From Jayam Ravi's Tik Tik Tik to Varun Tej’s Antariksham, space genre earns mainstream acceptance in southern cinema

Haricharan Pudipeddi

July 01, 2018 13:08:37 IST

Jayam Ravi’s Tamil space thriller Tik Tik Tik, which hit the screens on 22 June, has emerged as one of the biggest openers in the actor’s career. According to reliable trade sources, the film has grossed around Rs 11 crore in its opening weekend in Tamil Nadu. While it may not be really considered an earth-shattering opening by box-office standards, it’s huge given the film’s genre and its budget. Despite earning a mixed response from critics and a section of the audiences, the film worked wonders with the masses whose acceptance has given the space genre much-needed recognition.

Jayam Ravi on the poster of Tik Tik Tik. Facebook

Jayam Ravi on the poster of Tik Tik Tik. Facebook

In an interview earlier, Ravi said a lot of people couldn’t believe a space film in Tamil cinema could be pulled off. “When I told some well-wishers and friends that I was going to do a space film, nobody believed in me or in the project. They looked down upon the idea itself. The bigger challenge for us was to script a movie like this in the first place. It needed a lot of vision and clarity. I could foresee the result when I read the script but nobody believed in us expect our producer. But I was quite confident because audiences have always supported whenever I attempted something different. Even though the execution was very strenuous, we were thrilled with the output which was beyond our satisfaction. It’ll be a milestone in my career and in Tamil cinema.”

Read: Jayam Ravi on Tik Tik Tik: Although physically demanding, the outcome was extremely satisfactory

Whether Tik Tik Tik is a landmark film in Tamil industry is debatable, but it’ll definitely go down as an ambitious effort, observes a distributor, who is surprised by the response the film has received from kids and young adults. “General Tamil audiences are completely alien to space genre. Most of them wouldn’t even have watched films like Gravity and Interstellar. These people are celebrating Tik Tik Tik because they’re seeing a space film for the first time. Kids are absolutely in love with the film. The critics may have found the film illogical at places, but it’s worked with the audiences it’s intended to appeal.”

This welcome acceptance to Tik Tik Tik will benefit Varun Tej’s upcoming Telugu space film, which is tentatively titled Antariksham. The project went on the floors recently and the team has already completed a month of the shoot. Being directed by The Ghazi Attack fame Sankalp Reddy, the film also stars Aditi Rao Hydari as the leading lady.

Talking to Firstpost, Varun said that he’s hopeful audiences will embrace this maiden attempt in Telugu cinema. “I really liked Sankalp’s script. I’ve seen his work in Ghazi, which was Telugu cinema’s first submarine-based film. If he could pull off a Ghazi and win over audiences, I’m sure he can pull off a space film as well.”

Producer Rajeev Reddy, the producer of Antariksham, had told Firstpost, “After Ghazi, Sankalp has come up with another exciting script. I think the time is over for regular commercial cinema and the need of the hour is to innovate with interesting subjects. Sankalp has great potential and we as a company have been backing different content, so we’re happy to collaborate with him. When I heard the story, both Sankalp and I were in two minds if Varun would be interested in the project. But when he heard the story, he was adamant to do it. His willingness to embrace the project gave us more confidence.”

One of the reasons behind the success of Tik Tik Tik is its director Shakti Soundar Rajan’s effort to Indianise the space genre for mainstream audiences. Although promoted as a race-against-time thriller, set in space, Tik Tik Tik is really a masala film set in space. Shakti had told Firstpost that he had set out to make a B-movie in space. “You could call this ‘men on a mission’ kind of film. But this is not a dry science-fiction film. I’m a huge fan of Grindhouse movies by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino and I intentionally make my films look superficial. It’s not that I aim high and it misses and goes low. I aim for a B-movie because it’s through which I can connect with the masses.”

Updated Date: Jul 01, 2018 13:09 PM