Deepavali is the second most important festival in Tamil Nadu after Pongal. As per tradition, watching a new film is a must on Deepavali day.
In the good old days, when there were around 100 releases a year, at least seven or eight big and small Tamil films used to release on the festival day. For Tamil cinema superstars, a Deepavali release is a prestige issue that ensures a 5 to 10 % extra collections at the box-office.
Fans in 80s and 90s used to eagerly look forward to epic Deepavali clashes between Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. The situation has not changed much, though 2016 will not have any top stars like Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay or Ajith films in the race for a release on the festival.
However, fireworks have already started in Kollywood, as stars like Dhanush (Kodi), Karthi (Kaashmora), Vishal (Kathi Sandai) have officially announced their Deepavali releases through their Twitter handle. That makes it three films on one day.
To add to the suspense, one of the Twitter handles connected to Suriya’s S3, also known as Singam3, has said it will definitely be a Deepavali release. There is tension in Tamil film trade, as it is impossible to accommodate all the four biggies. The prediction is that atleast two of them will not release on Deepavali or will be shifted.
There was a time when it was possible for many films to release simultaneously. In the 90s, a Rajinikanth blockbuster like Baasha used to release in maximum 175 screens, when film prints were used for screening. Today, in the digital age, Kabali released in 700 odd screens in Tamil Nadu alone.
Tamil Nadu has around 1160 screens, out of which only 950 are fit for new releases. Now a normal film releases in 350 to 400 screens, depending on the hero’s star power, and it would be virtually impossible to have four big releases on the same day. In fact, trade sources say ideally they prefer one big hero film and three small films, but this Deepavali can accommodate two big hero films.
What is intriguing though, is that Suriya’s S3 has thrown in its hat in the Deepavali ring, at a time when his brother Karthi’s costliest film Kaashmora had announced its release date two months back.
Trade experts say that the clash won’t take place as there will be an understanding between the brothers. Sources say S3 is backing up in case the graphics and special effects laden period fantasy horror Kaashmora post-production work gets delayed.
The shoot of Hari-directed franchise S3, will be over in the first week of September and it will be ready for a Deepavali release on 29 October.
The producer of Kaashmora, SR Prabhu of Dream Warrior Pictures, said, “ We are on track for a big Deepavali release, as all our post production work will get over by September end and we are trying to censor the film by October first week. Many areas have been sold out as the bilingual in Tamil and Telugu will release on Deepavali day.”
The entire shoot of Dhanush’s Kodi, a political thriller set against a rural milieu, has been complete. The producers of the film say that they are on schedule for a Deepavali release as well.
Vishal, who is the 'Nadigar Sangam' (actors association) chief also reiterated his film, Kathi Sandai, will make it to theatres on the promised day.
All the four films are backed by powerful production houses and there is buzz that the actors involved have been heard talking in private about how this is a prestige issue. Neither want to back off.
We're all waiting to see who will blink first, as it will be a cracker of a Deepavali 2016 in Kollywood.