Disappointing first quarter for southern box office

Chennai, April 14 (IANS) The first quarter of 2013 saw approximately 130 releases in the southern film industry. Unfortunately, not even 10 percent of the films turned out to be successful. While most big-budget, star actors’ films bombed, a handful of low-budget films managed to break even and do average business.

Malayalam and Tamil film industries, which had the maximum number of releases, were equally unsuccessful, while Kannada and Telugu industries didn’t impress either.

Of the 44 Tamil releases, one turned out to be a blockbuster and only one emerged as a hit. The rest of the films couldn’t even break even.

Kamal Haasan’s controversial Tamil-Hindi bilingual “Vishwaroopam” was a blockbuster. It garnered over Rs.100 crore on an investment of Rs.95 crore.

” ‘Vishwaroopam’ approximately raked in close to Rs.150 crore, which includes its satellite rights as well. The film did exceptionally good business worldwide thanks to all controversies,” trade analyst Trinath told IANS.

Besides “Vishwaroopam”, the other hit Tamil film was Santhanam-starrer “Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiya” (KLTA).

“Tamil crass comedy KLTA earned Rs.12.5 crore on a budget of approximately Rs.3 crore. Even though the film received a mixed response from the critics, the audiences lapped it up for its wholesome comedy entertainment,” Trinath added.

While most biggies such as Mani Ratnam’s “Kadal”, Karthi’s “Alex Pandian”, “Aadhi-Bhagawan” and “Paradesi” failed to set the box-office on fire, smaller films such as “Haridas” and “Vathikuchi” did mediocre business.

Tamil comedy “Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga” (KBKR), which released March 29, managed a decent opening.

“KBKR approximately collected over Rs.5 crore in its opening weekend. The film continues to run to packed houses in B and C centres of Tamil Nadu,” said Trinath.

With 21 films in the first three months, the Telugu film industry registered three superhits and one hit. The remaining films were a disaster at the box office.

Unlike the Tamil industry, big films in Telugu turned out to be successful. Films such as “Naayak”, “Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu” (SVSC) and “Mirchi” kept the cash registers ringing through their run.

“I was overwhelmed with the response SVSC received from the audiences. I never anticipated the film will be such a hit, but it proved me wrong. It collected over Rs.50 crore on an average investment,” said producer Dil Raju.

A multi-starrer family-drama, SVSC touched the hearts with an uplifting story, while commercial entertainers such as Ram Charan Teja’s “Naayak” and Prabhas-starrer “Mirchi”, with a blend of action and comedy, impressed the masses.

“‘Naayak’ raked in close to Rs.60 crore worldwide on an investment of Rs.35 crore, while ‘Mirchi’, made on a budget of Rs.30 crore, collected approximately Rs.45 crore,” said a distributor of both the films.

“Mirchi” resurrected Prabhas’ dwindling career after his big-budget Telugu action-drama “Rebel” bombed.

Other notable films in Telugu include Manchu Lakshmi’s “Gundello Godari” (GG), a love story set against the 1986 Godavari floods, and crime-comedy “Swamy Ra Ra”.

“GG had a good opening garnering over Rs.10 crore in its first weekend, but couldn’t sustain, while ‘Swamy Ra Ra’, made on a budget of Rs.3 crore to Rs.4 crore broke even in two weeks of its release,” said Trinath.

Some Telugu films which were high on expectations, but turned out to be duds, included Ram Pothineni-starrer “Ongole Gitta” and “Jabardasth”, featuring Siddharth Suryanarayan.

The Malayalam industry, which had as many releases as its Tamil counterpart – 40 – managed only two hits in the first quarter.

” ‘Annayum Rasoolum’ and ‘Romans’ shone at the box-office. While the former managed to collect approximately Rs.6 crore, the latter garnered approximately Rs.10 crore,” said distributor Arvind Nambiar.

Rajeev Ravi’s “Annayum Rasoolum”, a love story between a Muslim taxi driver and a Catholic girl, was the first hit of the year, while “Romans”, inspired by the English film “We’re No Angels”, turned out to be the biggest hit of the first quarter.

Films like “Proprietors Kammath & Kammath”, “Red Wine”, and “Lokpal”, featuring star actors, bombed at the box office.

Out of 24 releases, the Kannada film industry registered one superhit and one hit, while the rest had a bad run.

Sudeep’s “Varadanayaka”, the Kannada remake of Telugu film “Lakshyam”, was the biggest hit in the first quarter. It was made on a budget of approximately Rs.8 crore.

“Even though the film garnered a mixed response from critics, it minted Rs.9 crore in the opening two weekends. It managed to break even in its opening week itself,” said Trinath.

Upendra-starrer “Topiwala”, made on a budget of Rs.7 crore, was the second hit of the quarter.

“The film collected Rs.5 crore in its opening weekend and had a very successful run at the box office,” the film’s producer, Srikanth, told IANS.

Notable Kannada films that failed at the box-office included “Bangari”, “Attahasa” and “Myna”.

Here’s hoping for a better Q2 for southern cinema.

(Haricharan Pudipeddi can be contacted [email protected])

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