[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Tamil Short Film Festival- NJ

We had a great time. There were a few movies I really liked and some I wasnt too happy about. In all it was a worthy effort by the organizers. Around 70+ turned out for the day and I was totally surprised to see such small audience in NJ, the home of largest tamil population outside San Jose!

Oruthi, a full length feature film, that won the national award last year(i think), was the gem of the day. Of course, this is the only feature film of the day and was just shown as a artistic entertainer. It had a great story about a low-cast woman in 1800s in rural tamilnadu. Braving against the principles of upper caste system, she wins the heart of everyone in the village by her wit. Yet, the upper caste panchayat people fail to accept her love for an upper caste boy when they ask her to run away with that guy instead of getting her married infront evey one. She fails to leave back her loved ones and mother land and sacrifices her love infavour of knowledge and education! An awesome story indeed with a great movie making style and gripping script.

There were two movies that voiced the attrocities against dalits in Tamilnadu. In addition to being extremely graphical, the movie Untouchable Country showed just one side of the scenario. The organizers intelligently affixed a disclaimer before the telecast by saying they dont want to offend anyone by that movie. To me, some of the messages were unacceptable, but I agree, dalits voice must be heard. The movie is more targeted at UN and International audience to whom it might give the worst picture of problem.

Jallikkatu had a fantastic narration and picturization and it aso showed both sides of the issue. It questioned if the jallikkattu is really an art of bravery or is it a dangerous sport worth only shame on us for promoting it? A local lad gave a great explaination for why they have been doing jallikkattu for centuries…Muniandi, the God of bravery, needs Human blood that is legally given via jallikkattu victims, which otherwise would have been act of crime!. This is an ideal short film/documentary.

Vasthu Marabu was very informative and philosophical. One of the greatest sculptors in tamilnadu opens up his heart to speak about that art and tradition of indian sculpture. He goes beyond anyones imagination in describing the art and its intricacies. A wonderful eye opener, a must see for youngsters and kids.

Cycle, Oru Naal, APPA fall in my OK category. A good theme with not-so-good filming style. Cycle is shot in srilanka and touches everything from kanni vedi accidents to philosophy. I couldnt understand the dialogues sometimes, as they were in Ilangai Tamil. Oru Naal questions should coolie’s children become a coolie as well? I do agree with the theme of the movie and its severity, but the film itself had no effect on me. Appa is nothing more than another Sun TV soap, except it asked a reasonable question: Is Rowdism becoming so popular and lucrative that its a proud and previlaged honor?

By now, we had already gotten hit too much with sympathy waves, we broke away for a coffee right on time for Thappu Katta, another dalit humilation showcase film. Nothing more I could say except that the left over sympathy in everyone must have been totally washed away.

Chennai Pattnam was too good. The story line is very simple, a guy comes from a rural tuticorin village in search of a promising future to chennai. All he knows is padmanaban, a buddy of his from the same village, who had settled down reasonably well as a car driver in chennai. Our hero, understandably naive enough, loses the address of padmanaban and is taken for a ‘REAL’ ride by ever-eager auto drivers. Some kind-hearted chennaites do help him in his search, but every help is followed by twice as much cowards. He gets pickpocketed and unable to bear both the physical pain and mental agony, eventually passes out in front of a building. Dramatically enough, the address slip(an extremely small piece paper with padmanaban’s address distorted from i believe sweat or rain) sneaks out from one of the dozen torn pockets of his handmade nylon bag. THe address reads ’17, Iswarya Flats’…the camera rolls over him to a sign board on the wall behind him that reads ’17, Iswarya Flats’. It was totally entertaining and emotional.

Thedal was equally good, but lacks emotional appeal. The message is for parents to not get lost in the daily chores only to leave the children longing for parents love and affection. Not so great filming I would say.

Br(a)illiant, was undoubtedly crowd’s favourite entertainer, not because it told a great story, but it was the most funny and light film of the day. It had no social theme or message. It was outright comedy with good screen play and direction. A thief sneaks into an apartment. Unfortunately a blind man, supposedly the occupant of the apartment, comes in surprising the theif. The rest of the 5 min movie is all about hilarious action sequences going on between the thief and the blind man and how the theif tries to avoid being identified or even sensed by the blind man. After trying hard, the theif runs away. But thats not the end of it, there is more…go & watch the film I say!. Its free at TriggerStreet.com. Register and look for the movie name. The film reminded of Charlie Chaplin movies. A good one indeed, everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.

In the end, It was worth the hour long drive and $30 admissions fee. We enjoyed it. The organizers could have mixed and matched the film sequence to keep the audience more engaged and excited. The entire morning session was a sympathy wave and rest of the afternoon bit relaxing. Perhaps that was an intended strategy. Two tamilians, athropologists at columbia, talked a lot during the open forum at the end of the day. It seemed like there was already two groups of people among the audience with different opinions about dalits etc. Not my cup of tea!

I also had the previlage of meeting an upcoming music director, Srikath. He was a nice gentleman and we spent quite a bit of time discussing some interesting stuff. He also owns a state-of-the-art music studio in Marylad(DC area) that I hope to visit sometime. You can visit his site to listen to all his recent creations and to know more about his recording studio.

We also met Ganesh who runs Tamil Oviam.com/. Apparently, Arun, my friend who directed Br(a)illiant and Ganesh co-founded Tamilovium.

It was late last night when we returned from the festival. The site of the festival being closer to Bridgewater Temple, we decided to make a long due visit to Swami. Not a best day/time to visit one of the popular temples in US, there were atleast 500 people inside that not so big praharam. To congest the place further, there was some utsavam going on with urvalams and special poojas to every idol. After an hour we went down to do what we really were thinking before our decision to visit temple, Food. It was already 8.50 and we managed to grab the last chunks of food as they were closing the canteen at 9. We reached home around 10.30 and went to sleep like a pig at 10.40!

Until Next.

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