Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dasa audio riding piggyback on Sivaji audio

Wow!!! What a site to behold for a Rajini fan!
I happened to walk into Calypso Audio shop in Bangalore's Jayanagar area today & I was elated to see a promo card attached in the Tamil Audio section of the shop.
The card reads as under: HURRY! BUY "1 DASHAVATARAM & 1 SIVAJI" For Rs. 150/= only.
The normal price of a Dasa Audio CD is Rs. 99/= & that of Sivaji is Rs. 100/=. Together they are being offered for Rs. 150/= thru this Bundle offer.
What does this convey? DASAVATARAM AUDIO IS A FAILURE & could NOT SELL ON ITS OWN. It needs to be pushed into the market. And who better to push a new Kamal movie audio than SuperStar Rajini's Magnum Opus, Sivaji audio.
When I enquired with the sales person in the shop as to the reason behind this bundle offer, he said they are doing it to push the sales of Dasavataram audio CDs. When I asked him is Dasa audio sales so bad, he said it sold well initially but still they are left with huge stocks which was not moving out as expected by them. So, they have to come out with an offer like this to push its sales. When I enquired why they chose Sivaji audio for this bundle offer with Dasa, he replied that since Rajini movies' audio generally sells well and particularly since Sivaji audio was a roaring hit, they bundled Dasa with Sivaji. Lastly I asked whether they have unsold stock of Sivaji audio too to bundle with Dasa. He replied in the negative saying they used to order certain number of Sivaji audio periodically even now because Sivaji audio sells even today at certain numbers. So, when the latest lot of Sivaji audio arrived at their shop, they bundled it with Dasa CD & came out with this offer.
This is an eye-opener even to an ardent fan of SuperStar like me. All said and done, I believed KamalHassan is also a big draw, even though not up to Rajini's standards. But, I never expected, a Kamal movie's audio (a brand new one at that) will fail like this and needs to be propped by a Rajini movie audio (an old one) in order to push it into the market like this.
If Kamal can't pull masses to sell even his brand new movie audio, what sort of star is he? I think all Kamal fans should at least now understand the reality & realise their actor's limitations.
The failure of Dasa's audio also means that those huge sums spent on audio promotion during Dasa's audio release function have gone down the drain. No wonder, "Ex-Oscar" Ravi is already shivering with the news of SuperStar's Kuselan release being pre-poned to mid-July from the earlier mid-Aug. release date.
Dasavataram's release is now deliberately being postponed to avoid clash with IPL and hence may get released in first week of June, provided all its legal hassles are over by then. If Dasa gets released in June beginning, and Kuselan release is pre-poned to mid-July, then Dasa will probably fold up within a maximum of 5 weeks by when most theatres would want to shift to Kuselan by stopping Dasa in its tracks. What a pity it will be for Dasa.
A movie which was touted as a first of its kind with 10 roles played by an actor & produced at a whopping cost of Rs. 60 crore & promoted with a huge budget of Rs. 20 crore, Dasa's audio itself should have fired from the word go. But, the way it is received in a lukewarm fashion in the market, doesn't augur well for the movie too.
Bad Omen this definitely for Dasa & Kamal fans.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Which film Dasaavataram is competing against?

Kamal's forthcoming magnum opus Dasaavataram, in which he plays 10 different roles, is not yet released & so how can one say now itself who or, rather, which film is its competitor?

Yes. For a movie to have competitor in the market, it has to first release & then find who its competitor is. But, what I am talking about here is not the market competitor but a "sentimental competitor". And, that competitor is also another Kamal movie.

Who is that sentimental competitor to Dasaavataram & how or in what respect does it compete with Dasa?

Even before it gets released, Dasaavataram is competing against another Kamal movie, which released at the beginning of this millenium and bombed big time at the box office. And that movie is none other than Aalavandhaan. To know how does Dasa compete with Aalavandhaan, please read further.

At least infour major areas Dasa is competing with Aalavandhaan. They are listed & compared below one by one:

1. Distributor-turned-Producers: Both Dasa & Aalavandhaan have got similar back-ground of producers. If it was Kalaipuli Dhanu, who has risen from the ranks in the film industry by starting off as a small time second release distributor to grow into a big film distributor & to finally become a big budget producer & produce the ultimate big-budget film (then) starring a top actor Kamal in Aalavandhaan, Dasa has almost exactly a similar background of its producer. Dasa's producers, Oscar Films, have also started off as small time distributors and slowly become distributors of big budget movies and grown to become producers themselves. After producing several movies with second rung actors & technicians they have grown to become big bidget producers & ultimately theyare now producing Dasa, one of the magnum opus production in Tamil cinema, with a top actor Kamal in ten roles and with a whopping Rs. 60 crore cost.

