Vakeel Saab, Master and Krack: South Indian movies that revived box office business

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While the filmmakers in the north showed little courage in bringing out their new releases in theatres, the filmmakers in the south showed the way by bringing out their big guns. It paid off with hits such as Vakeel Saab, Krack and Master.

The Indian film industry is on the backfoot once again as the country battles an aggressive second wave of the coronavirus. It comes at a time when stakeholders in the theatrical business, especially down south were beginning to make some gains after incurring heavy losses for 10 months since last March last year. The filmmakers in the south showed the way by bringing out big guns and their risks paid off as it breathed a lease of new life in the theatre business.


Ravi Teja’s cop film came as a much-needed confidence boost to filmmakers down south. The film grossed more than Rs 12 crore worldwide on its opening day. Given that it was released on the heels of the Sankranti holiday, it further helped the box office prospects of the movie. And it ended its theatrical run with reportedly over Rs 70 crore, with a net profit of Rs 40 crore to its investors. That was a solid performance given the 50 percent cap on occupancy at the time.


It was the biggest release of 2021 as it opened on 900 screens across the country. It was, in fact, a big experiment as stakeholders of the industry believed that the success or failure of the Vijay-starrer would decide the future course of big-budget, big star movies in all the languages. It released on January 13 to a lot of fanfare and celebrations and sort of warmed up the engines of the entertainment industry across the country. The film lifted box office gloom and the theatres, particular in the south, sprang back to life. The producers have not officially shared the total collection of Master. However, the trade estimates peg that the film may have collected over Rs 200 crore from its worldwide ticket sales.


Starring Karthi in the lead role, the film further aided the box office recovery in Tamil Nadu. It faced stiff competition from major Hollywood tentpole Godzilla Vs Kong. The filmmakers have kept the total collection under the wraps. However, the stakeholders in the value chain appreciate the film for sustaining a strong momentum at the box office windows.


Dhanush was sort of relentless in bringing this movie to the theatres as he knew that it would add to the recovery of the theatre business. And he was right and how. Written and directed by Mari Selvaraj, the film opened to houseful shows and glowing reviews. On the eve of the film’s release, the Tamil Nadu government withdrew permission for 100 per cent occupancy. And still, the filmmakers went through with the release as planned. Result: the film reportedly earned an impressive Rs 23 crore on its opening weekend. In its second week, the film’s gross is pegged close to Rs 40 crore. While the producers have refrained from sharing the collection figures, they have simply declared the film a “blockbuster.”

Jathi Ratnalu

Telugu film patrons continued to surprise everyone by thronging the cinema halls week after week. Do you think only big hero films could salvage the box office? Think again. This small-budget film starring a not-so-big star cast, made a dent at the box office. The film grossed a whopping Rs 70 crore, netting Rs 40 crore profits for its producers.


Written and directed by Buchi Babu Sana, the film marked the acting debut of Panja Vaisshnav Tej and Krithi Shetty. A story about a star-crossed lover and the evils of caste pride, it had Vijay Sethupathi playing the main antagonist. Released during Valentine’s week, the film exceeded the expectations in terms of theatrical collection. As per the trade experts, the film’s gross collection has touched Rs 100 crore, earning a net profit of about Rs 57 crore for its producers.

Vakeel Saab

The film set the cash registers ringing at the box office across the Telugu states. If the second wave hadn’t worsened, the film was well on its way to set a new record collection record for a Telugu film that was released in the middle of a pandemic. It raked in about Rs 100 crore in its first week. However, the night curfew in Telangana and the closure of theatres in the state owing to the curbs have massively affected its business. The trade believes that the film will add another Rs 20 crore to its kitty before it ends its theatrical run.

The Priest

Malayalam superstar Mammootty’s horror-thriller opened in cinemas at a time when the theatre business was gasping for new content to stay afloat in Kerala. The film surprised everyone by drawing the family crowd out of their house. Written and directed by Jofin T. Chacko, the film earned more than Rs 16 crore from ticket sales worldwide.


Starring Darshan in the lead, this textbook crowd-pleaser revived the box office business in all corners of Karnataka. Despite the growing concerns of Covid-19, the fans gave the film a rousing welcome at the box office. If the reports are to be believed, the film minted Rs 60 crore within the first four days of its release.

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