25 June, 2021

One Big Shakedown

Tamil cinema is past master at the risque stuff. But arousal? Nah.

One Big Shakedown

The Tamil film industry is unlikely to be fazed by the new CBFC directive to award adult ratings to objectionable item numbers for TV. This is a cinematic genre that is more than adept at inventing scores of ever-ingenious ways to circumvent all moral gags. Not because they are anarchists who want to thumb a nose at bourgeois morality, but because they are misogynists to the core. You can trip them on a political innuendo here or an ill-timed comment on caste or religion there; but on risque stuff, they are past masters. If there is a language that celebrates the ‘double entendre’, it’s Tamil and, by association, this is extended on to the visual field too.

The item number is the oxygen of Tamil/Telugu cinema. In many cases, the movie itself is a bit-item in between extended item numbers. And in the last decade, a tremendous expertise has been brought to bear upon its conception and execution. They come packaged as racy, pulse-thumping repeat-rhythms, often using onomatopoeic or gibberish sounding refrains—like ‘Kalakalaka kalasala’ or...

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