Introduction The three Tamil movies that stand out brilliant acting, superb story lines and scintillating sequences of the action unfolding in line with the crux of the story, are Uthiripookkal (the fallen flowers), directed by the legendary Mahendran, some forty odd years ago, the superb movie called "Naayagan" (hero) where Kamal Hassan, the hero, literally lived the life of a Mumbai gangster, and the third, released some three years ago, called "Kaakka Muttai"(waste of crow).
Uthiripookal: sadism and all emotions Uthiripookkal released more than forty years ago. It is a superb story of two children who loose their parents in a short span of time. The father, a sadist, does all that he can to somehow marry his sister-in-law. What happens when he does not succeed in his attempt is described in superb detail.
The hero, the late Vijayan, was a "love to hate"figure for years after the film was released. He effortlessly played the role of the sadist Panchayat leader who was all unto himself in the village. His word was law. None in the village would dare to challenge him. He was always supported by his cronies. He would do anything and get away with it.
Things take a turn for the worse when a very young man joins the local school totally under the control of Vijayan, as a teacher. Not surprisingly, the young man falls in love with the sister-in-law of Vijayan. This uneducated girl is beautiful. The girl reciprocates his love.
Once Vijayan learns about the love affair, he warns the young man and his sister-in-law as well. He then tries the wicked route: trying to bully his wife to agreeing his own marriage with his sister-in-law as well. His wife refuses in spite of all torture.
The two small children do not understand much, except that they see the suffering of their mother. The small boy and his sister are helpless. Vijayan does not approve the love marriage of the boy with his sister-in-law and rapes his sister-in-law just before marriage. This scene is not the horrible stuff we see in every movie. It was decently shown, but the damage had been done. The girl is shattered.
Meanwhile, Vijayan's wife dies due to illness. The girl does not know that her mother is dead. She would go near the dead body and play with her mother's plastic bangles, asking her what happened to her!! This scene is splendid for its narration, and its so natural emotions and feelings.
The village elders who till then were quiet, gang up against him. When the entire village is against him, Vjayan cannot do anything. The elders request him to commit suicide by drowning himself in the pond in the same village. Vijayan, left to no choice, drowns himself. The two children run around the pond not knowing what happened to the father. The film ends with the title "Uthiripookkal".
This film, in which the heroine is Aswini, was the talk of Tamil Nadu for at least two years. Vijayan went on to become a good actor. Not much was heard of Aswini later. Splendid acting by the two child artists was a huge plus.
Naayagan: Dharavi, a Kamal Hassan movie Dharavi, the biggest slum in Asia, dominated by very poor people from South India, has been the subject of so many movies. This Mumbai area, noted for its anti-social activities, is also known for a huge amount of entrepreneurship as well.
To shoot a Tamil remake of the world-class "Godfather" with Kamal Hassan, was the ace director Mani Rathinam's brilliance. He simply made Kamal the gangster. Kamal is never seen to be aloof. The story, told with so much of violence, does not preach violence. The stark reality of violence blends so well with the main character called "Velu Nayakar", the gangster and the don. The police are after him for the murder of a corrupt police official. He then takes control of the entire Dharavi area and his word is law. The story has many twists and turns. His own son takes very much after him and gets killed in an accident in a petrol pump. The son's acting was simply superb as well (done by Nizhalgal Ravi).
His own daughter disowns him. He gets to meet her after marriage and she does not allow him to meet his own grandson. Later, she realizes her mistake and tries to make amends. It turns out that her husband, an honest police officer, is all out to arrest Velu Nayakar.
Velu Nayakar is arrested and is produced in a court of law. He gets acquitted, as the evidence is not strong against against him. He finally gets shot by the adopted son of the very same police official he killed several years ago. This somewhat mentally disturbed son seeks revenge for his father's death.
The superb song, "yaar addichcharo, yaar addichcharo" (who hurt you, my dear child) rings loud in the background, as the film ends, with the death of Kamal.
No wonder, Kamal Hassan went on to win the State and the National Awards for the best actor. This movie was also nominated for the Oscar award.
Kaakka Muttai: Reality of a North Chennai slum The film depicts the North of Chennai relatively as a very violent area and many gangsters have their homes here. The people mostly belong to the lower middle class, though the situation has changed in the past fifteen years.
The stark poverty with all its ramifications, and two small children who make a living by collecting coal dropped from the rail wagons and selling them in the local market, without going to school at all, was shown with superb precision. The acting by the lead actor, Ashwarya Rajesh, was simply superb. The children long to eat pizza, gather the money, but are not allowed inside the parlor where the pizza is sold. They are beaten up. The video of their beating makes its rounds in social media. Huge protests from public follow. Consequently, they are not only offered compensation, but are also cordially invited to have a pizza in full glare of the media.
However, the children do not find the pizza exciting at all. They go back to their old ways of collecting coal pieces. Poverty, shown with all sincerity, was very superbly woven into the main story.
The Rest of the Seven MGR's Ulagam Sutrum Valiban, shot in the seventies in places like Japan, does find a place in the top Ten, for its superb photography. Gemini Ganesan's Raamu, Sivaji Ganesan's Deiva Magan, Raaja, and Paasa Malar and Baabu make up six. The latest "Paapa Nasam" of Kamal Hassan, in my view, would be the seventh movie in the list of greatest movies. Of course, I have no idea of the fifties and the earlier period. However, none from those times would have anyway beaten the three, and the rest of the seven mentioned above, for sure.