No Vijay or Ajith film: Diwali sparkle missing in TN theatres this year
Most theatre owners told The Federal that Karthi's 'Sardar' and Sivakarthikeyan's 'Prince', are not suitable for a Diwali release

No Vijay or Ajith film: Diwali sparkle missing in TN theatres this year

Diwali weekend is the most important season for the Tamil film trade. In the past, seven to eight films would simultaneously release with a lot of fanfare and ‘dhamaka’ for Diwali and mostly, they would mint huge profits for investors.

Diwali – Vijay and Ajith’s turf

In the past decade, however, this trend has changed and the Tamil film industry releases just one big film along with one or two medium-budget films on Diwali day. Actor Vijay, especially, is known to continuously release his films for Diwali. And, he has had nearly thirteen Diwali releases in his nearly four-decade career such as Chandralekha (1995), Priyamanavaley (2000), Shajahan (2001), Bhagavathi (2002), Thirumalai (2003), Sivakasi (2005), Azhagiya Tamil Magan (2007), Velayutham (2009), Thuppakki (2012), Kaththi (2014), Mersal (2017), Sarkar (2018), and Bigil (2019).

Actor Ajith also had memorable Diwali releases such as Villain (2022), Varalaru (2006), Arrambam (2013), and Vedalam (2015). Before Ajith and Vijay, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan used to churn out Diwali blockbusters in the 80s and 90s.

But this Diwali, the top four stars of Tamil cinema have no releases since their films have not been completed. Instead, Karthi’s Sardar and Sivakarthikeyan’s Prince clashed at the box office as the Diwali releases of 2022. Though these two stars are still developing a big fan base and their popularity is on the rise, exhibitors are missing the festival vibe this year. While Karthi had multiple Diwali releases earlier like All In All Azhaguraja, Kaashmora and Kaithi, Prince is the first Diwali release for Sivakarthikeyan.

Also read: PS-1 pips Rajini’s 2.0 to become highest grossing Tamil film overseas

Sivakarthikeyan’s Prince

Sivakarthikeyan’s Prince directed by Telugu filmmaker Anudeep of the 2021 Jathi Ratnalu fame has received mixed reviews from critics. The mindless comic caper has a wafer-thin storyline and on top of it, the film is treated like a comedy skit. Generally, Sivakarthikeyan’s films are known for their grand production values but Prince‘s visuals are repetitive, as the makers have mostly shot in minimal locations and sets. While the first half of the film is passable, the second half tests the patience of the audience.

Karthi’s Sardar

Compared to Prince, Karthi’s Sardar has generated positive reviews from critics and audiences. Though director PS Mithran has overloaded the film with a lot of social messages, the gripping narration in the first half and Karthi’s meticulous dual role performance (both dad and son) saved the film.

The spy portions and action sequences are superbly choreographed and Sardar satisfies the appetite of lovers of action films.

Early box-office trends

Truly, the box-office numbers of Prince and Sardar cannot be compared with the earnings from the films of the top-tier heroes in the Tamil movie industry. In Tamil Nadu, Prince had a better opening but slowly, Sardar has also picked up after the noon and evening shows due to word of mouth.

In the US, Malaysia, Singapore, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Karthi’s Sardar has comfortably taken a good lead compared to Sivakarthikeyan’s Prince. Interestingly, Karthi’s  Ponniyin Selvan (the multi-starrer with Vikram and Jayam Ravi) continues to do roaring business even now (it has purportedly earned more than ₹200 crores and still going strong) in Tamil Nadu.

Talking to The Federal, Sriram, the creative producer of Rockfort Entertainment says the absence of the top four heroes this Diwali has helped Sivakarthikeyan and Karthi. “But I wish they had released their films on Diwali day and not on Friday. Many people are travelling to their hometowns this weekend and the Diwali bonus for the daily wager will be only sanctioned today, a Monday (October 24) release would have been ideal,” he says.

Also read: Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan-I crosses ₹300 crore mark worldwide

However, the makers targeted the weekend business and went for a Friday release. “Opening-wise, Sardar is expected to have a good run because of the positive feedback from the public. The terrific run for Ponniyin Selvan is another reason for a dull opening for these two Diwali releases. Nearly 1.5 crore audiences have seen Ponniyin Selvan, they won’t be ready to spend immediately on another film,” he explains.

Sometimes, a grand Diwali release for a film may not end up setting the box office on fire. Sriram points out that Rajinikanth’s Darbar  (released before Pongal day in 2020) had failed to benefit from a festival release but Dhanush’s average film Pattas reaped good money being a Pongal day release.

Most theatre owners that The Federal spoke to seem to feel that Sardar and Prince are not suitable as a Diwali release. “At least, Sardar’s opening was good due to word of mouth but Prince could’ve released on any other day,” says one theatre owner on condition of anonymity.

Also, Ponniyin Selvan continues to be a big draw in theatres. “Mostly, the audience wants more screens and shows of the magnum opus Ponniyan Selvan,” reveals another theatre owner.  Meanwhile, a theatre owner from south Tamil Nadu tells The Federal that he is sorely missing the presence of a Vijay or Ajith film at the ticket window because they have given them great revenue every Diwali for the past ten years.

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