The Thala Deepavali that wasn’t!

Call it recession or a slowing-down economy, the otherwise exuberant Tamil cinema also presented a gloomy picture this Deepavali while the rupee plummeted to new lows against the dollar. Quite uncharacteristic to the festive spirit, Kollywood released only two major flicks this Deepavali unlike any other year. Considered to be one of the major business attractions and profit-making period, Deepavali, this year did not paint the town red with releases but sufficed itself to the Ajith starrer Aegan, Bharath starrer Seval, and two low-budget flicks Megam and Teeyavan.

Last year, however, the box office witnessed a surge in business with as many as 6 movies releasing on Deepavali day and two of them - Vel and Polladhavan - pulling it off.

It’s not as if the producers are pulling their purse strings and putting off plans of movie production or that Deepavali has lost sheen with them. On the other hand, there is an impressive array of movies under production waiting to be

released ranging from the Surya starrer Vaaranam Ayiram to the Dhanush starrer Padikkadavan. Not to mention Maddy’s Guru En Aalu and Silambarasan’s Silambattam. Somehow, the producers seemed to have thought to stay away from the race. For reasons like fear of proper response from fans after release (release of the much-hyped Aegan has contributed to this largely) since Vaaranam Ayiram, touted to be a promising venture, also had plans to be released. When all these release-dilemma ripples settled down, the Tamil box office was left with only two choices for Deepavali.

Gautam Menon’s Vaaranam Ayiram seems to be mired with troubles and roadblocks – as is customary to his every single movie. The promos and print ads screamed that the movie would be released for Deepavali while Aegan was effortlessly making money in advance booking. Until last minute – as in even on the Deepavali-eve – print ads released in various leading dailies promised about the movie’s Deepavali release. However, much to the disappointment, and as is heard, Vaaranam Ayiram will see the light of the day only in mid-November due to unresolved differences of opinion from the production side. Meanwhile the music album is released proclaiming Harris’ prowess in tuning catchy ones.

While Silambattam stayed away from the Deepavali race safely, the music album is released recently with songs swarming the airwaves of Chennai. Another Deepavali hopeful Padikkadavan maintained a low profile by sending signals of a late-2008 release. Same way, Madhavan’s ‘Yes Boss’ inspired Guru En Aalu was pulled back from the race for unspecified reasons - although it’s easy to figure why the producer was not ready for a risk.

That leaves us with Aegan and Seval. Aegan leaves a lot to be desired while Seval entertains half-way through.

A rip-off from the Shah Rukh starrer Bollywood blockbuster Main Hoon Na – that was released 4 years ago – Aegan is Raju Sundaram’s debut attempt. While his struggle to make the movie funny is evident right from frame one, he seems to have concentrated too much on it leaving the rest of the movie in doldrums. As a result, the movie focuses largely on Ajith’s sense of humor, shooting antics, dance and fight skills and Nayan’s increasingly dipping necklines and waistlines putting the viewer’s patience and persistence to test. Not to mention, there is an abrupt and absurd climax that makes your jaw drop if you had not done it over the course of the movie, except for the frequent yawns.

Seval is a trademark Hari movie with a village-bred protagonist and revolves around his waywardly life and romance. Tipped as Simran’s comeback, it has reduced her into an extended sidekick - who plays the lead lady’s sister mistaking Bharat to be her potential suitor.

So, for all practical reasons, despite the presence of Thala, this Deepavali is anything but Thala Deepavali. Although, the pollution levels in Chennai’s ecosphere soared to new highs than last year’s Deepavali clearly indicating that Chennaities had fun bursting crackers.

Meanwhile, let’s wait with bated breath and fluttering eyelashes that the situation gets better at least for Christmas, while the recession shows no sign of wearing off.

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