It has been a very rough year for Tamil cinema so far, with very few successful films. The stoppage of new releases, which has been in effect from March 1, has made things worse. Theatres across Tamil Nadu (TN), particularly outside the 3 Cs (Chennai city, Chengalpet and Coimbatore) are reporting very low footfalls and have been forced to go for show cancellations. Yesteryear hit films are being re-released, but with minimal success, as they've already been showcased on TV many times. A few films from English (Black Panther) and Hindi (Padmaavat) have brought some cheer to the TN trade but the lack of new Tamil releases can't be compensated. The first quarter of the year is done and dusted already for Kollywood. Usually we'd wait till the end of March for a quarterly review, but with this strike and no new releases, this is a good time to look back at how the first 3 months panned out.
Kalakalappu 2 can be counted as a genuine hit so far. All stakeholders associated with the film have either recovered their investment or made a small profit. With a TN gross of more than 21 cr (theatrical share of more than 10 CR), this Sundar C comedy mass masala is the first hit of the year for Kollywood. The film is in its 5th week in theatres and is still going steady. The reviews were strictly average but Sundar C's tried and tested packaging and the star cast made the film click.
Gone are the days when successful films used to run for 50 weeks, 25 weeks, 100 days and so on. Nowadays, the 50 days mark is seen as a really big thing. Recently, only unanimously accepted films like Baahubali 2, Vikram Vedha and Thani Oruvan, managed to touch the 50 days mark with a respectable screen count. Of course, films of the Top 3 stars of the industry – Rajini, Vijay (his Mersal was huge) and Ajith, invariably have a fairly long run in theatres due to their star power. In fact, if a film runs genuinely for 25 days with good screen count, it's considered a success. Kalakalappu 2 has achieved just that.
The GV Prakash-Jyothika starrer Naachiyaar is also making the most of this dry phase without new Tamil releases, by hanging around in theatres for the past 25 days. The film has grossed close to 11.5 cr in TN, with a theatrical share of more than 5.5 cr. It can be termed an above average performer. It's a welcome relief for both GV Prakash and director Bala after their respective previous films (Bruce Lee and Tharai Thappattai) bombed at the box-office. Whether Kalakalappu 2 and Naachiyaar would've had such long theatrical runs, with a regular flow of other new releases is open to debate!
As mentioned earlier, Padmaavat's run has been mind-blowing. It has emerged as the all-time best Bollywood grosser in TN, overtaking Dangal and collecting more than 20 cr here. It's nearing the 50 days milestone and is still drawing sizable crowds in Chennai city's multiplexes.
Among the other big Tamil releases of the year, Suriya's Thaana Serndha Koottam opened well over the long Pongal weekend but couldn't sustain its opening momentum for long. Vikram's Sketch and Vijay Sethupathi's Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren fell short of the expectations. Anushka's Bhaagamathie did hit business in Telugu but couldn't repeat the success story in Tamil. Some of the critically acclaimed films like Savarakathi and Madura Veeran couldn't last more than a week in theatres! One hopes that the upcoming second quarter (April to June) is way more memorable and successful for Kollywood.