Puthandu clash: Pa Paandi, Kadamban and Shivalinga in a three-way fight for screens

Sreedhar Pillai

Apr,14 2017 13:14 11 IST

The weekend of 14 April 2017 is marked both by the Tamil New Year, Puthandu, and the beginning of the summer season in Kollywood. Traditionally, a Tamil big-hero-driven film gets a solo release during this period. However, this year will not have a top-hero-film; instead, three medium-range films are releasing simultaneously on this Friday.

It is the biggest-ever fight for theatre space seen in the industry. The releases are Dhanush’s directorial debut Pa Paandi (aka Power Paandi) with Rajkiran in the lead, Arya’s jungle action adventure Kadamban, Lawrence’s horror comedy Shivalinga and the biggest Hollywood summer action film The Fate of the Furious, which is releasing in both English and Tamil.

(Clockwise from top) Stills from Kadamban; Shivalinga; Pa Paandi

(Clockwise from top) Stills from Kadamban; Shivalinga; Pa Paandi

All the thousand-odd screens in Tamil Nadu are choc-a-block with the new releases and also the previous week’s Vijay Sethupathi hit Kavan and Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Veliyidai.  In this kind of scenario, there is not going to be any real winner, as screens have to be shared.  Nobody has any real advantage, as multiplexes are sharing their big screens among the films, allotting a smaller screen for the remaining shows — a less-than-ideal proposition considering that today, the business of a big film is just the opening weekend.

For example, Mani Ratnam’s much talked about Kaatru Veliyidai took a great opening weekend in city multiplexes but started falling on Monday. In its second week, the film is playing in limited, smallest screens in multiplexes, who have given preference to newer content. None of the new releases are going to get huge collections as the opening weekend is divided. And producers and distributors are feeling the heat, as theatres across Tamil Nadu are not willing to pay the token advance or MG (Minimum Guarantee) for these films.

The trade has lost its confidence in commercial Tamil masala films, as they are unable to recover their cost due to high star prices and general dullness in the market. The buzz is that they are all waiting for SS Rajamouli’s period epic  Baahubali 2, to revive the box-office. In fact the large number of releases on 14 April is because they wish to give Baahubali 2: The Conclusion a wide berth when it hits theatres on 28 April 2017. As per sources, the follow-up to Baahubali: The Beginning will witness the biggest-ever release, in nearly 700 screens in Tamil Nadu — which not even a Rajinikanth film has done before.

The 14 April releases are crucial for their respective heroes: Pa Paandi is Dhanush’s directorial debut with veteran Raj Kiran and Revathi playing the pivotal characters. The film is said to be a feel-good family entertainer, specifically targeting female audiences. A lot is riding on Arya’s action jungle adventure Kadamban for the star, who needs a hit to revive his career. And Lawrence is depending on his P Vasu directed horror thriller Shivalinga to regain his mass audiences, who were disappointed with his last outing Motta Siva Ketta Siva.

Meanwhile theatres across Tamil Nadu are already celebrating as Fast And Furious 8, in English and Tamil, took a super opening when it opened on Wednesday with paid previews. The multiplexes in Chennai city are showcasing F8 over Tamil films, as they stand to make more out of it than local content.  As noted trade analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted: