Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rajini Fans should Thank Kamal

I'm sure my subject line will be perplexing to many people. But, don't be surprised because Rajini fans are indebted to actor Kamal, who is taking revenge on behalf of them against a person, who insulted a Thalaivar's movie recently.

Many people would not have forgotten how the MD of Pyramid Saimeera Group, in a function to commemorate another Tamil movie, Mozhi, has spoken in a very demeaning fashion about the way other commercial movies were running successfully. Instead of
heaping praises and laurels on a well-made movie like Mozhi, this gentleman spoke very badly about the successful running of Sivaji, even forgetting that his own company has been distributing the very same movie in some of the territories of TN & reaping crores of rupees as profits too.

At that time, some Rajini fans sent protest letters to this person & subsequently his office sent a clarificatory/apology statement. If this person & his company had any courage of their convictions, they would have refrained from doing business in, according to them, run-of-the-mill masala movies. But, on the contrary, these shameless people have gone all out to bid fiercely & bagged the wholesale distribution rights of Thalaivar's Kuselan/Kathanayukudu recently.

This act of theirs proves director Ameer's rhetoric "Pizhakkavum Rajini - Pazhikkavum Rajiniya?". Whenever they want money in their kitty, they need Thalaivar & his movies. But, it is also the same Thalaivar & his movies, who are their favourite bunny to beat around with, whenever they want to pose to the world as saviours of Tamil cinema. What kind of hypocrytes are they?

But, everything has to come to an end one day & even if legal courses are not available or not resorted to, like in this case, there is something called Nartural Justice, which comes into play to even out matters & put people in their rightful places.

Through sheer coincidence comes the latest news that Thalaivar's contemporary & his professional competitor, Kamal, will be doing his next project called Marma Yogi (MY) a.k.a. Marudanayagam, if latest reports are to be believed, on a first copy basis and it is Pyramid Saimeera who will be producing the same by investing anywhere between Rs. 100 to Rs. 120 crores.

It is reported that Kamal himself will do the story, screenplay, dialogues & direction of MY, which will have ARR as the music director. It is also announced that the story happens in the 6th century A.D.

all Rajini fans should thank Kamal for coming to their aid by taking revenge on Pyramid Saimeera like this.

As the career track record of Kamal proves, in almost all the projects in which he handled all the above departments, particularly direction, the producers had to eat the humble pie & if some of them are financially surviving even today, it is due to some miracle. Moreover, as the project cost increases, the chances of recovering it also dimishes, making it that much more difficult for the film to become a hit or superhit or blockbuster. If the movie happens to be an experimental one or a difficult to understand kind, without any commercial elements added to it, the majority of the audience may not like it. All these are normal traits one can attach to Kamal, the director/story-teller/screen play writer and hence the chances of MY financially surviving are extremely dim. Added to this is the choice of ARR as its MD. Except Lagaan, none of the historicals in which ARR was associated with as the MD, has clicked at the BO.

So, all this does not augur well for Pyramid, who have jumped into the MY project at the eleventh hour, replacing the Hollywood Studio Walt Disney, who were originally supposed to be producing this movie. Thus, in all likelihood, Kamal is going to drain out Pyramid Saimeera group to the tune of Rs. 120 crores in the next couple of
years and the recovery of that sum is a BIG question mark due to the above-stated reasons.

So, is it not fair to thank Kamal for this act, which is akin to taking indirect revenge on Pyramid Saimeera, by draining them of Rs. 120 crores & making its recovery a Billion Dollar (or is it Rupee) Question?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dasavataram becomes a victim of Chaos Theory


Dasavataram, which released recently, is purported to be based on Chaos Theory & its Butterfly Effect. The concept, as I understand it, is supposed to be this: seemingly unrelated & unconnected incidents happening at different places & even different points of time, are unknowingly (to us) connected.

Now, let us see how Dasavataram has become a victim of this Chaos Theory, by re-counting some of the real-life incidents starting from the one incident which caused the Butterfly Effect.

The Chaos Theory & its Butterfly Effect might have started in a press conference that happened on August 19, 2005, in Ragavendra Mandapam in Chennai, wherein Thalaivar Rajinikant announced to media persons that he is going to act in his next movie which will be produced by AVM Productions and directed by Shankar, which was later christened as Sivaji - The BOSS.

I think that announcement about Rajini-Shankar dream combo & the fabulous reaction it generated among the masses and the media & internet was the TRIGGER POINT or BUTTERFLY EFFECT which ultimately resulted in the Kamal movie Dasavataram being declared as bombed at the box office now.

Please read along the following chronological events, which will explain this theory:

1. Sivaji announcement with Rajini-Shankar dream combo happens.

2. Media going ga-ga with Rajini & Sivaji news, cover stories, etc.

3. Sivaji mania grips the entire media in TN & internet for months on end thus sidelining all other actors & their projects.

