Tamil Cinema Montages

From wikipedia

A montage sequence is a technique in film editing in which a series of short shots is edited into a sequence to condense narrative. It is usually used to advance the story as a whole (often to suggest the passage of time), rather than to create symbolic meaning as it does in Soviet montage theory. In many cases, a song plays in the background to enhance the mood or reinforce the message being conveyed.

I guess this part of the Wiki entry was written by an Indian – a song plays in the background to enhance the mood or reinforce the message being conveyed. That’s typical bollywood style stuff.

And we have all seen montages before we even realized it as one. An easy example of montage would be Rajinikanth’s transformation from the milkman to a Five Star Hotel owner in Annamalai.

I’ve always loved montages. I don’t know why but I just love them. I even think, in slight extreme that an entire film could be made effectively just through montages. Akira Kurosawa is known for making montages into popular art.

Yesterday, while traveling through the Seattle Tunnel, I was thinking of making a montage of the entire tunnel route. I don’t even have a camera to start with and that’s a different topic. But it led me to think of montages in Tamil cinema. When thinking about montages in kollywood that were made to the level of world cinema, only two of them struck me instantly. And that’s because they were elegantly made. Both of them cannot be called montages theoretically as they don’t help move the plot too much.

The first one is truly world class. Appu Kamal trying to hang himself and Sri Vidya, his mother talking to him at a circus tent. The camera pans across the room and cuts frequently and disolves into close-ups and long shots. It may not be as vivid as I say here but it was a great one.

The second was a shorter one in Priyadarshan’s Snehithiye. I vaguely remember the context but on a dramatic scene, the shot collapses to a different scene where the girl recalls cycling with Jothinka on a lush green park.

Both these scenes had great BGM and was strikingly well made. Mudhal Mariyadhai had some nice montages but can’t recollect any particular one. Should anyone re-collect other nice montages in Tamil cinema, there is a comment box right below.

22 thoughts on “Tamil Cinema Montages

  1. 1.Nallavanukku Nallavan(Thru scenes)
    2.Amaithi Padai
    3.Raghavendrar(Rama naamam oru vedhame)
    4.Arunachalam(Singam ondru purapattadhe)
    5.Indian(Pachai Kiligal – Just to convey a closely knitted family)
    6.Pachai Vilakku(Olimayamana Edhirkaalam)

  2. Iruvar has a couple of brilliantly filmed montage sequences, which would rank among the greatest in Tamil cinema. The fluidly edited title sequence — the first four-and-a-half minutes showing Anandan’s struggle til Anandan meets Thamizh Chelvan in the giant palacial sets of Merryland Studios! — is singularly brilliant. Most scenes in the sequence consist of a single shot, and none of them last for more than two to three shots.

    The other one is the fantastic Pookkodiyin Punnagai song sequence which shows the relationship developing between Anandan and Ramani. It’s a bit intermittent though with a longer scene put in between. But, I love the way Mani intercuts between the shots of the film being made and the “off-camera” shots wonderfully blurring the distinction between “the real” and “the reel,” and superbly capturing the emotions of the lead pair — of the film within the film, and also the film itself.

  3. Every Tamil film these days features a song where the boy and girl are walking on the beach, talking, doing other cutesy stuff, etc. Its an overused device that few filmmakers have used well.

  4. Hi lazy sir,

    dont allow such bad comments abt our thalvair kamal, one miss blogeswari, what does she mean that Vettaiyadu vilayadu was irritating, it was one of the best of the best movies of our Kamalhasan

  5. “Iruvar” certainly.

    “Kannathil muthamital” – “Sundari” song about a self-indulgent brat – beautifully done. Now, is that a montage? 😉

  6. Ayutha ezthu is my pick plus bombay as well.

    P.S>> last week i was reading mr.sujathas back “How to write screen-play” as expected he structured it very well in a RUP or Use-Case kind-of approach. In that he talks much about these monotages … good post sir.

  7. Montages in the form of scenes (Appu as u mentioned) are good feast to watch. Song-Montage, oh, that really sucks. Over dose. It’s been over used in K’wood.

    I remember, Puthiya Paravai (Sivaji, Saroja Devi) had few of these Montages.

    Got hold of another cine-techie term from lazygeek. Thanks!!!

    – Lakshman

  8. Montages are great because it gives the viewers an array of feelings all at once. Each shot means something and has an emotion attached to it. Compiling everything into a montage for a couple of minutes lets you feel all those emotions at one go.

    I love montages when used as tribute to a character or in an expositional way.. like when a character suddenly has an epiphany and the truth literally flashes before their eyes. in that one instant, together with the character, we flash to a shot by shot revelation and adrenalin just shoots up. And everything makes sense.

    as a tribute I love Nayagan’s ending. Together with that famous song, Velu Naicker’s life journey is chronicled in a single montage. Amazing feeling each time I watch that movie.

