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April 22, 2002
Priyanka Chopra goes unnoticed
A week after the Tamil New Year (April 13) releases, the verdict is in.
The Vikram starrer Gemini hit the jackpot. With the high profile AVM banner as producer and the successful run Vikram has been enjoying at the BO, Gemini's success comes as no surprise.
The banner left no stone unturned to publicise their 162nd film, its comeback film after five years. Their last film Minsara Kanavu, directed by Rajeev Menon (starring Prabhu Deva and Kajol), did not do well with collections despite extensive publicity.
The publicity that Gemini received was unprecedented. The film is now drawing people to the theatres.
Thanks to Bharadwaj's musical score and the song Oh podu sung by Anuradha Sriram, a rage in Tamil Nadu, the film received a lot of attention. With the Tamil music industry was on the downturn, this one song propelled the sale of Gemini cassettes to over 100,000. Cashing in on the success of the song, the banner also made Vikram sing Oh podu.
For Vikram, success started with Sethu, and still continues. Dhil, Kaasi and now Gemini have fared well at the box office. Success comes a decade later for the actor who began with occasional bit parts in Tamil films.
With Gemini, director Saran can also breathe easy. His earlier film Amarkkalam, starring Ajith, was a huge success. But Alli Arjuna, made for Bharatiraja with his son Manoj as hero, was a complete disaster. To Saran's credit, he has made a watchable and successful film.
But the man who has impressed the critics and audience by his controlled performance is Malayalam character actor Murali, who acts as a police bigwig in Gemini. Another talking point of the film is the way Saran uses actor Kalabhavan Mani's ability to mimic, thus giving a new dimension to villainy. Every time Kalabhavan Mani the villain attacks the hero, he mimics an animal cry. For Kalabhavan Mani, a character and comedy artiste in Malayalam films, this is a new avatar as villain.
Another film expected to succeed at the BO was Vijay's Tamizhan. G V Films, a leading banner, also made a comeback after five years with this film. Their last release, Indira, directed by Suhasini, failed at the box office.
Tamizhan, directed by a newcomer Manjith, does not seem to have lived up to its reputation. Even diehard Vijay fans were let down as the story reminded everyone of Shankar's Mudhalvan. Vijay, it might be noted, had a dud in his last film, Shahjahan.
If the new face Kiran, who had a role in Subhash Ghai's Yaadein was so-so in Gemini, Priyanka Chopra as heroine of Tamizhan was a total washout.
The surprise hit is the Prashanth starrer Tamizh (not to be confused with Thamizhan). The story, the treatment and good performances, including Prashant, Simran, Nasser and Ashish Vidhyarti, have made Tamizh a success at the box office though it was the least publicised film. Tamizh also marks the directorial debut of Hari, assistant to Saran.
For Prashant this is welcome news. His new, tough look and a controlled performance have won him laurel. Unlike the heroines of the other New Year releases, Simran makes herself noticed as an actress who can perform.
The film that was a total disaster at the box office was Vijayakanth's Rajjiyam. Bad news for Malayalam actor Dileep who debuted in Tamil with this film, as also for Mumbai import Shamita Shetty (who starred in Aditya Chopra's Mohabbatein), the sister of popular actress Shilpa Shetty.
Mammootty's film Junior Senior, released after the Tamil New Year day, is doing good business and is expected to be a winner. Acting with Mammootty as the 'junior' is Hamsavardhan.
Mammootty seems to be faring well in Tamil. His last, Aanandam was one of the biggest hits of 2001.
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