Pongal makes business sense 
Haricharan Pudipeddi

COME Pongal and cineastes in southern India flock to theatres in large numbers giving the film industry special reason to celebrate the four-day harvest festival.

“Pongal is considered the biggest festival for south Indians. I’ve been following the industry closely for more than 10 years now and never have I seen the passion for cinema deteriorate during this festival. Over the years, it has become more or less a ritual,” trade analyst Trinath, who has been tracking the industry for over a decade, said.

Pongal, celebrated from January 13 to 16, is a thanksgiving festival at the end of the harvest season.

“Since the festival lasts for four days, it gives good reason for filmmakers to believe that audience will come, provided wholesome entertainment is given to them. Over the years, most star films released on this day have been successful too,”Trinath added.

In 2012, Nanban starring Vijay and Vettai starring R. Madhavan were released during this festival weekend. Both the films were quite successful at the boxoffice.

For some, a hit during Pongal at the beginning of the year is the auspicious start to the year.

“Most of us believe that if something good happens right at the beginning of the year... that luck continues throughout. Likewise, filmmakers and actors, too, believe that having a hit right at the start of the year will boost their morale,” said Telugu producer V. Krishna.

Of course, the Pongal magic can also fail.

Businessman and Bodyguard were the two Telugu films that released during the Pongal weekend last year. The former went on to rake in Rs 44 crore at the box-office, while the latter bombed.

“Not all films have been successful, but most films have decent opening. If it is a star film, then undoubtedly the film has good opening thanks to the four-day-long festival,” Krishna added.

“The festival is just another excuse to draw audience to the theatres. If you have cinema lovers, then people will come irrespective of the day. I agree though that as Pongal is spread across four days, filmmakers can definitely cash in on the golden opportunity,” said film distributor Arvind Nambiar.

This year will see the clash of four Tamil and two Telugu films at the boxoffice.

Kamal Haasan's action-thriller Vishwaroopam, which released first on direct-to-home (DTH) platform on January 10, hit the theatres on January 11.

Karthi’s Tamil action-drama Alex Pandian released on January 12, followed by Tamil comedy Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaya on January 13. On January 14, Vishal’s Tamil action Samar will release.

In Telugu, Ram Charan’s Naayak hit the theatres on January 9, hoping to capitalise on the week-long festival opening, while Mahesh Babu and Venkatesh-starrer Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu released on January 11.

“Lot of expectations are on for Kamal’s Vishwaroopam and Ram’s Naayak. We also have to wait and see if Kamal's move to tease audiences with a one-time DTH premiere will draw the crowd to the cinemas,” Nambiar added. IANS