Sorry Shakespeare, there is a lot in a name!

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Mar 01, 2015 17:23 IST

In one of Bard's bitter-sweet love stories, Juliet pacifies Romeo that it does not matter if he is from her arch rival's House of Montague, and carries the title. He would still be as endearing to her.

But in Tamil cinema, the name matters, and matters a hell of a lot. The name may well mean a couple of crores of rupees.

A movie with a title in Tamil will be exempt from entertainment tax, which the State Government levies. This can work up to 20-30% of the total value of a ticket, which is a lot of money in Tamil Nadu -- where a ceiling of Rs 120 on every ticket has made the situation for theatres rather grim. Added to this, star fees and publicity costs have been rising sharply.

No wonder, one of the leading directors in Tamil Nadu, Mani Ratnam, -- with some great films (Nayagan, Iruvar, Alaipayuthey, Mouna Ragam) and with some not-so-great movies (Raavan/Raavanan, Bombay) -- has changed the name of his latest work from OK Kanmani to O Kadhal Kanmani.

Ratnam is not alone. In recent years, just about every Tamil film has had a title in Tamil. It is another matter that many of the titles are tongue twisters, which even the locals well versed in the language find it difficult to pronounce. Sometimes, it is difficult to even understand what they mean.

During the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime, any movie that had a Tamil title qualified for the entertainment tax rebate. But when the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam came to power a few years ago, this concession came with a rider. A film must not only carry a Tamil name, but also be certified for universal viewing.

It is because of this that there is such a clamour for that all-important U. Ratnam is pretty certain that O Kadhal Kanmani will be permitted for universal viewing.

The movie -- whose trailer was launched today -- is a romance set on a college campus. Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen (both very popular in Malayalam cinema) will play the leads in a film that marks the return of Ratnam to the romantic genre after many years. His last memorable outing on this lane was with Alaipayuthey, starring Madhavan and Shalini.

O Kadhal Kanmani will open on April 14 (Tamil New Year's Day) -- which is exactly 15 years after Alaipayuthey hit the screens.

Shalini won the Tamil Nadu State Award for Best Actress for Alaipayuthey, a glory that was capped by her marriage to the Tamil star, Ajith (last seen in Yennai Arindhaal). She did just one more picture after this, Piriyadha Varam Vendum, which was basically an unfinished project left hanging because of her wedding.

Will Ratnam in his O Kadhal Kanmani ignite, all over again, that romantic spark we saw between Shalini and Madhavan in Alaipayuthey? While, this may or may not happen, what will surely happen is that O Kadhal Kanmani will save a lot of money for its producer.

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