    Expositional… I’m not sure whether Pachai Kili Muthucharam had a montage where Jo is revealed to be who she really is. My memory fails me.

  9. LG,
    Best montages are :
    En Iniya pon nilaave from moodu pani – mother of all montages.
    Nee oru kaadhal sangeedham from Nayagan – Father of all montages.
    Katrukkenna veli from Avargal – grandfather of all montages
    enge sellum indha paadhai from sethu and elangaathu veesudhae from pithamagan – worthy successors.

  10. Guys,

    Sorry for the delayed response but I thorougly enjoyed every single comment. Looks like Tamil Cinema has more montages than I initially thought.

    Vasu,

    6.Pachai Vilakku(Olimayamana Edhirkaalam) – This one should be a good one. Sivaji driving the train and his life travels alongwith it.

    Thanks.

  11. //How about Dol Dol from Ayutha Ezhuthu//

    Priya, Sure why not. That was also a good one.

    It seems that many on the list here pointed to montages with songs though I think the montages with just BGMs are the nicest.

  12. //and does kaadhal sadugudu from alaipayuthey count as a montage//

    Priya, With the way I gave my example of Annamalai, anything goes. Though I initially didn’t want to mention Annamalai but it sounded like an easy one.

    //the first four-and-a-half minutes showing Anandan’s struggle til Anandan meets Thamizh Chelvan in the giant palacial sets of Merryland Studios! — is singularly brilliant. //

    Zero Sri, Thanks for reminding of that. If we dig deeper Mani’s movies may have more montages. How about Hey Ram ? Do you remember any of them

  13. //Its an overused device that few filmmakers have used well.//

    Ravi, Agreed. Mahendran and Balu Mahendra made this art popular though Sridhar has also used it extensively.

    //Vettaiyadu vilayadu title montage//

    Blogeswari, At first thought it wasn’t a montage but thinking about it, it does move the story by introducing the perumais of kamal the cop. so its defintively a montage.

    // ‘Illangathu Veesuthey’ from Pithamagan//

    Suresh, Yes I also thought about it. I loved it.

    //And that song sequence in “Surayvamsam”.//

    Karthik, Yeah, Vikraman thollai thaangala. Even Unnidathil Ennai koduthen had a montage song where roja becomes a great singer at the end of the song. thaaangalapa !!

    //dont allow such bad comments abt our thalvair kamal, one miss blogeswari, what does she mean that Vettaiyadu vilayadu was irritating, it was one of the best of the best movies of our Kamalhasan //

    Arun, you can never be so biased and also run a blog. Its here comment and if you contend you should say why it wasn’t irritating. I respect your views in the same way as hers.

    //”Kannathil muthamital” – “Sundari” song about a self-indulgent brat – beautifully done. Now, is that a montage? ;-)//

    Hal, I am not sure if thats a montage but yeah, a well shot song. Ofcourse, I am not the authority of declaring whats a montage or not. I am just expressing my views.

  14. //last week i was reading mr.sujathas back “How to write screen-play” as expected he structured it very well in a RUP or Use-Case kind-of approach. //

    Adiya, Yes I heard that was a payirchi book and it has come out very well.

    //Montages in the form of scenes (Appu as u mentioned) are good feast to watch. Song-Montage, oh, that really sucks. Over dose. It’s been over used in K’wood.//

    Lakshman, Yes, song montages are killed at kollywood.

    //vedha , Nee Pathi Naan Pathi , Vasanth //

    Sririz, yes one more song montage but I used to love this song. Gowthami at her best.

    //I love montages when used as tribute to a character or in an expositional way.. like when a character suddenly has an epiphany and the truth literally flashes before their eyes. in that one instant, together with the character, we flash to a shot by shot revelation and adrenalin just shoots up. And everything makes sense. //

    Talia, Great note. Perfectly described a montage.

    //Nee oru kaadhal sangeedham from Nayagan – Father of all montages.//

    Jaiganesh, How about mother of all montages ? Anyway, thats a good one but again a song montage.

    Does any one remember other non-song montages ?

  15. LG.

    Montages in international films are scenes where ambience and characters are shown doing something. Something where the characters are just “being”. not doing anything to move the story forward. In India, we simply dont allow filmmakers use just music. Audience get bored, so our film makers create montage songs.
    “en Iniya pon nilave” – a song montage to describe the protagonists’ dream to “be” with his object of affection – his yearning for being in a normal relationship is shown there. therefore the interludes and the imaginations are not just simple song sequences IMO.

    WRT the songs for montages, Ilaiyaraja improvises a great deal here and has created a separate concept of “bit song”. Classic ones being “Varthai thavari vittai” from Sethu and “Yaaradhu” from Pithamagan.

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