Tinseltown Embraces the Thrilling ‘Manjummel Boys’: Unprecedented Success in Tamil Nadu

In what can be described as a cinematic phenomenon that has gripped Tamil Nadu, the Malayalam survival thriller ‘Manjummel Boys’ has found a unique place in the hearts of local moviegoers. The movie’s enigmatic charm evoked a thunderous applause as actor Soubin Shahir’s face graced the big screen during a pivotal flashback – a moment embodying the acclaim this film has received. Despite Soubin’s illustrious career in Malayalam cinema, with noteworthy performances in films like ‘Sudani from Nigeria’, ‘Kumbalangi Nights’, and the recent hit ‘Romancham’, it is the film itself, ‘Manjummel Boys’, that has captivated Tamil audiences.

Over a month since its release, ‘Manjummel Boys’, directed by Chidambaram, maintains its stronghold in theaters across Tamil Nadu. Historically, Mollywood giants Mammootty and Mohanlal have drawn Tamil crowds, particularly after the 2015 sensation ‘Premam’, which spawned a new interest in Malayalam films. However, as noted by Vishnu Kamal, owner of Kamala Cinemas in Chennai, these films predominantly played in multiplexes, or as Tamil-dubbed versions in single screens. ‘Manjummel Boys’ has shattered these norms, as strong word-of-mouth has propelled it into single-screen theaters from its second week, leading to exceptional ticket sales.

The film has stunned industry observers with its wide appeal, not just in urban centers regularly privy to Malayalam cinema, but also in areas like Thiruvarur, Aranthangi, Ariyalur, Perambalur, and Jeyamkondan. Srither S, joint secretary of the Tamil Nadu Theatre Association, expressed his astonishment at the film’s reception, which ultimately garnered a remarkable Rs 12 crore share from the state.

The exceptional run of ‘Manjummel Boys’ in Tamil Nadu has echoed in the global box office as well. Produced by Soubin’s Parava Films, the movie broke records as it swiftly crossed the Rs 100-crore mark – a first for a Malayalam film – and is on its way to nearing Rs 200 crores globally.

But beyond the box office figures lies the film’s narrative, inspired by a true 2005 incident. It tells a gripping and harrowing tale of a group of friends whose vacation in Kodaikanal turns into a nightmare. The use of ‘Kanmani Anbodu’, the classic song from the film ‘Gunaa’, was not the only factor in its success, according to filmmaker Halitha Shameem. She values the craft of the film, from atmospheric elements and effects to compelling performances. Furthermore, ‘Manjummel Boys’ kept a tight focus on the survival theme without unnecessary subplots.

The film also established a ‘Tamil connection’, with much of its second half based in Tamil-speaking Kodaikanal, easing the linguistic barrier. The ‘boys film’ trope, celebrating friendship and camaraderie, resonated profoundly with Tamil audiences, reminiscent of local hits such as ‘Boys’, ‘Chennai 28’, and ‘Saroja’.

Curiously, the release window of ‘Manjummel Boys’ coincided with a slump in the Tamil film industry, which too seems to have contributed to its success. The absence of other strong Tamil releases allowed the film an unchallenged run.

Despite this triumph, industry experts like Ruban of GK Cinemas and Srither are cautious about predicting a shift in the Malayalam film reception in Tamil Nadu. They reflect on mixed outcomes for other regional hits released around the same time and caution that not every Malayalam release can expect such exceptional outcomes.

‘Manjummel Boys’ thus stands as a testament to the idea that with the right content, any season can be favorable for cinema. It challenges the norm and invites audiences to embrace a good story regardless of linguistic and cultural boundaries. Whether this is a solitary case or a harbinger of a new era for Malayalam cinema in Tamil Nadu, ‘Manjummel Boys’ has certainly etched its name in cinematic history, championing the power of narrative and the universal love for films.

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