How South Film Industries are different in their ideologies? Are they Promoting Anti-Hindu elements? Why are Brahmins often targeted in Tamil films? Why is Tamil Movies are anti-Hindu or anti-God 😀 ? Is it a threat for Hinduism?
In recent times, there has been a prevailing notion among certain fanatic cyber warriors that Tamil and Malayalam movies are anti-Hindu, while Telugu movies are considered more pro-Hindu.
However, if you look closer, you will get a different narrative altogether. In this article, we will try to see a different shade of Tamil cinema (Kollywood) and explore how it is different from other industries.
If you don’t have much time, this is a short and sweet answer.
Neo Wave Tamil Cinema: Breaking the Shackles of Casteism & Oppression.
The Neo Wave Tamil cinema movement, led by directors like Vetri Maaran, Ram, and Mari Selvaraj, directly addresses the issue of casteism. These films aim to break down caste barriers and raise awareness about the oppressive nature of the power.
Dravidian Identity: A Counterbalance to Hindu Nationalism
Tamil cinema has a strong connection with promoting the Dravidian identity. Filmmakers like Karunanidhi and Pa. Ranjith have used their films to support the Dravidian movement, which challenges the dominance of Hindu nationalism promoted by right-wing ideologies. Regional parties in Tamil Nadu actively support and endorse this expression as it is closely tied to their existence.
Now, let’s see other industries, in south, and let’s understand, how they are diversified in their core.
Kannada Cinema: Celebrating Linguistic Pride and Ethnic Minorities
In Kannada cinema, there is a strong emphasis on celebrating the language and Kannadiga pride, especially in popular mainstream films featuring superstars.
Furthermore, the emerging neo-wave Kannada films (Shetty gang) embrace and highlight the cultural heritage of the region, including its ethnic minorities.
These films explore the conservative perspectives from the past, emphasising the significance of preserving one’s roots and heritage.
Malayalam Cinema: A Diversified Motives in Narratives
The Malayalam film industry can be categorized into three distinct genres.
Firstly, there are films that promote communism and align with left-liberal ideologies. These movies often reflect progressive and socially conscious narratives but heavily biased with communism.
Secondly, there are films that explore stories related to the Islamic faith, particularly centered around the Malabar region. These movies shed light on the unique cultural aspects and experiences of the Muslim community.
Lastly, there is a group of creators who address a range of social issues, including casteism, oppression, bureaucratic atrocities, conservative mindsets and body shaming.
One distinct feature of Mollywood compared to all other industries is, Mollywood won’t promote linguistic pride, rather it talks against regionalism.
Telugu Cinema: Multiple Shades of Saviours, United by a Common Goal: Profit
Telugu cinema presents a diverse range of narratives and ideologies but with a common root: Conservatism.
Tollywood’s inclination towards conservatism can be attributed to a significant diaspora audience residing abroad. Telugu movies often evoke a sense of nostalgia and cultural pride among this diaspora community, creating a strong connection and a feeling of pride in their heritage.
The Sukumar school of filmmaking strongly promotes native culture and conservative values rooted in the past. In contrast, the Balakrishna and NTR schools perpetuate the aura of royal lineage and uphold brahmanical racial purity.
Another significant aspect of Telugu cinema is its dedication to portraying Hindu mythology and its symbols. Directors like Trivikram, Rajamouli, Koratala Siva, and Boyapati Srinu lead the way in bringing these mythological narratives or symbols to life on the big screen.
Additionally, emerging talents in Telugu cinema are increasingly busy with promoting Telangana dialect and celebrating linguistic pride.
However, it is worth noting that Telugu films often do not explicitly address the social issues mentioned in other industries. Films like Viduthalai, Taramani, Kadaisi Vivasayi may be rare in the Telugu film industry.
Why Tollywood Is Not Getting A Renaissance
The Telugu film industry is largely governed by a few influential figures, and all of them belong to any of the 2-3 castes, either Kamma (NTR Family, ANR Family, Nani & Mahesh Babu) or Kapu (Mega Family) or Kshatriyas (Prabhas, Ravi Teja & Sunil).
