BEST OF 1997

voted by Tamil Thirai Valai readers and avid Tamil cinema fans..



*A relatively easy race for best actor this year considering Kamalahassan was not in contention in the category.  Surely, everyone wished Kamal had atleast entered the race by producing and acting in atleast one low budget comedy flick.  This year, you really liked someone or you really didn't.. See if you can figure out why!..

5    Prakashraj.. Despite some extravagant performances by PR this year, it was a dull and restrained experience for him overall.  He did the best that he could with the weak dialogues written by Suhasini Maniratnam in Iruvar and tried to remain unscathed by dismal films like Pathini and Nandhini. But of course, he had his cool moments with Thattidalaam in Minsaara Kanavu and a few moments as 'nandri kadan' to Maniratnam and Director Vasanth in Nerukku Ner.  The true laurels and accolades did not come until Agathiyan's Vidukadhai released for Deepavali 1997.  His performance was praised by one and all and yet, PR seems to have his head on his shoulders quite nicely!.. Truthfully, 1997 could have been an incredible year for PR if the strike hadn't occurred when it did.  His smooth flowing career took a minor dip in and out during this year, but 1998 holds a lot of surprises for him and his fans.  Former Bharathiraja assistant and now director, Manojkumar's film Gurupaarvai shows promise as Prakash stars with four heroines, Kusbhoo, Eeshwari Rao (Raaman Abdhullaah) Anju Arvind (Poove Unakkaaga) and Indhu (Bhaarathi Kannamma), alongside Manivannan and many others. 

Prakashraj also comes to make a mark in M.S.V.Murali's Smile Please with Renuka and Manivannan with newcomer K.Radha Mohan as Director and Babu (En Uyir Thozhan) writing the dialogues.  Prakashraj also stars in Pirandha Naal with Sangita, Manivannan, Vadivelu and Karan, with direction by K.Bhagyaraj assistant Saravannan (who has re-named himself K.B.Rajil) taking care of the story, screenplay, dialogues and direction. As always, Prakash continues to act as a small time villain and as a supporting actor when chances arise.  So far no big name films signed for 1998, but with him around, everything is unpredictable nowadays in tamil cinema..

4    Murali.. If you think Parthiban had a decent year, then Murali had an absolutely 'dream' year.  Thottadhellam ponn is adequate to describe Murali's joy filled ride to the top this year.  But the bright signs for Murali's career started showing as early as December 1996, when the little known Poomani attracted everybody's attention with its simple formula village background story and Murali's outstanding performance.  In 1997, with Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga, Murali played a love struck singer yeng-ing to see Kausalya (the fan and supporter) who olinju maranju, tries to make him a better singer. KKV did solid box office business for 206 days and Murali was all smiles.  Soon afterwards, he caught the headlines once again, when he signed to star in Director Cheran's Porkkaalam and Director Mu.Kalanjiyam's(Poomani) Poonthottam..   Porkaalam which has continually battered its competition to pulp (with the exception of Aahaa) in Deepavali '97, has transformed Murali's career to a stage where it can finally stand for something important.  His role as a brother struggling to get his vaai pesa mudiyaadha sister married, before he can tie the knot with his girlfriend Meena, has sent audiences raving in and out of theaters in Chennai and the world over.

Murali's rise in 1997 has given occasion for even seasoned actors like Sathyaraj to rise from his seat in respect and welcome Murali when he comes by any shooting. (After all, Murali's debut was a little before Sathyaraj's appearance in tamil cinema.)  Mr. M has bagged a handful of films in 1998, with Ratna with Sangita and Indhu to hit theaters the earliest.  Veerathaalaattu with Napolean, Radhika and Kusbhoo under Kasthuriraja's direction appears to be another emotion-filled film rollercoaster, while Conductor Maappillai with Swathi and Devayani shows all signs of a formula masala film.  Gandhi Desam under Bharathi Muthu's direction and Director Kalanjiyam's Poonthottam are roles that remain tightly pinned up to Murali's belt for 1998.  A real Porkkaalam for Murali this year!..

