Sudani From Nigeria to Aravindante Athidhikal, small films lead summer box office collections in Kerala
Family films laced with humour, a feel-good factor and sentiments, with novelty in treatment worked best at the Kerala box office from 23 March to 18 May.
The summer of 2018 is practically over for Malayalam cinema, as Ramzan fasting period started last Thursday. Traditionally during this period up to Eid (15 June), box office collections are at an all time low. 40 percent of the Kerala box office collections come from the Malabar area, a Muslim stronghold. And the pre-monsoon thunderstorms which hit Kerala last week have dampened theatre collections.
The summer of 2018 hits in Malayalam clearly indicate the audience’s preference for content-driven films. What worked best this summer period (23 March to 18 May), at the Kerala box office was family feel-good films with strong content. The four films which can be classified as hits are Sudani From Nigeria (life time share trade estimate Rs 6 to 6.5 crore), Aravindante Athidhikal (life time share trade estimate Rs 4 to 4.5 crore), Panchavarnathatha (Rs 3.5 to 4 crore), Kuttanadan Marpappa (Rs 3.25 to 3.50 crore) and to a certain extent Swathandhriam Ardharathriyil (Rs 2.5 to 3 crore).
All these films did not have big stars or canvases and were made on a tight budget but the novelty element in the story and packaging worked. The two notable failures this summer at the Kerala box office was big budget Dileep-Siddharth action period drama Kammara Sambavam and Mammootty’s Parole.
Let us take a look at the success of this summer’s biggest hit Sudani From Nigeria. It had virtually new faces with Saubin Shahir who caught our eye as comedian (Premam, Maheshinte Pratikaram etc) playing hero. The film based on seven football matches struck a chord with Kerala viewers especially those in Malabar area of the state and the two old women in the story stole the heart of family audiences. The film is reported to have been made on a shoestring budget of Rs 2 crore by debutant director Zakariya Mohammad and has grossed nearly Rs 18 crore from Kerala alone, with a distributor/producer share of Rs 6 to 6.5 crore. Sudani From Nigeria also did extremely well in the gulf countries and India domestic multiplexes.
It once again proved that family films laced with humour, a feel-good factor and sentiments, with something new in treatment works best at the Kerala box office. CV Sarathy, one of the distributors of Sudani From Nigeria said, “The film struck a chord with ordinary viewers as the content was entertaining and engaging. It also proved that you do not require big stars or canvass to get an opening.”
However, Mukesh Mehta, leading producer and distributor who marketed Sudani From Nigeria, said, “ The box office collections across Kerala have dropped as ticket prices have soared with a lot of new multiplexes and complexes opening in the state. I feel if ticket prices come down the occupancy level will increase. But the good news is that films with decent content and without stars are turning out to be profitable from theatricals alone.”
Vijay George, noted journalist who covers the film industry, says, “The key aspect of late has not necessarily been the stars but it is the content that matters. The viewers here are looking for a hearty laugh at the cinemas or at least some thrilling moments and these movies which ensured it managed to rake in the moolah. The film of the year so far has been Sudani From Nigeria, which was genuine and had an international flavour. The other big hit, Aravindante Adhithikal, deliciously recreated the Sathyan Anthikad formula of the '80s and Malayalee audiences like well-made family dramas.”
It looks like 2018 will turn out to be a memorable year for Malayalam cinema as nearly 50 small films with new themes and fresh faces will hit the screens. The new marketing approach is all about earning profits from Kerala theatrical collections alone, as proved by the summer hits.
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