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Why is Naane Varuven a 'different' Dhanush-Selvaraghavan film?

Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan and Selvaraghavan's Naane Varuven will clash at the Tamil box office this September end.

Why is Naane Varuven a 'different' Dhanush-Selvaraghavan film?
Dhanush in Naane Varuven
  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 09.55 AM, Sep 29, 2022

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2022 has been a mixed bag of hits and misses for Tamil cinema. The most anticipated films, Vijay's Beast and Ajith's Valimai, underperformed at the box office, while Dhanush's family drama, Thiruchitrambalam, was a huge success. This year, further, saw the comeback of Kamal Haasan (after four years) with Vikram, which raked in over Rs 500 crore worldwide. The Lokesh Kanagaraj-directorial surpassed SS Rajamouli's Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, and became the highest-grossing movie in Tamil Nadu.

Perhaps, team Ponniyin Selvan learned a thing or two from the mammoth success of the Kamal Haasan-starrer. That… aggressive promotions backed by good content can make films a hit! Everybody, including music director AR Rahman, was promoting the magnum opus, alongside Mani Ratnam throughout India, including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Karthi, Trisha, Jayam Ravi, and Aishwarya Lekshmi.

Even after 40 years in the business, Mani Ratnam still promotes his films when Vijay and Ajith do not, since they feel that their star power and fan base suffice.

Making publicity about their films is a top priority for directors, irrespective of their stature. Today's movie promotions are perhaps just as significant as the actual film. Stars and filmmakers use unique techniques because they want to be ‘seen’ and create curiosity about their movies. Team Naane Varuven, on the other hand, made only minor promotional efforts. Dhanush and Selvaraghavan didn't seem to talk much about it either.

Naane Varuven will compete with Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan-1, which comes out the day after.

The psychological action-drama is directed by Selvaraghavan, Dhanush's brother, also a writer and an actor. Thulluvadho Ilamai, Kadhal Kondein, Pudhupettai, and Mayakkam Enna were among the projects they had worked on. With music by Yuvan Shankar Raja, Naane Varuven, produced by Kalaipuli S Thanu’s V Creations, stars Indhuja Ravichandran, Elli AvRam, Prabhu, Yogi Babu, and Shelly Kishore.

Dhanush's career began in 2002 with the Kasthuri Raja-directorial, Thulluvadho Ilamai. The actor was then directed by Selvaraghavan in Kaadhal Kondein, in which he played the part of a young lad, who was mentally ill and in love with his friend. Both movies went on to become blockbusters.

To build on their success, the National Award-winning actor and Selvaraghavan collaborated once more in 2006 on Pudhupettai, in which the star of The Gray Man, played Kokki Kumar. The audience yearned for a sequel to this cult masterpiece film, but it hasn't been made yet. The psychological drama Mayakkam Enna, released in 2011, came after this. Dhanush demonstrated that he was one of the top actors working today with this one.

Without a doubt, Selvaraghavan has a deep understanding of his brother, and that shows in the characters he creates for him, which always bring out the best in Dhanush. Selva never attempted to create a ‘mass masala movie’ where the protagonist flings a tonne of punches and knocks people to the ground. His portrayals of Dhanush are consistently more believable, understated, and subtle. And that demonstrates the degree of certainty and total faith the two have in one another to believe they can bring out the best in one another.

The USP of Naane Varuven, which was made by Kalaipuli S Thanu, centres on Dhanush's dual roles as the hero and the anti-hero. One of the characters in the movie is psychologically flawed, like in their prior collaborations, and this seems to be a recurring idea.

It's challenging to portray a character that has psychological problems, but Dhanush has excelled in each of his films, throughout his career by pushing the envelope. Although Selvaraghavan directed Naane Varuven, this time, he will be seen in front of the camera with Dhanush. The two brothers are further joining hands for Ayirathil Oruvan 2, which is planned as a 2024 release, as it will require a lot of post-production work.

Following Thulluvadho Ilamai (2002), Kaadhal Kondein (2003), Pudhukottaiyilirundhu Saravanan (2004), Pudhupettai (2006), Yaaradi Nee Mohini (2008), and Maari 2 (2018), Naane Varuven marks the seventh collaboration of Dhanush and music director Yuvan Shankar Raja.

Dhanush developed into a serious actor from a skinny youngster with ordinary looks, demonstrating that skill and hard effort triumph over appearances. A dropout from school, he gained knowledge from the film industry and voracious reading, both of which aided in his personal development.

Contrary to many of his peers, Dhanush never shied away from roles that don't seem to appeal to his sizable fan base. This is evident in the scripts he chose, such as Asuran and Karnan, Shamitabh, Atrangi Re, and The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir.

In an interview, Dhanush stated, “You cannot even slightly afford to sleep. You must remain alert. You have to put a lot of effort into both yourself and your films because it's quite challenging to comprehend how people desire different things at different times. Being slack is not an option.”

While he has long been a mainstay of Indian films, The Gray Man (streaming on Netflix) helped Dhanush establish himself in Hollywood. Given that very few Tamil actors achieved success abroad, his role may serve as a springboard for more non-Bollywood actors to land Western assignments.

Tamil cinema has struggled with big-budget films that release close together, as they ultimately reduce each other's revenue; although the audience would have options to watch! The industry must therefore review its release strategy immediately. Reduced movie production is required, too. Additionally, the way that movies are financed—the majority with exorbitant borrowing rates—must alter.

All major productions in the Hindi film business can have a solo opening because the distribution is meticulously planned, which isn't the case in the south.

But why does a film fail despite planning?

One of the potential causes of this subpar performance is weak content.

In the past, movies earned respectable sums of money, even when the content was weak; due to the devoted fan bases of celebrities. With time, this has changed. (Thanks to the content that now drives everything). Producers are baffled by the fact that the mid-budget, content-heavy movies that were popular at the box office before Covid haven't fared well either!

In some circumstances, especially when the content is poor, viewers may decide to delay going to the theatres, and instead wait for them to release on an OTT platform. That's good news for the business; since it will increase revenue streams, but it will also put pressure on filmmakers to provide moviegoers with more compelling reasons than ever before to shell out cash for a ticket at the theatre!

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