With Game Over set to release, will women-led films in Tamil cinema conquer box office hiccups?
The upcoming clash between Nayanthara’s Kolayuthir Kaalam and Taapsee’s Game Over will be a case study in whether women-led films can consistently rake in money at the box office.
Film industries across the globe operate only based on the box office numbers and ongoing trends, and the Tamil film industry is no exception. If a horror comedy works well with the audiences, you will see a series of films trying to explore the genre because producers and actors feel that the particular genre is the formula to reap the gold at the box office.
Thanks to box office success of the women-centric films of Nayanthara and Jyothika, almost all the leading actresses in Tamil cinema are now showing a huge interest in projecting themselves as the USP of their films. But the trade is not expressing enough enthusiasm in snapping all these films. For example, the shoot of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam remakes of Queen wrapped up long back but they haven't been able to find a proper release date.
While Jyothika and Nayanthara’s films get a reasonable opening at the box office, the other actresses are either struggling to get leading producers with enough fund to release their films at the right time or they end up choosing wrong content.
For example, Trisha’s 96 with Vijay Sethupathi and Petta starring Superstar Rajinikanth were box office hits but none of her women-centric films scored big at the box office. Nayaki and Mohini, the two horror films featuring Trisha in the lead, were box office duds. There is no clarity on Trisha’s upcoming two women-centric films —1818 and Garjanai. But thanks to 96, Trisha is now back in the game as she is busy shooting for Raangi which is penned by Murugadoss and an untitled action adventure in which she will be sharing screen space with Simran.
Sakthivelan, a prominent distributor who released films like Kadai Kutty Singam, Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, and Uriyadi II, says “From the inception of Tamil cinema, filmmakers and producers would make films only based on the precedent set by the hit flicks. As Nayanthara and Jyothika’s films are doing well at the box office, we see a lot of heroine-centric films. But audiences clearly know which film they want to see in theaters. For example, Nayanthara’s Kolamaavu Kokila had a tremendous opening but the same can’t be said for her Airaa. At the end of the day, only content decides the fate of any film,” he adds.
Gnanavel Raja agrees with Sakthivelan’s thoughts: “I agree, films of Jyothika and Nayanthara are doing well at the box office. But rather than projecting them as the major reason for the box office success of those films, I would say that they chose the right content. Today, audiences only encourage strong content and they no longer blindly support their matinee-idols. Last year, Aishwarya Rajesh’s Kanaa was a hit but she should choose two to three quality heroine-centric films to prove her box office potential. Nayanthara and Jyothika constantly chose the right content so they earned a good market for their films,” says the Mr. Local producer.
Aruvi, a female-centric film starring newcomer Aditi Balan went on to become a sleeper hit in Tamil cinema and also created noise in the neighboring film industries. Now, there's a lot of buzz around Taapsee Pannu's next film, the bilingual Game Over, thanks to the impressive trailer.
But Aruvi is an exception as there are many heroine-centric films, struggling to get good producers. Most of them bankrolling the films keeping Hindi and other language satellite and digital rights in mind. Andrea Jeremiah had announced an action adventure titled Kaa long back, but there is no big update on the progress of the film. Hansika, who is no longer pairing with leading stars, also tried her luck with Maha in which STR agreed to play a cameo. Amala Paul signed a forest action adventure titled Adho Andha Paravai Pola in March last year and she has also finished shooting for Aadai with Meyadhaa Maan director but the producers of these two films haven’t locked the release date yet.
As Amala Paul couldn’t find enough budget to produce her next investigative thriller Cadaver, she has decided to co-produce the film. In Cadaver, Amala Paul will be seen as a forensic surgeon and the film is based on the real-life experiences of B Umadathan.
“This is a film that cannot be shot at a shoestring budget. I felt it is my priority to support this film. I wanted to support my producers Pradeep Kumar and Ajay Panicker who were as passionate as I’m with the script and the film. I am thankful to them for accommodating me as a co-producer. We share a common vision and our intentions are clear. We are determined to make more films that spell out the quality in content and making,” said Amala Paul in her official statement on why she donned the producer’s hat.
In a recent interview with Firstpost, Manjima Mohan also clearly explained her thoughts on the ongoing trend of women-centric films in Tamil cinema. “I’m happy that producers are willing to fund films where an actress is the selling point but only a few are lucky enough to be in that space. For example, Keerthy Suresh, who was relatively new to the industry, did Mahanati, which is the biggest turning point in her life. Then there is Aditi Balan, who owned her character in Aruvi. We also have Nayanthara, who initially did a lot of films with big stars, reached the masses and then started doing female-centric films,” said Manjima.
There are basic factors that decide the box office success of women-centric films — the protagonist must be a well-known actress so that one can guarantee a decent opening and they should also efficiently choose right scripts backed by producers who have enough funds to release their films at the right time.
The upcoming clash between Nayanthara’s Kolayuthir Kaalam and Taapsee’s Game Over will be a case study. Compared to Taapsee, Nayanthara is a big star in Tamil cinema but as Kolayuthir Kaalam was in cans for a long time, the trade buzz isn’t good whereas the catchy trailer has earned good pre-release noise for Game Over. So it’s not just about the market value, it's also about the way you position your film, the directors and producers you pick, right release date and above all, strong content.
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