Kollywood's franchise factory opens

Last Updated: Fri, May 25, 2012 00:11 hrs

By Sreedhar Pillai

Finally, sequel mania has hit Kollywood.  The first of the current lot Ajith’s Billa 2 said to be a prequel to his 2007 super hit Billa will be releasing by mid-June. Mass masala specialist director Hari is starting Singam 2 a sequel to his highly successful Suriya 2010 actioner Singam by June end.

UTV Motion Pictures and Sundar C have announced a sequel to their recent comedy riot Kalakalappu.  And joining the sequel bandwagon is ace director KS Ravikumar and Kamal Haasan who are planning a part two to their 2002 rollicking comedy Panchathantiram.  Actor and director Lawrence is starting the shoot of his Kanchana 2 from July first week. Meanwhile Simbudevan is silently working on the script for a sequel to his 2006 mega comedy hit Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi.

It looks like making sequels of popular big hero movies is the current flavour in Kollywood. Says Tamil film historian Film News Anandan : “ I have never seen such a boom in Tamil cinema of making sequels . In 1985 SP Muthuraman made Japanil Kalyanaraman, a sequel to Kamal Haasan’s 1979 blockbuster Kalyanaraman,but it did not create a sequel wave as the film received only mixed response at the box-office. Then there was Selva’s box-office dud Naan Avanillai 2 in 2009,a sequel to his earlier 2007 film. For some strange reasons our audiences have never really appreciated sequels.”

However in 2012 the floodgates have been opened after Sunir Kheterpal of InEntertainment was able to pre- sell all rights of his Chakri Toleti directed Ajith action packed Billa 2 for Rs 40 Crore plus!  Says Sunir Kheterpal : “ Billa 2 is actually a prequel, the early days of David Billa. There is a huge mystique and anticipation among Ajith sir’s fans about the Billa character. I would say Billa 2 is a franchise movie revolving around David Billa and the kind of response we are getting to the trailer is phenomenal.”

Remember years back Hollywood created the Franchise film with movies like StarWars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Batman etc. The franchise film foundation was built on the edifice of the protagonist’s heroism and charisma with worldwide mass audiences. The Hollywood studios every two or three years milked the franchise movie and minted millions at the global box-office. Men in Black 3 (MIB 3) releasing today (May 25) worldwide has been revived a decade after MIB 2 released in the summer of 2002!

The biggest movies of summer of 2012 in the world are franchise films like The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. A franchise film is a perennial source of income for its producers and has a better chance to click than a new subject.  At the last count just beforethe start of summer of 2012 there were 95 Hollywood sequels in various stages of pre- production, shooting or ready for release!

Closer home in Bollywood, recent sequels like Don 2, Houseful 2, Jannat 2 have all been declared hits. Now 18 sequels are in various stages of production like Dabangg 2, Kriish 2, Raaz 3, Race 2, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai 2, Dostanna 2 etc. Now the franchise fever has started in Kollywood.  

Says UTV’s G Dhananjayan : “When a film becomes a big success and comes closer to the audience for its theme, entertainment value and making, it actually becomes a brand, which can be extended. Like a popular brand is extended through variations, even a popular film can be extended through variations. That is the reason why popular films like Billa, Singham and Kalakalappu now getting extended with another variation.”

Lingusamy who is toying with the idea of making a sequel to his super hit Vishal starrer Sandakozhi says: “ A sequel has a readymade audience and people are curious to know what happens next in the life of the characters. If everything falls into place Sandakozhi 2 will start soon.” Added Lawrence : “My Kanchana was a sequel to Muni, now I’m making Kanchana 2 which will be even more entertaining than the first. Today, Kanchana is a major brand by itself and I’m sure a sequel will work big time at the b-o.” There are also many sequelsin the pipeline which is just “an idea or thought of their producer or director” like  Endhiran, Chandramukhi, Chennai-28, Mankatha, Ghilli, VTV, Mamnmadhan and a few others. 

Venkat Prabhu is toying with the idea of starting a sequel to his evergreen hit Chennai -28 and probably Mankatha. Says Venkat : “I can do sequels for all my movies!! But don't know which one will kick start first!! But I personally love to do Chennai- 28 with the tagline Second Innings.”  But the producer of Mankatha, the dynamic Dhyanidhi Alagiri has a different take on the rush to make sequels: “ I think Kollywood is emerging into the sequel mania as well. A director's creativity and talent is tampered right there. Sequels can be only mass or masala entertainers!   But it’s all about keeping the audience entertained very few movies succeed at that whether it is Hollywood, Bollywood or Kollywood.  As much as I appreciate it, I don't think I will produce a sequel because it doesn't do enough justice from a director's point of view. And I strongly believe in new scripts and new stories”.

Meanwhile, the sequel boom continues unabated. Myyskin says he will surely make a sequel to his Jiiva super hero film Mugamoodi.  A leading theatre owner said matter of fact: “Sequels are an easy way of milking the box-office by making recognisable formulaic mass masala driven by a known character whom the audience are familiar with. The success of future franchise films in Tamil depends largely on how Ajith’s Billa 2 opens in June. If the film clicks there will be a plethora of sequels otherwise producers will remain lukewarm to the idea of sequels.”