3    Parthiban.. Life could not have been better for Parthi this year. Leaving the Sangita-Parthi-Sita kisu kisu aside, Parthi might have had his best year since his debut in Pudhiya Paadhai a long while back. Bharathi Kannamma marked an important turn in his career; a time when he was extremely uncertain about his roles as a director and as an actor.  He was forced to choose acting as his directorial ventures from previous years: Sari gama padha nee, Sugamaana Sumaigal, and Pullaikkuttikaaran all fared poorly at the box office.  As his everyday cine life was dragging along, Cheran's Bharathi Kannamma, re-introduced the original Parthiban who knew how to act with subtlety and style. Despite a kaara shaara fight with Cheran over the climax of the film, Parthi was thrilled beyond words once the film opened to packed houses all over Tamil nadu.  Overall, Parthi only earned high marks all year with his performances in Aravindhan as a terrorist, in Vaaimaye Vellum as a rowdy and in Abhimanyu as a stringent police officer.  More good stuff in store for him in 1998 as he stars & directs Kaangeyam Kaalai co-starring Ravali and stars in Vivaramaana Aallu with dialogues by M.A.Kennedy ("Pistha"), direction by N.K.Vishwanathan and co-starring Kausalya.  His long term projects includes only Piriyamaanavale (which the lord only knows when he will begin shooting!) is supposed to be the film in which Sita makes her re-entry into tamil cinema.

2    Mohanlal.. For this pugazh-in uchchi-yil irukkum Malayaalam actor, making a name for himself in tamil cinema has been just as difficult as it has been for Mamooty and Jayaram.  Moreover, the Malayalam accent always hinder progress in tamil cinema.  With some many strikes against him, Mohanlal vidaa pidi-yaa has been trying to make himself prominent since 1996 with his first attempt in Siraichaalai which norungi-fied at the box office for being too art-oriented, slow-moving and extremely violent at times.  Iruvar in 1997 was a different story.  The film bombed because it did not have the commercial appeal needed for a MGR-Karunaanidhi movie, but Mohanlal definitely got noticed.  Across the board, critics and audiences praised his work in playing MGR in the film. But then again, tamil producers did not run up at Mohanlal's door scrambling for his call sheet dates.  ML currently stars in a film Raanuvam which appears to be a Malayalam film which was supposed to be dubbed in tamil and released on Tamil New Year's Day 1997.  Little info on what is happenning with the Mohanlal-Priya Raman-Vinitha starrer now.

And the Best Actor of 1997 is:

Rajinikanth in Arunachalam1    Rajinikanth.. Always the "thalaivar" of tamil cinema, but probably more so now than ever before.. It has been a tough year for the "Super Star" having to deal with rumours of "Arunaachalam" bombing at the box office and him 'so-to-speak chickening out' of taking sides in the Padaippaalligal-FEFSI dispute.  Yet, there were a few things to smile about like Rajini's decision to conduct marriages of 20 poor couples in his own selavu for mana thirupththi.  The most interesting turn for the year for Rajini is the 'guessing game' his rasigargal are still playing as to who will be directing his next film (Which of these will get the nod?: Suresh Krishna? Maniratnam? Vikraman.. only Rajini knows!.)  The man who blew plenty of cigarettes off in frustration during the cinema strike and related disputes, appears to be calm again.  After all, he must have heard some nasty words (Kamal, Rajini yenna komba?) for his share during the strike, no wonder he has shunned the masala formula for his next film.

Rajini is out to prove a point in 1998.  To prove that he can give a high class performance in a film with an excellent story and still make it shine at the box office.  Interestingly, Rajini has committed to give a sizeable percentage of this film's profit to an organization that cares for handicapped children.. (Do you sense Cheran figuring as director in his next film? :-) More so now, after Rajini presented Cheran with a gold chain for his work in "Porrkaalam" at the special function to celebrate Arunaachalam's success at the box office.. "Thalaivar" has an agenda that he isn't speaking about!.. That's for sure!.. (Vikri, Mani and Sukri: better luck next time-a?!)..

