Oct 4, 2005

Best Titles

For quite a while, I was thinking about the titles in tamil movies. Ram had posted on naming them after some previous famous songs or straight on old movies. In this post, the titles that I have considered the best are given. IMO, a good title is defined as something coming from deep inside the heart of the director and not inspired by any old hit song or the song from the same movie. Rajini fans may not like agree, but I would say that the worst way of christening is using the name of the lead character itself. (His movies are the major culprit in that sense, followed by the other heroes)

The following are the titles, which someone as a kid would have lot of difficulty to understand but as he/she grows up, with experience, the meaning of the title in the context of the movie dawns on oneself. And it is no surprise that the best titles have been chosen by some of the most distinguished directors that we have been fortunate to have had.

Sila samayathule, oru title or paattu pathi yosikkumbodhu mana-k-kuthirai ella dhisaiyileyum tharikettu odum.. ennennavo ninaippugal ellam varum.. Andha director or lyricist avvalavu deep-a yosichiruppara-nnu doubt varum.. Ennoda maramandaikkey ivvalavu yosanai varumbodhu andha arivujeevukku, andha padaippoda karthaavukku innum ennavellamo thonum-nu ninaichuppenn.

A lot of my reasoning make good sense with the character and proceedings of the movie, so I would not detail them exactly.

1) Moondram pirai: (MP)

When I saw the movie as a very young kid, I just couldn’t understand what the title meant. Now, when I think about it, “MP” tells me something about incomplete growth. The moon is always FULL scientifically but MP means despite being full, it shows itself us as a young moon. Also, one cant say, just by looking at MP, whether it is going to grow or fade the next day. It appears more interesting than a full moon. It is called a ‘pirai’ though it is always a part of the moon. Despite being small, it can still give light in the night.

2) Ayutha Ezhuthu (AE):

Ayutha ezhuthu has three dots forming the three corners of an equilateral triangle. All the three parts are important to form the complete structure (triangle). Remove one, and you would get a one-dimensional line. If you look at the AE, you wouldn’t know whether the three points are running away from each other and gonna collapse into a single point at the center of the triangle. Whatever it be, each has its own path, which is pretty different in direction from the others. AE is the only alphabet in tamil which has the symbol of an ayutham. “Aayiram ilaignargal thunindhu vital ayutham ethuvum thevai illai”.

3) Mullum mararum (MM):

Can be taken as ‘mul’ and ‘malar’, or as ‘mul kooda malarum’. ‘Mul’ and ‘malar’ both belong to the same plant but how different are they!! They are liked totally differently by people. ‘Mul’ serves to protect the ‘malar’ and that’s the reason the plant has it.

4) Gentleman:
In the list, I would have also included “Strictly no English titles plz..” but for this movie. A gentleman, according to Wordweb, is “A man of refinement” among other things. According to what the protagonist in the movie does, it could easily be defined as an oxymoron but his deeds justify the way and make him a perfect gentleman.

5) Mudhal mariyathai (MM):
Though a common phrase in villages, I thought it had several meanings in the movie. Sivaji was the person who would receive ‘MM’ in whatever happens in the village, but it appeared that some people were happy to make him fall at his “mudhal pizhai”. MM is what he would have given to Radha for what she did. Mariyathai is what he got from everyone in the village except from his own wife. Radha, at ‘first’ has ‘mariyathai’ on Sivaji which later turns into love.

6) Aval oru thodarkathai:
Thodarkathai is surely interesting to read, it has its own twists and turns, keeps its audience guessing at crucial moments but, even a thodarkathai has to have an ending, right? ‘Aval’s story wasn’t.. when everyone thought that it was leading to a happy ending, it starts all over again. It is painful for any ‘aval’ to be a thodarkathai but how that ‘aval’ keeps tough as always and goes on with her life..

7) Kuruthipunal (KP):

Even ‘Ratha Aaru’ is a good and new title but to choose such a tough title takes some real guts. And this movie was all about kuruthi, esp. the climax. From the titles, when kuruthi makes the screen red and slowly the redness being used for something else, till ‘KP’ runs from the sieved body of Aadhi, it was a masterpiece.

8) Azhagi:

Whereas external beauty is skin-deep, internal one is heart-deep. The ‘Azhagi’ in that movie was actually a dusky woman who is beautiful in her heart. This is one rare movie where infatuation due to age and beauty gets transformed to love due to thoughts and care. One would have thought an Aishwarya Rai would have been more apt for such a title, but Nandita Das was much more than azhagi.

9) Kaakha kaakha (KK):

Inspired from the famous “Kandha shashti kavasam”, where we pray lord Subramanya to save us from all evils. We just want ourselves to be saved, no matter how he does it. The police officer, who has the responsibility of keeping the evils away does it in his own way.. his only motto is to save people. Though he gets criticized and severely tested, he continues his march on the path he knows the best and believes the best to save the people he serves.

10) Marupadiyum:
It is more of a conjuctive word but it has its own meaning. How much can a woman bear injustice? Not again and again. How much she can trust someone who betrayed her? How can she accept someone else in her stormy life? Marupadiyum is similar to the ‘thodarkathai’ but it ends with a comma.

Other unique titles that I liked were ‘Munthanai mudichu’, ‘Gokulathil Seethai’, ‘Sivappu Rojakkal’, 'Varumaiyin niram sivappu' and ‘Engeyo Ketta Kural’. I am not a big fan of too long titles like 'Oru pullankuzhal aduppu oodhugirathu'.


tt_giant said...

