It’s hard to say why a film succeeds. It defies logic

Every now and then comes a film that stumps trade pundits and defies box-office logic. It defeats the already weak argument about the threat from films made in other languages. ‘Shravani Subramanya’, released at the fag end of last year with minimum publicity, having a steady run at the box-office. Films with monstrous budgets and starring screen demigods from various languages have been released early this year and disappeared from screens. ‘SS’ has emerged unscathed from the onslaught and is still doing decent business. The producer had convenient excuses had the film flopped.

So is the film good? Does it deserve the success it’s enjoying? Well, honestly does all that matter now? You can’t argue with consensus. I watched the film a few weeks after its release. There was a sizeable crowd for a morning show on a weekday. I always believe if a film has to enjoy a reasonably lengthy, healthy run it should attract families. For that to happen the director should be adept in the art of emotional manipulation even if logic is a casualty. I will never forget Balu Mahendra’s retort when I told him that the climax in ‘Moondram Pirai’ lacked logic.

“Believe me, there’s no logic in life,” said the soft-spoken director. The climax, I concluded was a metaphor for how Shobha left him without as much as a goodbye. I mention this because ‘SS’ has shades of that great film where Amoolya’s characterization is concerned. You are unable to decide whether she’s plain innocent or retarded. She falls in love with a guy who has only lust in mind. She’s rescued by our hero, a wannabe singer.

They are provided a fully furnished house with a garden nearly as big as Lal Bagh by a childless couple who shelter runaway lovers. The rest is about how the couple realizes they’re really in love and convince the tyrannical father. Dissecting success is an exercise in futility. The simple explanation is that the film has struck an emotional chord however soppy.

The film is being heralded as a comeback vehicle for Ganesh. Of course, his fans will credit the film’s success to their idol and the star himself will start believing this. Rumour is that Ganesh confessed to doing the film for a lark but demanded extra remuneration to appear in promotional activities. Ganesh is notorious for not supporting his films when he’s not the producer. The soft-spoken producer Suresh gently denies this.

“We cast according to the demands of the character and everyone has performed to the best of their ability,” says the producer. He has a bigger problem on hand. His distributor Jayanna wants to remove ‘SS’ at the main theatre, Santosh and release ‘Bramha’ starring Upendra. While Jayanna insists he’s incurring loss, Suresh says his film is doing good business. Isn’t that easy to prove? “It is and I’ll prove that Jayanna is lying. My film is running in 64 theatres state-wide. Wouldn’t he have removed the film all over if it were a flop?” Suresh feels there’re more enemies within in the Kannada film industry and the threat from outsiders is just an excuse. “They want to scuttle the success of small films. There’s a lot of internecine politics.”

This is not the first time a small film has been affected. There is a distributor mafia which has a stranglehold over theatres in collusion with exhibitors. They decide how long a film will run irrespective of the box-office collections. There have been many occasions when a superstar’s film has run to empty houses simply to reach an illusionary landmark. Suresh is a small fish trying to fight sharks. Jayanna cannot displease Upendra. He’s a producer too and who knows when he may have to knock on the superstars doors for dates!

sshivu@yahoo.com