Cable Sankar



Remake rights & More, Chandralekha, jayam ravi


Remake rights

For a movie to fetch good price or create demand with remake rights, it is mandatory that it must be a blockbuster in its first language. Atleast it must have been an average grosser and/or must have garnered praises from the film critics. A movie, thus noted by everyone, would attract strong demand and thus competition to possess its remake rights.

It cannot be assured that a film that has been successful in one language would be as successful in the other language also. Then again, it is always safer to try a successful recipe rather than taking risk with an unknown new story. As remade films provide a minimum guarantee of success, remake business is booming.

Once in Tamil film industry, almost all Rajinikanth movies were remakes of Amitabh’s Hindi blockbusters. Similarly, Rajini’s films were remade in Telugu with Chiranjeevi as lead. Similarly, from Tamil language many remakes have happened to Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. All of us are well aware that Jayam Ravi and his brother Jayam Raja are known for remakes in Tamil film Industry.

Internet rights

Just like video and satellite rights, internet release rights could also be sold. Mostly, all Tamil films’ internet versions are pirated. Our producers have not yet fruitfully adopted the methodology for internet release and earning through this modern technology.

Here and there, few internet sites provide legal downloads of films on chargeable basis. However, for audio or video, public only prefers pirated free sites. They do not approach legal sites at all. Nevertheless, in future, if not in India, internet rights for films would bring a fortune in overseas. Realising this, GV films Venkateswaran has bought internet rights for thousands of films. To the best of my knowledge, GV is the largest internet rights owner for the most films in Tamil Cinema industry.

In this arena also, Hindi film industry is ahead of us. They introduced novel practices in internet release and made money out of this as well. Rajyashree films has released their movie Vivah in internet on the date of theatrical release itself and made sizeable return out of it. Some other producers followed the course. But, in India, internet connections with bandwidth capacity for interrupted movie viewing are a deterrent. Decent hi-speed connections are costing a fortune. Also within couple of days from release, any movie can be downloaded from internet in the form of pirated mpg or torrent. Due to the above factors, internet release is still in its early days here.

IPTV rights

IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television. As it stands, it is a relatively unknown technology in India. Same bandwidth and service network problems as in internet release spoil IPTV as well. As of now, only BSNL has provided this service on trial basis. Many things could be achieved in IPTV such as on-demand movies and television channels. At present scenario this remains alien to the common public and not a lucrative avenue for a Tamil producer; but also expected to be a one to watch out in future.

So far, we have seen multiple avenues with which a film could be traded. Now on, let us discuss an imperative factor to make all the trade successful; the factor is known as publicity.


Had you watched old black and white movies, you could recall this scene.  Two speakers, tied up with either sides of a horse wagon, would be plying across the streets of every town and village in the vicinity of a theater. The wagon would announce the news about the movie, and in which place and theater it is being screened.  Wagon would also put on air songs from the movie it talks about. In older times, advertisement was made even using ‘Thandora’.

Producers used many such mediums to reach out to the public with the news about the films. After printing technology is invented, beside posters, advertisement saw the form of notices too. After the eminence of dailies, film advertisement graduated to newspapers.  Newspaper advertisements have started with Black and White form and slowly grown to muticolour. In the eighties, colour advertisements started with quarter page and half page grew to full page and went on to become dual page advertisement.  It reached to a stage that a new film should not be released without a full-page colour advertisement. Sujatha has quoted this phenomenon as ‘Acre size advertisement’ in his famous book ‘Kanavu Thozhorchalai’ (Dream Factory).

Every generation, producers have adopted suitable advertisement techniques for their movies. Gemini Vasan is a pioneer in such contemporary advertisements. ‘Nandhanar’, which was produced by Gemini Vasan, with Dhandapani Desigar and Perungalathur Shama as lead cast, comprised splendid songs such as “En appan allavaa?”,  “Kaana Vendaamaa” and “Vazhimariththu Nirkudhe!” in the majestic voice of Dhandapani Desigar. These songs were super hit to say the least. However, not satisfied with even this Vasan decided to introduce a technique to further publicize the songs. He announced a competition for the fans to select best three songs from the movie. Make a guess on the prize money? Ten thousand Rupees! In that age, this is a huge sum. In box office, an entry form was given with every ticket. Viewers were requested to fill in their choice of songs in a box that was kept in the theater. At the end of the contest, the ones who have entered the songs matching with the already finalized answer were selected and the prize money of Rs.10000 was equally distributed among them.

His movie ‘Avvaiyaar’ had a magnificent climax scene where elephants destroy the frontier of a fortress. Vasan massively publicized this highlight of a scene by the use of posters and notices, creating a massive uproar. The film made history with an astounding success.

Vasan had produced a number of films. Out of all, the most famous, most remembered and simply, Vasan’s magnum opus is, ‘Chandralekha’. It owns the unique pride of made with a massive budget of Rs.3000000 in those ages. His friends and film fraternity could not believe that a Tamil film is being produced this big, at a time when Tamil film business was literally nothing outside Tamil Nadu. Onlookers were skeptical and even cautioned Vasan that even if the movie becomes a super hit, the entire business of the film would not be justifiable enough for all the money, which has been put in making the movie. Vasan, who was so determined, brushed them all aside and bravely ventured in. During the times when a film’s shooting period was mere days and weeks, Chandralekha’s making period extended for three years.

Movie was released and as expected, rocked the theaters. It was a blockbuster to say the least. Vasan incidentally screened the movie to a Hindi film distributor, who was his friend. He got awestruck with the movie and suggested Vasan to dub it in Hindi.

Thus, Chandralekha was dubbed in Hindi. Vasan took immense care to make the Hindi version a successful one as well. In those times itself more than 600 prints were made for the film. Full-page advertisements adorned all North Indian magazines and dailies. Massive posters, banners were put up in all the major cities and towns. He spent the budget of the movie (30 Lakhs) in this countrywide publicity campaign alone for the Hindi version. As a result the Hindi version, doubtlessly, was as huge a hit as in Tamil. Later, this same film was dubbed in English as ‘Ms.Chandra’ and harvested handsome returns in abroad as well.

Vasan clearly had strong prescience in film advertisement. He made sure the top drawers like Chandralekha’s drum dance were publicized with big banners in front of every theater where the movie was being screened. He went to the extent of having a database of public’s address. His advertisement wing bought post cards in leaps and bounds, personally wrote them to individual targeted public about the film, which acted as a magnet for pulling the crowd to the theaters. Vasan had a dedicated crew in his studio for conceiving and creating advertisement campaigns. ‘Kadhal Mannan’ Gemini Ganesan was an employee with Gemini Studio’s advertisement division, before he ventured into acting.

After Chandralekha’s success, in North India, Tamil films started to command more attention and respect. Many Hindi film producers contrasted Vasan claiming advertisement and marketing of this huge scale would hit at small Hindi producers. Vasan made history by ignoring them and moving ahead with his way of colossal advertisement and extra-large publicity campaigns.

[ be continued

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