"Chithi" -- the mega-serial -- marked a watershed moment in Tamil TV serials going from good to tolerable to absolutely nonsensical. There was much hullabaloo in Srirangam when this serial started airing in 1999 (?). The ads had been showing for a good month before the launch and everyone was terribly excited seeing the Srirangam temple elephant in the title song. Folks living in Mainguard gate were enthralled with the shots of Malaikottai and Cauvery. All-in-all, many people in Trichy were going to be glued to the TV come premiere-night.
Rumors floated around that the entire serial was set in Srirangam. My cousin came home with news that her friend's house in East Chithirai Street had been used for filming the first few episodes. Both of us made a slight detour to the said house during one of our shopping trips. We were terribly excited!
Anyway, the serial was good enough for the first few episodes. After that, CJ Bhaskar or someone else decided that the public had no brains and started dishing out crap. Of course, many more crappy serials followed.
The reason for this post is not weepy Tamil soaps but rather, another class of TV serials that seem to be extinct now. I had long ago given up hope on serials until S suggested watching "Rudhra Veenai". I was sceptical initially but started watching anyway. I was totally thrilled with the direction, screenplay and the story! "Marma Desam" and "Vidaadhu Karuppu" followed on my list. Director Naga has done such an excellent job with the lighting, plot, casting and dialogues!
Watching the series made me wonder how we made the descent from the likes of "Marma Desam" into crappy serials like "Selvi". When I was growing up, we used to watch "Kaiyalavu Manasu.." and "Vanna Kolangal" regularly. There were many more classy serials the names of which I can't remember right now. Why are comedy/mystery stories not a main course in the serial fare today? Where have all the good directors gone? Where are all the good stories? Just like they have competitions these days for singing, dancing etc.., someone ought to come up with a forum that'll let directors with innovative story ideas showcase their wares. There's no telling but what in 20 years, I might be sitting at home during the day and I definitely demand better entertainment than weepy soaps! :)