4. Perturbed by this, and in order to grab the attention of the media away from Sivaji & Rajini and towards himself, actor Kamal thinks of a way to upstage Rajini. He concludes that the only way to grab more attention or at least some attention to be drawn his way was for himself to don 10 roles in his next film.

5. So, Kamal announces Dasavataram project with the USP of himself playing 10 different characters in it - one-up on thespian Sivaji's 9 role Navaratri & one-up-manship on Sivaji-The Boss.

6. Kamal also takes up 3 more roles - that of Story, Screenplay and Dialogues writer of Dasavataram - in order to control all his characters & how & for how long they appear in the movie.

7. In his single minded pursuit of somehow creating & enacting 10 roles in Dasavatram, Kamal sacrifices the tightness/grip in its screenplay.

8. With such a lose screenplay, Kamal introduces 10 different characters but all of them lack proper characterisation since Kamal finds it impossible to dwelve on any one character for too long a time within the movie's running time of 3 hours.

9. Too many characters also forces Kamal to resort to many facial masks to differentiate them & create hype but those thick plaster of Paris masks & make-up prevents Kamal's acting/facial expressions from being seen by the audience, who, thus, are not able to relate to any of those characters. Thus, Kamal's only USP of good acting is swept clean by his own foolish zeal on 10 roles & make-up.

10. Moreover, due to the unprofessional make-up, most of those characters look amateurish & give the feeling that the audience is watching a Fancy Dress/Mask Competition in a school function.

11. In order to differentiate the characters, Kamal is also forced to resort to different voice-overs for each character, thus making such voice-overs undecipherable to the audience leaving them unable to follow the happenings on screen.

12. Lose screen-play with no viewer interest in most of the 10 roles makes audience to lose interest in the movie in mid-way itself and they get bored even though they are seeing it for the first time.

13. With Kamal's main USP of acting/emoting missing for the large part, people come out of the theatres very much disappointed & dissatisfied. Thus, a good Hollywood-type plot, has been botched up by Kamal's foolish fetish to do 10 roles.

14. If this is the reaction in A centres and multi-plexes, who are supposed to be a sophisticated audience, one can imagine the fate of Dasavataram in B & C areas.

15. Aaskar Films, who poured crores of money, like water, into the making & promotion of Dasavataram, ultimately goes the Kalaipuli Dhanu way, ending up on the losing side.

16. Dasavataram, whose story is supposed to be based on Chaos Theory, thus, itself becomes a victim of that theory.

I hope all of you now understand how Chaos Theory works in real life.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Worthy competitor to Rajinikanth

Rajinikanth & Sivaji - The BOSS

Its a well-known fact that a Rajinikanth film does not have any competition. Any film that tries to compete with a new Rajini film will face extinction from the market & incur huge losses. Many Tamil & other South Indian actors & producers can vouch for it as some of their films tried to clash with a new Rajini movie on its release & were literally thrown out of the market by the masses. During Sivaji's release in June, 2007, one person who didn't know the reality or, having known, but cared less, got a lesson of his life. It was Yash Chopra, the big Bollywood producer, who had the gall to release his multi-starcast Jhoom Barabar Jhoom with Big B, Small B and other A to Z in its cast. In spite of warnings from Theatre owners & distributors in South India, Yash Raj Films went ahead & released JBJ on the same day as Sivaji. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

JBJ - No competition
JBJ's collection could not even match the collections made at all the parking stands of the theatres which screened Sivaji. Sivaji & Rajini made such a huge impact that JBJ could not even compete with the Tamil movie with no sub-titles even in its own territories like Mumbai/Maharashtra, Delhi/NCR, Kolkatta & other north Indian centres.

Rajini - THE Superstar

Sivaji has established Rajinikanth as THE Superstar in Indian Cinema. Even from the day its Advance Booking started on June 10th, all TV channells showcased the massive crowds thronging the theatres for booking tickets in advance for viewing Sivaji. The crowds comprised of all demographies - from elderly to youth, both male & female, from street hawker to corporate executive, whether in Chennai or Hyderabad or Bangalore or Kerala, no one wanted to miss the fun of watching a Rajini movie in theatre. People stood in long winding queues from mid-night the previous day. Many people went for the previos day's night show of a movie in the theatre which was going to screen Sivaji & came out during its interval time & stood in the queue for advance booking for Sivaji which was supposed to open next day morning at 9 am. Many corporates managed bulk-booking for their employees. Many theatre complexes were running Sivaji all shows in all screens continuosly for weeks.

Sivaji didn't disappoint most of these people & most of them have seen Sivaji several times. Thus, Sivaji went on to create many box office records & one of them being the first Tamil movie to be listed in the UK Top 10 list. Sivaji's huge success also created new markets for Tamil movies & paved the way for other Tamil movies to be marketed at a global level.