Complete Results (Best Actor)

1. Rajinikanth
2. Mohanlal
3. Parthiban
4. Murali
5. Prakashraj
6. Manivannan
7. Sivaji Ganesan
8. Prabhudeva
9. Raghuvaran
10. Aravindswamy
11. Karthik
12. Karan

Bharathi Kannamma
Many Films
Once More
V. I. P.
Nerukku Ner
Raman Abdullah


*No Revathi this year to bail out the heroines' reputation with an excellent performance.  But some high quality competition in the acting department between Aishwarya Rai (kann-ai vechche mayakki vittaar!), Bhanupriya, Meena, Simran and Kushboo (nadippai vechche mayakki vittaargal!).. Most definitely, voters might have pulled their hair over this one!..

5    Kushboo.. The only woman who owns the distinct honor of having a temple built in her name in Tamilnadu.  Though no poojai happens there anymore, Kushboo is still very 'kush' in South India.  With the support and love of her dearest 'Director Sundhar C.,' Kush continues to act with flair and style.  She probably even achieves more self-satisfaction than any other heroine in tamil cinema today.  Whether it is the puzhiya puzhiya azhara roles in Yettupatti Raassaa, Pathini, and Thaali Pudhusu, or the all out villi role in Kalyaana Vaibhogam, Kushboo has won the heart of any man or woman walking on the road with her simple acting style and charm. Forget that most of the films mentioned here hit the dump in 1997, Kushboo still has her hands full with more film projects in 1998. 

"Kalyaanam, Kalyaanam engiraar.. aanaalum padam nadikka yettru kollgiraar."  Even though Sundhar has forbidden her to act after their wedding."  That aside, Kush stars in R.C.Shakthi's re-entry film Iththanai Naal Yengirundhaai with Babu Ganesh, Gurupaarvai with Prakashraj under Manojkumar's direction, Ponnu Villaiyira Bhoomi with Rajkiran, Getti Mellam under Nambiraj's direction, co-starring with Nambiraj himself, Indian Express as an high ranked official with Saratkumar and Roja under R.K.Selvamani's direction and a handful of films including Babu Ganesh's Bharathi, which will probably take her through 1999.

4    Simran.. Sims comes from the Northie world where she debuted in Tere Mere Sapne, which balti adichchu-fied at the box office.  With Producer 'Kalaipuli' Thaanu and Director Bharathiraja strongly vying to sign Simran for their ventures V.I.P. and Siragugal Murivadhillai respectively, she became a hot commodity even before she had signed a tamil film.  Bharathiraja eventually stopped considering her to be the 'mann vaasam ulla heroine' for his movie, but that did not seem to hurt Sims much.  Her track record is as good as Meena's this year; even better as Simran had three smash hits in tamil including Once More (her debut film), V.I.P., Nerukku Ner and the latest release Poochchudavaa (the initial reception in Chennai looks good!)..  In recent times, Kodambakkam has given more mousu to 'kavarchi' heroines than the ones who can really act!  Luckily, Simran-ukku kavarchi dhaan nandraaga-ve theriyum.  Interestingly, she is also trying to blend according to tamil cinema's needs with help from her tamil language coach, actress Kushboo.   Simran, or 'Chimpanzee' as actor Abbas calls her was caught in serious kisu kisus this year as having a glorious love affair with Amul baby Abbas himself.  As it turned out, Abbas' mom was not ready to let time take its toll and quickly married off Abbs to his cousin.  Paavam Sims, nondhu ponaaro, ennavo?!..  Besides dumping popular projects, Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa and Naam Iruvar Namakku Iruvar, claiming she would have call sheet trouble if she did so, 1998 looks extremely bright for Sims.  She is set to star with K.T.Kunjumon's son Yebi in Koteeswaran, with Arjun and Manthra in Kondaattam, with 'Super Star' Rajinikanth in whatever his next movie might be, with Abbas and Amulya in Idhu Dhaan Kaadhal (which awaits release for Pongal 1998), and the list will probably go on forever until we reach 1999..    