2. Hype & high-cost defines the Producers: Both Dhanu and Ravi have lived their professional life by marketing their movies through high-cost promotion & hype. If it was Dhanu who promoted his movies with mega-size posters & by giving catchy titles to actors (Superstar title to Rajinikant is Dhanu's creativity), Ravi is not far behind in this respect. In fact, Oscar films, of late, has been credited with making movies to run, which were otherwise non-starters, purely by their promotions & marketing campaign. Dhanu created a huge hype for Aalavandhaan from its launch date itself by splashing Chennai with sevral posters as also during its making. Finally he managed to create a phenomenal pre-release hype for Aalavandhaan which was released with enormous amount of expectations during a Diwali. Now, Ravi is trying to do an encore with Dasa. If Kamal donning 10 roles for the first time in Cinema has been the talking point throughtout the making of Dasa, Ravi went overboard for Dasa's audio launch by inviting the Hollywood Actor Jackie Chan to be the Chief Guest. He didn't stop with that. Just for the audio launch he filled the stage with the who's who of Indian Cinema by also inviting Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini and Jaya Pradha from Bollywood and Mammooty from Mollywood. Of course, the ever willing CM of TN, M. Karunanidhi was there to preside over the audio launch. Rumours have it that Ravi would have spent around Rs. 10 crore just for the travel & comfortable stay of Jackie Chan & his entourage alone for a day. He is expected to throw in an equivalent amount for Dasa's pre-release promotion as the release date nears. Ravi, thus, has proved yet again that he is second to none when it comes to creating hype for a movie.

3. Huge cost of production: Both Aalavandhaan then & Dasa now, are the costlist or one of the costlist movies to have been produced, respectively. In fact, the cost of both have identically shot thru their original budget due to huge time & cost over-runs. In fact, the differences between Kamal & his producer Dhanu that came out into the open subsequent to the bombing of Aalavandhaan in the box office, centred mainly on the unnecessary expenditure incurred for its CG portions which was insisted upon by Kamal, which ultimately came only for a few minutes in the final cut, but which gobbled up several crores & lots of time. Those scenes were also criticised by viewers & critics alike as none could relate to them. Dasa is also competing with Aalavandhaan in cost & time overrun aspects. It is in production for more than two and a half years now & its post-production work has taken more than 6 months already. Dasa also is having a huge amount of CG works necessasitated by the 10 roles of Kamal as also some special scenes like tsunami, etc. which is being hyped-up now as its USP. One thing to note is even in Aalavandhaan, before its release, its CG scenes were hyped up enormously & touted as its USP but subsequently proved a damp squib.

4. Successful commercial Directors: Both Aalavandhan then & Dasa now, have at their helm, persons, who are reputed as successful commercial dirctors - at least till such time the movies were in the making & getting released. If Suresh Krissna has given several smashing commercial hits before he embarked upon Aalavandhaan like Annamalai & Baadsha with Rajini & Sathya & Indran Chandran with Kamal, K.S.Ravikumar, the direcotr of Dasaavataram, has to his credit Muthu & Padayappa with Rajini & Tenali, Avvai Shanmughi & Panchatantram with Kamal apart from some other commercially successful movies with other actors too. Like Suresh Krissna met his Waterloo in Aalavandhan and subsequently could not give any commercially successful movies, will KSR face a similar fate in Dasa? The point to note here is that both these directors are known to be pliable to allow ghost-directing in their movies and Kamal is well known to be a ghost-director in the industry. Could you then find the common line linking the two movies here?

5. Bollywood music directors: Another important & sentimental similarity between the two movies is its music directors. As if there is no worthwhile MD in Tamil, Kamal wanted to bring Shankar-Ehson-Loy (SEL) from Mumbai for Aalavandhan but their work proved to be well below expectations. Similarly, for Dasa too, Kamal has brought in Himesh Reshamiya (HR) from Bollywood when ARR couldn't be roped in for the project. Similar to SEL, HR's songs in Dasa too have not made the music charts hot & the songs are just about ok types. Interestingly, Dasa team couldn't get the dates from HR for BGM work & hence forced to rope in another MD - this time from Tollywood - Devi Sri Prasad (DSP) to do the job. In fact, DSP as MD for both songs & BGM would have worked better, going by DSP's work in Santosh Subramaniam where his songs are topping the charts.

So, if one looks at the above points, it looks as though Dasa, first, has to fight against its sentimental competitor Aalavandhan, before even attempting to compete in the market for BO stakes. I think, Kamal as an actor, may do more than enough justice to his 10 roles in Dasa. But, Kamal, as an egoist, ghost-director & script-writer, could become a millstone in the neck of the producer of Dasa & that could ultimately turnout to be the difference between Dasa's BO success and failure.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sivaji impacted other movies' release but not so Dasa

Last year around this time, many people used to criticise Rajini unfairly for postponing or not announcing the exact release date of his hugely expected Sivaji. Its an unfair criticism because Rajini is in no way connected to either its making or its distribution business.

What was the criticism against Sivaji then? It was alleged that because of the uncertainty surrounding Sivaji's release date, many other producers/distributors were not able to release their movies since theatre owners have told them that upon Sivaji's release in their theatres the other movie will be removed, irrespective of its BO performance. This showed that none of the theatres wanted to miss the collection bus called Sivaji. Due to this uncertainty about continued running & non availability of theatres, other movies couldn't find good theatres for release and it was projected as if Rajini is the culprit in preventing the release of Tamil movies in TN.

