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Is time changing the concept of Romance?

Hope the past month was a good one for all of you! After having lamented for the loss of our traditions to the western world, I was struck by another paradigm shift in cinema of late! All of us do know, “Change is the only constant thing in this world!”, and we are witnessing changes in almost everything around us. It is not surprising to encounter it in our movies as it is clearly evident. The most prominent one would be the way romance is being portrayed in our movies! From time immemorial, romance has been integrated into the fabric of the movie that we can hardly believe one to be without it! Whatever the genre of the movie, there has always been an infusion of the fascination between the two sexes!

Over the years, the whole premise of romance in Tamil Cinema, has evolved, or should I say mutated, into something totally different from what it originally had been! The first superstar of Tamil Cinema, MK Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, brought ‘subtlety’ into Tamil Cinema romance! In his movies like Ambikapathy, Haridas, and many others, the way he expressed his feelings for the lead lady, showed subtle nuances like minor changes in facial expressions and body language! Then came the time for the big 4 of Tamil Cinema – MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, Muthuraman and Gemini Ganesan! Though Sivaji Ganesan has not had too many full-length romantic flicks in his career, the way he enacted the romantic scenes in his flicks is something that will stay for ages to come! The great MGR took romance to new heights! His expressive form of romance is something that caught the fancy and captured the hearts of one and all! The way he used simple physical gestures like holding his heroines, playfully pulling their hands, and so on, showed off a playful, naughty yet decent love! Gemini Ganesan, aptly titled the Kadhal Mannan, had a totally unique approach to romance! The 70s and 80s is considered to be the best period for romance, in Tamil Cinema! The way Muthuraman stylishly wooed his lead ladies, is something that many young men of the day started following.
Not just the actors, but directors like Sridhar, who brought in the concept of triangular love, and then the evergreen Bharathiraja and many others have played a pivotal role in the way romance has been transformed over the years! In his movies like Kadhalikka Neramillai, Kalyana Parisu, Nenjam Oru Aalayam, the way he portrayed the romantic angle between the lead characters made one want to have such a love story happening in their own lives! To me, the undisputed king of romantic flicks, is Bharathiraja! Though most of his movies have a touch of the exotic rural flavour, the underlying romance in them just cannot be discounted. For me, his Mudhal Mariyadhai will remain forever fresh in my mind! The way a middle-aged man in an unhappy marriage nurtures love for a much younger girl, and the beautiful, subtle romance, which in no way showed any sort of vulgarity, is simply awesome!

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The 80s saw the emergence of two of the biggest legends of Tamil Cinema – Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth! Of the two, Kamal is known more for his romantic movies, than Superstar Rajni is, but the latter has had his share of romantic flicks nonetheless! The list of romantic movies starring either of these two stars literally seems endless, and some of them are sure to feature on the list of all time top 10 romantic movies in Tamil Cinema.

The current crop of actors including Kadhal Mannan Ajith, Ilayathalapathy Vijay, Suriya, Vikram, Dhanush, Silambarasan, Jayam Ravi, Vishal, and all the others, have given a completely new dimension, to the concept of romance in movies, now! Viewing the romantic movies of today, one does get the feel that some of the current directors seem to have misunderstood the whole meaning of romance. There just seems to be outright eroticism and the feeling that the lead actors give, seem to be more of lust than of love! The old-world charm of romance seems to be long forgotten, with just very few filmmakers of the current generation sticking to the charming, lovely romance of yore! After watching a few movies, I have a disturbing feel that a few more years down the line, even that little of the lovely romance that makes its beautiful appearance in a movie here or there will be lost forever! With youngsters taking inspiration from movies, especially in the way they propose to their loved ones, I wonder how the coming generations would perceive love! A disturbing and bewildering scenario indeed!

– Vicky

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