Even the writers or lyricists belong to the same group, be it great lyricists or writers, like Aathreya, Aarudra, Sri Sri, Veturi, Sirivennela, Ramajogayya Sastry, Jonnavithula, Tanikella Bharani, Avasarala Srinivas, K Viswanath, or Trivikram (all are Brahmins, if I am not wrong, but that’s not the point; the point is representation and diversities of identities)…
Secondly, neo-producers often characterized as oligarchs, whose primary focus is on business profitability. Consequently, aspects beyond commercial considerations are often given secondary importance.
It is crucial to understand that Tamil cinema, alongside other regional film industries, is not anti-Hindu. On the contrary, it actively promotes social equality, addresses casteism, and incorporates Hindu philosophy in its unique way.
Do you remember the film “Arangetram” where a purohit’s daughter turns to prostitution to uplift her family’s fortunes?
It’s been exactly fifty years since its release in 1973, directed by K. Balachander, a Tamil Iyer filmmaker often seen with holy ash on his forehead.
Being pro-Hindu or pro-any religion goes beyond blindly following orders or ideologies. It also entails the ability to criticize and refine, which is what makes Hinduism a liberal religion.
From Shankaracharya to K. Balachander, they all engaged in critiquing and fixing the system instead of blindly adhering to ancient manuscripts and commandments.
“Anti-Hindu” is a lens, if one holds extremely pro – Hindutva views, you will find any critic as a threat.
Now let me tell you a secret, that rarely people understands: It’s not only Telugu Films, Tamil Films are also great at promoting Hinduism. But both are not same.
How does Tamil cinema incorporate and promote Hindu philosophy?
For those interested in delving deeper, it’s worth noting that Tamil cinema is actually at the forefront of promoting Hinduism.
The term “anti-Hindu” is an ambiguous word, leaving us wondering what truly constitutes a film as anti-Hindu. Does it require explicit portrayal of Hinduism or Hindutva or its symbols to be considered pro-Hindu?
And who has the authority to determine these categorizations?
Before answering these questions and understanding the anti-Hindu or pro-Hindu elements in the Tamil film industry, let’s talk about Hinduism and its nuances.
Exploring the Nuances
Through conversations with a diverse range of individuals, including liberals and ultra right-wing fanatics, I’ve discovered that the true depth and adaptability of Hinduism often go unnoticed.
When compared to Abrahamic religions, Hinduism stands out with its tolerance and flexibility, offering a unique perspective. Hindusim doesn’t believe in Supremacy of one god and it help the followers to be tolerant to other religions & beliefs.
Now, let us see the essence of Hindusim, through the lens of a liberalist.
Hinduism: Beyond Religion
Hinduism transcends conventional religious boundaries and encompasses a way of life and a rich cultural framework. It move into profound existential questions, explores the purpose of life, and intricately examines the relationship between humanity and the divine.
At its core, Hinduism is way of life (just like Democracy), shaping a holistic worldview (Loka samstha sukhino bhavanathu).
To understand how South movies, especially Tamil films, promote Hinduism, it is essential to explore some of the unique philosophies within the religion.
These philosophies form the very foundation of many Tamil films, resonating with audiences and communicating profound messages.
The Cycle of Rebirth
Reincarnation, a central belief in Hinduism, explores the concept of the soul’s successive rebirth in new bodies after death.This aligns with the idea of a cyclic theory of time, where the divine takes multiple incarnations to restore cosmic harmony.
Translation: “Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in unrighteousness, O Arjuna, I manifest Myself on earth.”
From 1963 film “Nenjam Marappathillai” to Films like “Maanaadu,” or the bilingual film “Awe” directed by Prashanth Varma, or Suriya’s “24,” and Vishnu Vishal’s “Indru Netru Naalai” beautifully showcase this philosophy of reincarnation or cyclic theory of time.
Atman and Brahman
Hinduism introduces the concept of Atman, which refers to the individual self or soul. Hinduism believes that Atman is eternal and intricately connected to the god or divine power known as Brahman. Unlike the Abrahamic religions that view the soul as a distinct, separate entity created by God, Hinduism emphasizes the inseparability of the individual self (soul) from the divine.
“The self is never born nor does it ever die; nor having come to be will it ever cease to be. The self is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval.” (Chapter 2, Verse 20)
This fundamental philosphy is different from the idea of resurrection.
While Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism believe in the resurrection of the physical body in a transformed state, Hinduism presents a different perspective.
Tamil Films Promoting this Core Philosophies are many. Let’s explore a few remarkable examples:
Kamal Hassan’s “Anbe Sivam” (2003)
This thought-provoking film revolves around the concept of “Ayam Atma Brahma,” highlighting the belief that the divine essence resides within each of us. It celebrates the profound connection between individuals and the divine, fostering empathy, compassion, and spiritual growth.
Bala’s “Naan Kadavul” (2009)
Directed by Bala, “Naan Kadavul” embodies the essence of Hindu philosophies with its exploration of divine intervention, the paths of karma, and the transformative power of devotion. It delves into the complexities of human existence, while emphasizing the cosmic interconnectedness between mortals and the divine.
“Karnan” by Mari Selvaraj
“Karnan” weaves a powerful narrative rooted in social justice and equality, drawing inspiration from ancient Hindu epics. It highlights the struggles of the marginalized and champions the notion of dharma (righteousness) against oppression, the hero is supported by the soul of his sister.
This list won’t ends here, it’s long.
Diverse Paths to Salvation
In Hinduism, individuals have the freedom to choose from multiple paths to attain spiritual liberation.This is in contrast to Abrahamic religions, which often advocate a more singular path to salvation
Karma Yoga advocates selfless service as a means to spiritual growth. It emphasizes performing actions with a sense of duty, without seeking personal gain. Tamil heroes often deliver dialogues that reflect this philosophy, inspiring audiences with the importance of altruistic heroism.
“Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani.” (Chapter 2, Verse 47)
Krishna advises Arjuna to focus on his duty without being attached to the outcomes or being driven by personal desires. He emphasizes the importance of selfless action.
Bhakti Yoga focuses on devotion and love for the divine. It involves cultivating a deep and personal relationship with a chosen deity or form of the divine. While this philosophy was more prominent in the 80s and 90s, its representation has become relatively rare in contemporary Tamil cinema.
Jnana Yoga centers around knowledge and wisdom. It emphasizes the pursuit of self-realization and understanding the true nature of oneself and the universe. Modern Tamil heroes and heroines often embody this philosophy, celebrating personal freedom and intellectual introspections.
Tamil Films Showcasing Diverse Paths & Moksha
Films like “Oh My Kadavule” (2020), Thiagaraja Kumaraja’s “Super Deluxe,” Vikram’s “Anniyan,” Manikandan’s “Kadaisi Vivasayi” and Suriya’s “7 am Arivu” serve as noteworthy examples that showcase the philosophy of diverse paths to salvation and talks about Moksha. These films explore different aspects of the paths to liberation, offering audiences thought-provoking narratives that inspire introspection and self-discovery.
Karma vs. Divine Judgment
Hinduism introduces the profound concept of Karma, where the consequences of one’s actions and intentions shape their future experiences and circumstances. Even God can’t escape Karma.
In contrast, Abrahamic religions emphasize the concept of divine judgment, where individuals are held accountable for their actions and face rewards or punishments in an afterlife.
In simpler terms, irrespective of prayers, good deeds, or repentance, Karma remains as a nasty b**ch which follows individuals throughout their lives. Tamil cinema frequently explores these themes, offering thought-provoking narratives that showcase this nasty face of Karma.
Prominent Examples which explore Karma in Tamil Cinema
Tamil films have explored the depths of Karma, presenting captivating stories that reflect the consequences of one’s actions.
Let’s explore some noteworthy examples:
Nalan Kumarasamy’s “Andavan Kattalai” examines the struggles of two individuals as they face the repercussions of their choices, illustrating the complex workings of Karma.
Kamal Hassan’s iconic film “Nayagan” portrays the journey of a gangster grappling with the Karmic consequences of his actions, ultimately seeking redemption.
Manikandan’s “Kutrame Thandanai” delves into the life of a man caught in a web of events driven by Karma, highlighting the impact of past actions on the present.
Films like “Dashavatharam,” “Super Deluxe,” and “Katradhu Tamizh” also explore the themes of Karma, inviting audiences to contemplate the interconnectedness of actions and their consequences.
Dharma: Morality and Ethical Duties
Hinduism embraces the concept of Dharma, encompassing moral and ethical duties. It recognizes that moral standards can vary based on circumstances, life stages, and social roles.
