Animals turn star attractions in Tamil cinema

Chennai: Tamil movie audiences audiences are in for a treat as over half a dozen films featuring animals as star attractions are queuing up for release.

With the runaway success of Nelson Venkatesan's "Monster", a film featuring a real house rat in a key role, the hype for animal-based films has grown exponentially, feel industry experts.

Actor-filmmaker S.J. Suryah, who starred in "Monster", feels animal-based film work big time with children and it's one of the reasons why he committed to the film.

"I see 'Monster' as a new leaf in my acting career and it couldn't have come at a better time. Our mainstream films have stopped attracting kids and that has become a major concern. When I heard the story of 'Monster', I knew it would appeal to kids and I jumped in excitement," Suryah told IANS.

He heaped praise on director Nelson Venkatesan for envisioning such a project. In "Monster", a house rat wreaks havoc in the life of the protagonist after he moves into a new apartment.

A theatre owner concurred Suryah's thought, and said that "Monster" attracted children in hordes and it was a sight to cherish.

"The film's timing of release was perfect. It came in May, when it was summer vacation for kids. It was a genuinely well-made film and that's why it worked with kids and adults alike. The fact that the makers shot with a real rat and did not rely on CGI really worked in the film's favour."

Made on a shoestring budget, the film managed to see profits at the box-office.

Jiiva starrer "Gorilla", which features a live chimpanzee, is lined up for release next. The film is a heist comedy.

On the experience of working with an animal, Jiiva said it was more challenging than he expected.

"I feel 'Gorilla' is the most challenging project of my career. It was not easy to shoot with a chimp and it took us a while to get familiar with the creature. This is a heist film and it involves the chimp in the act, so it was even more challenging because we had to shoot everything as planned."

But why this sudden surge in the number of animal-based films? Trade analyst Trinath said there was a great demand for dubbed versions of these films.

"There's always good demand for dubbed southern films in Hindi. The demand is even more for action films and those featuring animals. Some of these animal-based films may be earning more from selling their dubbing rights than their theatrical share. 

"This is also one of the reasons why producers are pushing directors to make films with animals," he said, adding that there was also a great demand for films with dogs and elephants.

Which explains why there are at least three dog-based Tamil films and two featuring elephants in the offing.

Ashok Selvan-starrer "Jack" and Yogi Babu's "Gurkha" are two upcoming films that feature dogs in prominent roles. Both these films are expected to explore the bond between man and dog in different scenarios.

Filmmaker Sakthivel Perumalsamy is working on a yet-untitled Tamil project that he plans to promote as India's maiden dog adventure film. "Kumki 2" and "Raja Bheema" are two elephant-based films that are gearing up for release soon.

Filmmaker Prabhu Solomon, who made "Kumki" with an elephant a few years ago, said films featuring animals instantly strike an emotional chord with the audience.

"I believe audiences have a soft spot for animals. When I made 'Kumki', I was surprised by the response from everywhere, especially for the climax action sequence featuring two elephants."

 

 

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