Any film is autopoietic in nature – fabricated by a team with assistance from technical sources and then finally released for a mass audience. But it is debatable whether “Indian cinema” (consisting of over 18 cinematic cultures) has been suitably exposed to other societies and cultures.
Bollywood is often used incorrectly to refer to the whole of Indian cinema. However, it is only a part of the large Indian film industry and is one of the largest centers of film production in the world.
Tamils – as actors, directors, technicians, musicians, and the audience – have been and continue to be a part of this huge industry.
Tamils were once the butt of jokes in Hindi cinema. But as of late, there has been a leap of change in this industry, experimenting with various genres to keep up with the competition and to gain viewership. Tamil culture, people and cinema have been at the forefront of this change in Bollywood.
Remakes of Tamil hit movies, cameo appearances of Tamil film stars, usage of Tamil words in movies and songs, and dedication to Tamil legends are some of the recent trends in Bollywood.
Ghajini (2008) is a remake of a Tamil movie with the same title, directed by Murgadoss and starring Aamir Khan. It holds the notable distinction of being the first movie to break the 1 billion barrier in Hindi cinema.
Singham (2011) is an action film and a remake of the 2010 Tamil blockbuster with the same title. It was a huge hit at the box office and became one of the highest grossing movies of 2011.
Ra.One (2011) is a science fiction film starring Shah Rukh Khan. It had a cameo appearance by southern film superstar Rajinikanth and a song titled “Chammak Challo” by hip hop artist Akon and Hamsika Iyer. The lyrics of the song are primarily in Hindi and Tamil with a few English lines.
Chennai Express (2013) is an action comedy film of a man’s journey to Rameshwaram. Along the way, he falls in love with the daughter (Deepika) of a Tamil don (Sathyaraj). The film has several Tamil personalities in minor roles and features some Tamil dialogue. It became the fastest movie to gross 1 billion and the second Bollywood film to surpass 2 billion.
The best part of this film was the song “Lungi Dance”, a tribute to Rajinikanth (fondly called Thalaiva), one of the leading actors of Tamil cinema. Lungi Dance is a gaana style song, frequently trumpeting the word “Thalaiva”. It was composed and sung by Indian rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh, who earlier paired up with Hiphop Tamizha for a song in the Tamil movie Ethir Neechal.
Madras Cafe (2013) is an Indian political espionage thriller with the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war. The film was initially titled Jaffna (Yalpanam) and dubbed in Tamil. However, the movie was not released in Tamil Nadu, UK, Canada and a few other places owing to protests by the pro-Tamil organizations in regards to the depiction of Tamils in the movie.
2 States (2014) is a romantic comedy film based on the novel of the same name by best-selling author Chetan Bhagat. The film is about a Punjabi guy falling in love with a girl from a conservative Tamil Brahmin family. The film also includes a loud Punjabi mother who does not get along with reserved Tamilian parents and who continuously make snide remarks about Tamil culture.
According to Anurag Kashyap (Indian film director, screenwriter and producer) known for his realistic hard-hitting films and who draws huge inspiration from the Tamil film industry:
“There’s a whole new wave in Tamil cinema… They’ve made the most extraordinary films in the last two years, and at the national level people don’t even know about it.”
The result is that Tamils, once the butt of jokes in Bollywood, are now the epitome of cool.