As in every single year over the past couple of years, 2014 too saw a very many number of movies, about 200 movies released; a number higher than the previous year. However, the trend of only a handful of these movies succeeding at the Box Office, continued. There were hardly 10-15 commercial hits. Another trend that continued or was rather reinforced was that budgets and stars matter less and content is king in these times. Many small budget and offbeat movies succeeded at the box office and were given the “Thumbs Up” by K-town audiences. 2014 will surely remain a very memorable year for Tamil cinema buffs as this was the year we lost two of our biggest creators, legends K. Balachander and Balu Mahendra. This was also the year that Superstar fans got to watch their Thalaivar live on screen after a gap of over four years. The next generation superstars Ajith and Vijay enthralled their fans with their movies Veeram and Jilla, respectively. It was a double bonanza for Vijay fans as they also got to catch their favourite star in Kaththi too. Let’s take a look at the hits and misses at the BO and the most memorable events of the year gone by…
2014 started off with the unexpected blockbuster hit from Vijay Milton – Goli Soda. This simple tale of adolescent kids growing up to secure an identity for themselves was well received by the audiences. The much awaited Ajith starrer Veeram and Vijay starrer Jilla, which clashed at the box office for Pongal, became celebrated hits, leaving the fans of both these stars happy. Then came another unexpected hit in Cuckoo, the heart rending tale of visually challenged lovers. The 25th movie of Dhanush’s career – Velai Illa Pattadhari arrived at the theatres with a lot of hopes and expectations riding on it and it lived up to them all. The movie got a rousing reception and was apt for being a milestone movie in the career of a fast growing actor who is sure to scale further heights down the line. The dark horse that came forth and was lapped up by the K-town fans was director P. Ranjith’s Madras. This movie not only went a long way in reviving Karthi’s career, but also catapulted character artiste Kalaiarasan into the limelight. A lot was riding on director Karthik Subbaraj’s Jigarthanda and it arrived with a bang. This gangster flick reinforced the public’s opinion on Bobby Simha’s acting talent and Karthik Subbaraj’s prowess as a director. Another least expected movie to make it big was Mundasupatti. This period comedy based on superstitions and false beliefs was well received and Vishnu Vishal’s performance was noted. Some other movies that made it big were Sivakarthikeyan’s Maan Karate, Ashok Selvan’s Thegidi and Vikram Prabhu’s Arima Nambi. Another surprise entrant into the success club was director-turned-comedian Manobala’s maiden production venture Sathuranga Vettai. This con movie got more than just a simple thumbs-up from K-town.
However, with many expected and some unexpected movies making it big at the box office, there were many highly anticipated movies that failed to create an impact and were major letdowns. The most anticipated of all movies was Superstar Rajinikanth’s motion capture movie Kochadaiiyaan by his daughter Soundarya Ashwin. However, the K-town fans did not take too kindly to the movie and it was slammed by many. Superstar fans waited for over 3 years to see him and the digital avatar of their demi-god did not satisfy their craving. However, the attempt to bring in the latest technology to Kollywood has to be appreciated. Director Lingusamy’s much hyped movie Anjaan, starring Suriya had an amazing pre-release buzz. But, the movie failed to be to the fans’ expectations and it came in for a lot of blasting on social networking sites and both Suriya and Lingusamy were the butt of many a joke for quite a long time. Siddharth, Prithviraj and Vedhika’s Kaaviya Thalaivan, directed by Vasanthabalan, was critically acclaimed, but did not set the cash registers alight at the theatres. After having a rocking couple of years at the box office, Vijay Sethupathi had a slight turn in fortunes. Pannaiyarum Padminiyum, the short film that was so popularly received, was decided to be made into a full-length feature. There were a lot of expectations for the movie, but it only received a very luke-warm response at the theatres.
It was then announced that Superstar Rajinikanth had decided to give his fans a much-needed gift. A live-action movie, that too for his birthday. Came December 12 and the mega budget collaboration of KS Ravikumar, AR Rahman and Rajni, hit the screens. There was a lot of buzz around the movie right from it’s inception and fans were eagerly waiting to see their ‘Thalaiva’ on screens after a gap of over 4 years. But, the reception was not as was expected and the climax was sort of a let down for many. This sparked a lot of talk in industry circles, but the fact remains that Lingaa did not evoke the response expected of a Superstar movie, that too after a huge gap. 2014 saw controversies galore as a lot plagiarism claims and conflicts of interests and issues within the industry itself, reared their ugly head. First came the claims of stories being lifted, without the author’s permission. Ilayathalapathy Vijay’s Kaththi was embroiled in a lot of controversies, starting from the motion picture of the movie being said to be inspired from a Turkish newspaper’s ad campaign. Then, after a legal battle, team Kaththi prevailed and the movie went on to make it big. Next in the line of fire was Madras, which a producer claimed to be was the storyline of his long under-production movie Karuppar Nagaram. This too didn’t hold much water under legal scrutiny. Then came the biggest blow of them all. Superstar’s Lingaa too was under attack by two different cases. But, the courts ruled against both these cases and Lingaa came to be released properly.
Despite a lot of things happening in Kollywood, 2014 will always be remembered as the year we lost two of the greatest directors we ever had – Balu Mahendra and K. Balachander. Each was an institution in his own right and despite being removed from us in physical presence, their works on celluloid will retain them among us, forever. Some of the other stars who breathed their last in 2014 are the legendary Akkineni Nageshwara Rao (who was battling cancer), the evergreen actor and Tamil purist SS Rajendran, versatile actress Anjalidevi, a legend in his own right – producer and director – Ramanarayanan and character artistes Chitti Babu and Kadhal Dhandapani. In a very sad incident, actor Uday Kiran took his own life. These stars shall be missed and their contribution to cinema, forever hailed.
With 2014 being a tumultuous year, there are a lot of movies to look forward to in 2015 and we are sure to have a bigger, better year in the offing. Thala Ajith’s Yennai Arindhaal, Vikram’s magnum opus I, Dhanush’s Anegan, Vishal’s Aambala, Ulaganayagan Kamal Haasan’s 3 movies – Vishwaroopam 2, Uttama Villain and Papanasam and Karthi’s Komban are but just a few movies that are keeping K-town fans waiting with bated breath. Let us wait and see how 2015 is for our tinsel town.