Kaatru Veliyidai is an acid test for Mani Ratnam; can he stay relevant amid box office slump?
Mani Ratnam is feeling the Chennai heat as his new romantic thriller Kaatru Veliyidai (KV) is all set for a big release this Friday (April 7).
Mani sir, as he is affectionately called in the media and industry, has a lot riding on KV. He is commercial cinema’s biggest survivors, who started directing films in 1983, when India first won the cricket world cup. His contemporaries have fallen by the side, but he has been able to constantly reinvent himself and still be relevant with today’s social media crazy youth audience.
Kaatru Veliyidai’s comes two years after his O’Kadhal Kanmani, which was above average at the box-office.
KV is an acid test for the 60-year old director and producer, who need a solid hit to keep going, at a time when Kollywood box-office is at an all time low.
Mani Ratnam’s film is fighting for theatre space as there is tough completion among the sizzling summer releases.
The film’s release on April 7 is sandwiched between Vijay Sethupathi’s Kavan (released on March 31), now declared the first hit of summer and three releases on April 14 for Tamil New Year/Vishu/Easter weekend. The three mid-size films releasing on April 14 are – Dhanush’s directorial debut Power Paandi, Arya’s jungle adventure Kadamban and Lawrence’s horror comedy Sivalinga.
For the first time ever Mani Ratnam and his Madras Talkies are doing aggressive promotions as Kaatru Veliyidai is being marketed on the director’s appeal among youth audiences. It is also a Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman combination, 25 years since Roja, and their 15th film together. The music is topping charts everywhere and has been able to create waves before release.
Mani Ratnam is known as a multiplex, city filmmaker, and ahead of his film's release, he has given more text and video interviews than ever before and he has been trending on social media for the last one week.
His lead pair, Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari, have been flying around Tamil Nadu towns like Coimbatore, Madurai and also visited Kochi in Kerala for meet and greet promotions.
Murali Ramaswamy of Sri Thenandal Films, one of the biggest producers and distributors in Tamil Nadu who is marketing KV, said: “I’m a great fan of Mani sir from my school days and that is one of the reasons that I brought KV's Tamil Nadu distribution rights. It is the first Mani sir film which is being promoted aggressively in Madurai and Coimbatore. We are releasing it around 320 screens in the state as we have great hope on the film.”
Meanwhile, Mani Ratnam, for a change, has had a smooth sailing experience with the censors, as Kaatru Veliyidai has been conferred with a U certificate.
The biggest plus, as far as trade is concerned, is the film has gotten an entertainment tax exemption in Tamil Nadu.
Ratnam, who was once upon a time very secretive and protective about his films and refused to heed to trade advice, has this time taken a U-turn. Three days before the film’s release he and his national award winning Editor Sreekar Prasad, trimmed 7 minutes of the film to make it a compact 2 hours and 20 minutes of running time, including title cards.
In a way, Mani Ratnam has totally changed with times and successfully reinvented himself and his cinema to suit today’s modern film trade. And the results are already showing as Kaatru Veliyidai has taken this year’s best ever advance booking opening for a film in Chennai city and suburbs.
Now, it is up to Mani sir’s content to speak, that will decide whether KV is a hit or an average grosser.