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Space-time formations in the South Indian Tamil popular film Kannathil Muthamittal


In tandem with the current development of film scholarships in the area of the world and national cinemas, the paper seeks to examine four scenes from the South Indian Tamil popular film “Kannathil Muthamittal” (English: A Peck on the Cheek) using a concept derived from Hamid Naficy’s theorisation of an accented cinema known as the filmmakers’ “preoccupation with the place.” The conception is cinematically expressed through spatial representations of the open, closed and the third spacetime formations. In the accented cinema, space-time formations are cinematic spatial aspects that are employed to produce or reproduce the fundamental “accent” of displacement and deterritorialisation. According to Naficy, the accent predominantly originates from the filmmakers’ experiences and their artisanal productions and not so much from their accented lingo. The paper, in particular, aspires to engage critically the national film “Kannathil Muthamittal” directed by the renowned Indian filmmaker, Mani Ratnam. The paper will evidentially establish that the accented cinematic features which are exclusive to the accented cinema have consistently appeared in the selected scenes in the film. Although Naficy’s theory has offered a range of cinematic features that express the filmmakers’ preoccupation with the spaces and places they inhabit and their displacement and deterritorialisation experiences, the paper will only concentrate on the spatial representations of the open, closed and the third space-time formations. As for the accented filmmakers, the theory of an accented cinema distinguishes the accented filmmakers into three distinct categories, namely the diasporic, the exilic and the postcolonial ethnic. Even though it is obvious that director Mani Ratnam does not belong to any of these groups, the cinematic style and strategies employed in Kannathil Muthamittal, especially in the selected scenes, exhibit the visual and the narrative markers of the accent. By examining the style and the strategies employed in these scenes, the paper concludes that the South Indian Tamil cinema has indeed embarked on a path that puts it ahead from its conventional style to a more advanced form of filmmaking which integrates a broad range of cinematic features employed from various other forms of cinemas.


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