Tamil film distribution

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Tamil film distribution

Marans hold Kollywood purse strings

Kamini Mathai TNN

The Times of India, July 9, 2011

Chennai: The release of Tamil film ‘Vengai’ on Thursday has got everyone talking. Not because it stars national award winner Dhanush, but because it hit theatres after a two-and-a-half month delay. The reason: Sun Pictures, owned by DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s grand-nephew Kalanithi Maran, pulled out of distributing it after promising a May release.

In Tamil Nadu, politics have always been part of the film industry, with all its chief ministers having played a role in cinema either on screen or off. Producers say every time the government changes — from DMK to AIADMK or vice versa — they wait with bated breath to see what’s in it for them. Or worse, what’s not.

This time, after the AIADMK returned to power, there are rumours in industry circles that three of the largest production and distribution houses in the state, all belonging to the DMK family — Sun Pictures, Red Giant Movies and Cloud Nine Movies (owned by Karunanidhi’s grandsons Udhayanidhi Stalin and Dayanidhi Alagiri) are reducing the number of movies they are taking. Interestingly, all the three production houses were set up in the last few years after the DMK returned to power in May 2006.

But the recent arrest of Hansraj Saxena, Sun Pictures’ COO over complaints that he duped a film distributor has shaken the Sun Group. Sources say the arrest of the Sun Group heavy-weight could well change the dynamics within the industry.

In the case of ‘Vengai’, Sun Pictures delayed the release and finally pulled out of the contract 20 days ago. The moment the news broke, several distributors lined up offering to buy the rights. The ‘Vengai’ distribution rights — that Vijaya Productions originally sold solely to Sun Pictures — have now been split region-wise between Selvakumar Pictures, Raj Films and Mumbai-based Turning Point Media.

Producer ‘Anbalaya’ Prabakaran says this is a sign of things to come. “You can sense that producers and distributors are gaining confidence in the industry because they know the market has finally opened up,” says Prabakaran, who is also vicepresident of the Tamil Film Producers Council. While producers admit that the three biggies brought a certain level of professionalism to the industry when they entered two years ago, they also say that the companies used their financial and political clout to dominate the industry.

Producer-director Kothandaraman, otherwise called KR, says the last few years have not been conducive for producers. “Now that we have a new political party at the helm, the industry is getting back on its feet.” But Udhayanidhi Stalin, who runs Red Giant Movies, feels the change in the political scenario has not altered anything.

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