Monday, December 27, 2010
The year 2010 is drawing to a close and while the process of the curtains being pulled down is going on in full swing, the focus of my mind strolled towards a rather alarming yet unaddressed trend that’s erupting in Kodambakkam. Yes, this year will remain etched in the memories of our fellow beings as a year of corruption and hence I perceive that the media had a lot of other important things to talk about. I happened to come across an article recently, when I was busy getting myself ready for a morning show of “Red giant movies” Manmadan ambu”, which proclaimed that Karunanidhi had famously announced that his assets accounted to just “5.65 crores” and that he neither had any benamis nor had he sponsored any financial venture involving anyone else. Alright!
As I rode to the theatre, my thoughts wavered between the movie I was going to watch and the article that I had read that morning till a point of convergence was arrived upon. I started thinking about the producer of the movie I was going to watch that day, who also happens to be one of MK’s grandsons. The flow of thoughts refused to ebb. I started analyzing the success of other Tamil movies. Most of them had one thing in common: they had been sponsored by one of the three sons of the “sun” fraternity. The big three I’m referring to are: “Kalanidhi Maran”, son of the late Murasoli Maran, “Dayanidhi Azhagiri”, son of MK Azhagiri and “Udhayanidhi Stalin”, son of deputy CM of TN, MK Stalin.
The first one’s a media baron whereas the other two assumed charge of two of the biggest production and distribution houses in TN immediately after college. Well, that makes it a sensational story: the kind of financial upsurge that was experienced by only a select few: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, Sarath Kumar in the movie Suryavamsam and Rajinikanth in Annamalai and many of his other movies. Mark’s story is out in filmy form as The Social Network, but a film on how the children of Tamil Nadu’s first family mastered the art of becoming kings of the Tamil film production industry is yet to be made. Perhaps, the sons themselves would end up acting and producing the movie and I presume it’ll serve as a source of inspiration for thousands of poor youth; they’d be made to believe that a monumental rise is after all, not impossible. Logically, these “sons” should have started from scratch as MK says he never sponsored a third party business, even if it involves his family (which is incidentally contributing monolithically to the population explosion): MK is to be believed no doubt, cos MK is an honourable man. And so are the others, cos they’re all all honourable men.
The story is even more awe inspiring because the success rate of the “big” production houses is astounding. “Cloud nine” has a success rate of 80% with four of the five movies that it has distributed so far turning out to be super hits. “Red giant” has a success rate of 85.71% with six out of seven of his films turning out to be hits. “Sun pictures” has a success rate of 68.75% with eleven of their 16 endeavours proving profitable. We also have to take notice of the fact that “Sun Pictures” have produced two movies produced by actor Vijay, who seems to be having a horrendous run at the box office with a record five flops on the trot due to his horrible selection of scripts; he also seems to have run out of luck, which has often been instrumental in his occasional success. Hence Sun pictures’ success rate can be approximated to 78.5%.
All the aforementioned numbers seem orotund when we consider the fact that only 12% of the total movies that release in a year become hits. One family controls the whole Tamil cine industry, an analogy to the political scenario prevailing in Tamil Nadu! I also happened to notice another disturbing fact: an unassuming look at the list of movies that have been “made” hits by the all-powerful trio left me shell shocked. The fact that movies like Thenavattu, Masilamani, Aadhavan are able to churn out oodles of money due to “intelligent” promotion tactics, underlines the abysmal state of Tamil cinema. It’s plain and simple: the success or failure of a movie doesn’t depend on the actor or the director; it plainly depends on the house that’s producing the flick. “They” have monopolized the industry.
One important yet unlikely beneficiary of this monopoly seems to be another son! A son who’s not related to the “sun” fraternity; actor Sivakumar’s son Suriya (sun)! Suriya’s last five flicks have been produced or distributed by the terrific trio of the industry, which seems to have had a major influence on the outcome of the movies. His acting capabilities and adroitness at choosing scripts is unquestionable though one would be tempted to attribute the extent of success of his movies to the production houses.
A resolution stating that “big” advertisements in newspapers are supposed to be given out only on milestone days like the day of the release, audio release, 25th day, fiftieth day etc was passed in the producers’ council. It now looks like that bill has gone to the dumps. The trio is also having a ball by rigorous and continuous promotion on self-owned TV channels. Special shows featuring the stars, screening of the movie trailer every five minutes, repeated playing of the movie songs on their respective music channels have only ensured that 110 small budget films produced by “others” are still lying in the cans.
The trio has thus managed to seal the fates of small-time producers who dream of making it big. On the flipside, keeping the legality of the money that’s being used by these concerns to produce flicks aside, they have the capacity to constructively contribute to the growth of the industry by shelling out the big bucks to produce big budget movies so that the Indian dream of producing a movie of “Hollywood” quality can be realized someday. That again, is a debatable issue!
But we got to realize that the power is in our hands: regardless of the publicity, we get to choose whether to watch or to not watch a movie. Decide. Intelligently…