People in Ahmedabad, do not often realize that South India has four different states. Onam afternoon, the little one (my young flatmate) sheepishly wished me a Happy Onam, and apologized for not wishing me in the morning. I thanked her, and then told her that I had no clue that it was Onam, for I was Tamil.
That night,we were at friends house for a semi tradional Onam dinner. A semi tradional Onam dinner included a couple of courses of rice, with rice payasam for dessert. A colleague struggled to eat the rice with her hands, gave up and started using her poppadum as a spoon. PP was astounded at the ease in which we South Indians ate rice with our hands. He demanded tutorials, expecting us to make balls of rice and throw them into our mouths with drama and flair, and I think was a tad disappointed at our rather chaste eating habits.
I have to take him home sometime, my dad is related to a very vile woman whose eating is a performance to behold. There will be rivulets of sambar and rasam running down her hands, and she will eat with great gusto and speed to prevent the liquids from running off her banana leaf, pausing every now and then to lick her hands upto her elbow. Her trick is to keep the food in the center of the leaf in a constant motion, creating a sort of whirlpool with her hands. As a young kid, whenever I had the misfortune of eating with her on the same table, I would lose my appetite, and would just stare at her mesmerized by the movement of her hands complimented by the odd slurping noise.
Three courses of rice, amongst other things made sure the conversation steered south, and soon we were discussing southern movies, Kollywood, Tollywood, Sandalwood and Mollywood to be specific. ( I have to confess that I had to google the Sandalwood part, and in my search I learnt that there is a Lollywood and Punjwood).
Being a true blue blood tamil man ponnu, ( Girl born on Tamil soil) I was appalled that there exists a confusion between thalaivar, mammooty and Nagarjuna, so I have decided to put down some tips, to help clear things up, especially for those who watch these films dubbed in Hindi.
Kollywood – Tamil Film Industry, named after Kodambakkam, the area in Chennai where are the film studios are located.
If you see a film with the one and only thalaivar, doing the awesome things he does, it is not just a a tamil movie, it is a RAJINIKANTH movie.
If you see a movie with heavy emotional drama, and a lot of make out scenes where the hero gets plenty of action, it is a Kamal Hasan movie. Nobody can make you cry like Kamal, so get the tissues ready.
If you see a film with a dark man dancing like rubber, performing death defying stunts which include flying, that is our Ilayathalapathi (young commander) Vijay, and it is a tamil movie.
If you see a huge middle aged man, dark as night, terrifying to look at, wearing purple/pink/green suits walking up and down grassy slopes as a young, white as milk damsel tries to woo him, that is CAPTAIN, a.k.a Vijayakanth. CAPTAIN is a very moral person, he will never fall prey to womans taunts, and will always look the other way, warding of the womans affections with a pained patient expression, and yes unfortunately it is a tamil movie too.
If you get confused, thinking there is a neandrathal or a highly evolved ape on TV, pretending to be a man, wearing bright colours and speaking only in rhyme, dont worry, that is TR. He is an actor, director, producer, music composer, choreographer and light boy. He has now given the limelight over to his aptly named son Chimpu, who thinks dancing is a competition of how fast you can move. He is known to gyrate at the speed of light, making lewd gestures at the same time. Like his father, he often directs, stars and sings in his own movies and yes, they are tamil movies too.(SIGH)
If you see a handsome man, who likes to display his well earned body in every shot, every single shot, that is Surya and it is a tamil movie.
Then there is the stick like Dhanush of the Kolaveri fame, who always acts as the poor boy, the loser, the misunderstood soul who gets the whiter than milk girl. He also has a penchant for acting in mentally disturbed roles.
The thing is we like our men dark, with moustaches, but the women are imported from North India, Andhra and Kerla and they need to be whiter than milk, and the curvier the better. If you see woman wearing clothes that are a size too small, with bits and pieces hanging out, it is probably a tamil movie. Unfortunately Kollywood is a male dominated industry and women flit in and out like butterflies and often play momma roles to the men they very recently danced around trees with. For a region so obsessed with everything Tamil, it is rather strange that there are so few tamil women actors.
The refereshing thing about tamil cinema is an incredible amount of variety, college love stories, shakespearean tragedies, war epics, cops and robbers, the works. A good number of films are still based in rural areas, where the protaganists are downright poor, or middle class, you would rarely see a film where the protoganists lived in London or New York without a financial care in the world.
Well, I tend to ramble on about tamil films, but to wrap up I shall impart some wisdom on the others.
Tollywood – Telegu films, from Andhra Pradesh, they are technologically very sound, and far ahead in computer graphics. They are also pioneer in masala films, and they have the beat. Chiranjeevi, the Telugu superstar has often been compared to Micheal Jackson, and has even remade Thriller, the telugu way. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7SS19cBs5I)
Mollywood – The malyalees like their men curvy too, Mammooty and Mohanlal, the stalwarts are two heavy weight champions who threaten to burst out of their costumes and are know for slow movies with strong story lines.
Sandalwood – I have never watched a Kannada movie, abut I think this song says it all – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOy5mF-xoTA.
PS: – This post is dedicated to the Patel Boys, PP and AP