Ajith's Nerkonda Paarvai, Jayam Ravi's Comali may revive box office business of Tamil cinema this year
Only superstars like Ajith, Rajinikanth, and Vijay revive the flailing Kollywood box office. Can Nerkonda Paarvai do it?
Will the Kollywood box office be revived by Ajith-starrer Nerkonda Paarvai releasing today? The Tamil box office is at an all time low, as none of the recent releases have really performed well across Tamil Nadu. In the first seven months of 2019, there were 124 Tamil releases, out of which only nine have been profitable for the stakeholders.
The blockbusters so far have been Ajith-starrer Viswasam and Rajinikanth-starrer Petta which released during Pongal in early January. Since then, only Raghava Lawrence’s Kanchana 3 could be classified as a super hit. All these films did well in Tier-1,2 and 3 markets across Tamil Nadu, and were superstar-driven. Among others that find place in the hit list are Thadam, LKG, Dhilluku Dhuddu, Monster, Gurkha, and A1. These films did well in specific markets and could not get the reach of superstar-driven films, which were universal hits.
Tirupur Subramaniyam, one of the leading distributors and exhibitors in Tamil Nadu, says: “The small films made on a budget becoming hits are good for the trade, but it is really films featuring the superstars like Rajinikanth, Vijay or an Ajith when they become super hits that bring in the mega bucks. Early this year,we had Petta and Viswasam releasing on the same day, which went on to become blockbusters. Now if Ajith’s Nerkonda Paarvai becomes a hit, it will boost the confidence level in the industry, which had been going through a lean period.”
Kollywood is desperately in need of a hit, as recently, all new Tamil films have failed to live up to expectation. Last three weeks in a row, Hollywood films have dominated the Chennai box office, with The Lion King and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw taking over. The Lion King released in English and also had a dubbed Tamil version. The film is reported to have grossed around Rs 32 crore from Tamil Nadu, with a theatrical share of Rs 12 to 13 crore, which is huge for any film.
The huge success of The Lion King across Tamil Nadu, even in Tier-2 and 3 towns, consisting mainly of family audiences, has created panic in Tamil film industry. According to an internal survey carried out by a theatre, 72 percent of the audiences, who saw The Lion King, were families, traditionally Tamil cinema viewers. ARK Ramasamy Raja, Managing Director of the popular Ram Muthuram Cinemas in Tirunelveli, says: “The Tamil version of The Lion King has become like a big hero Tamil festival release in our theatre. It’s phenomenal that we are getting family audiences for an English dubbed film. The film is a blockbuster and we are continuing with two shows in one of our screens in the fourth week, despite the release of Nerkonda Paarvai today.”
Tamil commercial cinema is completely superstar-driven. Only a few stars like Rajinikanth, Vijay, Ajith have global reach. It means their films perform well also outside Tamil Nadu in the overseas, Karnataka, Kerala, and Telugu dubbed markets. Plus, they have a huge satellite television, Hindi dubbing for channels, and digital rights. Now a producer like Mumbai-based Boney Kapoor, knowing the huge potential, has stepped into the Tamil film market with Nerkonda Paarvai.
The early trends indicate that Nerkonda Paarvai is all set to be a hit, as the youth audiences (basically Ajith’s fan base) likes his transformation from a mass hero to a class actor. The film is a remake of Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Pink, and Ajith is playing the role made memorable by Amitabh Bachchan, of that of a lawyer who is depressed and also bipolar. Considering Ajith’s fan base, the makers have tweaked the script to ‘suit the taste of the Tamil audiences’. Now, if this film brings in the family audiences during the weekend then it will become a super hit.
Meanwhile next week, on Independence Day, Jayam Ravi’s Comali, a fun masala entertainer, is scheduled to release. Both these films have given hope to the industry of a trade revival.
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