In My Years with Boss at Gemini Studios, Ashokamitran recounts a poet's visit. "He was a tall man, very English, very serious and of course very unknown to all of us. Battling with half a dozen pedestal fans on the shooting stage, The Boss [film producer and publisher SS Vasan] read out a long speech. It was obvious he knew little about the poet."
"Then the poet spoke. He couldn't have addressed a more dazed and silent audience... The whole thing lasted about an hour; then the poet left and we all dispersed in utter bafflement... What is an English poet doing in a film studio that makes Tamil films for the simplest sort of people?"
Ashokamitran learns that the poet is Stephen Spender; and the mystery of his appearance is solved when Ashokamitran picks up a book called The God that Failed; it was about disillusionment with communism. The truth, then, dawned: Literature didn't explain Spender's presence in the studio, politics did.
"Tamil cinema is more about fantasy than realism. It embraces certain types of writers. Writers like Kalki and Sujatha, both of whom wrote for mainstream magazines, and were immensely popular. I don't know if the more literary writers kept themselves away from Tamil cinema, but Tamil cinema kept them away. But, that's not to say cinema never had a brush with literature. That happened, and produced very interesting results," says Mohan V Raman, actor and film historian....