Chennai Through The Eyes of An Outsider in Tamil Cinema

Sruthi Ganapathy Raman

“What Is So Attractive About A Big City?” 

A voice asks us in K Balachander’s Pattina Pravesam (1977), a film that sees a modest family of six move to Chennai to make a new life. 

Making A Home Out Of Chennai

The hogwash of a big city dream was dealt with a lighter hand in Siddique-Lal’s Nadodikattu (1987), which had Mohanlal and Sreenivasan in the lead, desperate to get out of Kerala. 

Love, Ache And Everything Else

Romance has held a significant position in the landscape of “Chennai films”. So, we see characters migrating to the city for love as much as they do for lady luck. In Singaravelan, Velan lives a satisfying life in his small village, where animals and humans coexist. 

What Is Love Without Pain? 

Mahanadhi (1994) opens with a chilling metaphor of tragedy and Chennai — a shot of flowing fresh river water transitions into the still grimy water from the Cooum.

Chennai’s Complicated Relationship With Its Outsiders

Hridayam(2022) is an unabashed romanticisation of the city. And what can we say, Arun is undeniably blessed by the Chennai gods.