Ponniyin Selvan vs Naane Varuvean: Here's what the trade says...
Ahead of the release of two Tamil biggies, PS-1 and Naane Varuven, the trade remains optimistic about financial prospects
While we felt that Tamil cinema witnessed the year’s biggest clash in April, when Beast and KGF: Chapter 2 faced off, it appears that we now have a bigger clash in the form of Ponniyin Selvan (PS-1) and Naane Varuven which are getting released on September 30 and September 29, respectively. While the former is Mani Ratnam’s dream project and the big-screen adaption of Kalki’s celebrated eponymous novel, the latter sees director Selvaraghavan reuniting with his brother, actor Dhanush. While the makers of Ponniyin Selvan had locked and announced their September 30 release date months in advance, the case of Naane Varuven is rather peculiar, with the official release announcement coming out just a week ago.
A question about industry support has been raised, with stakeholders pointing at how many major Telugu films shifted their release date to make way for Rajamouli’s RRR. ‘Shouldn’t our fraternity offer similar support to PS-1, the pride of Tamil cinema?’ is a prevailing sentiment. Naane Varuvean’s producer, Kalaipuli S Thanu, is keen however to point out that this isn’t a ‘clash’, and that both films cater to their own audience.
PS-1 rides high on expectations and features a battalion of stars—Karthi, Vikram, Jayam Ravi, Trisha, Aishwarya Rai, and Vikram Prabhu, to name a few—who have all embarked on a promotional tour across the country. On the other hand, we have Naane Varuvean, that seems to be maintaining a strange, low profile with minimal promotions. Exhibitors believe that promotions will dictate the opening day collections. “Minimal promotions are going to affect the opening of Naane Varuvean. Producer Thanu tends to promote his films on a huge scale but this time, the promotions are rather low-key, and I am not sure why,” says Tirupur Subramaniam, distributor and the president of the Tamil Nadu Theatres' Association. On the bright side, he goes on to add that PS-1 is all set to open to packed houses across the State. “It will take a humongous opening. The pre-booking is excellent, and more importantly, we are expecting a huge turnout among women audiences as well.”
Subramaniam goes on to add that there is no paucity of screens for either film, with Tamil Nadu considered to be equipped enough to accommodate both films. “There are more than 450 multiplex screens, in addition to all the single screen theatres across the State. So, the volume of screens is not a cause for concern. Ponniyin Selvan will be screened in about 65% of the theatres while Naane Varuvean will take the remaining 35%.”
Hari Haran of Chennai’s Udayam complex corroborates Subramaniam’s statement. “We have allocated three screens in our complex to PS-1 and one to Naane Varuvean. The weekend looks strong for PS-1, but Naane Varuvean looks a bit dull at the moment, due to no promotions.”
Word of mouth can make all the difference, Subramaniam adds. “Naane Varuvean might pick up once the word is out. Selvaraghavan’s style of filmmaking enjoys a great deal of following among youngsters, so it could translate into footfalls if the film delivers.”
Ruban Mathivanan of GK Cinemas, however, feels that both films are going to do well and even expresses surprise about the expectations surrounding the films. “I haven’t seen this kind of pre-booking in the past couple of years. This exceeds what we witnessed for Beast and KGF 2. Yes, PS-1 features a huge star cast but the lead actors cannot be compared to the likes of Ajith and Vijay. Yet, the film is surpassing everything. Our bookings last night were sold out in less than 20 minutes. Even the front row seats are being bought online; this never happens!” Ruban exclaims.
Subramaniam affirms that theatres are set to witness a healthy number of footfalls in the coming week, thanks to the puja holidays. “After Deepavali, Pongal and Thamizh Puthandu, Ayutha Poojai is a major festival with not just one but seven holidays. We can say that both Naane Varuvean and PS-1 will benefit heavily from this.”
An elated Ruben closes the conversation with a strong statement: “Post pandemic, this is the best time for our theatres.”