Suriya’s announcement about Sudha Kongara’s Soorarai Pottru, on Amazon Prime Video: The impact, the implications

Posted on August 26, 2020


Putting together various reactions from various people in the Tamil film industry, from producers and established directors to newer filmmakers to trade analysts.

When the big news came, I can’t exactly say I was shocked. And one part of me was certainly excited that I’d finally watch this movie I’d been waiting for ever since I got an early copy of the script for feedback. It was a cracker, and I felt it could result in the transformation of Suriya back to the actor we knew and loved, as opposed to the star. The film (in my mind) felt classy, yet it was rooted, massy in a non-pandering way. It felt like something that could have taken Suriya down the Aamir Khan route. Plus, it felt like it would have given him the big hit he’s been after for a long time. But these are extraordinary times, which warrant extraordinary measures. And so we have ‘Soorarai Pottru’ landing up at our homes, around Deepavali.

I asked a bunch of people in the industry what they felt about the announcement, and this is the sense I got. They preferred to not be named, so I’ve paraphrased their observations as a series of points. Here goes…

So far, during the pandemic, the OTT space has become home for a variety of “small films”: the female-oriented film, the message-oriented film, the no-star-value film. But this was never going to make a difference in terms of subscriptions, so the major OTT players were after three biggies: Soorarai Pottru, Karthik Subbaraj’s Jagame Thandhiram (starring Dhanush), and the biggest biggie of them all, Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Master (starring Vijay).

In a statement, Suriya has clarified that this was a decision he made as a producer and not as an actor. So it’s a question of survival, how each individual producer sees himself holding on. It’s a state of mind. Let’s say you have a Rs. 40 crore loan, with mounting interest. Over the period of a few months, it’s bound to create a difference in deciding how long you want to play the when-will-theatres-open? waiting game.

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