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    Take stock of two big Diwali releases each in the North and South, and decide who deserves your time and money

    Every year, the battle lines are drawn between the big players in our film industry as the Diwali weekend nears. Last year, the Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Jab Tak Hain Jaan, was pitted opposite Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardar at the Diwali box office. The Khan starrer, made on a budget of Rs 60 crores, made a profit of more than Rs 170 crores and was a huge hit overseas, while the latter, made on a buget of Rs 90 crores, flopped.  Down South, it was the Vijay starrer Thuppaki v/s Silambarasan’s Poda Podi, with the former making a profit of roughly Rs 70 crores. This year, industry insiders are betting on Ajith’s Arrambam, but Karthi’s comedy All in All Azhaguraja is a strong contender. We highlight the players, and what’s at stake:




    The team behind Diwali 2007’s Billa is back. ‘‘There are no two ways about it, this film is special because it is a Thala (Ajith’s moniker) film. Just like we celebrated all his other films, I am expecting the same for Arrambam as well,’’ says director Vishnuvardan. The classic good vs evil tale has other big names on board – Yuvan Shakar Raja, Omprakash as DOP and editor Sreekar Prasad. The director’s wife, Anu Vardan, is doing the costumes. It was initially not meant to be such a huge star cast, he says.‘‘Arya came on board as we needed an equally important hero opposite Ajith. Arya, being one of my best friends helped me out,’’ he says. Nayanthara and Tapsee Punnu play their love interests. Mahesh Manjerakar and Atul Kulkarni essay key roles with a special appearance from Rana Duggubati.
    Winning card: Vishnuvardan has roped in fight choreographers like Vishwaroopam’s Lee Witcher to choreograph a stylish boat chase, Kchi from Thailand, Tinu Verma from Bollywood and Jagan from Chennai.
    Trivia: The punch line in Arrambam is already a hit among his fans – Saavukku bayanthavan dhinam dhinam saavaan! Bayappadaathavan oru thadava than saavaan!’ (He who is afraid of death will die every day, while the fearless man dies only once)

    All in All Azhaguraja
    This Karthi starrer is almost as good as Ajith’s film, say industry sources.

    Karthi & Kaajal

    Karthi & Kaajal

    ‘‘Karthi’s 80’s getup and Santhanam’s female look are the high points. It’s a comedy like all my previous films,’’ says Rajesh. Kajal Aggarwal is paired opposite Karthi in the film shot extensively in Pollachi.

    Winning card: What works in their favour are Studio Green, one of the biggest production houses, Karthi’s impressive fan following among the youth and director M Rajesh’s track record at the box office.

    Trivia: All in All Azhaguraja is named after Goundamani’s character in the 1984 film, Vaidehi Kaathirundhal.


    Ram Leela



    Scheduled to release two weeks after Diwali, this is a make or break film for the creator of opulent romantic musicals in Bollywood – Sanjay Leela Bhansali. After the tepid response to his Saawariya and Guzaarish, Bhansali is banking heavily on this desi adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. It stars Ranvir Singh and Deepika Padukone, and the director says it is one of his most violent films. Bhansali composes the music for the film, after Guzaarish. Richa Chadda, who plays Rasila, says, ‘‘This is one film I did without reading the script. I am traditional, modern, sensual and beautiful in this film.’’
    Winning card: The cinematography is by Ravi Varman.
    Trivia: Reportedly, `6 crore was spent on Priyanka Cho-pra’s song.


    Krrish 3



    The sci-fi thriller sees the superhero who rocked Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish. And Hrithik Roshan has company in the form of superwoman, Kangna Ranaut. Priyanka Chopra plays his love interest. ‘‘It was one of the most physically challenging roles I ever did. The action was very raw.

    We had stunt masters from China,’’ says Ranaut. Viveik Oberoi appears as the villain, Kaal. ‘‘Playing a bad man is exciting. A lot of homework went into my character,’’ he says.
    Winning card: As expected, the stunts have surpassed all the other Krrish movies and Ranaut’s edgy look in the promos has been well received.
    Trivia: Over 600-700 masks, each worth `8,000, were made for Hrithik for the film. The film is repo-rtedly being released across 5,000 screens worldwide.


    – Neelima Menon


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