CHENNAI: MGR fever will reign on Monday. As the remastered digital version of the actor’s Aayirathil Oruvan completes a mammoth run of 175 days in the city, fan clubs, trade insiders and the production firm are looking to make an occasion out of it. And it’s not merely because it’s an achievement to have your film run for a third week in this day and age - it’s almost karmic.
“When the film first released and ran for close to a year in 1965, they were unable to have functions to celebrate the milestone,” explained G Chokkalingam of Divya Films, the firm that restored this film. “The anti-Hindi agitations broke out that year and the situation was apparently not right to have celebrations. So I am happy that we are able to celebrate our Puratchithalaivar’s (MGR’s sobriquet) success so many years later,” he added cheerfully.
A music programme featuring popular orchestra Lakshman Sruthi playing MGR’s greatest hits will be held at Kamarajar Arangam on Monday evening, with stars like Sarath Kumar and P Vasu attending. “They asked to be named as MGR fans on the invite and not as an ‘actor’ or ‘director’ as we normally print it,” he said.
After nearly a year of being restored and remastered by Prasad Lab’s best technicians, Aayirathil Oruvan was released on March 14 in 120 screens across Tamil Nadu and a few screens in Karnataka. The self-confessed Sivaji fan admitted that when they re-released the period flick Karnan, the success was not quite there, but that really turned around with the classic pirate saga. Though most mainline theatres dropped shows after three weeks, Sathyam and Albert retained their coveted evening show for the entire length of time.
Normally, such a long run is attributed to trumped up numbers and taking a shot at the record books, but Chokkalingam avers staunchly, “On most days, the theatres had 90 per cent occupancy. We never brought people to the theatres, but the fan clubs really helped in this regard. There were quite a few young people who came to watch the film too.”
There’s truth in that statement. Selvam, who works at Albert Theatre, recounted how several youngsters had bought tickets for Aayirathil Oruvan because tickets for new releases were sold out. “I was curious and wondered if they actually liked it. I swear to you, most of them reacted like they would to a Rajini film,” he said.