By Sreedhar Pillai
Goli Soda, a film with adolescent-newcomers in the lead, by cinematographer-turned-director Vijay Milton is creating a fizz in Tamil cinema. The movie made on a shoe-string budget of Rs 4 crore, including print and promotions, has turned out to be a sleeper hit.
The year had started with two Pongal mass hero releases — Ajith’s Veeram and Vijay’s Jilla. Two weeks later, this small film opened to rave reviews and by Sunday it became an instant hit due to strong word-of-mouth. The film, which released on 24 January in 150 odd screens in Tamil Nadu expanded to 50 more by Sunday. Another 100 are being added.
Goli Soda has brought back the earlier trend of small films, made on tiny budgets without stars but good content, making it big. Last year, Tamil cinema had larger than life super-hero masala entertainers like Arrambam , Singam 2, and Viswaroopam working at the box-office. Though there were 100 odd small films in the Rs 4 to Rs 6 Crore budget, the audiences avoided them.
Goli Soda is about four adolescent boys whose life revolves around the Koyambedu wholesale vegetable and fruit market in Chennai, the largest of its kind in Asia. It is not an art house film; but a masala commercial entertainer with kids at centre stage who are trying to create an identity for themselves. Their romance and the fight against the baddie who controls the market make the storyline.
The film worked with the audiences due to the triumph of honest writing, freshness of its cast who do not have any star trappings, and the fast-paced narration (2 hours 4 minutes). The backbone of the film is writer Pandiraj’s script, Vijay Milton’s directorial finesse and the belief that everybody, irrespective of his surroundings and upbringing, has an identity. Goli Soda is sort of a sequel to Pandiraj’s national award winning Pasanga (2009).
Noted critic Bhardwaj Rangan wrote in The Hindu – “ The signature achievement of Goli Soda is its ruthless unmasking of how hollow most of our masala movies are, and how, with a little imagination, just a little, you can make a film whose appeal is broad and which does not insult the audience.”
Says Dr Hari Govind of Rakki Cinemas Ambatur in suburban Chennai : “Goli Soda is working big time as it has a connect to the audiences. The film does not eschew heroism, but at the same time the viewers root for the kids. After the film is over, there was a standing ovation in my theatre. It proves once again that the story is the real star of a film, and the biggest entertainment factor.”
The film’s director Vijay Milton says: “Goli Soda story is realistic and I was inspired from real-life happenings in Koyambedu Market where I saw hundreds of young boys sleeping in its attics. That triggered my curiosity and I started researching them. I learnt that their world revolves only around this market and they do not have any other identity. It's not easy to make a commercial film with adolescents. But I was lucky enough to work with these very talented kids. The film is being liked by the family audiences as there is emotion, romance, comedy and natural justice.”
At the box-office, trade analysts believe that the film will collect its cost in the first week from theatricals alone. From theatricals, satellite television rights and remake rights (Telugu, Kannada & Hindi), the producers are expected to rake in around Rs 10-12 crore.
The phenomenal success of Goli Soda has augured well for Kollywood. It reiterates the fact that commercial cinema with fresh packaging and story will find its audiences, irrespective of the star cast.