In 2020, with superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan rushing to finish their films before swapping tinseltown for the world of politics, and big stars like Vijay and Ajith experimenting with young directors, Tamil cinema enters an interesting phase in which the definition of 'mass' might finally get tweaked. Mani Ratnam returns with an ensemble historical, new directors bend genres — watch out for a twist on the hallowed women-centric devotional genre — and a couple of eminently curious projects … this could be one of Tamil cinema's surprising years.
This is arguably the most-expected film of the year. With AR Murugadoss at the helm and the superstar playing a cop, it looks like a film that firmly harks back to Rajnikanth's masala roots, after a few unconventional outings in Kabali, Kaala and (to a lesser extent) Petta. Also, with Rajnikanth's impending political entry, this film will be closely watched not just by his fans.
After the successful remake of Pink (Nerkonda Paarvai), Ajith plays a cop in this film that has an original script by H Vinoth. Little else is known about the film except that it will showcase Ajith's passion for speed. That tidbit is enough, though, to send his loyal fans into a frenzy.
Fresh off the success of Kaidhi, new-age director Lokesh Kanagaraj works with a big commercial star for Master. Vijay's fans eagerly wait to find out how the director blends his style with Vijay's mainstream commercial sensibilities, right after the success of Bigil. With Anirudh Ravichander providing the music and — in a casting coup — Vijay Sethupathi playing the villain, Master deserves all the buzz around it.
Suriya is in need of a genuine hit, and Soorarai Potru, based on the life of GR Gopinath, the creator of Air Deccan, and directed by Irudhi Suttru director Sudha Kongara, could be just that. With music by GV Prakash Kumar, the film has the most buzz among those slotted for Tamil New Year's.
Vikram, too, is in dire need of a success and has teamed up with young director Ajay Gnanamuthu (who made the successful Imaikka Nodigal with Nayanthara) for a trilingual with an intriguing title. The film has an interesting cast that includes Srinidhi Shetty of KGF-fame, cricketer Irfan Pathan (making his debut), and director KS Ravikumar. This AR Rahman musical has the potential to become one of the surprise hits of the year.
Manikandan's Kadaisi Vivasayee seems to be a satirical take on the plight of farmers in the semi-arid, black-soil regions of the State affected by an acute draught. It seems an unusual story that revolves around a central character — a 75 year-old farmer who is hard of hearing — and a host of untrained actors except for Vijay Sethupathi and Yogi Babu. This film is highly anticipated for Manikandan's writing (his last film was Aandavan Kattalai) and the unique characterisation in Vijay Sethupathi's role.
Filmed entirely in the UK, Dhanush and Karthik Subbaraj unite for a gangster film. Given that Dhanush has played a gangster earlier in Pudhupettai, and Karthik Subbaraj's work in Jigarthanda and Pettai has gangster elements, this film is eagerly awaited to see what they do with the genre, especially since it is set abroad. Expectations about the film rose when it was announced that Scottish actor James Cosmo would play a major role in the film.
Kamal Hassan teams up again with director Shankar to make a sequel to the much-loved Indian. The first film's ending had hinted at a sequel; only, it took over twenty years to make. Given the numerous political developments over the past two decades in Tamil Nadu, and especially given current awareness about political events among the youth, fans can't wait to see what Indian 'thatha' will do to combat today's issues. With Kamal Hassan taking the political plunge, this film is also expected, in some sense, to be his manifesto for the Assembly elections to be held in 2021.
The mother of all multi-starrers with Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Karthi, Jayam Ravi and Trisha is being directed by Mani Ratnam. Expectations are feverish not just among film buffs but also among lovers of literature. Ponniyin Selvan is one of the most enduring modern classics in Tamil. Not only does it provide a tantalising glimpse into the rise of Rajaraja Chola, it also boasts a host of well-detailed characters that are intriguing. Both film and literature lovers can't wait to see how the characters they've only imagined over the years will be brought to life by Mani Ratnam.
Vasanthabalan finds a way to create well-researched, believable worlds, be it 18th Century Tamil Nadu in Aravaan, or Tamil theatre of the early 20th Century in Kaaviya Thalaivan. When he teams up with GV Prakash as hero to make a film that seems to be about slums and their rehabilitation, we are curious.
Produced by Sivakarthikeyan, Vaazh is touted to be a travel film, and is Arun Purushottaman's next film after Aruvi, which a lot of people are still raving about.
Karthik Naren, after D16, was hailed as a fresh, distinctive voice in Tamil cinema but his next film with Aravind Swamy, Naragasooran, is still awaiting release. Also to be released soon is his Mafia, with Arun Vijay and Prasanna, which looks like a thriller about mafia gangs in the narcotics business.
Nayanthara plays the lead in two interesting films this year. The first is Netrikkan, believed to be an official remake of Korean thriller 'Blind', a story of a cadet in a police academy who goes blind. The second film is even more surprising: an Amman film directed by RJ Balaji, right after his sleeper hit LKG. It will be interesting to see how RJ Balaji spins the genre that has been done to death by the late Rama Narayanan.
Nelson, who directed the hit Nayanthara-starrer Kolamaavu Kokila, joins forces with Sivakarthikeyan. Touted to be an action comedy, the film features music by Anirudh Ravichander.
When the slick and edgy teaser of Dhruva Natchathiram was released in 2017, it all but broke YouTube. It currently has 19 million views. Vikram went on to do Kadaaram Kondaam in which he had a similar look. But, fans can't wait to see the Vikram-Gautham Vasudev Menon combination on the screen.
Maaran, a YouTube reviewer and recognised proponent of easy-to-apply hair dyes, announced that he would be producing and directing a film of his own. His admirers can't wait to watch the 'perfect' film. His detractors (especially in the industry) can't wait to get some of their own back at him.
Touted to be a big budget affair that is partly being shot abroad and partly also in the Himalayas, the film features a solid technical crew: Harris Jayaraj scores the music, and Velraj is the cinematographer. It's directed by JD and Jerry, the duo behind Ajith-Vikram starrer Ullasam.
Also, there's a lot of talk about Mysskin's Thupparivalan 2, the Vetrimaraan-Suriya film and Amala Paul-starrer Adho Andha Paravai Pola.