3    Aishwarya Rai.. The name seems to say it all, these days!.. The 24 year old seems to have taken the entire world by storm when she won the "Miss World" beauty pageant 2 years ago.  But life has not quite stalled for the model, when she first dashed onto screens earlier this year with Director Maniratnam's Iruvar.  Little did Ice know that she would not only creep into cine screens all over Tamilnadu but also into many of the hearts of the audience (the few who ran to see the film!)  The beautiful eyes, shapely figure and composed acting were unfortunately not enough to sustain Iruvar at the box office, but Ice had made a name for herself.  Once again, it was the year when Ice's salary climbed to Rs. 1 crore only after one film, that too one which had fared so miserably at the cash registers.  Then enter.. Director Shankar and Producer Ashok Amritaraj.. probably the only two people who can afford to pay Ice's salary.  The two signed her to star in Jeans with Prasanth, Raju Sundaram, Lakshmi, Nasar and Senthil.  Jeans or maybe Genes is turning out to be taking longer to complete than initial predictions, but Director Shankar has utmost praise for Ms. Rai, especially her patience and ability to bear pain even during long make-up sessions (like that of the Japanese woman for a dance sequence in Jeans.)   In many ways, 1998 is a do-or-die year for Aish Rai, considering she is yet to have a hit in Tamil (Iruvar) or Hindi (Aur Pyaar Ho Gayaa)..

2    Bhanupriya..  All in all, the most stunning aspect of Bhanupriya still remains her perseverance.  After so many years of hibernation, all her fans could not have asked for a better role in which to make a huge comeback into tamil cinema.  With plenty of personal problems mounting in her life, Bhanu has frequently kept her cool, even though time and tide have been extremely cruel.   Since Uzhavan, Bhanupriya has also learned a thing or too about choosing the right roles and cashing in on opportunities well.  Thanks to Director Suresh Krishna and Producer R. Mohan, Aahaa has indeed made Bhanu enjoyed the aahaa aspects of tamil cine life once again.  Her incredible performance earned her a special bouquet of flowers from the producer and director of Aahaa, in appreciation of her hard work and effort.   What's more, Nadigar Thilagam recently bestowed on her, one of the greatest compliments that one could get:  Bhanupriya is the only actress today that is at par with andha kaallaththu Savithri, Saroja Devi and others.  Bhanupriya carries this newly gained vitality and energy in 1998 as we all hope she signs to act in excellent roles which are uniquely suitable to her talents and hers alone.  For the all pain she has bourn, we wish Bhanupriya lots of success in 1998.

And the Best Actress of 1997 is:

Meena in Porkkkaalam1    Meena.. An interesting year for Kann azhagi Meena.   She was extremely smart in her choice of roles, especially in films like Bharathi Kannamma, Vallal, and Porrkaalam.   Moreover, she happens to be one of the few heroines this year, who has hit a 3 out 4 at the box office, with Vallal doing moderately compared to the other two Cheran ventures which blew away the competition.  Of course, one cannot forget that Paasamulla Paandiyare with Rajkiran hit the pits this year for Meena, but hey, nobody complained about her acting or her looks.   Besides her short trip to China to take a fresh breath of air away from the strike brewing in Kodambakkam, Meena was busy considering her options in trying her hand at acting with the Khans (Aamir, Salman, Shahrukh and others) of Mumbai and break into the Bollywood limelight.  Yet, tamil cinema has grown to love Meena to umpteen reasons for which she cannot so leave easily.  Once again, 1998 holds a box full of surprises for Meena fans as she stars in Naam Iruvar Namakku Iruvar with Prabhudeva (a role which Rambha dumped in late 1997) and Maheshwari (Ullaasam) under Sundhar C.'s direction, Harichandra with Karthik, Ulavuthurai with Vijaykanth and a few more films as 1998 heads our way!.. Undoubtedly, Meena also had her share of kisu kisus with Director Cheran as the two were eeshing a lot on the sets in the guise of Cheran teaching Meena to act.  Cheran vehemently denied the rumours and went as far as cutting huge portions of Porrkaalam, in an effort not to valarththu-fy the kisu kisus between them.  Interestingly, Cheran played a bachelor desperately jollu vitt-ing Meens in the film.   