Abrahamic religions often adhere to a divine commandments and sins, where moral standards are considered fixed and rooted in the commands of God. In Hinduism it’s not black and white, rather it’s grey.
The conversation between Arjuna and Krishna during at Kuruskhetra is the proof for this.
“Better is one’s own dharma, though imperfectly performed, than the dharma of another well-performed. Better is death in one’s own dharma; the dharma of another is fraught with fear.” (Chapter 3, Verse 35)
Filmmaker Thiagaraja Kumaraja aptly captures this philosophy in his own words, “Yethu Thevaio Athu Dharamam” (What we need is Dharma).
Films like “Aaranya Kaandam” and “Super Deluxe” illustrate this philosophy, where the concepts of right and wrong become blurred. These works challenge viewers to navigate through the shades of gray, exploring the complexities of morality and the multifaceted nature of human actions.
There is nothing absolute right or wrong; it’s all depending upon the lenses and the needs. Essentially, It’s about you and your survival.
Maya: The Illusion of the Material World:
Hinduism introduces the concept of Maya, acknowledging that the phenomenal world is an illusion, and true reality lies beyond the perceptions of the senses.
In contrast, Abrahamic religions generally consider the physical world as real, created by god and not inherently illusory.
“The wise mourn neither for the living nor for the dead.” (Chapter 2, Verse 11)
Once again, director Thiagaraja Kumaraja delves into the concept of maya in his recent film “Ninaivo Oru Paravai,” questioning the boundaries between reality and imagination.
Even Thiagaraja Kumaraja’s “Super Deluxe” talks about the same in the end with the characters alien and Gajji.
Films like “Bogan” by Lakshman, “Awe” by Prashanth Verma, “Kadaisi Vivasayi” (Vijay Sethupathi track) by Manikandan, “Diary” by Arulnithi, “Eeram” by Arivazhagan, “Karnan” by Mari Selvaraj, and “Deja Vu” by Arvind Srinivasan also touch upon the theme of Maya. One personal favorite is Nalan Kumarasami’s “Soodhu Kavvum.“
These films challenge our perception of reality, inviting us to contemplate the illusory nature of the material world and the deeper truths that lie beyond.
Panentheism: Divine Presence in Nature
One striking aspect of Hinduism is its belief in panentheism, acknowledging the divine presence within all aspects of the natural world.
This one is my personal favourite philosophy considering Hinduism as a way of life. All the ancient civilisations followed this.
This sets it apart from the monotheistic beliefs of Abrahamic religions, which emphasize the existence of a singular God or Supreme God.
Hinduism perceives the divine as immanent within nature and all living beings.
I remember when I was a child, I was scared of a centipede and tried to kill it. Then my grandma shouted at me, “Lakshmi Devi” will curse me if I kill a centipede. Because the centipede is Lakshmi Devi’s chariot. This might sound ridiculous, but there is a strong impact on nature. After that incident I never intentionally hurt any animals or reptiles, be they a snake, a spider, a lizard, or a dog. It’s a fear, for a good cause.
Everything in nature is related to God. From Ganges, Himalayas, Rats, Snakes to even Ashes.
This pantheistic approach fosters a deep sense of interconnectedness, reverence, and responsibility towards the nature..
Environmental Conservation and Sustainability
Hinduism’s panentheistic perspective aligns harmoniously with efforts towards environmental conservation and sustainability. By recognizing the divinity in nature, Hinduism instills a profound respect for and protection of the environment. It promotes the idea that humans have a sacred duty (dharma) to preserve and care for the natural world, perceiving it as an integral part of their spiritual journey.
The film “Kadaisi Vivasayi” directed by Manikandan, serves as a remarkable example that exemplifies these themes.
Kadaisi Vivasayi’s title card is shown with a shot of a peakcock on the rock and a song in the background, which translates to “Whether you are a figment of imaginations or an idol made by humans, Muruga, you have a boundless devotion.”
In the movie, later, the farmer asks the court, “How can I kill Murugan’s peacocks?” Will write another post on this soon.
Through the portrayal of peacocks, paddy fields, trees, and stones as divine entities, the movie beautifully captures the interconnectedness between humans and the natural world.
