What makes the ‘Kanchana’ franchise tick?

With Raghava Lawrence’s film hitting screens, the horror comedy genre is back in business in Kollywood

April 17, 2019 04:01 pm | Updated 04:01 pm IST

Raghava Lawrence in a scene from ‘Kanchana 3’

Raghava Lawrence in a scene from ‘Kanchana 3’

Kanchana is turning out to be one of the biggest horror comedy franchises in Indian cinema. The third part in the series ( Kanchana 3) is releasing wide in Tamil and Telugu for the Easter Weekend. The series is, in a way, structured around the 2007 film Muni , about how the hero helps a ghost avenge the villains by letting it possess his body. The same storyline, with minor modifications and loaded with horror and comedy elements, was used in subsequent films, thus becoming a franchise. A recent internet poll by film fans revealed that Kanchana and Chandramukhi were two of the best horror films in Tamil.

Most of the credit for the hit Kanchana series goes to choreographer-turned-actor Raghava Lawrence, the films’ creator and “moving spirit”. Describing the series as one “strictly for entertainment”, Lawrence says, “My idea is to provide maximum entertainment to audiences who want to experience the horror factor, laced with comedy that provides the relief. I also try to convey a social message without being preachy. Since the name ‘Kanchana’ has been our lucky charm, we are retaining the name alongside Muni.”

With over 12 million hits, the loud trailer of Kanchana 3 has gone viral. Lawrence’s punchline to the villain: “Nee Mass aana, naan double mass” has now become a favourite with meme makers. One of the film’s highlights is that Lawrence plays a possessed old man, which has raised the suspense element (he plays Raghava and Kaali)There’s also its regular set of comic actors, including Kovai Sarala, Sreeman, Manobala and Devadarshini, along with Vedhika, Oviya and Nikita. The songs of the film, composed by six different composers, was the result of a deal with lyricist Madhan Karky. Produced by Sun Pictures, the horror comedy has got a great release day as well, a day after the hustle and bustle of the elections, and is releasing in about 1500-plus screens.

So, what makes the Kanchana franchise tick? Kollywood trackers credit it to the revival of the horror comedy genre boom in Tamil cinema. Lawrence was successful in bringing the family audiences, especially kids, to the theatres and revived the B and C markets with this franchise. The style that Lawrence adopts is similar to veteran horror specialist Vitalacharya, who ruled the south film industry in 1970’s and 80’s.

One of the truths about Tamil cinema, as bizare as it may sound, is that the horror comedy genre attracts family audiences. This is one of the reasons of Lawrence’s frequent run-ins with the censors as his films are on the borderline between ‘UA’ and ‘A’ for its horror and violence component. Even for Kanchana 3, Lawrence took a few days to ensure that his film gets a UA certificate, which means kids can watch it along with their parents. The stardom of Lawrence is primarily built on this franchise, which has given him a huge reach in B and C markets across south India . In fact, Kanchana 2 (2015) crossed ₹100 crores at the box office, and his two non Kanchana films ( Motta Siva Ketta Siva and Shivalinga ) did not exactly set the cash registers ringing.

Even as there’s buzz that Lawrence is directing Akshay Kumar in the Hindi remake of the film, Kanchana 3 is likely to give the actor a boost at the box-office, as the film is being marketed as the big Tamil summer release. If it works, Kollywood is likely to see a rush of more horror comedies, now considered to be the safest genre in the industry.

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