It is incredible that they (Tamil industry) release an excellent parallel movie every month, one after other, and many of them even manage to earn something out of the box office. So salutes not just to the makers of these movies, but also to the general Tamil cinema viewers, who are looked down as stupid viewers across India. Isn't it a paradox that these most looked down cinema viewers also manage to watch the best parallel movies of modern Indian cinema, in the cinema house. It is actually funny that 99% of these Tamil movies are not even attempted to release in Kerala, the state whose viewers pride themselves as the most literate and profound movie goers of India.
Paradesi is from Bala. I think it is time Indian media celebrates this director, instead of celebrating the Tarantinos and the Speilbergs and even our own Mani Ratnam.
The very next day of joining my first job, I was send to escort a tourist group and arrived in Munnar. For few years that followed, I was always connected to Munnar through work. I trekked every where, knew a lot of people - those working in Forests and in Tea Estates, and was proud to tell my Kochi friends how I knew the region like the palm of my hand. But never, never I had thought about the origin of these Tea Estates, even if my job involved explaining about Tea to my clients. Bala just slapped on my face with Paradesi.
Bala take us back to the pre independence period. It is easy to say that British set up all these. But the whole labour came from the terribly poor Indians. They were bonded labours, in fact, brought from distant lands with promises of a bright future, but caged in like slaves in the Tea estates, with no way out. The end of the movie is like blocking down any ray of hope for escape.
The forefathers and mothers of all the Tamilians working in these Tea regions, may it be Ooty or Munnar or Meghamalai or Nuwara Eliya, they require some monuments in these present day tourist destinations. That is the least to ask. Thank you Bala for this movie, which is nothing less than a master piece. The shot of the rising palm, of a dying man, for the half time is arguably the most touching shot in Indian cinema.
Haridas is from GNR Kumaravelan, whose previous movies were , just that, some movies. But the man will make you stand up and applaud at the end of this one. This is a movie with a strong message and it is so beautifully told. A policeman, single father, trying to understand and bring up his Autistic boy.
He has mixed the official and personal life of the man in a brilliant way to give us thrill and emotion. I felt tears rolling down my cheek on more than a couple of occassions. But towards the end, it gives us as much of hope as the tears and that is wonderful. I think Haridas needs to be dubbed into every Indian language, for it has a great message, that a vast majority of our parents need to be aware about. And to propagate such a message, through such a wonderful 2 1/2 hour ride is simply brilliant. If Haridas was released in India as a Hollywood / Bollywood movie, I am sure it would have got lot of space in our media. But believe me, it is even better than many Hollywood feel goods. I can recall how Indian media was raving about Taare Zameen Par, couple of years back. Haridas is 10 times better than Taare Zameen Par.
So that's it, two completely different movies, and I found both of them unique.
If, any unfortunate soul reading this post, is planning to watch Paradesi and Haridas, let me warn you, Paradesi is dark. There is no entertainment at all, there are some songs though, one might even find it too slow, nor does it offer any picturesque views of the present day destinations. Just stark reality of suffering. Haridas, as well, does not offer any entertainment, the scene of the first day in Sneha's(teacher of Haridas) class is incredibly funny though. Probably you will feel some tension and emotion at many parts, but it does give you some hope. Both may not be cinematically perfect for the purist, and could have been better in some aspects (I found the back ground score of both movies not up there, along with some other aspects which I am happy to ignore) but one is definitely a master piece on an era and the other is the best father - son relationship we have seen in Indian cinema.
So that is it, two movies, one takes you to some hopeless people in a different era and the other is just about hope. My hearty and humble salutes to Tamil cinema.