Until a few years ago, Sequels and the Franchise Model remained a rarity in Tamil Cinema but today, finally, Kollywood has caught up with the sequel trend that is all the rage in Hollywood and Bollywood since many decades. If today a fresh Tamil film hits the jackpot and makes all the right noises at the box office, the audience are keen to see a Part Two of it in the near future. Sequels are cool and intriguing because they give us a second helping of the fare we enjoyed so much the first time around.
Many times a sequel isn’t made just for the heck of it, but is actually necessary to continue the story and add a different dimension to it. It has to be noted that some sequels have a completely different story and different artists as well. The only thing that’s common between such sequels and the original film is the presence of the lead character. But the concept of sequel falls under two categories – Thematic & Plot Based. Thematic sequels do not have a plot continuation from their predecessor for instance say – Darling 2, Pizza 2, Aranmanai 2, Pasanga 2, Kanchana 2 are some movies belong to this category. Though some of these movies have similar characters, they chose not to have a plot continuation. Whereas plot based sequels take cue from their predecessor. Singam 2 and Billa 2 are two movies which belong to this category amongst others. Baahubali 2, Vishwaroopam 2, Enthiran 2, are a few upcoming movies which will have a continuation of plot considering the details that the respective filmmakers have divulged about them. In the last 5 years, there were quite a few sequels which made it big at the box office and there were some films due to some reason or the other that eventually tanked too. And then we have a bunch of more sequels either being announced or in the making. Let us check them out –
The actual trend all started long back in 1985 with Kamal Haasan’s Japanil Kalyanaraman which was the first Tamil movie sequel of Kalyanaraman (1979). Though both met with different results, the credit still goes to Ulaganayagan Kamal Haasan who introduced this to Tamil Cinema. Several years later, an A -list actor who re-initiated this vogue to Tamil Cinema was Thala Ajith’s Billa 2 which was released in 2012 that had massive expectations since it was the prequel to the blockbuster hit Billa (2007). But unfortunately, the film was declared a dud at the box office citing weak script the reason. Another significant reason behind it was the change in the director, the style of making from the new team and also due to its adult content which left the fans disappointed and did not go well among the audience. In 2013, the next big sequel came in the form of Suriya’s Singam 2 that went on to become a blockbuster hit due to its popular team and easily accessible plot line that catered to all sections of the audience. This gave more creative filmmakers the assurance to make part 2 of their films and paved way for more sequels in Tamil Cinema.
Following these two biggies, there were a couple of movies in the last few years such as Nagaraja Cholan MA MLA, Pizza 2, Jai Hind 2, Pulan Visaranai 2, Kanchana 2, Pasanga 2, Jithan 2, Aranmanai 2, Darling 2, Ko 2 and so on that hit the screens in regular periods of time. Not all the sequels turned out to be successful. Take for example, Pizza (2012) which had Vijay Sethupathi in the lead was directed by Karthik Subbaraj and the film was successful for its innovative and clever screenplay which impressed the audience. Whereas, the makers of Villa (2013), cashing in on the popular film Pizza rechristened it to Pizza 2 but that all went in vain when audiences came in expecting a film with a similar twist in the end. So when it was different cast, crew and story, they were disappointed. Similarly Pandiraj’s Pasanga (2009) was a huge success and when director Pandiraj was working on another kids’ movie last year, he had initially titled the film as Haiku but for the sake of branding his debut film, he changed the title to Pasanga 2 (2015) but still the film did not fail to entertain the kids and families. These are nothing but competent tactics that is recently being followed by filmmakers to get the attention of the audience.
Kanchana 2 & Aranmanai 2 were two horror films that were successful for its similar characters and stories which was given an unanimous thumbs up from the audience despite being clichéd. The open ended climax urged the filmmakers to carry forward their stories. So from here what do we learn? When a movie does not do well at box office, it is difficult for a producer to put crores again while what happens when a movie creates history at box office? A bunch of movies with similar story lines come one after the other and that narrows a scope of another good screenplay. For instance, films like Jithan 2, Darling 2 and Ko 2 were severely panned by the audience and critics alike due to lack of a novel screenplay. Neither they could match the standards of the first nor they had the team that worked on the first part.
It goes without saying that the filmmakers and producers should stop deceiving the audience by cashing on in popular hit films just for the sake of branding or from the perspective of business. Relying on hit films for sequels is not wrong as long as the second part is worthy like the first but they should patently go ahead with the same set of actors and crew to make the sequels even better. A franchise works best when it is based on a larger-than-life character. But in Tamil Nadu, audiences come to watch a film based on the star and not necessarily because of the character he plays in it. That’s why audiences in the West continue to flock to theatres every time a Superman, Spider Man or Batman movie releases. It doesn’t matter who plays the superhero. These franchises remain valuable assets to the studios, with demands for a reboot every decade or so. It is also important to choose a subject that is ‘franchisable’. If producers want a franchise, they must have a long-term plan for the subject. First of all, the script should have enough material to require newer versions. When the creative team itself is confident about the future, producers can back them to create an invaluable asset.
To sum things up, for several years, sequel was an alien concept in Tamil cinema for very long time. But the scenario has changed in the last few years, allowing a spate of sequels to hit the screens. So much, that, even Superstar Rajinikanth who is in the industry for nearly four decades is trying out his first ever – 2.0 with director Shankar which is the sequel to the all time blockbuster hit Enthiran (2010). Director Venkat Prabhu who once strongly believed on his first scripts has begun the sequel to his debut film Chennai 600028. Sequels are an easy way of milking the box-office by making recognisable formulaic mass masala driven by a known character whom the audience are familiar with .It is likely to increase with time, sooner or later. Good sequels help in creating a brand and any unsuccessful sequel can even tarnish the image of the first part or parts in a series. So it is very important for the viewers to connect the sequel to its previous part and they should have some kind of association, say the entertainment factor with its predecessor, as it helps the audiences to connect instantly with the same star cast or team. Lets hope Tamil Cinema’s upcoming sequels find their way to box office success.