The gumpooter (also known as ‘computer’) is an important device in Kollywood cinema. The ability to use it is in direct correlation with the hero’s IQ level. Everyone must remember that immortal scene from Ramana in which Vijayakanth types seriously into Windows Media Player and gets fantastic results. The grimness of that scene, accentuated by the dhigil music, plays into establishing the gravity of the mission resting on the shoulders of the Captain. If you rewind some more, you might remember Kamal Haasan, Goundamani, and a then Size Zero Vadivelu in Singaravelan, generating Kushboo’s present face and figure by applying advanced graphics technology on a baby photograph of hers. They even manage to clothe her according to Pre-Marriage Heroine Modesty Standards in the process! Mind you, this was before the Photoshop era. These films were truly light years ahead of Endhiran in imagining just what a computer could accomplish.
These days, however, film-makers have become less creative about using computers in their films. We still have villains dumb enough to keep dangerous and highly confidential emails in their Trash folder (like the double-crossing professor with limited arrivu in 7aam Arrivu) but not the heroes. No, the heroes know their Google and Interpol databases, thank you very much. Only Mani Ratnam was using these annoyingly computer-literate heroes earlier (remember Rishi, the cryptologist, from Roja? Or Karthik with his fledging software company in Alaipayuthey?) but now, all our Kollywood directors seem to be doing their homework on just what is possible and what is not in the world of computers.
Even the days when Internet love was celebrated seem to have come and gone. No more Yahoo chat rooms, Orkut, and paakadha kadhal. No more overseas Marias with floppy hats and random roses who can be ‘corrected’ by Romeos from Ranipet. Heroes and heroines today send emails just like regular people in love. Why has this happened? Have we come to a stage when even Captain cannot use Paintbrush to joom and erase a tinted window behind which lies the villain’s face? Is it because the audience is now capable of calling their bluff? Is it because the arrogant Youtube generation is likely to put up these edge-of-seat ‘thriller’ scenes as ‘comedy’ online? Or maybe it’s because the directors and script-writers themselves are computer-savvy and are no longer dependent on a computer ‘expert’ to create Windows Media files for them.
While this progress is laudable and of course, makes the film more authentic, one cannot help but observe a moment of silence. To mourn the demise of the computer as a futuristic machine, a machine that was nearly as versatile as our one-man palkalai kazhagam Kamal Haasan.
Here’s hoping that TR, who is another palkalai kazhagam of sorts, will remake Monisha En Monalisa, a classic in the genre of paakadha kadhal. With Mumtaz in the original role of an American robot in love, of course.