Complete Results (Best Actress)

1. Meena
2. Bhanupriya
3. Aishwarya Rai
4. Simran
5. Kushboo
6. Kausalya
7. Rambha
8. Suvalakshmi
9. Neena
10. Oorvasi
11. Keerthi Reddy
12. Sangeetha

Bharathi Kannamma
Nerukku Ner
Kalyaana Vaibogam
Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga
V. I. P.
Love Today



5    Agathiyan.. A 40 some year old director who shook Tamil cinema to its senses last year with three mega hits in Vaanmadhi, Kaadhal Kottai and Gokulaththil Seethai.  But with the Kodambakkam strike this year, Agathiyan released his only film Vidukadhai in October, when he had initially scheduled a July release.  Though his approach to tamil cinema is a little contrived at times (similar to K.Balachandar on occasion), Agathiyan seems to have created his own fan club in Chennai.  The strong characters of Neelakantan and Anandhi were the only aspects that Agathiyan worked with to build a strong story for Vidukadhai.   Critics and audiences felt that Agathiyan should have added more commercial elements to the film, as it fared rather poorly in the box office amongst the Deepavali releases.  The scarier aspect is knowing that people expected more from Deva as the music director of the film.  Vidukadhai being his first flop since his comeback last year has not affected Agathiyan that much as he has finished writing the story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics for Sandhosham, starring Saravannan and Suvalakshmi and directed by newcomer Karthik.

4    Maniratnam..   By far the most disastrous year of Maniratnam since 1994 when Thiruda Thiruda hit the pits.  With Sathyaraj backing off starring in Iruvar as it might ruin his relationship with the DMK and Chief Minister Karunanidhi, Saratkumar crying foul for being offered an measly salary and finally, 'Nizhalgal' Ravi disgruntled over the cheap one scene role that he got in Iruvar and Mani himself giving interviews over his gripes with the censor board and not being to release the film before the National Awards for 1996.. you can just imagine what an aweful year it was Maniratnam.  The scarier thought was knowing that Iruvar became a 'kaaththu illaadha balloon' at the box office and several distributors and financiers visited Mani's 'Madras Talkies' office asking him to figure out a way to sari kattu-fy the losses.   Meanwhile, A.R.Rahman appeared very unhappy with Mani's behavior, especially with the way he ordered ARR around and expected him to compose music for cheap rates.   Luckily, Mani smoothened out the issue even before it took vishwa roobam.

To make things worse, the Kodambakkam strike also had Kunjumon accusing Maniratnam of convincing Nagarjuna not to attend Rakshakan shootings and in turn delaying the release of the film.  If you thought the nightmare was over, you are quite wrong.  Mani started a Hindi film being produced by his good dosth Ram Gopal Verma titled Ladaakh.. Ek Kahani, which was later changed to Dil Se.  Kajol was offered the heroine role in the film, but she looked at the salary he offered and told him that this would not even be enough for her pocket money.  Mani had to settle for Manisha Koirala, even though the woman had given him extensive problems during the shooting of Bombay.   To add to the misery, many of the production workers and technicians on the set of Dil Se, were linked to FEFSI and therefore started making trouble for umpteen reasons and eventually shooting was stopped.  Mani chippu katti-fied saying that he wanted things to settle after the Gulshun Kumar murder before he went back to shooting.   The only thing that happened to be a relief for Maniratnam this year was the success of his production, Nerukku Ner.  Hopefully, Mani might adopt a policy of being kinder and gentler in 1998 as he assumes a role of dialogue writer for Taj Mahal, with story by Rajeev Menon, Music by A.R.Rahman and Production, Screenplay and Direction by Bharathiraja. 

3    Rajeev Menon.. Coming from the P.C.Sriram school of cinematography, Rajeev Menon came into the limelight in tamil cinema only after his excellent photographic skills came into prominence in Maniratnam's Bombay.  Of course, soon afterward, we also saw a face attached to a name.  A tall fair skinned man whom Mani had begged and pleaded with to star in Roja and Bombay.  Rajeev disappointed Mani every single time by telling him that he was interested more in cinematography than in anything else.   As it is common with Kodambakkam practices, Rajeev was lured to direct A.V.M. Productions' mega project, Minsaara Kanavu with three big stars: Arvindswamy (reeling from the success of Bombay), Prabhudeva (desperately in need of a hit after the pathetic Mr. Romeo) and Kajol (grinning quite well after plumetting her fellow competitors in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayange.)  Given a stellar cast and excellent music by A.R.Rahman, aasai yaarai vittadhu.. Rajeev took up the job.  The result was a Minsaara Kanavu which struggled the first two weeks of release and then picked up pace to run for 214 days just with a noon show (even after one theater dropped the film and another one picking it up!)  Rajeev also faced his share of controversy as he was accussed of chopping Arvind Swamy's role and favoring PrabhuD in the film.  After quite a hush, Rajeev Menon is working on Janani Cine Arts biggest project to date, titled Taj Mahal, with Maniratnam and Bharathiraja.  Bharathiraja's son Manoj makes his acting debut in the film as Rajeev Menon writes the story.