Now, this is the so-called season of Dasaavataram, the highly expected movie from Kamal, in which he plays 10 different roles. Its producers Oscar Films are famous for hyping up their movies & using the hype to run the movie successfully. Dasa is also in post-production stage for the last 6 months or so & still there is no sign of its release date. But, surprise of surprises, there is no word or murmur from any quarters that Dasa or Kamal is preventing other Tamil movies from getting released.

Does this silence or lack of any protest against the uncertainty about the release date of Dasa convey anything?

Yes. It shows that in spite of the uncertainty about the release date of Dasa, there seems to be no dearth of theatres in TN willing to show other movies, unlike the case prevalent before Sivaji's release. Nobody can say now that there are no other movies for release as many other actors' movies are getting released every week & some are also running successfully and some not so successfully. Moreover, it also shows that theatres in TN are not betting big on Dasa's BO success. Hence, they are not willing to let go an opportunity to earn what they can with other movies' BO performance instead of waiting only for Dasa, about whose BO success they are not so sure of.

I think this shows the difference between a Rajini movie and the impact it creates in the market & any other actor's movie. Rajini's movies are real behemoths as far as the Box Office is concerned whereas other actors' movies are nowhere near him.

I am also amused to find that even though its reported that Dasa got censored with only (?) 9 cuts (obviously scenes featuring Mallika Sherawat), still the producer is harping on about delay in completion of CG work relating tsunami scene, etc. for the uncertainty surrounding its release date. So, they expect to release it sometime in June. Ah...that one gives his game away. Because IPL final is slated for 1st June, Dasa can thereafter release "comfortably" so that audience will find time to watch a Kamal movie in theatres instead of IPL matches on TV.

Its clear the producer is not so sure about the sustained crowd pulling power of Kamal over and above the lure of IPL matches, which are becoming more & more interesting as the competition nears its finishing stages, that he wants to play safe at the BO by releasing Dasa well clear of any kind of competition after 1st June only. After all, Rs. 80 crore is not a small amount. Yes the producer is rumoured to have invested Rs. 60 crore to produce & Rs. 20 crore to promote Dasa. Obviously he is trying to take the safest possible route since he has already taken the maximum possible risk by investing so much in a Kamal movie.

However, there are no such worries for Satya Movies, whose Rajini-starrer & one of his all-time blockbusters, Baadsha, has been re-released in Chennai this week, after being shown on TV umpteenth times, and is still drawing huge crowds, according to movie websites. Whether there is IPL or not, a Rajini movie will always score at the BO. That's Rajini & his hold over the masses.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dravid & Goliath..err...Mallya

Just because Vijay Mallya of the UB Group has invested huge money running into more than Rs. 44 Crores to buy the Bangalore franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and another Rs. 20 Crores to buy the players, he does not have the right to humiliate in public Rahul Dravid, one of the stalwarts of Indian Cricket.
In spite of the public rebuke from his owner, Dravid has maintained a dignified silence & refused to comment or react to media persons in Mohali saying it is not the right place & he will put forth his views at the appropriate forum. That shows Dravid's gentlemanly side, yet another time.

I have a few questions to Mallya, who has suddenly woken up about his Bangalore Royal Challenger's Team composition.
1. If he thinks Dravid is not the right person to be in the team, why, in the first place, did he not protest to the IPL Governing Council when they made Dravid an Icon player?
2. Second, if Mallya wanted to get the players of his choice like Dhoni, McCullum and Uthappa, he should have bid for them much more than $ 3 Mln. for which these 3 have been picked up by other franchises. In such a case, including with Dravid's Icon fees, these 4 players alone would have almost exhausted BRC's spending cap of $ 5 Mln. So, would he have then played only with these 4 or managed with sub-standard local players bought at throw-away prices?
3. If by acting like a cry-baby and blaming everybody else instead of himself for BRC's debacle in IPL, even though he was one of the three people buying the players, does Mallya's think he can revive the fortune & morale of his team?
4. Last but not the least, the way he has treated the BRC's personnel & the public humiliation heaped on them by him & his corporate sycophants, does Mallya seriously believe in future any other player would be willing to join his team?
Though I am not saying Dravid is not at fault, by doing things the way he did, Mallya is pushing Dravid & BRC more into rock-bottom because of the low morale & total insecurity they will be feeling. That's why, yesterday, Dravid had to run back to his bus & abandon his plan of having lake-side meals with his team mates when news persons surrounded him in Delhi to get his reaction.
I'm praying saner counsel prevails on Mallya's side very soon so that he can show more patience and sit with Dravid & Team BRC and allow them some time to recover & at least next year BRC can try to do better. But for this to happen, Mallya should first stop listening to his corporate cronies who keep on feeding biased opinions purely from a business & investment perspective and without any iota of cricketing knowledge.