Aadukalam, when it bagged about six National awards including the "Best Director" at the National Film awards last week, reinforced the legacy and value of Director Balu Mahendra in the Tamil filmdom. Balu Mahendra, for all his genius was one of the most uncelebrated and unappreciated figures ever to grace tamil cinema, in his days. His Cinematographic legacy - the beauty with which he caught those empty living rooms in natural lights - would live on those reels forever. More than that, his proteges - Ameer, Bala, Vetrimaaran, Ram - who now form an eclectic band of celebrated directors of today's tamil cinema (with three of the above four having won National Awards for their films), articulate his name aloud. They are giving him frequent "ஈன்ற பொழுதில் பெரிதுவக்கும்" moments. For the sheer efforts which Balu Mahendra has put in transferring his cinema and artistry to his proteges, he is right at the top as an all-time great - ahead of even Mani Ratnam or K.Balachander.
Aadukalam, doubtlessly was a mainstream product packed with more commercial interests than auteuristic sensibilities. Roosters are outright Phallic symbols in any possible cultural discourse and Aadukalam, exhibiting several ethnographic detailing on those lines, would have been one of the reasons why the film is given so much critical attention at the National Awards. Dhanush, winning the "Best Actor" only surprised a lot of people, keeping in mind that Aadukalam was not even Dhanush's best performance. In a retrospective scan through his career, Dhanush has packed his powerful performances in may be, "Kadhal konden" and "Pudhuppettai" and this award should hopefully foster the capable actor in him.
For me, the biggest surprise was Saranya bringing home the Urvasi award for the sixth time. For an actress, who is well past her prime, doing character-centric mother roles - this is definitely an achievement. Saranya, for me, is one of those very natural performers with almost zero stage consciousness, acting out her parts with a stunning ease. Her Kongu origins is probably making me feel that she can very easily connect and emote with the audience. Saranya was not a very successful actress in the first half of her career - she always appeared deglamourised and in a masala-cinema era dominated by her male counterparts, she was permanently sidelined like any other actress those days. Her best performances undoubtedly came in her second innings - "Thavamai Thavamirindhu", "Raam" and "Kalavaani" stand out. These days, her amma roles are over-stuffed with a serial-like melodrama but the finesse she brings to her histrionics is evident - she is a standout performer.
And, finally the Dada Saheb Phalke arrived to grace the grand old man of Tamil Cinema - K.Balachander. KB emerged in the mid-sixties and was very much productive throughout his career in terms of the film outputs - he directed over 100 films which will probably stay as a record forever. The Gender dynamics that K.B dealt in his films in the late sixties till Mid-seventies with an unprecedented boldness should have literally shook the existent norms and taboos of the society (atleast what is being portrayed in cinema). But, he looked like he was caught in that time warp - the obsession that KB had in those relationship complexities and the middle class working women plots - he could never come out of it. That way, he never looked contemporary in say, the late eighties and thereafter. He would also be remembered as the man who sculpted two stalwarts of their era - Rajinikanth and Kamalhaasan.