On the face of it, Kollywood seems to have been a booming industry in 2008.
A record 114 Tamil films were released in 2008 (with Panchamritam being the last to be released on December 25), the highest ever in a decade.
Of these, 19 films proved to be profitable for their producers, a success percentage of 16 percent, based on the box-office collections and the costs of the films.
There was one blockbuster (Subramaniapuram), three super hits (Dasavatharam, Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Kathalil Vizhunthen ) and six hits (Saroja, Santosh Subramaniyam, Dhaam Dhoom, Vaaranam Aayiram, Anjaathe and Thenavattu). Apart from these, nine other films made marginal profits.
The Tamil film industry went through a metamorphosis in 2008. An industry known for big budget mass movies with superstars and budgets of over Rs 15 crore saw many of them bombing.
Only two of the seven big-budget films, which were made with a sum of over Rs 15 crore each, managed to fetch their producers the money they had invested.
Says Tiruppur Subramaniam, the veteran distributor and financier, “The box-office results for 2008 clearly indicate that big budget films come under the high risk category, while small movies with good content in the Rs 2.5 to Rs 5 crore are comparatively safe bets.”
‘Small is beautiful’ seems to have been the key. Debutant director and producer Sasikumar’s Subramaniapuram made on a shoe-string budget of Rs 2.25 crore in 100 days made approximately Rs 10 crore from theatricals and television rights. As noted Malayalam director Lal Jose, now making a Tamil film, points out, “If the movie’s content is good, with innovative ideas and catchy music, people will come to theatres irrespective of the star cast.” Other small-budget films like Anjaathe, Saroja and Kathalil Vizhuenthen too made big money.
K Munikannaiah, vice-president of movie scheduling and distributor relations at Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai, said, “Today, audiences prefer realistic films within the commercial framework. Any new film with good content becomes a hit.” Munikannaiah points out that the common man wants his regular quota of entertainment. “This industry is recession proof, good films will always run irrespective of competition or external developments,” he adds.
Corporates too made some quality films like Raman Thediya Seethai, Poo and Poi Solla Porom. Another emerging trend is that music plays an even bigger role in the promotion of a film. Claims actor Silambarassan, “ My Silambattam is a hit. One of the main reasons is Yuvan’s music and the hit number-Where is the party tonight… .” Similarly, the song Kangal Irandal… from Subramaniapuram enabled the film to reach across to the masses.”
The predominantly youth audiences of Tamil cinema in the 15 to 30 age group call the shots. As leading director Selvaraghavan says, “My core audiences are the youth and in my films, I try to cater to their tastes more than any other segment of the audience.”
Today, once Kollywood’s biggest audiences –women—are outnumbered by youth.
This has resulted in a lot of glamour and glitz on screen, and heroines who are willing to do glamour roles are more in demand than the girl-next-door type.
To sum it up, this year the industry has realised that content is king and that films should be made on a budget and on time, if they are to be liked by the viewers.