Who is Rajni's competitor?

Does it mean that there is nobody to compete with Rajinikanth in terms of popularity & mass appeal? Yes. That seems to be the answer at least as far as India or Bollywood is concerned. No other actor, including Big B or Shah Rukh Khan can imagine such a passionate crowd who can stand during night & day in a queue just to get the movie ticket which they will only be allowed to see 5 days or later. A phenomenal achievement by Rajini in this day of pirated CDs.

Having said this, I find there is ONE COMPETITOR who gives Rajinikanth a run for his money. As I mentioned above, the competition is not from Bollywood. Then, who or where is it from? Is it Jackie Chan? No. Or is it from Hollywood? Could have been, but the recent Hollywood cult film of Indiana Jones series starring Harrisson Ford & directed by Steven Spielberg could not create enough ripples to even pose any questions about passionate competition to Rajini.

Worthy Competitor

So, who, then is the competitor & where is it coming from? Though the passionate competition to Rajini is not from Hollywood, it is coming from America alright. Surprised? Don't be. I find the same zeal & passion with which the fans of the competitor are also gunning for their "pick".

They don't mind waiting for hours, or even days, on the streets - rain or shine.

They show-off their "prized possession" once they are able to lay their hands on to it with such pride & passion that only a Rajini fan can understand it. Its something similar to laying your hands on a FDFS ticket of a Rajini movie.

Like everybody who gets associated with the business of a Rajini movie comes out with enhanced market for them after the movie's release - whether it be an artist or a technician or the prodcuer/financiers/distributors/exhibitors - same is the case with the producers & their business associates of the competition too.

Like a Rajini movie in the making creates enormous amount of expectations without the producers doing any promotion, same is the case with the competition too. Even without its producers not making any official announcement, rumours floating around the net as also the market buzz in newspapers & channells make sure that there is huge expectation & buzz around the release time of the competition too.

The Worthy competitor is......

I think I have tested enough of your patience & its high time I say, WHO IS COMPETING WITH RAJINI in popularity & passionate fan following. If you have already not guessed it correctly, its APPLE's iPHONE (before & during its launch in June, 2007) & its expected successor iPHONE 2.0, which is expected to be released in Apple's WWDC beginning on June 9, 2008.

Passionate Fans of Icons

If the kind of hype & hoopla & success witnessed by iPhone was any indication, I find both Apple followers & Rajini fans sail on the same boat - in terms of loyalty & devotion to their respective ICONS. I have not heard or known about anybody waiting overnight on the streets in front of stores to be opened next day to get hold of a techinical gadget like iPhone on the first day of its launch. This happened in the case of iPhone in many cities across the USA in front of many Apple Stores as well as other reputed tech gadget retailers. I have seen many people proudly showing off their iPhones before cameras - something similar to what many proud & frenzied Rajini fans showed-off to TV cameras with Boss' FDFS ticket before Sivaji release. In both cases, the fans were from both sexes & of different age groups - from young techies to older people.

I am witnessing the similar kind of passionate guessing game & rumours playing now with the Apple WWDC 2008 about to begin on June 9th. So many magazines of the tech variety as also the business ones keep on speculating about what Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, is going to announce in his keynote, on iPhone 2.0. Even though nothing has been confirmed officially till now, 3G capability and GPS are rumoured to be a given in iPhone 2.0. The rumours on iPhone 2.0 have been coming for so long that some analysts have even started predicting that if Jobs doesn't announce these featues in iPhone 2.0 in his keynote, Apple's stock is going to get a hammering on June 9th morning.

I find it similar that this kind of speculation happened with Sivaji too with each magazine gossipping about Sivaji story & finally it turned out to be that none of them were correct. But, Sivaji still went on to create box-office history & expanded the market for Tamil & other South Indian language films the world-over. I am hoping Rajini's competitor too would be doing similarly & create huge markets for itself in newer territories like India & China from this year.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rajini is BO Baadshaw - Others pulling Rickshaw

The whole world knows how Rajini's Sivaji was grabbed for distribution & theatrical rights by people when it came up for sale. It went on to create records for the prices at which territories were grabbed by the distributors just by watching Sivaji's stills. The trailor was also not ready when Sivaji's rights came up for sale.

Compare this with the way Kamal's Dasavataram is being pushed for sale - still there are no takers for most of the territories and wherever it is sold has also gone for much less than expectations - and you will know WHO IS KING at the Box Office.

On 28th May, 2008, Behindwoods posted a news under the heading “Dasavataram rates slashed” saying “as a means to draw more crowds to Dasavataram and generate good business at the C centres, a hefty amount has been reduced there. This strategy has been viewed as a positive trend by the trade pundits.”

