ARANGETRAM Part 2: The Man

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Normally, you could put a movie into one of these three general categories: Art-House, Commercial or Documentary …

But in KB’s case, most of his movies pretty much offered a portion of each category… When only a portion is offered it’s hard to put it into any specific category…

KB often refers to himself as a a theatreman who blundered into cinema by accident. But I see him as Subrahmanya Bharathi of Tamil Cinema. A cinematic poet. As soon as he sees the shadow approaching reality (Nizhal Nijamakirathu) he finds new meanings (Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal) to echo (Ethiroli)  the voices of old poets. His films are like  a house with two doors (Oru Veedu Iru Vasal), so at the box-office it becomes a coin toss (Poova Thalaya).

KB’s strength is in creating characters… I mean the characters he creates stays in your mind, even if nothing else in the movie makes sense… This is because the attitude of these characters towards any subject is very real and common within a society… KB’s movies mostly comes in the form of social commentary (and his favorite target being the Middle-Class)…

From his first movie “Neer Kumizhi” (aka Water Bubbles) in 1965, KB was out on a mission to break cinematic myths of Tamil Cinema… And in his fourth movie “Bama Vijayam” (aka Bama’s Victory) in 1967, he broke the first major myth…

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The 60’s myth was that if you didn’t use big name stars, you wouldn’t be able to succeed at the Box Office… Bama Vijayam succeeded using just comedians and character actors…

The table you see at the bottom (a table I stole from my Movie Rental store’s database, unfortunately they only carry Tamil movies… Paarthale Paravasam was actually his 100th movie) has a column titled “No. of Days”… And most of the times, that’s probably the only thing producers look at… The Column refers to the number of days a movie stays in four or more theaters, if it crosses the century mark, producers would end-up at your door steps… This system has killed the careers of so many directors… But in KB’s case, even when his movies failed to cross the century mark, the producer’s were still willing to take the risk… Out of KB’s 52 Tamil movies, only 16 crossed that magic mark…

KB is a very smart moviemaker; he didn’t jump quickly into Nouvelle Vague… Instead, he used his first 19 movies to build an audience for himself making conventional movies (while adding smaller elements of Nouvelle Vague)…

And with his 20th movie “ARANGETRAM” in 1973, he uncorks a full bottle of Nouvelle Vague… New formulas and styles was what it was all about… Nouvelle Vague’s first rule was to come up with unpredictable endings for a film, you have to keep changing it film after film… Another rule was to force the audience to break the habit of using the screen as the wall to scale in order to escape from their lives…

Now, I will talk about styles that you would find in Nouvelle Vague films that you could also find in KB’s movies… Styles that you wouldn’t see in conventional movies… And I’m going to pick them all from”ARANGETRAM”

(I) EXTREME CLOSE-UPS of FACIAL EXPRESSIONS:

 

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(II) Use of SHADOWS

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(III) Use of MIRRORS

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No.

Year

Film Title

No. of Days

1 1965 Neer Kumizhi  
2 1965 Naanal  
3 1966 Major Chandrakant  
4 1967 Bama Vijam 100 Days
5 1967 Anubavi Raja Anubavi  
6 1968 Thamarai Nenjam  
7 1968 Ethir Neechal 100 Days
8 1969 Poova Thalaya 100 Days
9 1969 Iru Kodagal  
10 1970 Patham Pasali  
11 1970 Navagraham  
12 1970 Kaviyath Thalaivi 100 Days
13 1971 Ethiroli  
14 1971 Punnagai  
15 1971 Nootrukku Noor  
16 1971 Nangu Suvargal  
17 1972 Velli Vizha  
18 1972 Kanna Nalama  
19 1973 Sollathan Ninaikiren  
20 1973 Arrangetram 217 Days
21 1974 Naan Avanillai  
22 1975 Apoorva Raagangal 100 Days
23 1976 Moondru Mudichu  
24 1976 Manmatha Leelai  
25 1977 Pattina Pravesam  
26 1977 Avargal  
27 1977 Aval Oru Thodarkathai  
28 1978 Thappu Thalangal  
29 1978 Nizhal Nijamakirathu  
30 1979 Nool Veli  
31 1979 Ninaithale Inikkum  
32 1980 Varumayin Niram Sigappu 100 Days
33 1981 Thillu Mullu  
34 1981 Thaneer Thaneer  
35 1981 Enga Ooru Kannagi  
36 1981 47 Natkal  
37 1982 Agni Sakshi 100 Days
38 1983 Poikkal Kuthirai  
39 1984 Achamillai Achamillai 100 Days
40 1985 Sindhu Bhairavi 284 Days
41 1985 Kalyana Agathigal 100 Days
42 1986 Punnagai Mannan 106 Days
43 1987 Manathil Uruthi Vendum 100 Days
44 1988 Unnal Mudiyum Thambi  
45 1989 Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal 175 Days
46 1990 Oru Veedu Iru Vasal  
47 1991 Azhakan  
48 1992 Vaaname Ellai 175 Days
49 1992 Jathi Malli  
50 1994 Duet  
51 1996 Kalki 100 Days
52 2001 Paarthale Paravasam  
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3 Comments

Filed under Simpleton "The Critic"

3 responses to “ARANGETRAM Part 2: The Man

  1. giri

    A very interesting article.

  2. i always frequent movie rentals because i am a movie addict and i watch so many movies at one time `”:

  3. Uma

    I found your comments very interesting.
    I am curious whether Balachander ever made a movie with Sivaji Ganesan or MGR who were the most popular actors in the mid 1950s, 1960s and later decades. If not, why?

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