It emphasizes the significance of living in harmony with nature, showcasing the traditional practices of elderly farmers who deeply respect and protect the environment.
Personal Freedom and Fanaticism
It is essential to note that the philosophies discussed here aim to empower individuals rather than impose religious dogmas or the authority of a godman.
That is why I said, Hinduism is a way of life.
Unfortunately, some fanatics distort these philosophies in the name of culture and heritage, thereby disrupting the true essence of this “way of life” nature of Hinduism.
I have heard stories from my friends about the challenges they face when it comes to inter-religious marriages. They often share the consequences they encounter from church communities and religious dogmas.
In many cases, if they marry someone from another religion, the expectation is that the non-islamic partner must convert, or else the community may resort to ostracizing the family.
It’s disheartening to witness the impact of such rigid beliefs on personal choices and the potential for social exclusion.
Thankfully, as a Hindu, I have the freedom to marry a girl from any community without interference from temples or pandits. However, I am concerned that these fanatics may soon infringe upon this freedom of choice in the name of religion and culture.
In my opinion, those who attempt to confine this vast philosophy within rigid structures and commandments are the ones who are anti-Hindu.
On the other hand, those who promote the philosophy and question or criticise the evils in beliefs can be considered pro-Hindu.
We’ve all heard of actor Vikram, the star who has won hearts with his versatile performances.
Though he born in Film Family, why he couldn’t succeed initially?
Why he couldn’t become a superstar though Rajanaikanth predicted the same?
But do you know how he made it to the top, against all the odds?
Vikram’s journey to stardom is a tale of grit, determination, and hard work that is sure to inspire and thrill you.
The Inspiring Journey of Actor Vikram
Born into a family connected to the film industry, his father’s failed career made it hard for him to break in. His father was a producer, his maternal uncle was director-actor(Thiagarajan), his cousin was top-star Prashanth.
But he didn’t get much support from his maternal family. Despite these setbacks, Vikram pursued his dream of becoming an actor and caught the attention of directors as a model.
He also learned karate (his karate classmate Besant Ravi, later turned out to be a sidekick villain in films) and dance to improve his skills.
Overcoming Challenges: Vikram’s Early Struggles in the Film Industry
Although Vikram demonstrated exceptional talent and dedication, his 1990s acting career was characterized by setbacks.
Vikram’s debut movie, En Kadhal Kanmani, premiered in 1990. Over the course of his first 15 films, 11 were box office disappointments, with Ullasam being the lone average performer.
Vikram’s luck improved when Amitabh Bachchan produced Ullasam, starring Ajith and Maheswari as the lead pair. Initially, the filmmakers had intended to cast Arun Vijay in a co-lead role, but he was not interested in dual-hero projects and that led to Vikram’s signing instead.
This opportunity allowed Vikram to work on smaller film projects.
However, his luck was short-lived, and he soon found himself taking on minor roles in Malayalam and Telugu cinema.
To make ends meet, Vikram even resorted to dubbing for other actors, such as Prabhu Deva and Ajith. Despite these challenges, Vikram remained steadfast in his determination to achieve success.
Actor Vikram to Chiyaan Vikram
Actor Vikram’s cousin Prashanth was already a top star, but they didn’t communicate with each other. Fortunately, luck favored Vikram once more in 1997, as it had during Ullasam.
Assistant director of Balu Mahendra, Bala, penned an unusual romantic script titled “Sethu” (originally “Akhilan”), inspired by his classmate’s story.
First, Bala offered the leading role to his housemate Vignesh, who declined. Next, actor J.D. Chakravarthy was approached, but he was unavailable due to another commitment. Murali was also considered but ultimately did not join the project. In 1997, Bala finally offered the role of Sethu to Vikram, who was struggling at the time.
Vikram believed that Sethu would be his big break. He declined smaller roles and took a risk.
To prepare for his character, he shaved his head, lost 21 kilograms to become half his size, grew his nails, and spent hours in the sun to darken his skin as the script required. Vikram lived on fruit juice for six months and maintained his appearance with a minimal diet.
Regrettably, Sethu encountered financial obstacles and was stalled due to Bala’s perfectionism and rustic approach to coworkers.
