Content over star power: Story of south cinema in first half of 2015

  • Haricharan Pudipeddi, IANS, Chennai
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2015 16:12 IST

The first half of 2015 saw as many as 280 South Indian films hit the theatres, but only a few made a mark. Performance-wise, it has turned out to be a mixed first half.

The success of films such as Kanchana 2, Premam, Pataas and Kaaka Muttai came as a surprise, but the failure of some highly-anticipated, big-budgeted and superstar-driven films was worrisome.

A poster of Pataas Of the record 107 Tamil releases, only 10 turned out to be hits by reaping profits for their producers. Only five more managed to break even.

Suriya's Massu didn't work on BO.

"Compared to 2014, the first half of 2015 has witnessed an increase in hit percentage. However, most star-studded films performed poorly at box office, resulting in heavy losses for their stakeholders," said trade analyst Trinath.

Ragava Lawrence's horror comedy Kanchana 2 and National Award winning drama Kaaka Muttai reaped three to four times their investment.

Kanchana 2 was a surprise hit.

While Kanchana 2 along with its Telugu dubbed version Ganga grossed over Rs 100 crore worldwide on an investment of Rs 18 crore, Kaaka Muttai, which is still running in select cinemas, has raked in over Rs 15 crore.

"These two films deserve the blockbuster tag. Kaaka Muttai has proved that audiences are hungry for good content," Trinath said.

Dhanush in a poster of Anegan. Other successful ventures include Anegan, Kaaki Sattai, I, O Kadhal Kanmani, Darling, 36 Vayadhinile and Demonte Colony.

Supernatural content was a hit in 2015. A poster of Darling. "The success of small films such as Darling, Demonte Colony and Tamiluku En Ondrai Azhuthavum has given several young filmmakers the courage to experiment. More producers are willing to bet on quirky subjects," he said.

O Kadhal Kanmani scored big on BO with critics hailing the comeback of vintage Mani Ratnam. A big disappoint was Kamal Haasan- starrer Uttama Villain and Suriya's Massu.

The much-hyped Uttama Villain was a big disappointment.

In the Telugu filmdom, the first six months have not been favourable.

Om Deepak of AndhraBoxOffice, a popular box office portal, said: "As usual, commercial entertainers have dominated and raked in decent box office numbers. But when compared to the first half of 2014, there's a dip in overall collections by minimum 20 percent due to a fewer big releases."

The delay of big-budget movies such as Baahubali, Kick 2, Rudhramadevi and Srimanthudu, which were originally slated for summer release, has also impacted the numbers.

"Generally, summer will witness release of at least three big films. This year, the only notable big release was Allu Arjun's S/O Satyamurthy. As a result, the box office occupancy has been lowest this summer in this decade," Deepak said.

S/O Satyamurthy was a notable big release.

Kalyan Ram's Pataas, with a worldwide gross of Rs 29 crore, is the most profitable film and a blockbuster in every sense. Junior NTR's Temper (Rs 74 crore) and Sundeep Kishan-starrer Beeruva (Rs 10 crore) were hits with minor profits.

Amongst high grossing films which suffered minor losses, S/O Satyamurthy leads with Rs 90 crore, followed by Gopala Gopala (Rs 66 crore) and Pandaga Chesko (Rs 29 crore).

Puri Jagannath's Temper worked well with the audience.

Telugu filmdom also saw a bevy of Tamil dubbed releases. Out of them, the only profitable venture was Ganga (Rs 31 crore). Though the Telugu version of Shankar's I grossed Rs 44 crore, the film was a disaster.

"It was a poor first half for Telugu industry, which had approximately 54 releases. Expectations are sky-high on Baahubali and Srimanthudu, and the success of these films is very essential for the industry, especially after the bad start," Trinath said.

Of the four southern industries, Malayalam filmdom had a decent first half with better success rate.

The unexpected success of Premam, which has given its lead actor Nivin Pauly a superstar status, has given the industry the biggest hit.

"The film continues to run to packed houses in its fourth week across the country. It has already raked in over Rs 30 crore at the ticket window. It's turning out to be the highest grossing film in the history of the Malayalam industry," said distributor Arvind Nambiar.

Demonte Colony too was noticeable for its content.

Of the 67 Malayalam releases, films such as Mili, Picket 43, Fireman, 100 Days of Love, Oru Vadakkan Selfie, Ennum Eppozhum, Bhaskar the Rascal and Chandrettan Evideya tasted success.

"Some of these hits are already being remade in other languages. Oru Vadakkan Selfie, for instance, which is being remade in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Marathi and Bengali, earned nearly Rs 20 crore from theatricals alone. It's phenomenal," Nambiar said.

Mammootty-starrer Bhaskar the Rascal, whose Telugu rights have already been acquired, collected triple its overall cost.

Some highly anticipated films that bombed, include Laila O Laila, Mariyam Mukku and Chirakodinja Kinavukal.

Malayalam film Premam turned out to be an unexpected hit.

The Kannada industry, which saw 55 releases in six months, suffered heavily due to the poor show of most big ticket films. Sadly, there hasn't been a single big hit.

"Mr. and Mrs. Ramachari, which released in the last week of last year and ran through most of the first quarter of 2015, is the most successful film. It could even be called a superhit as it collected nearly Rs 50 crore during its run," said trade analyst and distributor Ramesh Gowda.

Big films such as Ranna, Vajrakaya, Rana Vikrama and Siddhartha did decent business and recovered money.

"Both Ranna and Rana Vikrama raked in over Rs 10 crore in its opening weekend, but failed to sustain. This has been the case with most star-centric films across the industries," Gowda said.

Other outings such as Shivam, Kushi Kushiyali, Jackson and Raja Rajendra managed only average business at the box office.

Director Yograj Bhat's highly anticipated film Vaastu Prakaara opened to good numbers but failed to make it big.

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