2    Vikraman..   Everyone has kept good track of Vikraman ever since his debut film Puthu Vasantham.  Regardless of this bad attempts with films like Pudhiya Manargal, he has already won people's hearts for his simple stories, subtle comedy and family oriented themes.  Yet, Vikraman's success has never been extremely consistent as both the good and bad are all always part of the equation.  This year, of course, was just as incredible as last year (Poove Unakkaaga) when Viks added another feather to his cap with Suryavamsam.   With the excellent casting of Manivannan and R.Sundararajan as the comedians and Devayani as a sensible collector who turns around lazy Saratkumar's life, Vikraman had several very strong elements working in his favor.  His simple approach to cinema still happens to be the main reason for his continued success.  With a true believer in Producer R.B.Choudhri, Vikraman can never go wrong and when he does, he returns to direct a film for Choudhri, which usually hits planet Mars in excellent box office returns.  Currently, Viks is busy directing Unnidaththil Ennai Koduththen, a film produced by Lakshmi Movie Makers (Gokulaththil Seethai) to be acted by Vijay.  But now Karthik seems to have cashed in instead.  1998, like the last couple of years, promises to be truly bright for Vikraman. 

And the Best Director of 1997 is:

1    Cheran.. (Check back in a few days for a photograph) Kodambakkam and just about all of Tamilnadu is surprised that a 26 year old director could practically take the entire world by storm.  Even Cheran, who was born into and raised in a poor family, would never have dreamed of this kind of success and praise.   Cheran left his job in Simpsons that was paying Rs. 3000 a month to jump into tamil cinema, as early as 1984.  The first job he received was that of Production Manager and that was when he met K.S.Ravikumar, who was then just an associate director.   Once KSR became a director with Puriyaadha Pudhir, Cheran started serving as associate director under him and continued until last year.   Cheran also had the unique opportunity to serve as associate director to Director Santhanabharathi in Kamalahassan starrer Mahanadhi.  Things took an interesting turn when Cheran took up his first directorial project, Bhaarathi Kannamma.  On the day of the poojai for the film, he had created a podium with symbols of Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions to show unity as a symbol for his production.  Despite aakrosha fights between Parthi, Producer Henry and Cheran over the concluding sequences of the film, Cheran had things his way and the film went to claim incredible success at the box office; success never seen before in recent time as serious and emotional subject matter was not even being remotely attempted in tamil cinema. 

After all, there have been many cases of tamil movie directors who have had only a short span of success, yet Cheran came back once again with the Roja Combines' production, Porkkaalam, for Deepavali '97 and proved that he was no case of 'fluke.'  With a story of caste and creed in Bhaarathi Kannamma, and a story of physical impairment of the body and the heart in Porkkaalam, Cheran has brought brain and brawn back to tamil cinema.  Even though comedies are the trend to follow, Cheran has gathered the respect for societal issues and concerns that need to be analyzed in one forum or another.  With Bharathiraja calling Cheran 'his pillai' for taking a film with such 'mann vaasam' and Rajinikanth honoring him without any prior notice, during the Arunaachalam vetri vizha, you can just imagine the incredible future ahead for Cheran, not only in 1998, but for many many years to come.  Bharathiraja already wants Cheran to direct one of his productions with his son Manoj as the hero and Rajini has also indirectly left 'hints' that Cheran might get the nod for his next film.  Besides these commitments, Cheran is set to direct a film for Dharamchand Loongat (Kaadhali), a film for Lakshmi Movie Makers (Gokulaththil Seethai) and then a film again for Roja Combines (Porkkaalam, Gopala, Gopala)

Complete Results (Best Director)

1. Cheran
2. Vikraman
3. Rajeev Menon
4. Maniratnam
5. Agathiyan
6. Balu Mahendra
7. Sundar C.
8. K. S. Ravikumar
9. Vasanth
10. Rajkapoor
11. S. D. Sabapathy
12. Balu

