Tamil Movies That Are Love Letters to the Chennai City

The Covid-19 lockdown among many things has denied people their annual vacation to their hometowns. So let us bring your hometowns to you! Chennai, or Madras as it was called earlier, has provided an able backdrop to many meaningful films. Here are six films that highlight the character and essence of the city and its recognizable suburbs.

Madras (2014)

Directed by Pa Ranjith, Madras is a stirring drama set in the volatile milieu of north Chennai. Kaali played by Karthi and his friend Anbu (Kalaiyarasan) who envisions a career in politics, get involved in an imbroglio between two factions of a political party on account of a wall. While the film gives us an insight into the ugly side of politics and casteism in the suburbs, it also exposes the pitiable state of slum dwellers who become collateral damage in the corrupt war for power. Supported by realistic lens work that captures the ethos of the narrative, Madras is well worth a watch.

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Chennaiyil Oru Naal (2013)

Chennaiyil Oru Naal is a brisk thriller remade from the original Malayalam film Traffic. When the family of a brain dead journalist in Chennai agree to donate his heart, the doctors face the almost impossible task of transporting the organ to Vellore under two hours by road in peak traffic to save a young girl’s life. The film boasts of a talented and experienced cast namely Sarathkumar, Prakash Raj, Raadhika Sarathkumar, Cheran, Prasanna and others. While Chennaiyil Oru Naal holds your attention, it lacks the sense of foreboding and urgency that its Malayalam counterpart had. Nevertheless, it is a gripping watch.

Streaming on Sun Next

Marina (2012)

An orphaned boy Ambikapathy desperate to escape from the clutches of his cruel uncle runs away to Chennai and fends for himself by selling wares in the Marina beach. Nurturing a deep desire for education, he saves his money for future schooling while attempting to study every night. His exemplary manners, agreeable demeanor and thirst for knowledge rub off on the other young peddlers and the various visitors on the beach. Pakoda Pandian as Ambikapathy invests a genuine sincerity to his role. Visualised authentically to bring out the ambience of the famous Marina beach, Marina also stars Sivakarthikeyan in his debut, along with Oviya and others.

Streaming on YouTube

Madrasapattinam (2010)

A fictional love story set in the pre-independence era, Madrasapattinam revolves around a daughter of a British Governor who falls for a simple village boy. While the story is improbable, its natural and authentic treatment struck a chord with the viewers. The film stars Arya and Amy Jackson who surprisingly have easy chemistry on screen and do a competent job. With a realistic recreation of old Madras and its famous landmarks coupled with interesting supporting characters, Madrasapattinam is an enjoyable watch. The music by G V Prakash Kumar is also a highlight.

Streaming on YouTube

Chennai 600028 (2007)

Cricket and movies are synonymous with Indian culture. So naturally, a movie about cricket is a fantastic coalition for success. Chennai 600028 directed by debutant Venkat Prabhu is an entertaining sports comedy set against the backdrop of gully cricket. It follows the friendship, love and trials of a bunch of comrades and rivals in Chennai’s suburban areas. The street cricket scenes are captured authentically and allow the audience to invest in the narrative. Further, the pitch and language of the suburban areas are captured naturally. The film was a huge success and a subsequent sequel was made.

Streaming on Sun Next

Vada Chennai (2018)

Set in the eruptive environment of north Madras, Vada Chennai is a provocative drama from the popular director-actor partnership of Vetrimaaran and Dhanush. A skilled carrom player Anbu (Dhanush) steps into a world of crime and joins forces with local gangsters. When he realizes that their agenda is to annihilate his locality, he takes matters into his own hands. The narrative jumping from past to present in non-linear form is dark, violent and portrays the underbelly of the society graphically. Dhanush is in his most comfortable milieu and gives an impressive performance supported by seasoned actors like Ameer, Kishore, Aishwarya Rajesh and others.

Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

We hope that you relived your memories of Madras or at least got a glimpse of the city through these films. Stay safe, practice social distancing and keep clicking on our links below.

Sharanya Sankar: Mom. Bookworm. Cinephile.