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Friday, October 17, 2008

Diwali Dhamaka

Diwali’s round the corner and with it comes the big movies. CT tells you what Kollywood has to offer for this year’s festival

The countdown has begun for Diwali, Kollywood’s second biggest festival season after Pongal. Traditionally from the days of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan to Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, a Diwali film is a prestige release.

The leading exhibitor in the state Abhirami Ramanathan says, “From early days to the late 90s, Diwali has been associated with big budget, star-studded extravaganzas. Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan used to release their films during this season lighting up the box-office. Normally, there will always be a 10 percent increase in box-office collections during this season, which has seen some of the biggest hits of the stars.”

This year, the Diwali weekend (October 24 to October 27) is going to be a real cracker. The Diwali line-up is interesting and includes the Ajit-Nayanthara action-comedy entertainer Aegan, directed by Raju Sundaram.

The musical love story, Vaaranam Aayiram (VA), directed by Gautham Menon and starring Surya, Sameera, Divya, and Simran is also scheduled to be released for Diwali as is the action-family drama Seval from director Hari. Seval will have Bharath and Poonam Baweja in the lead. The Prakash Raj- Trisha off-beat Abhiyum Naanum, directed by Radha Mohan and director Selva’s Madhavan, Mamta Mohandas romantic comedy Guru En Aalu too will hit the screens during this period.

At the time of writing only two of these films — Aegan and Seval — have confirmed theatre bookings across the world. The rest of the films are either trying to get distributors or good screens.

The Kollywood honchos are keeping a close eye on Diwali releases. The superstars of the industry have to get their act together, as this year, so far, the star movies were pretty lukewarm at the box-office. Tamil film industry is superstar driven, and it is always the mass masala movies which bring in the mega bucks. This Diwali is a face-off between Ajit’s Aegan and Surya’s Vaaranam Aayiram. Both the actors are superstars and command huge openings. Ajit’s films are targeted at the youth audiences. And his pairing once again after Billa with Nayanthara will ensure a bumper opening for the film which has peppy music by Yuvan Shankar Raja. However, as Meenakshi Sundaram, Manager of Mayajaal Multiplex, puts it, “The big question is whether star-studded films will hold on and become super hits as today, stars alone cannot ensure a hit as proved by some of the big films released this year. For a star film to sustain and get repeat audiences, content and packaging along with peppy music is a must.” If this theory holds good, Gautham Vasudeva Menon’s Vaaranam Aayiram is sure to be a super hit. The film’s music by Harris Jayaraj has already become this year’s largest selling audio. The promos of the film first premiered on the internet have been getting rave reviews. According to the trade buzz, the film’s theatrical rights for the state of Tamil Nadu has been purchased by Gemini Picture Circuit for a record Rs 14 crore, the highest ever paid for a Surya film. Says Gautham Menon, “VA is straight from the heart. Surya is extraordinary and I’m sure the film will take him to bigger heights.” Meanwhile, the trade is betting big on director Hari’s mass masala entertainer Seval, in which Bharath turns into an action hero. As Sekhar, a booking agent said, “Theatres in B and C circuits are clamouring to screen Seval as it has action, dapan-kuthu mass songs, and women-centric sentimental scenes likely to work big time in smaller stations.” The Madhavan-Mamta Mohandas-Vivek romantic comedy Guru En Aalu, directed by Selva is said to be a laugh riot, with Vivek doing an Avvai Shanmughi type role. The buzz is that Prakash Raj may postpone his Abhiyum Naanum, as simply there are not enough screens to release all the five proposed Diwali releases. Any which way you look at it, it is going to be a cracker of a Diwali, a Saravedi as Kollywood fans will say!

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