It has been the biggest Pongal box-office battle in recent times for the Tamil film industry. Four films – Sivakarthikeyan’s Rajini Murugan, Vishal’s Kathakali, Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Gethu and Sasikumar’s Tharai Thappettai released during the festival season.
Some of the biggest companies in the industry backed these projects, though they got only limited screens and shows. Please note that in Tamil Nadu out of 1162 screens only 950 screens are fit to screen new releases. Among the Pongal releases only Rajini Murugan acquired the big screens, while others had to share screens and shows.
Sivakarthikeyan’s Rajini Murugan has emerged as the clear winner by a mile. The film is a typical mass entertainer ideal for the family festival audiences. It also got an entertainment tax exemption from the state government committee and is reported to have grossed around Rs 18 Crores in its first four days.
Like the director Ponram’s earlier film Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam, this too reached across to smaller cities and town, who just want a family entertainer with lots of comedy and songs. Sivakarthikeyan, a former television show presenter, is currently among the top five stars at the Tamil Nadu box-office, with phenomenal reach within family audiences.
The other Pongal releases have gotten average to above average reports. Due to limited screens and shows, the collections have been divided. Vishal’s racy thriller Kathakali is getting good reviews, and is said to be the number two.
DMK strongman MK Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin’s film Gethu took a decent opening too, but could not get big numbers as it was not tax free. Udhyanidhi Stalin has had a running battle over the years with Jayalalithaa government over entertainment tax issues. As per the Tamil Nadu government, the film should get a ‘U’ certificate and the film’s title should be in Tamil.
Udhyanidhi took Twitter to vent his outrage. Udhay tweeted a page from a Tamil dictionary that had the meaning of the film’s title, clearly indicating that 'Gethu' is a tamil word after all. The buzz is that the actor will file a case against the committee for denying tax exemption to his film.
The other Pongal release was maverick director Bala’s Tharai Thappattai, which had Sasikumar in the lead. The film chronicled the miserable plight of folk artists of Tamil Nadu and was billed as maestro Ilayaraja’s 1000th film as a composer. However the film, which had an ‘A’ certificate due to its gruesome violence in the climax, took a good opening but carries mixed reports.