Refreshingly different take on movies, Raju.

Moondram pirai: even i did not know the meaning for a long time. Beautiful title.

AE: I think the correct way to write in tamil is Aaitha ezhuthu (the letter "akk"). As you said, it signifies the weapon - sheild.

Kurithi punal: Its title was taken from a novel by Indra Parthasarathy.

Jayakanthan's sila nerangalil sila manidhargal is also an apt title.

Good analysis overall!.

Raju said...

Thanks Deepak.. I didnt know about the novel by Indra Parthasarathy..

A in AE should be Aaitha indeed.. but in all the titles they put it as Ayutha so I also did the same.

When talented writers' novels are made into movies, the titles are usually good. As you mentioned, Jayakanthan's SNSM and Thi.Janaki Raman's 'Mogamul' are very good.

mitr_bayarea said...

Excellent analysis of movie titles and their interpretative meanings. Makes one stop and really think about these movies, their story lines and how it all fits. After all, tamil movies have always had more profound meanings and sentiments than any other language movie-except malayalam, probably.

Raju said...

Thanks, Mitr.. Romba yosikka vaikkireno? Cant agree with you more on the quality, overall, of tamil movies.

Nitin said...

nice titles, and the list has nice movies too.wat do u think of the title vettaiyadu vellaiyadu, next universal hero movie? i think gautam has come up with good names for his movies. I believe its from an old mgr song "vettaiyadu vellaiyadu. so the world XI seems to be enjoying their practice session, and look like they are working well as a team, hopefully there are some good matches. but definitely the world XI is incomplete without sachin.

Nitin said...

i didn't understand how come Jayasuriya or some other good players are not on the team. Were tehy not selected? or did he refuse to take part in world XI?

Balaji said...

super analysis raju, inspite of the dig at rajnikanth in the introduction :) Except for 'gentleman', i agree with all the titles in your list. i think 'golulathil seethai' should've replaced 'gentleman'. its a very poetic title and suited the story so well...

Raju said...

Nitin, vettaiyadu... is yet to be released so I didnt even think about it. Yeah, it is from the old song, donno who the hero was. I even thought of Ghajini, since his name hand-in-hand with perseverance. But didnt see the movie in full.

About cricket, I am eagerly waiting for midnight. Would watch awhile, catch a bit of sleep, get lots of cricket dreams, wake up numerous times in the middle to see the score.. Damn!! I wish it was a day game, and during weekend.

The world XI looks good practicing together.. when I heard that Flintoff was hit by Shoaib's bouncer, I thought "Man.. he seems to have the England series in mind, not the super series..". Hope nothing of that sort happens. And, as Nasser Hussain said yesterday, "there cant be a World XI without Sachin". I am gonna miss him soooo much.

If you see the current squad, it is already pretty tightly filled with superstars. Jayasuriya would have been surely discussed, but his recent form and his record in Aus would have made him miss the selection just marginally. And, they already have four potential openers in Sehwag, Sangakkara, Afridi and Gayle.

Raju said...

Balaji, thanks. I think Rajini, after 'Sivaji', should try to put some good titles for his movies. He did have some good titles like 'Thalapathy', 'Manithan', 'Nallavanukku nallavan', etc. in the past. Why not now? Not only him, Vijayakanth and even Vijay are like that of late. This is something we need to learn from Hindi cine industry.

As I mentioned, 'Gentleman' was a little touch and go.. Agree with you about 'Gokulathil Seethai'.

sen said...

intresting post. gentleman,kurudhi punal and kakka kaakaa are out of place.as u have numbered MP is the number one :)

Me too said...

Nice list. 'Mauna ragam', 'Pithamagan' comes to my mind.

Like you rightly said, the title itself reveals the depth of a movie, the creativeness of the director. 'Sandiyar' would've been a great title if not for those unnecessary nose pokers.

Raju said...

Senthil, welcome. Enna, oreyadiya ippadi sollitteenga.. mmm.. eppadiyo 7/10 is 70%, not bad.. :-) Though MP, AE and MM are # 1-3 in my list, I should have mentioned, after #3, the list doesnt show my priority.

Aps, thanks. I did consider Mouna ragam and Pithamagan. Mouna Ragam is an oxymoron right? Though it shows the silent, unexpressed love of the two lead characters, it somehow didnt strike me as a very unique title. It is similar to 'Mouna Geethangal' of Bhagyaraj. I thought about 'Pithamagan'. We remember Bheeshma, right? it didnt seem to relate to Vikram's character.

Ram.C said...

good analysis on titles, GP :-) :-)

I used to wonder about the reasons behind 'moondram pirai' until few years back... good explanatin.

you may also consider 'sathi leelavathi' 'aziyatha kolangal' etc.,

Raju said...

Ram, thanks.. Though I was thinking about it for sometime, your posts and my promise to you made me to post this one soon.

Enakku enna thonucho about 'Moondram Pirai' adhu ellam ulari kottittenn..

I havent seen the old and original 'Sathi Leelavathi'. Since the new one is inspired title, I didnt want to include, though 'Sathi' means both 'soozhchi' and 'wife'. (Enn appadi? :-) )

I didnt see 'Azhiyatha Kolangal', 'Suvarillata sithirangal', so didnt include them.

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