Bharathi Kannamma
Minsaara Kanavu
Raman Abdullah
Nerukku Ner
V. I. P.
Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga



5    Aval Varuvaala.. (Nerukku Ner, Music by Deva) Sorry to say, but mostly everyone agrees that Surya needs dancing lessons :-)  But whatever maybe the case, we will definitely miss Shahul Hameed.  What a great voice he had, with the ability to sing folksy tunes as well as indulge into the modern western tunes.  It was indeed the greatest loss of 1997 that tamil cinema experienced, as our loss became more and more evident with Hariharan and Shahul Hameed taking turns to sing Aval Varuvaala.  One of the few songs that haunted us with its tune through the last half of the 1997.

4    Manam Virumbudhe.. (Nerukku Ner, Music by Deva) The starting music of this song is from the Surabi T.V. show, while the first line is lifted from the carnatic krithi, Manavyaalakim.. but Deva still reigns when it comes to trying very hard to provide his listners with something new.  Harini and Unnikrishnan, who sang separate versions of the song, surely bagged more fans in the process and Simran, unfortunately, iduppai aattu-fied enough to grab more chances to dance in other films.   But the greatest gain was definitely for Deva.  He made Nerukku Ner special in every other way that the story, acting or direction was not.

3    Deepangal Pesum.. (Devadhai, Music by Ilaiyaraja) Surely, a tough year for Ilaiyaraja fans  to choose their best as they had music from Raaman Abdullah and Devadhai which took the Maestro to new heights.  But Deepangal Pesum sung by Sandhya and S.P.B. Charan has a gorgeously looking Keerthi Reddy dancing in the midst of lamps with her marriage engagement to be set with Vineeth.  The song sets the stage for the inevitable danger lying ahead of Keerthi as she gets ready to encounter Naasar.  Listen to it sometime and you might find yourself humming it soon enough!..

2    Rosaapoo Chinna Rosaapoo.. (Suryavamsam, Music by S.A.Rajkumar) Leaving the gripes aside that Raasaathi Unnai Kaanaadha Nenju from Vaidehi Kaathirundhaal was lifted by S.A.Rajkumar to make this modern day Rosaapoo, it was indeed the song that brought some life back into the dull cinema industry earlier this year.  Even though nothing remarkable occurred during the picturization of the song, just the increbible voice of Hariharan brought a special effect that it needed.  S.A.Rajkumar seems to have picked up quite a strong good market in tamil cinema after the song got air time in all the tea kadais and the patti thotti areas of Tamil nadu.

And the Best Song of 1997 is:

Nasser & Kajol dancing to "Uuj La La La!!!"1    Uuh.. la la. la.. The joy of the carnival and the brilliance of the all the beautiful colors in the world was so elegantly captured by Ravi K. Chandran and Venu with their cameras + the bubbly and happy attitude of Kajol + the extraordinary dance choreography by Prabhudeva + the extraordinary voices of Unnimenon, Chitra (for which she won the national award) and Srini + the mind blowing music orchestration by A.R.Rahman + the tasteful costumes designed by Priya Balasubramaniam (daughter of A.V.M.Balasubramaniam) + the overall incredible vision of Director Rajeev Menon = the BEST SONG OF 1997.  In many ways, the picturization enhanced the song and vice versa.  If you have haven't seen it yet, you are missing out!

Complete Results (Best Song)

1. Uuh! La La La
2. Rosaappoo
3. Deepangal Pesum
4. AvaL VaruvaaLaa
5. Manam Virumbudhae
6. Muthae Muthamma
7. Myilu Myilu Myilammaa
8. Pudhidhaai Kaetkum
9. Hello Mr. Edhirkatchi
10. Adhaandaa Idhaandaa
11. Achu Vellamae
12. Poothirukkum Manamae

