Coming soon to your nearest theatres...maybe?

With Tamil cinema witnessing a slew of delayed releases in recent times, let’s hear from members of the film fraternity about its impact on their respective careers and more
Rocky
Rocky

Over the past couple of years, one thing that has been common in Tamil cinema has been the slew of delayed releases finally hitting the theatres. In just the past two months, films like Takkar, Bommai, Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir (YOYK), Raavana Kottam and Kasethaan Kadavulada hit theatres after being in the cans for a long time.

While the pandemic was a major hindering force, it cannot be named as the sole reason for the deferral of these films, which were also stuck due to production issues. However, what is common is the heterogeneous impact that affected the assorted mix of people involved in a project, including the director, producer(s), actors, and technical crew.

“Delays are very common in the industry, and it is definitely not under our control. Taramani was released 3.5 years after we began production. Rocky was delayed due to the pandemic,” says actor Vasanth Ravi, who is now grateful for the lineup of films he has coming up, including Jailer. But this level of pragmatism isn’t something that is common with all the players in this issue.

The hampering catalysts

Pointing out that the pandemic caused the first obstruction, director Venkata Krishna Roganth who made his debut with YOYK explains that the producers’ decisions were also catalysts. “If everything went well, the film, which began production in 2019, would have been released latest by December 2020. While COVID-19 accounted for 25 per cent of the delay, the investment made by the producers, their hesitation to proceed with the project and the advice they received for the same, caused the remaining 75 per cent,” he adds.

Director Sri Ganesh, who had a hit debut with 8 Thottakal in 2017, had a setback after the postponement in production of his sophomore, Kuruthi Aatam. The film, which was launched in 2018, and finally hit the screens in 2022. “The main reason for the production delay was financial difficulties. Of course, there are also other undisclosable factors.”

Stumbling through production

The woes of those involved in a film project do not miraculously vanish once the shooting gets back on track. Shanthnu Bhagyaraj, who resumed shooting for Raavana Kottam 1.5 years after the first schedule, says that maintaining the look for the film was the biggest challenge. Meanwhile, Roganth had a different set of problems as his film had war sequences set in Sri Lanka. “Everything had changed by the time we returned for the shoot, almost 250 days later. We were pushed to shoot the Sri Lanka war flashback portion in 3 to 4 days, as opposed to the original 8 days schedule that we had planned,” reveals Roganth, adding that the rushed schedule definitely affected the quality of the film.

Echoing this sentiment, Sri Ganesh observes that nine out of ten times when a film is delayed, the technical quality of the film is directly affected. “The release of Kuruthi Aatam was finalised at the last minute. A lot of visuals and editing were incomplete. I felt helpless as most of the edits were not in my hands.”

The post-production paradox

While the challenges of actors and directors are complex, they are also documented. However, the technical crew’s efforts during such instances are often overlooked.Music composer Nivas K Prasanna is an unfortunate recipient of such ill luck. While some of his films —Takkar, YOYK — saw the light of day, projects like Sumo and Kallapart are still awaiting release. “Music is as time-sensitive as content. Every six months, music and audio technology get updated, and the music or score for a film has to be updated accordingly,” says Nivas, adding, “When delayed the director’s mind also sometimes changes.  Also, I have to mention that I didn’t always get paid for these reworks. Yet, our time is used up and I couldn’t commit to any other film.”

The Impact on career and mental health

Por Thozhil-fame actor Nikhila Vimal, who has only had 7 Tamil releases in 7 years says that postponed releases have made her more picky about the films she does in Tamil. “Over the years, my script-choosing process has also started involving the thought of whether or not the film will have a timely release,” she explains.For Sri Ganesh, the postponement and sudden release of Kuruthi Aatam also took a swing on his mental health. “I was emotionally very affected after the release of Kuruthi Aatam. It took time for me to come out of it.”

Nivas also faced similar psychological issues, so much so that he had the good mind to quit the music industry, altogether. “Mentally, I could not work on other films because, at the back of my mind, there was a constant reminder that a part of my work is unreleased. At a point, I even considered giving up music composition and taking up a different field altogether,” he says.

A producer’s perspective

While producers of many of these films were not very open to comment upon the reasons behind the deferral in production, we reached out to an important voice from their end — producer PL Thenappan and former Vice President of Tamil Film Producers Council. “Producers who are relatively new to the game may miscalculate the budget required for a film. Then, they are forced to pause production of the film until they can come back with finances to continue it.”

Thenappan also observes that directors may also be accountable for production delays. “Sometimes, the director would say a certain budget is enough for the film. Yet, due to the addition in the story or unforeseeable circumstances like weather changes, their schedules would go on and on. The producers are then forced to bring in more money to back the film, for which they need time.”

While we speak about delayed releases here, there are some films that are still languishing in production hell, including Naragasooran, Sathuranga Vettai 2, and Garjanai, among others.It is important to note that most of such films are either the debut films of aspiring filmmakers or starring up-and-coming actors. The consequence a delayed release can have on a budding talent may be manifold, and at times, unrecoverable. While this might not be the last time we see delays, for whatever reason, affecting a film and all its players, all we can hope for is a future where everything goes according to plan. Hopefully.

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