Tamil cinema in first half of 2024: ‘Aranmanai 4’, ‘Garudan’, and ‘Maharaja’ save what has otherwise been a terrible year

Nag Ashwin's 'Kalki 2898 AD', which was also dubbed and released in Tamil, helped Kollywood end June on a high note.

ByHaricharan Pudipeddi

Published Jun 30, 2024 | 3:25 PM Updated Jun 30, 2024 | 3:29 PM

A collage of stills from 'Aranmanai', 'Garudan', and 'Maharaja'. (Supplied)

2024 is, certainly, the worst year for Tamil cinema in recent times. The year started on a decent note with both the highly anticipated Pongal releases—Ayalaan and Captain Miller—performing as expected at the box office. However, the industry witnessed a major slump with, not a single film, scoring big, until Sundar C’s Aranmanai 4 came along.

The fourth installment in the highly successful horror franchise, Aranmanai 4, broke records, becoming the first in the series to enter the ₹100 crore club. According to trade experts, the Sundar C directorial, along with Soori’s Garudan and Vijay Sethupathi’s Maharaja, played a crucial role in helping the industry recover from its slump.

Thanks to the Lok Sabha elections—most big Tamil releases chose to get postponed to the second half of the year. Initially, June was supposed to see the release of Dhanush’s Raayan and Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2. Unfortunately, both the films, have pushed their release to July, for reasons unknown.

Trade sources report that the absence of major releases since the Pongal festival has cost Tamil cinema heavily. “Industry will only thrive when star-driven films are released at regular intervals. These could be your regular commercial films but they draw the masses to the theatres. In the first half of 2024, Tamil cinema missed the star films big time and that’s what resulted in a very dull period,” a distributor said.

Lack of star releases

'Star' poster. (X)

‘Star’ poster. (X)

He went on to add that while films such as Blue Star, Lover, Star, and Romeo did decent business theatrically, it wasn’t enough for cinema halls, to sustain through the summer.

“Summer is the best time for theatres to have big releases. It’s that time when schools are shut, vacations are on and audiences are expected to throng to theatres to unwind with family. Unfortunately, this summer Tamil cinema didn’t have a single big release. Thankfully, Aranmanai 4 drew audiences strongly for three weeks,” he added.

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Aranmanai 4, Garudan and Maharaja—films that revived Kollywood

As per trade analyst Trinath, Sundar C played a key role in reviving Tamil cinema with Aranmanai 4. Garudan and Maharaja rightly followed its mega success, both striking gold at the box office.

“Had Aranmanai 4 not clicked at the box office, it would’ve been the worst first half for Tamil cinema in years. Sundar C deserves all the credit for making Aranmanai 4 work with the masses, and the film brought back family audiences in hordes,” Trinath said.

Directed and produced by Sundar C, Aranmanai 4 may not have appealed to the critics in a big way. However, the horror comedy connected with the masses on an emotional level—thanks to its subplot featuring Tamannaah Bhatia.

Trinath also pointed out that the success of Garudan and Maharaja couldn’t have come at a better time.

Soori in Viduthalai Part 1. (Supplied)

Soori in ‘Viduthalai Part 1’. (Supplied)

“Despite the success of Viduthalai: Part 1 (2023), there wasn’t much hope for Garudan from a box-office perspective. But the film proved everyone wrong as it turned out to be a blockbuster. It even established Soori as a bankable actor. The film clicked big time in B and C centers,” Trinath said, confirming that it collected over ₹50 crore from Tamil Nadu alone.

Directed by RS Durai Senthil Kumar, Garudan is the story of two best friends—Sasi Kumar and Unni Mukundan—who come together through shared trauma. Soori plays Unni’s loyalist, and the story is centered on their relationship and how one among them goes rogue.

Vijay Sethupathi’s Maharaja is the most unexpected box-office winner, from the first half of 2024. After a string of flops in a lead role for Vijay Sethupathi, the success of Maharaja came as a total surprise, especially because of the film’s dark subplot about a father’s revenge for his daughter.

“If there was a dark horse in the first half of 2024, then it has to be Maharaja. There was very low to no pre-release buzz, and the film only clicked purely due to its content and highly positive word-of-mouth. It is, on its way, to becoming the first ₹100 crore grossing film in Vijay Sethupathi’s career,” said Trinath.

He further added that despite being a very dark film, it’s amazing how audiences lapped up Maharaja in a big way.

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Ghilli stuns trade on re-release

The first half of 2024 saw several re-releases in Tamil cinema, with Vijay’s Ghilli (2004) being the most successful, grossing over ₹25 crore in Tamil Nadu.

Vijay and Trisha in Ghilli

Vijay and Trisha in ‘Ghilli’. (Supplied)

Distributor Sakthivelan of Sakthi Film Factory expressed pleasant surprise at the overwhelming response. While he anticipated Ghilli to do well, the success far exceeded his expectations.

Re-released to mark its 20th anniversary, Ghilli was shown in nearly 200 theatres across Tamil Nadu. The film enjoyed a phenomenal three-week run with consistently packed shows.

Kalki 2898 AD helps Tamil cinema end on a high in June

Prabhas’s highly anticipated magnum opus, Kalki 2898 AD, which was also dubbed and released in Tamil, helped Kollywood end June on a high note. The film earned approximately ₹6 crore on its first day in Tamil Nadu, making it the second-biggest opening for a Tamil film this year, following Dhanush’s Captain Miller.

'Kalki 2898 AD' poster. (X)

‘Kalki 2898 AD’ poster. (X)

Trade analyst Trinath noted that while the Tamil opening was lower compared to other languages, it was still the second-best opener of the year.

“Kalki 2898 AD garnered around ₹6 crore on its first day in Tamil Nadu. Despite its Thursday release, it achieved the second-highest opening for a Tamil film this year. The film is expected to gross around ₹20 crore in the state during its opening weekend,” he said.

(Edited by S Subhakeerthana)

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