Southern cinema in 2015: Content ruled over star power in first half

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Chennai, June 30 (IANS) The first six months of 2015 saw approximately 280 releases in the southern film industry, but performance-wise, it was a mixed first half. The success of films such as “Kanchana 2”, “Premam”, “Pataas” and “Kaaka Muttai” came as a surprise, but the failure of some highly-anticipated, big-budgeted and superstar-driven films was worrisome.

Of the record 107 Tamil releases, only 10 turned out to be hits by reaping profits for their producers. Only five more managed to break even.

“Compared to 2014, the first half of 2015 has witnessed an increase in hit percentage. However, most star-studded films performed poorly at box office, resulting in heavy losses for their stakeholders,” trade analyst Trinath told IANS.

Ragava Lawrence’s horror comedy “Kanchana 2” and National Award winning drama “Kaaka Muttai” reaped three to four times their investment.

While “Kanchana 2” along with its Telugu dubbed version “Ganga” grossed over Rs.100 crore worldwide on an investment of Rs.18 crore, “Kaaka Muttai”, which is still running in select cinemas, has raked in over Rs.15 crore.

“These two films deserve the blockbuster tag. ‘Kaaka Muttai’ has proved that audiences are hungry for good content,” Trinath said.

Other successful ventures include “Anegan”, “Kaaki Sattai”, “I”, “O Kadhal Kanmani”, “Darling”, “36 Vayadhinile” and “Demonte Colony”.

“The success of small films such as ‘Darling’, ‘Demonte Colony’ and ‘Tamiluku En Ondrai Azhuthavum’ has given several young filmmakers the courage to experiment. More producers are willing to bet on quirky subjects,” he said.

A big disappoint was Kamal Haasan- starrer “Uttama Villain” and Suriya’s “Massu”.

In the Telugu filmdom, the first six months have not been favourable.

Om Deepak of AndhraBoxOffice, a popular box office portal, said: “As usual, commercial entertainers have dominated and raked in decent box office numbers. But when compared to the first half of 2014, there’s a dip in overall collections by minimum 20 percent due to a fewer big releases.”

The delay of big-budget movies such as “Baahubali”, “Kick 2”, “Rudhramadevi” and “Srimanthudu”, which were originally slated for summer release, has also impacted the numbers.

“Generally, summer will witness release of at least three big films. This year, the only notable big release was Allu Arjun’s ‘S/O Satyamurthy’. As a result, the box office occupancy has been lowest this summer in this decade,” Deepak said.

Kalyan Ram’s “Pataas”, with a worldwide gross of Rs.29 crore, is the most profitable film and a blockbuster in every sense. Junior NTR’s “Temper” (Rs.74 crore) and Sundeep Kishan-starrer “Beeruva” (Rs.10 crore) were hits with minor profits.

Amongst high grossing films which suffered minor losses, “S/O Satyamurthy” leads with Rs.90 crore , followed by “Gopala Gopala” (Rs. 66 crore) and “Pandaga Chesko” (Rs.29 crore).

Telugu filmdom also saw a bevy of Tamil dubbed releases. Out of them, the only profitable venture was “Ganga” (Rs.31 crore). Though the Telugu version of Shankar’s “I” grossed Rs. 44 crore, the film was a disaster.

“It was a poor first half for Telugu industry, which had approximately 54 releases. Expectations are sky-high on ‘Baahubali’ and ‘Srimanthudu’, and the success of these films is very essential for the industry, especially after the bad start,” Trinath said.

Of the four southern industries, Malayalam filmdom had a decent first half with better success rate.

The unexpected success of “Premam”, which has given its lead actor Nivin Pauly a superstar status, has given the industry the biggest hit.

“The film continues to run to packed houses in its fourth week across the country. It has already raked in over Rs.30 crore at the ticket window. It’s turning out to be the highest grossing film in the history of the Malayalam industry,” distributor Arvind Nambiar told IANS.

Of the 67 Malayalam releases, films such as “Mili”, “Picket 43”, “Fireman”, “100 Days of Love”, “Oru Vadakkan Selfie”, “Ennum Eppozhum”, “Bhaskar the Rascal” and “Chandrettan Evideya” tasted success.

“Some of these hits are already being remade in other languages. ‘Oru Vadakkan Selfie’, for instance, which is being remade in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Marathi and Bengali, earned nearly Rs.20 crore from theatricals alone. It’s phenomenal,” Nambiar said.

Mammootty-starrer “Bhaskar the Rascal”, whose Telugu rights have already been acquired, collected triple its overall cost.

Some highly anticipated films that bombed, include “Laila O Laila”, “Mariyam Mukku” and “Chirakodinja Kinavukal”.

The Kannada industry, which saw 55 releases in six months, suffered heavily due to the poor show of most big ticket films. Sadly, there hasn’t been a single big hit.

” ‘Mr. and Mrs. Ramachari’, which released in the last week of last year and ran through most of the first quarter of 2015, is the most successful film. It could even be called a superhit as it collected nearly Rs.50 crore during its run,” trade analyst and distributor Ramesh Gowda told IANS.

Big films such as “Ranna”, “Vajrakaya”, “Rana Vikrama” and “Siddhartha” did decent business and recovered money.

“Both ‘Ranna’ and ‘Rana Vikrama’ raked in over Rs.10 crore in its opening weekend, but failed to sustain. This has been the case with most star-centric films across the industries,” Gowda said.

Other outings such as “Shivam”, “Kushi Kushiyali”, “Jackson” and “Raja Rajendra” managed only average business at the box office.

Director Yograj Bhat’s highly anticipated film “Vaastu Prakaara” opened to good numbers but failed to make it big.

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