SRIKANTA TO ILAVARASI – A PERVERSE
week saw the release of a sensational
movie. The posters called it, ‘Sexy
Girl Reema Sen’ in Ilavarasi. Obviously,
it did not have a major release, just
a couple of theaters around the city which
are reserved for B grade flicks, mostly
of the titillating type.
Why would Reema Sen act in such a movie,
one thought? She is a fairly successful
actress, who, by her own admission, does
not bother about the number of films she
does as long as the ones she gets are
good. And, she has been able to maintain
that over the years, being part of projects
Aayirathil Oruvan. This surprise over seeing her in
the posters of a supposedly B grade flick lasted only
for a while; that is before one discovered that it
in fact was the dubbed version of a National Award
winning Bengali movie, Iti Srikanta, directed by Anjan
Of course, Reema Sen showed enough spunk to not take
such an insult, both on her and on the film and blasted
the people responsible for such a gross misrepresentation
of a movie through posters. A movie that was recognized
as a worthy piece of art by the national jury was
reduced to the level of trash by a publicity strategy
which chose to highlight only a few scenes, the nature
of which does not need elaboration.
Now, this is not a new practice amongst local distributors.
There are umpteen examples of films from other languages
which are dubbed and released in Tamil, solely for
B grade theaters. We all know that there is a B grade
film industry and a market associated with it. So,
when such films are made, dubbed or released in any
manner, we can accept or ignore it as one of the many
nonsensical things that keep happening around us.
But, when such treatment is meted out to films that
are truly good works of art, it makes one feel uncomfortable.
It is as if a few people can conspire to bring down
a reputation of film personality built over a career
of hard work and dedication. Take the case of Reema
Sen itself. Starting from Minnale in 2001, it has
taken almost a decade, upto Aayirathil Oruvan in 2010,
for her to build a reputation as a gutsy actress.
Well, her career might not have been a flawless one,
but she did find her place in Tamil cinema. Yes, she
has done a fair bit of glamour during her time, but
has seldom (almost never) crossed the line between
glamour and vulgarity. But, all that has been damaged
by one silly move of a distributor. For people who
follow cinema closely, the fact of the matter might
be evident and we will never hold Reema Sen responsible
for what happened. But, a majority of the population
perceives cinema only through the publicity material
on offer. And, for every such person, the perception
of Reema Sen would have changed, probably forever.
And, spare a thought for the Bengali film industry.
Iti Srikanta is a film that would have made them feel
proud. To think that his work has been so gloriously
vilified in their own country would infuriate them.
This is not the first time that such a thing has been
done to a regional film from other parts of India.
One remembers that in 2006, Rituparno Ghosh’s
Chokher Bali featuring Aishwarya Rai had received
similar treatment in Tamil Nadu.
At that time, Bollywod was closely watching the original
version as proof of the fact that Aishwarya Rai could
in fact be a powerful performer. And, how were local
distributors in Chennai looking at it? They were creating
posters which would make the film look like a B grade
flick featuring Aishwarya Rai. Even, late last year,
the Telugu Vedam was dubbed and released in Tamil;
the claim on the poster being that it was the most
glamorous avatar of Anushka. The publicity was unabashedly
designed to make it evident that the highlight of
the film was none other than Anushka.
You might be quite surprised to know that it was the
same Vedam that was remade and released as Vaanam
in 2011. The Tamil industry hailed it as an excellent
attempt. And, look at the way the Telugu original
was received and treated just a few months back!
The point is; the Tamil film industry must be mindful
of such things. The downright deplorable treatment
of good films from other languages sends a very wrong
message about the respect that the Tamil industry
has towards its counterparts. Imagine, what would
have been the reaction of the Tamil film industry
if a film like Hey Ram, which is a pride of Tamil
cinema, was dubbed and released in some part of India
as a B grade flick just because of certain scenes?
Yes, the entire industry is not responsible for such
mistreatment of films. It is only a few tasteless
businessmen who do such things. But, it reflects poorly
upon the whole of Tamil cinema. There should be regulatory
mechanisms in place which make sure that such perverse
attempts never get to theaters. Else Tamil cinema
might come to be known as a place where works from
other industries are devalued and disrespected. Let’s
give respect where it is due!