As the projector flickers back to life, the screen illuminating vibrant sequences of a well-loved classic, a wave of cheer drowns the patter of popcorn. This is not the premiere of a blockbuster, but the re-release of “Vaaranam Aayiram”, a film that debuted over a decade ago. In Tamil Nadu, these scenes are becoming a common sight as old Tamil movies re-enter theatres, transforming movie screenings into nostalgic singalong events.

In a recent spectacle, during the re-run of “Vaaranam Aayiram”, specifically when the cult song ‘Ava Enna’ played, the cinema hall erupted in exuberance. Spectators were up on their feet, swaying and crooning as if all were in unison at a grand concert. Gautham Vasudev Menon, director of the movie released back in 2008, reminisces about crafting the kuthu track, ‘Anjala’, which still manages to lead feet into an impromptu jig. Through the communal movie-watching experience, director Menon is pleased that films he created years ago continue to anchor in the hearts of audiences.

“Vaaranam Aayiram” is not alone. A chain of Tamil films such as “3”, “Muthu”, and “Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu” have lately experienced similar theatre comebacks. Social media has played a pivotal role in amplifying the hype around these re-screenings, with videos of cinema enthusiasts dancing and singing going viral, leading many to re-discover the joys of watching classic films on the big screen.

This trend is shored up by efforts from theatre owners, who’ve realized the potential of playing on nostalgia, coupled with incentivizing factors such as lowering ticket prices significantly. Vishnu Kamal, a theatre owner, set the price to an attractive ₹49 for “Vada Chennai”. This was not only a business move but a way to breathe life into theatres during periods of low footfall. For Vishnu, the decision to let audiences relive the craze for Dhanush’s “Moonu”, especially the global hit ‘Kolaveri’, was similar to conducting an experiment. The audience’s response was resounding, marking the commencement of an unexpected yet welcomed trend.

While some industry participants like producer Kalaipuli S Thanu find re-releases to be a lucrative strategy, others are skeptical about its permanence, citing limitations on the available digital prints and the reluctance of producers to remaster older movies. The selection of films that can generate this astonishing theatre dynamic is scarce, and not every classic title ensures a full house.

Moreover, theatrical re-releases are a touch of strategy in preserving the essence of movies made during a different era, where they serve as both memory lane and a testament to the timelessness of some stories and performances.

What the future holds for re-screenings of classics is uncertain; the phenomenon could be temporary or evolve into a staple cinematic culture. Wishes and dreams from various theatre owners and filmmakers abound, with hopeful aspirations to witness more yesteryear movies like “Khakha Khakha” and “Sachein” gracing the cinemas again.

As the trend continues, theatre corridors are set to serve as portals to the past, inviting audiences on a sentimental journey. Re-released romantic hits like “Premam” and “96” are destined to align with the season of love, inviting cinephiles to relish in the romance that only classic films exude, offering a date with nostalgia that is unmatched by any modern equivalent. As these oldies but goodies make their way back to the silver screen, the fans are all too eager to step into the throwback vibe and celebrate the timeless tales of Tamil cinema once more.

By IPL Agent

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