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What’s new in Kollywood parlance?

An explainer on commonly-used phrases in the Tamil film industry

Since the advent of social media and digital screenings, Tamil cinema vocabulary has increased tremendously. This has led to many new “industry words” that have become commonplace with those connected with the industry. Here’s a quick look at some of those new phrases and what they mean:


Fans coined this acronym, which stands for First Day First Show, a screening for Kollywood superstars that usually starts as early as 4 am. These shows are usually meant for fans of the actor and are sold at almost four to five times the ticket value. There’s a lot of buzz around these shows as it gives fans a chance to catch their favourite hero’s film before the rest of the world wakes up to it.


About a decade ago, when big hero movies were released in rural areas, managers of theatre screening them would enquire the previous night: “Petti vanthacha?” (referring to the box in which film reels arrived). Today, people call up the theatre to ask — “KDM vanthacha”. KDM is Key Delivery Message, which is required to play or unlock an encrypted film via digital projection. This year saw a record number of Tamil films that could not celebrate FDFS due to financial issues cropping up at the last minute, thus delaying the release timing.


Today, the producer of any Tamil film knows that if the teaser or trailer of his film starts trending, half the job is done. The idea is to have a phrase or hastag associated with the film that will be used multiple times for recall value. Once a trailer goes viral, the film will start trending and that will nudge even neutral audiences to watch the movie and create that all-important ‘opening’ for the film.


So why is an ‘opening’ important? At a time when competition is at its peak with multiple releases every week, what works for the distributors and theatres is to screen a film featuring a star who promises good numbers on the opening day. The star power of the hero will ensure that at least his fans will pack theatres for the weekend. However, it isn’t only star power but also word of mouth response among audiences that determines whether the film is a hit or not.

Interval block

If there is something more important that the storyline in Tamil cinema, it is that one impact scene just before the interval. Called the ‘interval block’ sequence, this usually features the heroism of the protagonist, who will either deliver a hard-hitting punchline or hint at a transformation. Recently, a popular director shot two different versions of the interval scene and showed it to the hero, producer and financiers who chose the one which had more goosebumps moments.

Kannadi kasu

This refers to the money a theatre makes from 3D glasses. The 3D version of Rajinikanth’s 2.0 is doing good business and the entire revenue from the 3D glasses revenue goes to theatres, which do not have to share it with the distributor. A big battle has been going on between a few Hollywood studios and theatre owners in India over the share from 3D glass rentals. Theatres in Tamil Nadu screen a lot of 3D films because that means more ‘kannadi kaasu’ for them.

End title cards

Earlier, when a film ended, audiences rushed to the parking lot. These days, they stay back, for there’s a chance of a sequence happening even during the end credits. In 2.0, an entire song played out along with end titles, with the reveal of a possible 3.0. Bollywood has been using this formula of featuring a popular song in the album, with bloopers during the shoot, along with end credits. The idea seems to be fast catching on in Kollywood as well.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 11:43:03 AM |

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