclaim upon release and became a trendsetter for action films during that period of time. The film was dubbed in Telugu as ‘Drohi’.
‘Indian’ is a 1996 vigilante film directed by Shankar and produced by A M Rathnam. The film stars Kamal Haasan in dual roles with Manisha Koirala, Urmila Matondkar, Sukanya and Goundamani appearing in other pivotal roles.
The film’s score and soundtrack were composed by A. R. Rahman, while cinematography was handled by Jeeva.
The film focuses on an ex-freedom fighter turned vigilante bent on rooting out corruption and his son, who is at the other end of the spectrum by facilitating corrupt practices leading to unfortunate events.
‘Jeans’ is a 1998 romantic comedy film written and directed by S Shankar. It was produced by Ashok Amritraj and Murali Manohar, with Prashanth, Aishwarya Rai and Nassar in the lead roles, while Raju Sundaram, Raadhika Sarathkumar and Lakshmi play supporting role characters.
The film featured soundtrack by A R Rahman, while Ashok Kumar and the duo B Lenin and V T Vijayan handled the cinematography and editing respectively.
The film opened to Indian audiences on 24 April 1998 and was the most expensive film to be made in Indian cinema at that time. Owing to its success, it was later dubbed into the Hindi and Telugu language and released with the same title.
‘Hey Ram’ is a 2000 period crime drama film simultaneously made in Tamil and Hindi language. The film was written, directed and produced by Kamal Haasan and he also starred as the protagonist in the film.
The film’s soundtrack and background score were composed by Ilaiyaraaja. The semi-fictional plot centres on India’s partition and the murder of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse.

By Naveen


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