Around the same time also published a news item saying Dasavataram release has been postponed from June 6th to June 12th. As of now, even this date has been changed to June 13th. I hope the producers will be able to stick to at least this date.

Sify reported the reason for the delay in release as due to delay in printing of the film rolls as told by the producer of Dasa. The producer also mentioned that Dasa’s prints are being done at Adlabs in Mumbai, which has the state of the art printing lab in India.

I hope all of you may remember how the producer tried to justify the date of June 6th as sooooo sacrosanct in saying that it is one of the most auspicious days & all. At that point of time, the producer was trying to avoid any date upto 1st June due to the then ongoing IPL matches against which Dasa’s opening would have surely bombed. He had to find a reason other than IPL so he had then chosen “auspicious day” to justify June 6th.

Now, he is harping on “delay in printing of the film roll” & that too from a state of the art studio. It can be called as “Kaadhula Poo”. Printing of a film roll nowadays will take the standard amount of time only. What is required is to give the order for so many NUMBER OF PRINTS. Though the producer says Dasa will release with 1000 prints, I have doubts on this claim, based on a harmonious reading of all the above news, whether he has enough takers for Dasa in the first place, at least as of now. That’s why I feel the truth is no printing order has been given for printing Dasa film because the producer himself doesn’t know, at this point in time, how many prints will be needed because Dasa is still to be sold in so many territories.

Dasa has been produced at a cost of about Rs. 60 crore and marketed at another Rs. 20 Core. They have already spent around Rs. 10 core for the audio release bash and budgeted another Rs. 6 core for pre-release promotion & balance for other promotional activities. Assuming the producers will expect about 25% return on investment, Dasa has to be sold for at least Rs. 100 core at the first level distribution. My guess, based on above reports, is that Dasa is struggling even to recover its production cost of Rs. 60 core.

There was an interesting news story recently that Ayngaran has purchased its overseas rights. They have not mentioned about the price. I am sure, knowing the producer’s nature, he would have gone to town if only Dasa has been sold for exorbitant rates. Again my guess here is Dasa would not even have fetched what Kuruvi would have got for its overseas rights. To put things in perspective, Ayngaran and the producers were not seeing eye-to-eye till recently. And suddenly now for Ayngaran to agree to the producer’s unreasonable demands & pay any price for Dasa’s overseas rights is un-realistic.

So, it makes the producer’s task even more difficult for him to sell Dasa in local market. Now, local market has to fetch him truly exorbitant rates in order to compensate for the reduced rate at which Dasa has been sold in overseas market and still generate an overall Rs. 100 core. In this scenario, please go back to the first news of this post which mentions the producer of Dasa had slashed his rates at C centres. Does it make sense now? So, Dasa is struggling to sell itself in all markets – whether overseas or local A, B or C centres – there are no takers for Dasa at the price at which the producer wants it to be bought. Unless Dasa is sold in all territories or at least most of the territories, how can the producer know how many prints are needed for screening and also to fix a firm date for its release?

So, this is the reason why Dasavataram’s release is kept postponed from one week to the next. Unless Dasa’s business is completed, definitely not to the satisfaction of the producer, even the June 13 date may not be sacrosanct. A stage may come when the producers themselves will be forced to release Dasa on their own which will make them take the gamble of their life. But, as things stand today, this scenario can’t also be ruled out.

However, there is a catch to this. Recently Oscar Academy, which gives away the world famous annual Oscar Awards in Hollywood, has slapped a legal notice on Dasa’s producers for unauthorised using of their name & logo for his production company which is in the same movie business as their organization & asked him to compensate them. That’s why, overnight, the producer has changed his production company’s name as Aaskar Films & also changed the logo. But, it can at best be a temporary reprieve for Dasa. Whatever the producer earned so far all these years by using the famous name & logo is still in dispute. Because of this development too, there could be trouble for the producer when Dasa gets released.

As against this, let us spare a thought to AVM Productions & the way they stuck to their job of marketing Sivaji. AVM marketed Sivaji without any fanfare. Even though there were some protests from some of the distributors about the way Sivaji was marketed on outright basis, finally, within a couple of days, those distributors relented & came back to the negotiating table & purchased it outright. The reason was AVM stood their ground & refused to budge. Their USP was Rajinikanth – the Mass Puller. Because of Rajini films’ opening & crowd pulling ability, AVM could stand their ground firmly to the black-mailing tactics adopted by a few distributors. Finally, the distributors had no other way but to buy Sivaji on AVM’s terms.

What one has to understand is it is Rajini & Rajini’s films alone which has this capacity. No other actor, howsoever many roles he may play in the movie, has this capacity to sell his movies, purely based on his crowd pulling strength.

So, it’s futile to compare Rajini with any other “actor’, when it comes to Box Office.

Rajini means Box Office Baadshaw. Others can only pull Rickshaw.