The dilemma of being small!
  They say good things come in small packages. Not seem to be the case with Tamil films, however: where the size of the film and the hype that comes with it always matters. But that’s not to say there is a dearth of small and medium budget movies so far during this year.

According to the available statistics, of the 70 odd films released during the first half of the year as much as 40 movies were made in either small or medium budgets. That’s a lot, more than half of the movies that got made in the past 7 months of 2010 were small ventures. Point in fact; the first two movies to be released in the first weekend of the year in January were small budget ventures (Pugaippadam and Thunichal).

There seems to be growing interest in small budget movies among the producers. Not to mention, all of them follow a standard pattern. Many a times, they have an all-debutant star cast, a village backdrop mostly, good cinematography / photography (or promos that boast of) and some peppy dance numbers. These movies also do not conceal the fact that they are made in an attempt to make a quick buck or two.

But how many of them are successful? And how many actually manage to make a quick buck that they are intended to do? If you do not count the critically acclaimed indie movies, there are almost no movies that could be termed as successful in the trade lingo. The movies that stood the test of time and managed to garner critical praise include Thamizh Padam, Aval Peyar Thamizharasi, Mundhinam Paartheney, Angaadi Theru, Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singham, Kola Kolaya Mundrikka, Kattradhu Kalavu, Ambasamuthram Ambani and Kalavani. Commercial success, however, has eluded most of these movies but for Thamizh Padam. A full fledged spoof, Thamizh Padam, thanks to the viral marketing campaign unleashed by its producers and the unapologetic spoof it made of clichés in Tamil films, stood successful.

If most of the small movies don’t seem to make business at the box office, why is there an upsurge of such movies in Tamil? There is a reason. Subramaniapuram seems to have started off the trend inadvertently. Small time actors, a riveting story, sentiments thrown in for liberal measures and good music: the movie made it big. And it didn’t stop there. That Sasi team’s subsequent Nadodigal was a super success fuelled the ambitions of many aspiring producers. As a result, we get to see stencilled copies of wannabe Subramaniapuram and Nadodigal descendants. This year so far, the number of movies set in Madurai and its vicinity is astonishingly high. And it can’t be just coincidence that so many movies have striking resemblance to the above mentioned blockbusters.

On the other hand, it would be quite unfair to term all the small budget movies to be wannabes. There were some genuinely interesting movies that slipped the attention of the box office this year. Like Porkkalam that had awesome cinematography, Kathai and its heart rendering climax, Yathumagi’s appealing romantic angle and Magane En Marumagane’s attempts to bring the good old Visu days back. But these seem just exceptions.

So don’t the aspirants (the small budget movies) make any money at all? They seem to have their deal. A week or two weekends at the box office is enough to make profits for these ventures, given their shoe string budget. And the satellite rights also make money equating the balance sheet of the producers or adding up to the profit column. For lack of entertaining content, our television channels end up buying the rights of every single movie released and force feed the same to every household.

As long as the producers don’t realise that the stencilled versions hold good only for a quick buck or two, there is no respite for the small budget Tamil movies from being branded as typecasts and written down.

With almost half of the year still left, there are still around 50 movies to be released. At least half of them will be small budget ventures. So is there hope for betterment? All said and done, at the end of the day hope is a precious thing to hold and behold!

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