2013 Kollywood Flashback! Hits, Misses, Controversies of Tamil Movies in 2013 [Year End Special]
The hits, misses, hot stars, unlikely heroes and heated controversies that emerged from the razzle-dazzle of the Kollywood film factory this year.
Big stars, big business. That’s how it was at the Kollywood box-office this year. The A-list heroes, whose movies are, above all, meant to be showcases for their superstardom, saw the biggest hits.
There was ‘Singam 2’, in which Suriya played a tough cop and the Ajith-starrer ‘Arrambam’ about a rogue cop taking on the corrupt system. Kamal Haasan’s ambitious ‘Vishwaroopam’ and Vijay’s ‘Thalaivaa’, though it was written off by critics, also kept the box-office cash registers ringing.
Debutant director Atlee’s romantic film, ‘Raja Rani’, starring Arya and Nayanthara, also did remarkably well.
Vijay Sethupathi, who broke the mould for the typical Tamil film hero, enjoyed continuing with success with his ‘Soodhu Kavvum’. The talented actor deadpanned his way through Nalan Kumarasamy’s dark comedy about a kidnapping gone wrong, and the movie had audiences tired of formula films returning to theatres.
Bala’s ‘Paradesi’, a period drama about the life of bonded tea estate workers at the turn of the century, was intense and disturbing, and got a thumbs up from critics. Bharat Bala’s much-awaited ‘Mariyaan’ didn’t rock the box-office, but won applause for Dhanush’s compelling performance and its attention to detail.
A surprise item among critics’ choices was ‘Moodar Koodam’, a satire by Naveen, which was also praised for bucking the trend of masala flicks.
If the hits were predictable, the flops of 2013 were not. Huge expectations preceded the release of Mani Ratnam’s ‘Kadal’, but the romance was dismissed as bland, failed to pull in crowds and left even Mani fans feeling disappointed.
Vikram-starrer ‘David’, a Tamil-Hindi bi-lingual by Bejoy Nambiar, also failed to take off, despite the actor’s A-list ranking.
Karthi had a dreadful run, with two of his films, ‘Alex Pandian’ and ‘All in All Azhaguraja’, leaving audiences cold.
Dhanush, broke his winning streak of ‘Raanjhanna’ ('Ambikapathy’ in Tamil) and ‘Mariyaan’ with the eminently forgettable ‘Naiyaandi’.
The scatological humour of ‘Settai’, the remake of ‘Delhi Belly’, got the thumbs down and Bharath’s much-hyped ‘Aindhu Aindhu Aindhu’ sank without a trace. Ditto for Bharathiraja’s comeback venture, ‘Annakodi’, raising the question if the maestro was losing his touch. Selvaraghavan’s ‘Irandam Ulagam’ was another big ticket flick that bombed.
In Kollywood’s pecking order, Rajnikanth is still unassailable, even if he had no release this year. The buzz around his upcoming ‘Kochadaiiyaan' ensured the Superstar was in the news.
The versatile Kamal Haasan kept his top position intact, too, while the fans’ response to Ajith’s ‘Arrambam’ and Vijay’s ‘Thalaivaa’, here and abroad, reinforced their status as mass heroes. Suriya is now in the big league, too. Dhanush has his own niche, as does Arya. The second string of Jiiva, Jayam Ravi, Vishal, Siddharth and Bharath didn’t quite make waves in 2013.
Sivakarthikeyan’s ‘Ethir Neechal’ was declared a hit and Shiva reprised Rajni’s role in the remake of the classic ‘Thillu Mullu’.
Kollywood didn’t write too many roles for women of substance. So, the heroine continued to be a mere hunk accessory and perfectly groomed clothes-horse. A high glamour quotient was the most important criterion for bagging a role, especially in the big-budget projects.
Anushka Shetty starred in ‘Singam 2’, ‘Alex Pandian’ and ‘Irandam Ulagam’, while Hansika Motwani continued to be in demand, featuring in ‘Singam 2’ and ‘Theeya Velai Seyyanum Kumaru’.
Kajal Aggarwal’s only Kollywood release was ‘All in All Azhaguraja,’ but she still ranks among the A-list.
Amala Paul featured as Vijay’s heroine in ‘Thalaivaa’ and the very talented Trisha had only the lacklustre ‘Samar’.
Priya Anand had a good run in ‘Ethir Neechal’ and ‘Vanakkam Chennai’ and has four films lined up for 2014.
The most talked about debuts of the year were of star kids Gautham, yesteryear actor Karthik’s son, and Radha’s daughter, Tulasi. But their debut film ‘Kadal’ was a damp squib and didn’t do much for their prospects.
The feisty Malayalam actress Nazriya Nazim made a big impact in her first Tamil film, ‘Neram’, and went on to do ‘Raja Rani’ and ‘Naiyaandi’. Arjun Sarja’s daughter, Aishwarya, made her entry into films with ‘Pattathu Yaanai’, opposite Vishal, but didn’t garner much attention.
Kollywood has a penchant for picking up a seemingly successful formula and repeating it. This year was the year of comedies, with Santhanam playing resident comedian, never mind that his one-liners are beginning to sound a little tired now.
This year’s films that banked on humour included ‘Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaya’, 'Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga’ starring Sivakarthikeyan and Vimal, ‘Varuthapadatha Vaalibar Sangam’ and ‘Theeya Velai Seyyanum Kumaru’. They were either about good-for-nothing losers sitting about and wondering how to pick up girls or had Santhanam as the hero’s love guru.
The two comedies that were refreshing and different were ‘Soodhu Kavvum’ and ‘Vanakkam Chennai’.
What’s Kollywood without its music? A R Rahman’s music for ‘Mariyaan’ topped the charts with numbers like 'Sona Pareeya' and 'Innum Konjam Neram'.
The 'Chennai City Gangsta song' and 'Osaka Osaka' from ‘Vanakkam Chennai’ with music by 'Kolaveri' man Anirudh went on to become hits as did D Imman’s music for ‘Pandiya Naadu’, the ‘Irandam Ulagam’ score by Harris Jayaraj and GV Prakash’s peppy numbers in ‘Raja Rani’.
Kollywood was not short of controversies in 2013. The year started with the government banning Kamal’s ‘Vishwaroopam’, because it had the potential to disturb communal harmony, and the actor threatening to leave Tamil Nadu and even India if his artistic freedom was curbed. The movie was later released and went on to be a box-office hit.
Vijay’s ‘Thalaivaa’ also ran into trouble and could not be released according to schedule for reasons not too clear.
Kollywood’s heroines had their share of controversy, too. Upcoming actress Anjali accused her foster mother of ill-treating her and then did the disappearing act for a while.
Nazriya, too, caused a stir when she accused ‘Naiyaandi’ director Sargunam of using a body double for a risqué sequence without her permission.