KOCHI: An ordinary village youth, rejected by affluent relatives, at loggerheads with his wily neighbours, emerging winner in the end against all odds can be an ideal plot for a potboiler. Almost akin to this, the Malayalam cinema industry, abandoned by television channels by shunning the Satellite rights, while facing stiff competition from the other language films, is having the last laugh with two major hits and cash registers ringing in the first half of 2015.
According to data from sources, with two major seasons in store, the industry from super-duper hits, is estimated to collect not less than Rs 250 crore, this year. In an unexpected twist, two films made with a budget about Rs four crore, Oru Vadakkan Selfie (OVS) and Premam have crossed the 20-crore mark. The theatres in the state surviving on the Vikram starrer ‘I’ and the Aamir Khan starrer PK, in the first three months, turned houseful after the release of OVS. It was an encore with Premam. Many theatre owners who bought the Surya Starrer Mass, expecting a mega collection were in for a huge disappointment. The film invested with nearly five crore in the state failed to create any impact. Thus after a long dry spell, a Malayalam film won hands down over a big budget Tamil movie.
“Even in the days of Drishyam (2013) or even Bangalore days (2014) a film was declared a hit only if the family accepts it. But now we see the youth coming out in numbers and making it a record breaking hit. The best examples are Premam and Selfie,” says Ramesh Babu, a manager with a distribution company.
To know the positive impact Premam made in theatres, see the example of Thalayolapparamb. The major source of revenue to the panchayat, a sleepy hamlet between Kottayam and Ernakulam, is a three-screen Multiplex, Carnival Cinemas. “In four weeks’ time, out of the Rs 9,20,000 it paid as entertainment tax to the panchayat, Rs 7,21,000 came from Premam. The distributor’s share from the station when Drisyham ran for 100 days was Rs 35 lakh. I think Premam will better the record. The film became a record hit even before the families started coming. The youth in the age group of 15 to 25 made it a bumper hit,” says Vijayakumar, manager of Carnival Cinemas.
According to administrators, the multiplex became an attraction due to its added facilities. “We have better customer care, 20 remote ticket booking centres and ample parking space. All these attractive people living in the 25-kilometre radius,” he adds. Apart from Anwar Rasheed, the producer of Premam, the list includes directors Lal Jose, Amal Neerad and Ashique Abu to Martin Prackat and Abrid Shine to the new superstar Nivin Pauly and Asif Ali. A major reason for this trend is the lack of clarity in accounts from the side of distributor and producer.” opines an industry source. However, at least 50 films of a total of 67 released till date have sank without a trace, including big budget Mohanlal starrer Laila O Laila causing a loss of Rs 100 crore.