Hits misses of the last seven months, haridas, paradesi


A steady uprising of indie movies, success of small-time comedies and few capable debut directors – 2013 has been a year of surprises, much along the lines of following up on the trend set up by the previous year. Small budget movies with talented, up and coming actors queued up the marquee this year and stories that have absolutely no place for hero material seem to have worked, if not commercially, at least critically (say Haridas and Paradesi).

In January, the industry woke up to a massive hit starting the New Year in style with the Santhanam starrer Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiya. The movie became a huge success reiterating Santhanam’s ability to shoulder any movie to the finishing line, reaping commercial gains. The presence of Santhanam also helped movies like Alex Pandian, Settai and Theeya Vela Seiyyanum Kumaru gain some ground at the box office. Now, Santhanam has become an irreplaceable part of big ticket commercial entertainers to be released in Tamil and is fast growing to be a minimum guarantee actor.

That success was followed by the eventful release of Viswaroopam – a movie that was supposed to have been a trendsetter in the industry. Viswaroopam’s troubles dominated the national headlines and the movie prompted discussions on various angles about freedom of artistic expression. Also, when it released, it quickly became a runaway success without causing glitch or disturbance to communal harmony as was predicted by many factions. Viswaroopam also highlighted the fragility that existed in the artistic corridors of movie making and how anything can unjustly be qualified for a ban.

Other than Viswaroopam, February was largely uneventful. While the big ticket Kadal and David did not exactly set the box office on fire, Kadal’s music was noted and Vikram sparkled in David with his charming exuberance that also served as his launch pad in Hindi. Movies like Haridas and Vana Yuddham received critical appreciation for their portrayal of sensitive issues – the former about a father – autistic son relationship and the latter about the nabbing of Veerappan.

March is the ‘small is big’ month with movies like Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga, Chennaiyil Oru Naal and Paradesi achieving prominence. Pandiraj’s comedy, with a quirky mishmash of movie titles from the past, received positive response and showered some limelight on Sivakarthikeyan and Vimal. Chennaiyil Oru Naal, remake of the Malayalam thriller was moderately successful. Bala’s Paradesi, the pre-independence tale of tea plantation workers in colonial India, brought Adharvaa critical acclaim. His complete transformation for the role will be marked as a milestone in his career, just the way Arya and his role in Naan Kadavul.

April was dominated by a mix bag of movies like Settai, Gouravam and Udhayam NH4. While Settai stood on its feet owing to Santhanam’s antics, Udhayam NH4 received good reviews and has had box office success as well. What followed in May was a surprise delight of hits - Ethir Neechal and Soodhu Kavvum created ripples at turnstiles with their enviable performances. Both for their whacky theme, previously unexplored in Tamil. This also sort of renders confidence to movie makers about how important the strength of the stories and storytelling is for a movie’s success. While Sivakarthikeyan reinforced his position as a poster boy for small-budget movies, Vijay Sethupathi announced his re-arrival after the last year’s successes.

May was also the comeback month with Manivannan's last film Nagaraja Cholan gaining notice. After a hiatus, Vasanth brought out his Moondru Per Moondru Kadhal. May’s other big releases was by Red Giant, Neram and Kutti Puli. Both the movies were commercially successful having completed 50 days.

June hosted the delightful success of movies like Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru (another Santhanam blockbuster) and Thillu Mullu. Sundar C returned with a vengeance after his last year hit Kalakalappu. The story of a down on luck youngster who seeks love, with variable success, TVSK set the box office on fire. Thillu Mullu, on the other hand, was the remake of the 80s hit. It held court and became a commercially viable venture.

The big ticket movies released in July Singam II and Maryan did brisk business proving that star power still hasn’t waned into oblivion. Particularly, Singam II claimed the blockbuster status as soon as it was released. Possibly one of the biggest hits of the year, Singam is still reigning supreme and looks like the reign is likely to continue for some time at least.

With a host of successes, the half-year that went by has been nothing less of an enthusiastic one for business. The year so far has proved that there is hope for small budget movies and they need not necessarily be crushed by star studded releases. Also, with a couple of Bollywood debuts by our male stars – Vikram and Dhanush – nationwide attention for Tamil cinema is not too far. Here’s for an eventful rest of the half-year.

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