Trade Winds Movies

Why is there a dearth of kids' movies in Kollywood?

A still from ‘Kaaka Muttai’

A still from ‘Kaaka Muttai’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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On the occasion of Children’s Day, we examine why Tamil cinema still hasn't effectively tapped into the massive movie market for kids

There was a time when Children’s Day was celebrated with much zeal, with movies themed around kids. Taking a cue from this week’s releases, Action and Sangathamizhan, it looks like Kollywood has stopped making movies catering to children. The only such movie to have released this year is Thumbaa, a fantasy-comedy drama. It must be noted that one of the biggest blockbusters this year is a kids movie, The Lion King, whose Tamil dubbed version completed a 25-day run in tier 2 and 3 cities in Tamil Nadu.

The fault in our stars

Since the time of yore, Kollywood has had its fair share of kids-friendly films such as Anjali (1990), My Dear Kuttichathan (re-released in 1998), Rajinikanth’s Raja Chinna Roja (1989) and Vikram’s Deiva Thirumagal (2011) to mention a couple. In the recent past, we have modern gems like Pasanga (2009), Thanga Meengal (2013), Goli Soda (2014), Saivam (2014), Poovarasam Peepee (2014), Pasanga 2 (2015) and Kaaka Muttai (2015) — all made on a shoe-string budget, but became box-office hits. However, in the last few years, the trend of making films exclusively for kids has come down to a trickle.

A still from ‘The Lion King’

A still from ‘The Lion King’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

About the lack of ‘kids’ movies, a famous director who has made children-friendly movies, said: “Children’s movies are no longer commercially viable as theatres do not give screens and television channels are not interested in procuring rights, and digital platforms are only concerned about crime and violence. I meet parents who express their wish to make their kids act in movies. But most of them want their kids to play the children of Vijay or Nayanthara since they feel that children’s movies have become passé.”

After the commercial success of the Kanchana series, Lawrence made a statement that his movies are targeted at family audiences and children. Since then, most of the horror movies features a customary scene with a child artiste. A recent Tamil film came under strong criticism for featuring a child actor mouthing inappropriate punchlines. Even if a movie clicks for a kid, he/she gets similar roles until they come of age. In the due process, they tend to lose their ‘innocence’ since most of these kids fade out after a brief stint.

Family movie night

At a time when kids-friendly movies are increasingly becoming extinct in Tamil cinema, Hollywood, on the other hand, has capitalised on this phenomenon. For example, The Lion King is the highest grossing Hollywood film this year in Tamil Nadu, as it reportedly made a distributor share of ₹15 crore. The film, in fact, struck a chord with the family audience. Disney, meanwhile, is banking on its new children’s movie Frozen 2, which has Shruti Haasan voicing for Elsa in Tamil.

Owing to the lack of kids movies, PVR Cinemas has started an initiative called Playhouse, a special movie auditorium showcasing U-certified movies, in select areas (PVR Heritage in ECR, for instance). As of today, they are playing Hollywood movies and are on the lookout for Tamil content. National Award-winning cinematographer Santosh Sivan, known for directing children’s movies like Halo (1996) and Malli (1998), in a recent interview, said that he stopped making such movies, given the money involved. In the recent past, one of the best children's films to have come out of Kollywood is Kaaka Muttai, which released in 2015. M Manikandan, who helmed Kaaka Muttai, went on to make film genre-specific movies like Kuttrame Thandanai (2016), Aandavan Kattalai (2016), and is currently working on Kadaisi Vivasayi. What is more saddening is that directors, who made successful movies for kids, have also moved on.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 7:14:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/why-so-serious/article29962864.ece

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