This new year, some films that released during Diwali last year, like Villain, Ramana, Bhagavathi and Solla Marantha Kathai are still enjoying a decent run in the Chennai theatres. So also post-Diwali releases like April Maathathil, Bala, Virumbugiren and Mounam Pesiyathey.
Come Pongal January 14, and the Tamil industry gears itself to a host of new films. Though, unlike earlier years, there is a modest clutch of releases.
Critics and media are looking forward to Kamal Haasan's Anbesivam. With the success of Run, Madhavan, Kamal Haasan's costar in Anbesivam, has once again become the darling of teenyboppers. Whether they will like him travelling from Orissa to Chennai in various modes of transport in a bid to discover himself remains to be seen.
Anbesivam is expected to satisfy critics more than the average filmgoer.
The film is directed by Sundar C (who directed Rajnikanth in Arunachalam. He is now better known as actress Khushboo's husband), and the story and screenplay are crafted by Haasan. Haasan's makeup -- he appears with one half of his face burnt -- is said to be one of the highlights of the film.
The film will be important for Haasan. His last two comedies, Panchathantiram and Pammal K Sambandam, were not big attractions. In fact, the actor has not had much success at the BO since his much hyped films Hey! Ram and Aalavandan bombed.
Popular composer Vidyasagar scores the music for Anbesivam. His last big success was Run. Run did to Vidyasagar what Gemini did to Bharadwaj. It must be noted that these two were successful in spite of two A R Rahman albums -- Kannathil Muthamittal and Baba. Both the Rahman albums were not well received by the Tamil audience.
The commercial film circuit is also looking forward to Bhagyaraj's Sokka Thangam. Bhagyaraj wields the director's megaphone after four year and the film will be a litmus test. He can take some consolation in the fact that his lead actor Vijayakanth is riding high on the success of his Diwali release Ramana, still running in the theatres.
The success that began with Sethu for Vikram continued with Dhil, Kaasi and Gemini. It seemed that nothing could go wrong for him. But after Gemini, the Vikram magic waned in King and Samurai. His new release Dhul, by the same team that made Dhil, will be a big test for him. Director Dharani has decided to release the film ahead of the other Pongal releases on January 11. Whether the film will enjoy the head start that Gemini had is to be seen. Costarring with Vikram are Jyothika and Reema Sen.
Dhul also stars Kalabhavan Mani, who had become a huge hit in Tamil Nadu after Gemini. In Dhul, Mani, who plays a cop, exhibits his mimicry skills by imitating the prisoners he interrogates. Mani's mimicry of various animals was much appreciated in Gemini. Hindi actor Sayaji Shinde also plays a major role in the film. The film's music is by Vidyasagar.
After a lacklustre 2002, Vijay will see his first release of 2003 in Vaseegara. This love story, which costars Sneha, is the remake of a highly successful Telugu film starring Venkatesh. Selvabharathy directs the Tamil version. Needless to say, it is an important film for Vijay.
In Maaran, Satyaraj appeared without a wig and acted his age as the father of a college-going son, along with Seetha. The film was a hit. In Ramachandra, Satyaraj is back to wearing his wig. He plays an honest cop who takes on the underworld and its don (Ashish Vidyarthi).
Every Diwali and Pongal has an Amman (a genre of films about Goddesses like Jai Santoshi Ma) film. And, invariably, Ramya Krishnan plays Amman. This year is no different. Ramya plays Amman in the film directed and produced by Ramanarayan. Her costar is a baby elephant.
Only time can tell whether Kaalaalpadai, directed by J Ramesh with eight new faces, will stand up to Kamal Haasan, Madhavan, Vikram, Satyaraj, Vijay, Vijayakanth and Ramya Krishnan.