Director Ameer, Bala’s assistant at the time, implored various producers to invest in the film. Even after post-production, the film had difficulty finding a distributor, and only after 67 screenings did it secure a buyer. Most rejected the film due to its tragic ending.
Bala and Vikram used funds from Vikram’s wife, Shailaja, to organize press previews. Despite favorable reviews, no one showed interest in buying the film, leaving it completed but unreleased.
Ultimately, the film premiered on December 10, 1999, with a single afternoon showing in a B- Class theater. Thanks to word-of-mouth publicity, the film ran for over 100 days in multiple Chennai theaters.
As a result, Vikram was swarmed by fans on the streets. Sethu’s blockbuster success proved that Vikram’s dedication and faith had paid off. Following Sethu’s success, Vikram added the prefix “Chiyaan” to his screen name.
The Rise of Chiyaan Vikram: Success with Saamy and Anniyan
Vikram’s success didn’t come easily, and it wasn’t everlasting. After Sethu, Saamy elevated Vikram’s career. The film broke box office records in Tamil Nadu, surpassing Rajnikanth’s highest-grossing movie, Padayapa.
After watching Saamy, Rajnikanth himself predicted that Vikram would become the next superstar. Saamy remained Tamil Nadu’s highest-grossing film until 2005 when Anniyan broke records across South India.
The Two Critical Errors in Vikram’s Career
Although Vikram didn’t have as many fans as Vijay or Ajith, he dominated the far more extensive family audience, which comprised 65% of weekend watchers back then.
However, he made two critical errors in his career after 2005:
First, he didn’t focus much on mass masala films, while Ajith and Vijay pursued a mix of scripts.
Ajith delivered big hits like Dheena, Citizen, Villain, Attagasam, Varalaru, and Billa, which generated substantial profits.
Ajith’s flops included Red, Raja, Anjaneya, Jana, Ji, Tirupathi, and Aalwar.
As you can see, with six hits and seven flops, Ajith managed to survive by the skin of his teeth, till the release of Mankatha.
Vijay delivered average or hits during this period, including Tirumalai, Tirupachi, Bagavathi and blockbusters like Ghilli and Pokkiri.
Vijay’s flops during this period were Azhagiya Tamil Magan, Aathi, Udhaya and Sachein.
With four hits and only four flops during this period, Vijay thrived and managed to become one of the first choices for producers and distributers.
Secondly, He invested too much time in films like I (and even Robot) and Raavanan, causing him to miss out on many films, for example Ratsasan. The good decision is he rejected the villain role in Pushpa.
Similarly, after the collapse of Kanthasamy, he chose stereotypical projects or ordinary plots, such as Rajapattai, Thandavanam, Sketch, or 10 Endrathakulla. Out of this only Thandavam could manage some positive reviews.
Chiyaan Vikram: Versatile with No Haters
After 2010, his only decent hits were Daiva Thirumagal and Iru Mugan.
Vikram encountered numerous challenges, including financial struggles, small role offers, and missed opportunities with renowned filmmakers.
Yet, even during those difficult times, he trusted his chosen path and pushed himself to improve. Despite setbacks, his performances in films like Saamy, Anniyan, and Bheema solidified his position in the industry as a versatile actor.
Vikram’s journey exemplifies grit, determination, and perseverance. His performances, transparency, and dedication to his profession continue to inspire us.
While many actors have foreign accounts, Vikram still uses his SBI account at the Besant Nagar Branch for transactions. He is a man of honesty and simplicity.
Actor Vikram’s Latest Movies: High Hopes for Thangalan and Dhruva Natchathiram
Even with numerous box office failures in recent years, actor Vikram remains a beloved figure in the Tamil film industry. This could be attributed to the audience’s admiration for his dedication to his roles and passion for cinema.
In both successful and unsuccessful films, Vikram’s enthusiasm and commitment are evident, garnering the respect and admiration of fans, including myself.
We have high expectations for his upcoming releases, such as Pa. Ranjith’s Thangalan and GVM’s Dhruva Natchathiram.
With Maniratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan 2 (PS-2) releasing tomorrow, we’ll witness the star Vikram shining once more as Aditya Karikalan, showcasing his capabilities to the world.
As the saying goes, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Vikram’s passion for his craft sets him apart, making him a true underdog hero in the film industry.