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By Sindhu Vijayakumar

It seems all is well in Kollywood as the first half of the year 2012 saw about 70 films hitting the screens. It was indeed a veritable treat for the movie goers as the first six months offered them a gamut of films from mass entertainers to offbeat ones, covering a wide work of rom-coms, period films, fantasy and even a 3D.

Though the last few months were turbulent for Kollywood with FEFSI strike and its after effects, it’s heartening to see that many films were able to see the light of the day. Though producers and actors complained of shooting schedules going haywire, Tamil cinema managed to put up an exciting fare on the release front. It has to be noted that in the same period about 64 films were released in 2011, 57 films in 2010, 59 in 2009 and 60 films in the year 2008.

The year 2012 opened with the release of the most expected film, Nanban by Shankar. With a clean U certificate, the film was released on January 12 for Pongal, kick-starting the celebration time in Kollywood. This film had an ensemble cast including Vijay, Jiiva, Srikanth and Ileana. The songs were by Harris Jayaraj and the number Asku Laska…is still on top of the chart. The film crossed 100 days on April 20 and industry pundits have declared it a blockbuster.

Another Pongal release was Lingusamy’s Vettai and it was declared as a hit. This year saw noted actor Prakash Raj beginning his innings in direction in Tamil cinema with his Dhoni, which bagged him quite a few positive reviews. Incidentally, both the films Nanban and Dhoni had a strong message regarding the current education system.

The first half of 2012 saw some different films too and with Ambuli, a science-fiction thriller directed by Hari Shankar and Hareesh Narayan in stereoscopic format, Tamil cinema got its first 3-D film. Director Pandiraj came up with Marina mirroring the life of children at the marina beach, who sell snacks and goodies at beach side stalls and are deprived of basic needs. The film opened to good response and showcased how even small budget films can climb the success ladder and become profitable ventures. After Angadi Theru in 2010, Vasantha Balan came up with period flick, Aravaan and it received contrastingly mixed reviews from critics. With this film, singer Karthik debuted as music director.

A special mention has to be made regarding Karnan. Nostalgia was kindled through the re-release of Sivaji starrer Karnan in a digitized version and it opened a new horizon for old films of acclaim. By completing a 100 day run at the BO, the film is still going strong as per the distributors.

The year also saw a lot of young directors foraying into film making. The young breed of new comers did not disappoint the viewers as they served variety and newness in thinking. Balaji Mohan wielded the megaphone with his Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi starring Siddharth and Amala Paul. The film fetched high critical acclaim and was declared a hit at the box office. The film had a comfortable run at the box office and completed 50 days.

Super Star’s daughter and wife of national award winning actor Dhanush, Aishwarya Dhanush debuted as director with her film 3 starring her husband and Sruthi Haasan. The film met with mixed reactions but Aishwarya got into the league of the young directors to watch out for.

New directors like Vignesh Menon (Vinmeengal), Andrew Louis (Leelai), Dhanapal Padmanabhan (Krishnaveni Panjaalai) and Thangaswamy (Rattinam) put up decent enough performances in their maiden ventures with their offbeat themes and different ways of storytelling.

Balaji Sakthivel, after a prolonged silence came up with Vazhakku Enn 18/9, starring new comers. The film did not disappoint any and received high critical acclaim upon release and the waves are yet to subside.

Among the new breed of actors who made mark, Atharva stands first. With his Muppozhuthum Un Karpanaigal, he proved his versatility and went on to do the lead role for Bala’s Paradesi. Siva Karthikeyan came up trumps with his performance in Marina and with 3 and Manam Kothi Paravai, he is gaining recognition as a bankable actor. Producer Udayanidhi Stalin debuted as a hero in his home production Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, directed by Rajesh. The film remained in the top spot for more than a month and the Udayanidhi-Santhanam combo rocked in the flick. Trade pundits declared the film's collections as impressive and called it a super hit.

This year also saw the return of Sundar C to direction. He arrived with Kalakalappu @ Masala Café as his 25th directorial venture and hit the bulls’ eye. Mirchi Shiva and Vimal along with Santhanam proved to be an asset as the film kept the moolah raking in the box office.

On the humour front, actor Vadivelu and Vivek had one releases each. However, Santhanam with his sparkling comedy has emerged victorious and has become a must in almost all the films to ensure the success at the BO.

Amala Paul and Hansika are the two actresses who had a good run in the first half. While Amala climbed the success ladder with KSY and MUK, Hansika scored with her OKOK. Hansika, the Chinna Kushboo, of Kollywood has her hands full and is the most sought after heroine of this year.

2012 first half hasn't seen the big guns smoking - Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ajith, Suriya and Vikram. Simbu and Vishal have also been conspicuous by their absence. However, Ilayathalapathy Vijay has been consistent in giving hits in the first six months of the year in 2011 and 12 with his Kaavalan and Nanban. Similarly Jiiva repeated his success in Nanban (2012) like his Ko (2011). Actor Karthi’s Saguni, the mass entertainer, broke the collection records of his own Siruthai, which was released in the first half of 2011.

The first half of 2012 has offered a variety platter catering to different flavours of the audience. With one blockbuster, two super hits and four hits in six months, it seems it’s party time in Kollywood. With films like Kamal’s Vishwaroopam, Rajinikanth’s  Kochadaiyaan, Ajith's Billa, Vijay's Thuppaki, Suriya's Maatran, Vikram's Thandavam, Jiiva's Mugamoodi, Arya's Irandam Ulagam and Settai, Bala's Paradesi, Gautham Menon’s Nee thane en pon vasantham and Mani Ratnam’s  Kadal in the pipeline, it seems the next six months will also be robust for Kollywood.

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