How solid word-of-mouth made Kaithi successful at the box office despite releasing alongside Bigil
Kaithi’s X-factor lies in how the film provides a terrific theatrical experience with a gripping storyline, fast-paced narration, solid technical values, great ensemble performances, and sure-footed filmmaking technique.
Even though the box-office juggernaut in Bigil had taken up the majority of the attention and screens during the pre-Diwali phase in Kollywood, another film in Kaithi was garnering its own excitement among cinephiles. The buzz for the Karthi-starrer did move onto the next level when the film’s producer SR Prabhu announced that he would be taking Bigil head-on for 25 October release.
Kaithi marked the sophomore outing for Lokesh Kanagaraj, who made a punchy debut with Maanagaram, a film that was made with lesser-known faces and on a smaller scale. Having Karthi in the lead role, Kaithi qualified as a good-if-not-equal competitor against Vijay’s Bigil, with the impressive trailer adding to the merry. Now, Kaithi has received rave reviews from everyone across-the-board and is performing steadily at the box-office.
Vijay’s two prior Diwali releases — Mersal and Sarkar — had little competition from films such as Meyaadha Maan and Billa Pandi, but Kaithi had its niche crowd who wanted to see the movie on the first day. Ruban Mathivanan, who manages the popular cinema chain of GK Cinemas in Chennai, told Firstpost, “I don’t know if Kaithi was made targeting a specific kind of audience, but the film has performed extremely well in all the centers of Tamil Nadu. Even though Bigil had a humongous demand for tickets, Kaithi had a lot of inquiries with a packed opening weekend at our screens. Particularly, it is doing very well in C centers such as Thiruthani and Manamathi. It is indeed a happy Diwali for exhibitors all round.”
One of Tamil cinema’s biggest clashes took place at the start of the year when Superstar Rajinikanth’s Petta took on Ajith’s Viswasam at the box office, with both films reaping substantial rewards for all the stakeholders. However, in the case of this Diwali clash, there are two differences. The first one is the fact that Vijay is a much bigger star than Karthi, as opposed to the Pongal season, where both stars were from the top tier. Besides, Bigil is more of a mass-centric movie while Kaithi is a completely new-gen action thriller from a promising filmmaker. Both films are now being equally celebrated on social media – Bigil has got the trade going crazy with its numbers, but Kaithi is not far behind as it has the support of the glowing reviews from critics, apart from its gradually increasing box office drive.
Kaithi’s X-factor lies in how the film provides a terrific theatrical experience with a gripping storyline, fast-paced narration, solid technical values, great ensemble performances, and sure-footed filmmaking technique. As the story takes place in a single night, the team had faced a majority of challenges before and after the shoot, but they have come out strongly in flying colors. Cinematographer Sathyan Sooryan, who has done an extraordinary job behind the camera, gives us an insight, “At first, we looked into the terrains and the resources that we had in hand. We realized that it would be right to go ahead with the practicals like the torches, headlights, and fire for the lighting required, instead of bringing it forcefully. A month’s waiting led us to fog and ambient mist, which further helped us in the process. At any point in time, we looked to use the conditions in the best possible manner.”
Composer Sam CS agrees with the fact that director Lokesh Kanagaraj didn’t just want to have standalone action blocks, but wanted to narrate the story through the fight scenes. “In terms of my background score, I have used some specific elements to project certain emotions. Whenever there is a reference of Dilli’s (Karthi) past inside the jail, there is a double-ring sound that I have implemented. When you watch the sequel, which explains his past even further, you will hear this specific tone as the theme music. This way, there is a separate musical element for every emotion felt in the film,” he said.
The clever use of classic yesteryear tracks at a crucial juncture in the film has fetched a great response on the internet. Talking about the reception, editor Philomin Raj says, “For the sequences inside the British house, we had already planned the scenes so I could cut it accordingly. But for the song in the lorry ('Pudhu Rottuladhan'), we shot it without thinking about it and then picked this specific number out of four other options.” Philomin also spoke about the significant challenge of having multiple tracks being narrated at the same time. “In a film like Kaithi, you will not get challenging scenes. But maintaining the narration which is running on more than one track will not be easy. The interval mark was also one of the interesting parts on the edit table, as I had to maintain a single mood for all the occurrences onscreen.”
One of the most talked-about scenes from the film is, without doubt, the riveting climax involving the Gatling gun, which is indeed one of the best shootout sequences ever staged in Tamil cinema. Sathyan elaborates on the same, saying, “We wanted it to be different from the usual shootout scenes that we have seen down here. If you analyze the surroundings in that scene, you realize that there is a power shutdown with minimal lighting. Even the doors to the house are closed, so there are no major light sources at all. So, we had to work in reverse by trying to use the darkness in our favor. The anger on Dilli’s face had to reflect through the fire from the gun, and we are happy that it eventually came out the way we wanted.”
The success of Kaithi alongside Bigil has paved the way for a healthy trend in Tamil cinema. The remake rights of Kaithi are in high demand in Telugu, Hindi, and Kannada markets. Dream Warrior Pictures is pleased with the film's performance at the ticket window, and Kaithi has turned out to be one of their most profitable productions, taking into account the ancillary revenue. The film has raked in nearly Rs 19 cr in TN in five days and the footfalls are on the uptick across all theaters.
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