Onam Releases: Which of These Stars Will Rule Kerala Box Office?

Nivin Pauly, Mohanlal, Prithviraj and Mammootty clash on Onam in Kerala theatres this year.

3 min read
Nivin Pauly, Mohanlal, Prithviraj and Mammootty clash on Onam this year.

Onam is the biggest season to release films in Kerala. Traditionally, the Onam period sees mainly big hero films out in theatres which collect 5 to 10 % more because of the festival season. There is a belief amongst the film trade that family audiences (read women and children) come in large numbers to watch films during Onam holidays. However, the truth is that the family audiences are now in front of the television at home watching the latest films which come as ‘Onam Mega Movie’ screenings, since channels look for record TRPs. Also, the men are away waiting in long queues at the closest Kerala State Beverages Corporation outlets trying to buy booze which also will have record sales.

Clash of Stars on Onam

But the Malayalam film industry and its stars always view an Onam release as a prestige issue. This year there are four Onam biggies vying for theatre space – Mohanlal’s Velipadinte Pusthakam has the star playing a college professor and is directed by Lal Jose, a director with a proven track record of hits mainly with Dileep.

Then, veteran Mammootty has Pullikaran Stara directed by Syam Dhar who has a hit earlier with his first film 7th Day.

The hot and happening Nivin Pauly has Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela (NNOI), which is produced by the actor under his Pauly Jr Pictures banner and directed by debutant Althaf. It is a family drama and should sail through, considering Nivin is today the most popular actor among the youth and family audiences.

Meanwhile, Prithviraj has the action packed Adam Joan directed by debutant Jinu Abraham.

All the four films are important for their respective stars, as the Onam winner will decide who among them takes the early lead to retain the superstar title. Mammootty and Mohanlal are under tremendous pressure to keep up with the Dulquers and Nivin Paulys who have captured the imagination of the ‘generation next’ audiences. Prithviraj, whose last few films have not performed well, can feel the heat from Nivin Pauly’s NNOI, which is leading the advance booking race in Kochi. Mohanlal’s Velipadinte Pusthakam releases on August 31, while the other three hits the screens on September 1.

Silent Support for Dileep?

Meanwhile, for the first time in many years the stars have kept away from promoting their films on television channels. The actors say they have no time as they are busy shooting for other films in various parts of the world.

However, the real reason as per some sources is that some of the actors (read Mammootty and Mohanlal) feel that their close friend Dileep has been unfairly targeted by Malayalam news channels, who they believe have carried out a smear campaign against AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) and its members. Two of the leading news channels also have general entertainment channels which run serials, film based programmes and feature films as part of their network.

Prithviraj was initially the only star who had said that he would give interviews, but at the last minute he too was forced to keep away.

Now the big question is how long will the stars keep away from the media? The buzz is that they are anxiously waiting for Dileep to get bail, and then plan their future moves. Some of them feel that the Malayalam film industry was unnecessarily dragged and brought under the scanner over Dileep’s involvement in the actress abduction and molestation case. However, the show must go on, as Bakrid (Sep 1) followed by Onam (Sep 4), will ensure five continuous holidays, which should translate into good ticket sales for all the Onam releases this year.

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