Year Ender 2007: Look Back at Kollywood

The year is ending but the movie mania in Kollywood continues unabated. The 75th year of Tamil cinema, 2007 has been an eventful year. Big films bit the dust, small films raked in the moolah, awards and kudos, corporates and Bollywood Khans teamed with Kollywood’s directors, new stars were born and directors turned actors.

Expectations rose drastically but did 2007 lived up to them? What sort of a year has it been for Tamil cinema? 105 films were released in 2007. The total production investment for released projects was around Rs400 crores. When including unreleased films and those under production, the figure could range between Rs 600 to 700 crores.

For the average movie goer it’s been a mixed fare. There were commercial entertainers like Sivaji, Pokkiri, Malaikottai, Vel and Billa on the one hand and films with unusual subjects like Paruthiveeran, Chennai 600028, Onbathu Rupai Nottu, Katradhu Tamizh, Mozhi, Kalloori, Saththam Podathey, Ammuvagiya Naan, Pallikoodam, Kuttrapatrikai, Evano Oruvan and Oram Po on the other. Kannamoochi Yenada heralded the family entertainer genre and the entrance of multiple corporate players. Polladavan appealed with its story of a man and his bike while Rameshwaram wove refugee problems into its love story.

The horror genre was revived with Muni and Sivi while Naan Avan Illai with its five heroines enticed audiences into theatres. Periyar, a biopic was well received while the snazzy flick Unnale Unnale infused new life into the love story musical genre. A film like Katradhu Tamil was produced by a Kannada producer while Inimey Naangadaan (the first 3 D non mythical animation film to be made exclusively in TN) received low media support.

Says producer KE Gnanavel Raja of Studio Green whose Paruthiveeran (296 days and still running) emerged a dark horse (with both bumper collections and awards), “It’s been a good year. Both big and small movies have done well. After 2005 (with the successful Anniyan, Ghajini, Chandramukhi and Kadhal) it’s in 2007 that business has grown considerably. Expectations are high from 2008 from Dasavatharam, Bheema, Vaaranam Ayiram, Kuruvi and Ayirathil Oruvan amongst others.”

As actor-producer Prakash Raj said at the audio launch of his ‘Vellithirai’, “It’s a momentous occasion that Duet movies, Moser Baer and Mirchi movies are making a film based on cinema in the 75th year of Tamil cinema.”

B Saktivelan, Distribution co-ordinator, Studio Green, cites several reasons for the upbeat mood. Says he, “The revamping of Sathyam Cinemas, the entry of Inox and the renovation of multiple theatres along with changes in lifestyle, brought in more audiences – making cinema a significant entertainment option for everyone.”

Vinod Babu, General manager, Inox, substantiates, “Marketing strategies like interactive red carpet premieres, Radio and TV promotions, Internet booking, NG pay via mobiles and home delivery of tickets have increased revenues. Varied content and easy accessibility to tickets has brought back audiences.”

Director Saran agrees, “It’s been a healthy year with a variety of films and corporate entities joining in.”

Moser Baer, Adlabs, UTV, Radaan Media, Insight Media, Mirchi Movies and Pyramid Saimira are just some of the biggies streamlining production, distribution and exhibition of Tamil films. New music companies like Shankar’s S Music, Prakash Raj’s Duet Music, Sathyam Cinema’s Think Music and the Times group’s Junglee Music launched in 2007, to produce quality music and break old monopolies, were set up. This augurs well for Tamil cinema.

Young actors like Jeeva (Katradhu Tamizh, Rameswaram) are excited about the quality of films churned out in the 75th year of Tamil cinema, “Overseas audiences have increased for films like Rameswaram. Refreshing films like
Chennai 600028 are infusing fresh blood into the industry. I am proud to be part of this change.”

But though technology, quality of films and experimental approaches abounded in 2007, better marketing strategies could have raked in profits commensurate with big budgets, feels R Ramanujam, Editor, TN Entertainment Film Trade Magazine.

Says Ramanujam, “Bollywood’s 360 degrees approach to marketing and promotion of content is absent here. For example, marketing strategies (like merchandising, co-branding and content packaging) could have made Sivaji a bigger success.”

Offering statistics, Ramanujam reveals, “57 new producers released films this year. But Kollywood has become like a tourist experience. Producers come with some money, make a film and then leave, as if they have come for a year’s tour of Kollywood.”

120 new screens are supposedly coming up in Chennai. But Ramanujam feels, “Many are in crowded areas like Vadapalani and Koyambedu. How will the city tackle new problems like increased traffic chaos and soaring land costs in these areas?”

Ramanujam sums up thus, “With 105 releases, it’s been a good year for cinema, modest for merchandisers and poor for producers.”


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