The Pongal weekend is a much coveted release date for Tamil films. The long holiday and the accompanying festivities usually ensure good footfalls in cinema theatres in the state.
Being the first festival of the year, the box-office tends to be rather crowded. 2018 is no different - in fact, this year, as many as five films are all set to hit the screens. A few weeks ago, the number was as high as eight but three filmmakers have backed out of the race sensibly. Vishal and Arjun's Irumbuthirai is among the films which have postponed the release date.
The biggest clash will be between Suriya's Thaana Serndha Koottam and Vikram's Sketch. The others in the race include Prabhu Deva's Gulebagavali, Aravind Swamy's Bhaskar Oru Rascal and Vijaykanth's son, Shanmugapandian's Madura Veeran.
Writing for Firstpost, film critic and trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai says Tamil Nadu has 1,100 screens, of which only 800-900 are equipped to screen new films. Most of the screens, he says, will go to Suriya and Vikram films.
Suriya's Thaana Serndha Koottam is the Tamil remake of Akshay Kumar's Special 26 which released in 2013. The film starred Kajal Aggarwal, Manoj Bajpayee, and Anupam Kher. TSK has a good buzz around it and was even the golden tweet of the year till the Virushka wedding took away the honour.
Directed by Vignesh Shivn, the film also stars Keerthy Suresh, Karthik and Ramya Krishna. Special 26 had enough comedy and intrigue built into the story. If TSK is a faithful remake, chances are that it will hook the family audience. The original was a big hit and is a tried and tested storyline. The Tamil audience has increasingly opened up to thrillers with strong storytelling and the film is likely to score big if it has been done well.
Directed by Vijay Chander, this Vikram-Tamannaah starrer is among the most anticipated releases of this year. From the teaser, it appears that Vikram is playing a rowdy in the film, a character he played to huge reception in Gemini.
The film is also releasing big in Kerala, the distribution rights having been acquired by Maxlab Cinemas and Entertainments, which is co-owned by veteran producer Antony Perumbavoor.
Vikram hasn't had a release in 2017. His last film was Irumugan and the break from the big screen has made his fans all the more eager to watch Sketch. The film is likely to give TSK tough competition at the box-office if it receives good reviews.
This Prabhudeva-Hansika film, directed by Kalyaan may prove to be a winner at the box office, considering it's a comedy which is likely to attract family audiences during the Pongal festival. The film has been produced by KJR Studios which created a sensation with Gopi Nainar's Aramm towards the end of 2017.
The film also stars Revathi, Ramdoss, and Yogi Babu. Prabhudeva is known for comedy films like Kaathala Kaathala and the actor still has a wide fanbase. If Gulebaghavali is the laugh riot its makers have been promising, it may end up getting more screens - provided, it holds up against the two big releases in its opening weekend.
Bhaskar Oru Rascal
The Tamil remake of the Malayalam film Bhaskar the Rascal, this film directed by Siddique stars Aravind Swamy and Amala Paul. The original starred Mammootty and Nayanthara in lead roles.
Aravind Swamy is known for his intelligent script selection. The original film was a blockbuster which ran for 100 days in Kerala. The film is about a greedy businessman. Nayanthara played a single parent in the Malayalam film and Amala Paul is likely to reprise the role.
Bhaskar Oru Rascal has a good buzz around it and the filmmakers have taken a risk, releasing it with TSK and Sketch. Whether the gamble will pay off is another question. However, both Aravind Swamy and Amala Paul are strong performers and the film may stay ahead in the race, if it gets enough good word of mouth.
The directorial debut of cinematographer PG Muthiah, this film has Shanmugapandian in the lead role. Samuthirakani is also part of the cast. It remains to be seen how many screens this film, which does not have big stars in the cast, will manage to get.
The film's trailer was launched by actor Sivakarthikeyan on January 1 and it managed to get eyeballs on social media. However, there isn't much buzz around it otherwise.