and limitations exist only in the mind. They cease
to exist when someone comes along and believes
that they can be broken or surpassed. That one
person or incident breaks barriers not only for
themselves, but also for all those who aspire
to do so. It is all about showing others that
‘this is possible’! What many once
thought impossible has later gone on to become
commonplace occurrences once the mental barrier
was broken by a pioneer or a brave heart. Instances
are dime a dozen.
The sub-four minute mile was considered a humanly
impossible achievement by many until Roger Bannister
proved them wrong. Now, running a sub-four minute
mile cannot even guarantee an athlete’s
qualification for the Olympics. 100 meters in
under 10 seconds is the domain of mean machines,
kangaroos and cheetas, many would have thought
a few decades back. Now, we have people gunning
for the 9.5 second mark. But, it is not just about
athletics. In every walk of life, it has taken
pioneers to show us that barriers are there only
to be broken, if you are
willing to try. Science too has its instances of inventions
that have had sweeping effects in the ways of thinking.
No one thought that man could have traveled at the speed
of sound - that was around 50 years back. Now, we are
in an era where Concorde jets, which have gone at twice
the speed of sound, have been phased out. Yes, all it
takes is one foot in the door to keep it open, so that
it never closes again. So, what does this have to do
with cinema? Cinema too has its share of barriers and
limitations which have been repeatedly broken from time
to time by people who have dared to broaden their horizons.
Right from the day cinema began, one of the major rate
limiting steps in its growth has been finance, as is
the case with most fields. But, it is more so with cinema
because of the risks involved in the business. In fact,
it would be fair to say that cinema is the one industry
where losses seem to be more common than profits. Therefore,
it is pretty understandable that it takes a bit more
courage, confidence and gumption than normal when it
comes to breaking new ground in cinema. Because, if
things go wrong, then losses could be huge and heads
It is this apprehension that has kept Tamil cinema,
or regional cinema to be precise, from spreading its
wings. As cinema becomes more and more technologically
driven, money can make a huge difference, no matter
how much the artistic competence of the people making
a film, and the best technology always costs a fortune.
It is this fact that has always kept Hollywood, at least
a decade ahead, in terms of technology, to Indian cinema.
But, now, it seems that we have a leveler at hand.
Yes, one man, or let’s say, a ‘League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen’, have shown the courage
to take on the barrier and let me daresay, break it.
If budgets were a constraint in getting the best technology,
then it no longer will be – post Endhiran. Many
an ambitious Tamil project has met a dead end or had
to be (cruelly) altered because of the great budget
barrier that existed.
But, one man has time and again shown the courage to
keep on breaking barriers, even as new ones kept cropping
up before him every time. At the beginning of the decade,
the 20 crore mark was unheard of in Kollywood. Along
came Shankar and shocked the industry by splurging (that
is what everyone called it at that time) almost that
amount on a movie based on 5 ‘Boys’. That
was the craziest thing to do, some thought, until it
went on to become a trendsetter of sorts, showing that
with good making and strong backing, even 20 crores
can be retrieved from the market. Still, many thought
of it as a flash in the pan, but it was no longer the
same after Anniyan. More than 25 crores were retrieved
from the market and a new era had dawned on Tamil cinema.
Again, it took the same man to go past the 50 crore
mark with Sivaji and showed that even this was possible.
And, when we thought that saturation had been reached,
here he goes, leaping four times to a budget of nearly
200 crores. Yes, from 20 crores at the beginning of
the decade, he has shown a 10 fold increase to touch
almost 200. That is a growth rate that cannot be matched
by the previous three decades of Tamil cinema, one guesses.
Shankar is really like an explorer whose thirst for
finding new lands never ceases. Now, we might be thinking
that 200 crores is as big as Tamil cinema can get. But,
sit tight; we never know what he is thinking about next.
If he can take it from 20 to 200 in ten years, and still
has many more years left in him, we can only wonder
where he will finish. And, it is not only his journey;
Tamil cinema too will get bigger with Shankar’s
dream and vision.
But, what good are visions and dreams if they do not
inspire others. If the era of exponential growth is
limited only to Shankar, it would mean nothing to Tamil
cinema because all that would end the moment Shankar
decides to call it a day. Shankar has taken the first
step, as he so often has. Now is Tamil cinema’s
chance to follow the precedent and grab the opportunity
to get bigger while the glow of Endhiran is still alive.
Well. We are not being overly optimistic or confident
about the success of the movie. But, as a person who
truly wishes that Tamil cinema gets bigger and better,
there is nothing else that I would want more than Endhiran
succeeding. If (and I am hoping it will) Endhiran brings
back the 200 crores that was spent on it, it will prove
to the industry that even such a big budget is feasible.
We have had great artistes and technicians who have
had to keep the best of their ideas in cold storage
because budgets could just not be met. Endhiran might
just open the doors for all of them to script their
The prime candidate for this would be Tamil cinema’s
long standing dream, Marudhanayagam. More than a decade
back, a few portions were shot for the trailer of the
movie at a (then) whopping cost of 6 crores. It would
have been the biggest ever in Indian cinema. The total
budget was estimated to cross 50 and so it never happened.
At today’s costs, it would go past 200, one guesses
and the chances of it being revived and made depending
on Endhiran’s show at the box office. Marmayogi
too is something similar.
Yes, this is Tamil cinema’s big chance to grow
to the next level, touch the sky and make films that
are truly international. The barrier has been breached,
now the pressure has to be sustained till it is completely
shattered. And, all those who love Tamil cinema, let
us keep our fingers crossed and hope that Endhiran vindicates
a 200 crore budget. And let us also not forget to once
again thank the vision and courage shown by Shankar
and Sun Pictures. If all goes well, we might soon be
celebrating the birth of a new era in Tamil cinema.
Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun.)
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.