By Sreedhar Pillai
The year 2012 turned out to be a landmark year for Tamil cinema. The industry has almost gone totally digital pushing up production as film making has become relatively cheap.
The slew of small budget films like Pizza, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, Attakathi made with a digital camera turned commercially successful. The return on investment on these films has been encouraging and it has started a boom in filmmaking, which will have a big impact in 2013.
Multiplexes have mushroomed in the 3C’s – Chennai, Chengalpet and Coimbatore creating new audiences for experimental digital films with decent content. The multiplex boom has also resulted in big and small films going for saturation release. A study has found that 60% of single screens in Tamil Nadu are slowly turning into twin and in some cases triple screens, as more number of screens ensures more revenue and staying power.
Big 1200 seater- single screens have become twin screens and raking in more money. Chennai’s Thiruvanmiyur Thyagaraja the one-time single screen collection king of 80’s and 90’s has now been upgraded and become S2- Screen 1 and 2. Every single distributor wants to play their film there because of audience patronage. Similarly a lot of other screens are also multiplying.
Today the trend in Kollywood is to release in maximum number of screens and gross big in the opening weekend. 90 % of the lifetime theatrical collection of a film comes in 10 days, compared to 100 days a few years back. The idea is to bombard a film in maximum number of screens and get back your investment at the earliest.
2012 has proved WOM (word of mouth) is bigger than anything else including the star cast or grandeur of a film. If content is acceptable to the youth audiences and promotions are good a film can become a hit.
One of the biggest game changers of 2012 in Kollywood has been the emergence of the Social media in the promotion and awareness of a new film. Stars, producers and directors have realised that if you want to get the ‘real audience who pay Rs 120 and watch a film’ has to be on one of the social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. The rise of the virtually connected youth audiences has helped Kollywood in a big way. Today producers and music companies are releasing teaser or songs first on Youtube, before theatrical release or showing it on television. For music companies the revenue is coming from digital downloads as there is virtually no physical sale of CD’s or cassettes.
A record 160 odd films released, and some of the big success of the year were small films like Pizza, Naan, Manm Kothi Paravai, Kazhagu, Saattai, Naduvila Konjam Pakatha Kannom, Attakathi and few others. Some of them were made using digital camera and digital post-production. On the last day of 2012, there are nearly 250 plus films in various stages of production. Most of them have newcomers in the lead with first time producers and directors backing them.
2012- Top grossers at the Box-Office
Jayendra Panchapakesan, co-founder of Real Image, the digital pioneers and the man who started the trend with his Siddharth film 180 (2011) said: “ Today nearly 90% of the films being shot are done using a digital camera. Traditional film rolls are facing extinction with many well-known companies pulling down their shutters. Digital cinema has come of-age in the last two years and by end of next year everybody will be shooting using digital cameras. Costly Film cameras have become antique pieces.”
And at the end of the year Kamal Haasan has made the most revolutionary move in Tamil film history. His forthcoming magnum opus Vishwaroopam is going to be first shown on DTH (Direct to Home) platform on the night of January 10, a few hours before its theatrical release on January 11. The business of cinema and the way we watch films are going to change dramatically in 2013.
2012’s success ratio in Tamil films is approximately 10 %, which is dismal by any yardstick. But nobody really cares as the industry is not organised. The producer’s council itself is a divided house. All successful directors have turned producers and are making films either with their assistants or close kith and kin. Everybody is on a mad rush to produce films from rich industrialists, NRI’s to small time ‘petti –kada’ owners. It looks like nobody is serious about their business model and all that they are looking is a few moments of glam and glitz. If you have cash, produce a film using a digital camera and somehow get a theatrical release and few days later show it on television as ‘puthan puthu padam’!