Dilani Rabindran



Hitting the Jackpot Twice, Housefull, Murder


Sequels and prequels in western cinema are an overly common practice. Nowadays artistsare signed onto 2-3 film series contracts in the anticipation ofmultiple sequels even before the success of the first film has been gauged. Sometimes this tactic is practical business and sometimes it’s just unwarranted overconfidence (ie. Green Lantern). But what all well-done and well-received sequels&prequels have in commonis a centralized film that warranted another story because there was still so much to be told. This is where Indian cinema sometimes misses the mark…

In the past few years sequels & prequels have grown in popularity in Hindi Cinema withfranchises like Housefull,Murder, Don, Race& Dabangg. Tamil cinema has also developed its few franchises in past years with Muni, and in 2012 we also saw the emergence of prequels with Ajith’s Billa. With recent news that Vishwaroopam has entered the ‘200 crores club’ Kamal Hassan now has even greater support for the already anticipated sequel.Comparatively,  Murugadoss recently confirmed reports that he & leading hero Vijay would soon reunite for another project, but to the dismay of many he dispelled rumors that it would be for Thuppakki 2. Does this mean the ace cast & crew of the 2012 super will not consider doing a Thuppakki sequel? I fervently hope not.

Some of the aforementioned Tamil & Hindi films that already have sequels certainly did not have such layered plots or characters that one three-hour film could not adequately capture. However, some of the most revered filmmakers of our time are those who best understand quality over quantity. Like now-famous Pizza director Karthik Subbaraj, who has declined the chance to helm a sequel to the hit (driving the production house to move forward with a new director & cast for an ‘unrelated sequel’), such artists are always itching to tell brand new stories & introduce us to radically new characters we haven’t already met. However,although some feel the practice of sequeling sometimes shows a lack of creativity – who wouldn’t want to win the lottery twice? So where is the balance? Simple: sequels work best when the core blockbuster included untold elements and unfinished business; or, in other words, the elements that warrant a continuation. Recent quality films like Vishwaroopam & Thuppakki, and even 2010’s Singam, certainly have these elements in common.

Kamal Hassan’s now highly successful Vishwaroopam was always made with a sequel in mind, however, the brilliant director knew that merely hinting at a “to be continued” in dialogue wasn’t enough to warrant a deserved sequel. The iconic writer has very cleverly offered enough closure for the meantime, but also left enough gaps amongst the history of the main characters & laid out the potential struggles that lay ahead for them so as to warrant further explanation. For these reasons audiences are already itching for Vishwaroopam II. Similarly ever since Diwali there have been numerous Twitter pleas to Murugadoss and Kalaipuli S. Dhanu to begin work on Thuppaki 2as soon as possible, and this passion only seems to be growing as any news related to Vijay or Murugadoss emerges. And this passion is justifiable, because,like Kamal Hassan, Murugadoss slickly wrapped up a fast-paced mass action thriller but also subtly left key components untold- including Captain Jagdish’s secret identity, engagement/marriage plans, &actual life away while deployed in the army. And of course, one of Kollywood’s most buzzed about sequelsthat will hopefully hit theatres soon, is the much talked-about Singam 2, from the winning combo of director Hari and hero Surya. This masala hit not only played to the combo’s strengths of action & comedy, but offered assurance that Durai Singam still had many more adventures left to experience,despite ending with a cover story to live a quiet family life with his new bride.  Vishwaroopam, Thuppaki and Singam are all examples of films with both the fan following as well as the depth to warrant a continuation,and as long as they’re told by mostly the same cast &crew, audiences will be happy to fill theatre seats.

Production houses who continue stories purely for the sake of making more money via a franchise – and not because there is actually more story to tell - are the key reason why many believe that Indian cinema has not yet grasped the proper concept of sequels/prequels.Pizza 2 may continue this trend or, perhaps by boldly announcing itself as merely a second film in the franchise and not a direct sequel, it has the potential to break such beliefs.Regardless, as fans of quality cinema, I implore thee to try your best to accept that even if youloved someoriginal hits, please recognize when the story has nowhereelse to go,& that sometimes it’s best to leave good enough alone.Instead, let us keep our fingers crossed for ‘deserved’ continuations to those hits that have the elements for a proper sequel/prequel. And to teams like the stellar one of Thuppaki – on behalf of fans rightfully thirsting for more - allow me to say that sometimes it truly makes cinematic sense to borrow a page from Hollywood & go ahead with that part 2. Afterall, your odds of winning the lottery again are uncannily high.

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