Trade Winds Movies

Post GST, no need for ‘pure’ Tamil titles in Kollywood

What’s in a film title? It means a lot in Kollywood.

More than a decade ago, the Karunanidhi-led Government, in 2006, passed an order offering full waiver of entertainment tax for films with Tamil titles. Later, the Jayalalithaa-led Government, in 2011, made it more strict by coming out with a GO that not only should the film have a ‘pure Tamil title’ but should also obtain a U certificate from the censors.

All this is going to be history with the implementation of GST from July 1. All films, irrespective of language or title, will be charged a flat slab rate of 28%.

All these years, producers worked around the Government order, and at times, even managed to get away with some silly titles, thanks to their political clout. There have been the occasional English-titled film such as Pizza, which had a relevance to the story. But to get around the GO, a film titled Power Paandi became Pa Paandi!

P Madan of Escape Artists, one of the leading producers, says, “It is the end of an era. In order to get tax benefits, we all had no choice sometimes but to compromise on our titles. In the age of social media, a good title increases the opening for a film.” Younger filmmakers connect more with English titles, as they feel it has a wider reach among global audiences. A recent example is Lens, which caught the attention of multiplex audiences, as the title resonated with the content.

Vikram’s next release, directed by Vijay Chandar, has been titled Sketch, a popular term in the city. ‘Sketch’ might be an English word, but it is used in everyday Tamil gangster lingo spoken in North Madras, where the film is set.

The filmmaker comments, “The title ‘Sketch’ is very relevant and has a link with my script. This title was chosen and announced much before the GST came into being. When the film releases in September, you will understand how apt the title is.”

Many film directors agree that one of the positive aspects of GST is the freedom it offers them to title their films as per story demands. A leading Tamil film director says, “Today, every film is an individual brand that has a recall value and instant connect among the audiences. Baahubali and its sequel could connect with target global audiences because of the tag lines — The Beginning and The Conclusion, respectively. There is nothing wrong with a pure Tamil title if your target audience is confined only to Tamil Nadu.”

This might be the case in Kollywood, but the situation in Kerala — where the number of films with English titles is more than any other industry in India — is very different. A recent survey indicates that nearly 50% of Malayalam films released in the last five years had an English title. The catalogue includes this year’s releases like Angamaly Diaries, 1971: Beyond Borders, The Great Father, Take Off, Honey Bee 2, Comrade in America, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Careful. This burst of English titles comes at a time when Malayalam cinema is on a roll, and is attracting non-Malayali audiences across the country and overseas.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 2:53:42 PM |

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