Sparks must fly, it’s Deepavali after all. The festival of excitement, pounding hearts and rising tension.
Deepavali used to be synonymous with a clash of the Titans. But as the Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son of Sardar fight for screens turned ugly, it is now common knowledge that such contests are not considered good for business anymore.
Sudhish Kamath & K. R. Manigandan caught up with the young guns, the generation next filmmakers, to ask them about their most memorable clash and experience of catching a Deepavali release only to realise that almost everyone remembers the clash of ’91 when Thalapathy took on Guna.
I saw Guna and Thalapathy on subsequent days. Guna first, because I couldn't get tickets to Thalapathy. We had heard Thalapathy was a violent film. But after seeing Guna, I thought Thalapathy was a little tame.
There were guys throwing coins in the theatre. I wasn't a die-hard Rajini fan, but we got caught up in the moment and threw all the coins we had and walked back home.
I remember there were a few other films that released the same day, but everyone wanted to catch either Guna or Thalapathy.
There was a woman who used to sell black tickets at the Devi theatre parking lot. We used to almost exclusively go to Devi theatre. It was a ritual to eat at Yadgaar restaurant right outside... We never went to the counter, just asked this woman and got the tickets to both films.
At that point in time, I liked Thalapathy more. But I have watched Guna several times after that and have got much more fascinated with it.
It was really ahead of its time. Intellectual entertaining cinema. Thalapathy was a case of everyone peaking. Mani Ratnam, Rajinikanth, Santosh Sivan and Ilaiyaraja. Thalapathy and Guna shouldn't have come out together on the same day because they are both classics in their own right.
(Sathurangam, Pirivom Santhippom)
I would rate the Deepavali of 1991 as my most memorable. It witnessed a contest between the films of three talented individuals — Rajini’s Thalapathy, Kamal’s Guna and Bhagyaraj’s Rudra. I was in a fix over which to watch first. However, I ended up watching all three movies back-to-back on the same day — an unforgettable experience.
But why is it that such contests between big films are on the decline? I don’t think so. You cannot rate a film as big or small before its release. It is only after that you get to know which are actually big and which ones are really small.
I remember Thalapathy most vividly as that was the first time I went for a first-day-first-show ever. I went to catch it wearing a Thalapathy tee shirt.
Soon, it became a ritual to catch all Rajini films first-day-first-show at Albert theatre. Fans burst crackers, did aarti and abhishekam to the cutouts... They were cheering and screaming throughout.
The most memorable part is that they came in the same get up as Rajini does in the song with the kondai. A whole group comprising my mother, other family members and friends went for it.
I did watch Guna then too but maybe I was too young to understand it. But now, it is one of my favourite films.
There can be no doubt. It was the Deepavali when Thalapathi took on Guna. There was so much expectation from both films. In fact, I couldn’t watch Thalapathy the first day, but my dad managed to.
On the second day, I got tickets to watch it at a theatre called Amirtham in Madurai. I was late for the show and was hurrying to watch it, when I fell and hurt myself. Unmindful of the pain, I still watched the film.
In recent times, I think the contest has shifted to television with most channels airing recently released films on Deepavali. However, the passion for contest between films releasing on Deepavali too continues to exist. Having said that, I think producers these days also look to time their films’ release.
(Kadhalil Sodhappuvadu Eppadi)
In recent times, I can’t think of a bigger clash than the one we witnessed last year. Suriya’s 7aum Arivu took on Vijay’s Velayudham. I was eager to watch both as there had been reports about a fight going on over the number of screens allotted to each.
I think we don’t see such contests between films more often because Chennai does not have enough screens. Compared to other metros, Chennai has fewer multiplexes. We need more screens.