Begin typing your search...

Kollywood’s quest for truth sets the box office on fire

Feel-good Tamil films, made in the 90s that featured ‘Happily ever after’ endings, seemed to set cash registers on fire at the box-office. And today, films that begin with the tagline ‘Based on a true story’ have hit a nerve with the audience, in search of a more visceral experience

Kollywood’s quest for truth sets the box office on fire
(Clockwise from left) House Owner, Kallan, To Let and Gangs of Madras


Criticism comes easy to movie buffs who deride commercial entertainers for their unrealistic narratives and portrayals of heroes larger-than-life. But serious audiences have always revered films inspired by real life incidents as they have a ring of truth and are made with a holistic approach. Karthi’s Theeran Adhigaram Ondru and Vetri Maaran’s Visaranai are classic examples of how real-life stories have translated into box office magic. Karu Pazhaniappan’s upcoming film Kallan is a true-story based on hunters in Madurai. The director of the film, Chandra, says, “I did an intense research for the story. I kept following them and tracked incidents in their lives frequently and recorded it. This is a period film that is based on how situations force a hunter to commit robbery. Real-life incidents that took place in my neighbourhood in Madurai when I was a child, inspired me to write the screenplay for this film.”

The recently-released Lakshmy Ramakrishnan’s House Owner, too, won critical acclaim for recreating the Chennai floods that occurred in 2015 and incidents surrounding it. “Chennai floods was one moment when the people of the city came together to help their fellow citizens. That was the time where humanity transcended religion, caste and creed. That inspired me to write the story,” opens up Lakshmi Ramakrishnan. “There were several mishaps that happened around the 2015 floods. I decided to take this story up because the couple in the film in a way was personally connected to me. Apart from that there were several other incidents that happened at the same time. So, I didn’t want to do this film for the sake of it but to prove others wrong,” adds the director-actor.

Its true stories like Visaranai that was nominated for the Academy awards probably inspired other filmmakers to take their films to international standards starting from its pre-production stages. Kajal Aggarwal’s next is with Vishnu Manchu that is based on real-life incidents. “The story is pretty much Indian, which is inspired by true incidents that happened a couple of years ago. It revolves around siblings. The movie will be made in English, Mandarin and Cantonese among others and will make its festival rounds ahead of its release. Working with technicians and adapting to their work culture across the globe is a huge learning process,” she reveals.

Angadi Theru (2010) is another film that shook the audience for bringing the lives of sales people on Ranganathan Street to light, actress Swathishta Krishnan says that her upcoming film will be on similar lines. “The story revolves around girls working in garment factories around Tirupur and the hardship they go through on a daily basis. This is a film that’s based on real-life incidents and Kishore plays a supervisor, who protects the girls from their struggles,” she tells us. President of Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners’ and Distributor’s Association Tirupur Subramaniam says that Tamil cinema needs such content-oriented film sans stars in it. “Unless such good stories are written, Tamil cinema that piggy backs on stars to make films will not thrive like in Hindi or Malayalam. Despite being made under a small budget, films like these make huge profits, which is encouraging for the industry,” he guarantees.

Visit to explore our interactive epaper!

Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!

Click here for iOS

Click here for Android

Next Story