Tamil film industry rallies behind Vijay Sethupathi's Maharaja: Here's why

    The Tamil film industry is showing strong support for the latest release, Maharaja, starring Vijay Sethupathi. This show of unity comes at a crucial time for the industry, which has been grappling with a lack of major hits over the past six months.

    Vijay Sethupathi in Maharaja

    Vijay Sethupathi in Maharaja

    The members of the Tamil film fraternity have been rallying behind the latest Tamil movie, Maharaja, starring Vijay Sethupathi in the lead role. The success of this film is crucial for the industry, which hasn't delivered a huge hit in the last six months.

    For example, actress Keerthy Suresh posted a lengthy review raving about the movie . She described it as a "gem" of Tamil cinema, while congratulating Vijay Sethupathi for choosing it as his 50th film.

    Up-and-coming actor Kavin claimed that he was still "reeling from the emotional impact of #Maharaja!" while praising the movie on social media. "Remarkable half century @VijaySethuOffl na. My heart is heavy, yet so happy for you @Dir_Nithilan na. And, big congratulations to @Jagadishbliss na and @Sudhans2017 bro," he added.

    The coming together of the Tamil cinema fraternity to root for a film's box office success is not unheard of. However, there seems to be a new awareness in the industry, and all the stakeholders have understood the importance of nurturing a robust movie-going culture.

    The onslaught of streaming platforms, and their phenomenal rise in India, powered by affordable internet connections and competitively priced subscription plans, particularly in the post-Covid market, seems to have forced the industry to rethink its strategy.

    At present, audiences seem to have become very picky in selecting movies to watch in theatres. Is this movie worthy of the trouble of going to the theatre? A film that ticks this box has a better chance of performing well at the box office. Any movie that falls below the current expectation of a "theatre experience" has a really tough time succeeding in cinemas. However, unlike in the past, producers can no longer compensate for a film's poor box office performance by selling it to streaming platforms.

    The streaming platforms are also shifting the way they do business with content creators. This has led to a heavy reduction in the prices the streamers offer to producers. According to sources, of the 250-odd movies that were released in theatres, only about 50 found a home on streaming.

    A film's poor showing at the box office would invariably affect the producers' bargaining power with streaming partners.

    This is not a crisis just facing the Tamil film industry; it's a pan-India problem. And the Malayalam film industry seems to have found a way to effectively deal with it. "Dependency on non-theatrical is coming to an end after decades. Malayalam cinema was the first one to lose that sophistication and now they have fixed it to an extent in a couple of years. The more time the stakeholders take to realize this in other languages, the more delay it will be for recovery! The key is to re-work on content and pay structure!!" said producer SR Prabhu recently.

    The Malayalam film industry has been consistently delivering content in the last few months that is considered "theatre-worthy." For the first time, the industry has managed to breach the Rs 1000 crore mark in theatrical collections within the first five months of 2024. During the same period, the Tamil film industry experienced one of the worst box office dry spells in its history.

    The industry as a whole seems to have understood that it won't be able to keep making movies if the attitude of cinema-going audiences doesn't change, and they don't go to theatres to encourage a diverse range of movies, and not just spectacle movies.

    The Tamil film industry is hopeful of making up for all the losses in theatrical revenue in the next six months. And the commercial success of Maharaja, which has already won critical acclaim, is crucial.