Minsaara Kanavu
Nerukku Ner
Nerukku Ner
V. I. P.
Raman Abdullah



5    Bharathi Kannamma..   People talk about Director Cheran, Parthiban and Meena when the topic of Bhaarathi Kannamma comes up.  But a supporting actress like Indhu, who plays Parthi's sister in the film, is what makes a film truly worth the raves and praise.   Her Pechchi character not only resembles Cheran's own sister in nadai, udai, baavanai, but also in character development.  Vijaykumar, who plays Meena's father also lends a strong supporting role in Director Cheran's directorial debut film.  The only disappointing aspect of Bharathi Kannamma was Deva's lack of enthusiastic participation in the making of the film.  The story of the separation of higher and lower castes of people needed a lot of help from the music director; the responsibility Deva seemed to have shyed away from.  Cheran's first masterpiece also had Vadivelu at his best, discussing the meaning of 'kundakka mandakka' with Parthiban.   A film is never complete without a strong supporting cast and Cheran's Bhaarathi Kannamma stands as a testament to that.  One of the best, if not the best film of 1997!

4    Porrkaalam.. Who could have imagined that Cheran could see a dark, handicapped (unable to speak) sister character for his Porrkaalam in an absolutely fair and relatively gorgeous looking Rajeshwari.  After all, moonji-yil kari-ai appi nadiththa Rajeswari did feel bad that she had to do such a good role while looking so bad on screen.  But Cheran's brilliance in bringing out the best in all his actors and actresses continues to be his greatest strength in directing films.  Like Bhaarathi Kannamma, Cheran's attention to his supporting characters like Sangavi (the girl vying for Murali's love), Vadivelu (a bystander who drives some sense into Murali eventually) and Manivannan (the man everybody wants to hate for every reason possible).. Luckily, Porrkaalam also has additonal support from Deva with some good songs including Thanjaavur Mannu and Chingu Chaa.. Cheran should be congratulated for accomplishing a feat of directing two remarkably good films in 1997 and managing to release them within the year.  That by itself, showcases his talent.

3    Iruvar.. You either really liked the film or you really hated it.  It was a clear split, even amongst Maniratnam fans this year.  For one thing, the subject matter of the film demanded an incredibly powerful dialogue writer, which unfortunately Suhasini Maniratnam was not.  Moreover, Iruvar badly needed a smooth flowing story telling method, which once again, it did not have.  What Iruvar did have was excellent performances by Mohanlal, Prakashraj and Aishwarya Rai, who added the gloss as much as they could when they were given opportunities to do so.  The other asset was of course A.R.Rahman's music, with some good 'old' MGR cool musical stuff re-done for a 90s audience.  The painful lessons that Director Maniratnam learned from making this movie are plenty, but above all, we hope he had kai-yai suttu-fied himself enough not to try such risky subjects again, at least not when there is so much at stake at the box office.   

2    Minsaara Kanavu..   Definitely, the feel good movie of the year.. If you wanted to smile and enjoy your two hours at the movie theater, Minsaara Kanavu was your ticket to the land of fun and frolic.  Whether it was Arvind Swamy dropping all the flowers and kuzhan-jing, or Prabhudeva dancing and prancing with Kajol during Vennilave Vennilave or Kajol enjoying her moments with hundred of corn ears in a lorry, everything about Minsaara Kanavu seemed refreshing.  A few old moments did appear with Arvind Swamy sliding down puddles, like in Moondraam Pirai.  But what the heck, it didn't seem to matter, right? 

And the Best Film of 1997 is:

Surya Vamsam


1    Suryavamsam..   Simplify.. Simplify.. Simplify.. might sound like a slogan for a popular advertisement, but that is indeed the formula for the success of Director Vikraman's movies.  The cast and crew of Suryavamsam alongside some good music from Music Director S.A.Rajkumar and remarkable support from Producer R.B.Choudhri, is what makes Vikraman's success clock tick so well.  Though the second half of the film appears to be run-of-the-mill, the acting and overall presentation covers up nicely for the inadequecies.  Then again, Chennai-yites and those others around the world, still like movies with everyone taking a photograph TOGETHER at the very end.  Don't we all ?:-) 




Complete Results (Best Film)

1. Suryavamsam
2. Minsaara Kanavu
3. Bharathi Kannammaa
4. Porkkaalam
5. Iruvar
6. Arunaachalam
7. V. I. P.
8. Nerukku Ner
9. Vidukadhai
10. Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga
11. Raaman Abdullah
12. Jaanakiraaman


My Sources: Cinema Express & New Filmaalaya