Kollywood 2012: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Kollywood 2012
It might have been a bit disastrous for its leading men, but 2012 was a year of the new for Tamil cinema.

Things kick-started on a rather damp note, as the industry was crippled by the conflict between the Tamil Film Producers’ Council ( TFPC) and the Film Employees Federation of South India ( FEFSI), making for a fairly unimpressive first half. However, new filmmakers, new film technologies, and relatively new actors and actresses hogged the limelight and ensured the year ended on a high.

The total number of releases has increased to a record 167 films (from 142 in 2011), though this number might go up or down depending on the over half-a-dozen films that are waiting for release in the last week of 2012. While the success ratio of films is marginally better (12 per cent to 2011′s 10 per cent), trade sources say that the collection figures have been at par with the previous year, chiefly due to the under-performance of star-driven films.

The good

The success of small-budget films, mostly directed by first-time filmmakers, who, armed with innovative ideas (quirky campus romance, cheeky horror thriller, romance drama set in Chennai’s suburbs, comedy on short-term memory loss), digital cameras and unburdened by the need to pander to a star’s image, came up with films that were a whiff of fresh air in the industry.

Films laced with comedy were certainly the flavour of the year. From out-and-out comedies like Kalakalappu and Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom to rom-coms like Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu YeppadiLeelai and Oru Kal Oru Kannadi and even message-centric movies like Nanban and Marina, most films were wrapped in humour and audiences had no complaints.

The year also saw Tamil cinema take to new film technologies. Ambuli became the first film to be made in stereoscopic 3D format while Vishwaroopam became the first Indian film to employ the Auro-3D sound format. The film is also the first to explore other avenues for revenue by going for a DTH release. Meanwhile, the industry also took a move towards preserving its history with processes like film restoration (Karnan) and 3D post conversion (Sivaji) to great success.

The bad

There can be no doubt that stars drive the film industry and when they fail, it is always a cause for concern, for it is their films which bring in the big bucks. Fans love stars and it is always disappointing to see a star bite the dust.

The year also highlighted the inadequacies in the present title registration process, leading to quite a few films facing issues over their titles. Even a biggie like Thuppakki had to wait until a couple of weeks before its release to really be sure of its title.

While digital cameras might be bringing down production costs and empowering filmmakers, they are also leading to a huge number of sub-standard films. Yes, anyone can make films in digital, but does that mean everyone should?

The ugly

It is no exaggeration to say that the TFPC-FEFSI tussle over wages for workers brought the industry to a standstill and even split K-Town. The schedule of almost 45 projects that were under production was pushed back by at least two months while the loss in revenue was over Rs 125 crore. Though the issue has been temporarily put to bed, the losses, monetary and manpower-wise, will be far greater the next time.

This was also a year when plagiarism, yet again, reared its ugly head. Alleging that the plot of Thaandavam was his, Ponnusamy, an assistant director, filed a case against the makers, though it was later decided in favour of the makers.


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