The last few years had a good mix of box-office disasters and blockbuster hits that sum up the Kollywood releases every year. The commercial ‘masala’ movies that were once the strong-point of the Tamil film industry seem to have lost their sheen among audiences, with visionary directors coming up with quality stuff that have raised the bar for movie-making.

Siva Manasula Sakthi

Director: Rajesh

Cast: Jeeva, Anuya, Santhanam

Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja

Points: This ‘hyped’ entertainer just managed to tickle the funny bone in patches and was worth a few laughs, but nothing more. Music by Yuvan Shankar Raja was a big hit.

Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu

Director: Susinthiran

Cast: Vishnu Vishal, Saranya Mohan, Kishore

Music: V. Selvaganesh

Points: With an entire cast of new-comers, director Susinthiran scored a hit. The individual characters rendered lasting performances. With a shocker of a climax, an excellent ensemble cast and script, Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu scored a match-point.

Yavarum Nalam


Director: Vikram Kumar

Cast: R. Madhavan, Neetu Chandra

Music: Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy, Tubby, Parik

Points: For all those who associated Madhavan with mushy romance, Yavarum Nalam was a complete volte-face. With a strong performance oriented role, Madhavan was bang-up on the job. It turned out to be a big break for Vikram Kumar who made a killing out of this movie which was also released in Bollywood as 13B.

Peranmai


Director: S. P. Jananathan

Cast: Jayam Ravi, Roland Kickinger,Vasundra, Saranya, Varsha, Tanusika, Liyasree, Oorvasi

Music: Vidyasagar

Points: What makes director S. P. Jananathan chalk up such storylines? After a brilliant directorial debut in Ee, he comes up with this oddball movie. This movie, though it did not serve the interests of all types of audiences, will remain in the memories of all those who watched it because it’s essence is ‘hard work’. Right from the director to every individual member of the cast has toiled it out in the Deccan jungles. Brave effort — That’s why it is here.

Naan Kadavul


Director: Bala

Cast: Arya, Pooja

Music: Ilaiyaraaja

Points: Naan Kadavul continues Bala’s winning streak that began with Sethu. Having chosen a very ritzy and productive subject like he always does, Bala throws reality at your face that could make you feel restless with a sense of discomfort. The movie was certainly a landmark for both Arya and Pooja.

Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru


Director: Nandhini

Cast: Ajmal Ameer, Rupa Manjeri

Music: Mani Sharma

Points: Does it satisfy the premise of a contorted kidnapping plot? Yes, in a way. With two hours of senseless, schizophrenic laughter and smothered romance, this movie was a feel good entertainer that kept me wanting the movie to go on.

Pasanga


Director: Pandiraj

Cast: Vimal, Vega Tamotia, Kishore, Sriram

Music: James Vasanthan

Points: Pasanga is a masterpiece. Movies about children have always been a rare and neglected genre in Tamil cinema which is a commercialized tinsel town. The movie comes with a big heart and an important message. It is a must watch, because movies of this kind are a rarity and Pasanga comes in the line of movies like Veyil, Paruthi Veeran and Subramaniapuram that are changing the scene in Kollywood.

Eeram


Director: Arivazhagan

Cast: Aadhi, Nandha, Sindhu Menon, Saranya Mohan

Music: Thaman

Points: Rationalism, originality, vigor — Eeram scores in all these POVs. The best part is that it actually makes you cling to the edge of the seat most of the time. No mean feat, considering the limitations of mainstream Tamil cinema.

Unnaipol Oruvan


Director: Chakri Toleti

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Mohanlal, Ganesh Venkatraman, Anuja Iyer

Music: Shruthi Haasan

Points: Quintessentially Kamal! The starcast works wonders for the project. Unnaipol Oruvan surprises you and is a bizarrely fascinating movie. Though one can say that A Wednesday was definitely better in the ‘whole-movie’ aspect, the expectations in Tamil cinema are poles apart from Bollywood.

Nadodigal


Director: Samuthirakani

Cast: Sasikumar, Vijay Vasanth, Ananya,Bharani, Abhinaya

Music: Sundar C Babu

Points: Every character has lived under the skin of characterization in the movie. It is nowhere near Subramaniapuram in terms of intensity, but with a logical storyline and realistic depiction of relationships, it consumes you into it’s screenplay. Nadodigal is unquestionably not only the best tamil movie of 2009, but also one of the finest films Tamil cinema has ever produced.

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