BollywoodLife anniversary special: What’s going to rock down South – the year ahead for stars, movies and music

We complete a roller-coaster year and we’ve brought you the hottest stories as they break in the colourful medley that is South cinema – from all the best movies, to every move of the top stars, the big hits, the surprise flops, everything. Time now to take you on a trip into the future

On this anniversary, here’s what we think the next year with BollywoodLife and South Gossip will bring you…

Superstars: Even with newbies and unlikely heroes arriving on the scene and winning acclaim, star power will rule. Right from the ultimate Superstar, Rajini saar (who has Kochadaiyaan coming up) to Kamal Haasan and Mollywood’s Mammootty and Mohanlal, their ratings will remain intact.

The next generation rules, too, with Ajith still holding sway over his legion of fans and his under-wraps-until-now movie set to release later in the year. Only an ageing Vikram seems to be losing his hold a bit, but then Shankar’s signed him up for his next biggie, I.

Come then to Vijay, Suriya, Dhanush, STR, followed by Jiiva, Vishal and Bharath and their star value is in-demand, too. Across the state in Tollywood, Nagarjuna continues to play romantic hero in big budget ventures, with Mahesh Babu and Ram Charan Teja ruling the charts. They’ll all continue to do so. We like Malayalam star kid Dulqar Salman’s screen presence, too.

Unlikely heroes: On the scene there’s now a new breed of actors who don’t have typical South hero looks or attitude. No six-packs and no particular mannerisms, a la Vijay and STR. And still they are impressing audiences and, most important, keeping the box office in business. Think of Edhir Neechal hero Siva Karthikeyan, Pizza boy Vijay Sethupathi, Vimal and Mirchi Siva. Watch out for these guys in the coming year, too.

Glam gals: Off-beat films with uncommon heroes may be in, but South heroines continue in the same mould. Glamour and flat abs seem to be the prerequisites to bag a role in big budget venture and this applies to all the pretty gals like Hansika Motwani, Kajal Agarwal and other wannabe newbies on the scene. They are happy playing hunk accessories. In a scenario where the heroines are only glam elements in a movie, the likes of Trisha hold their own and seek out women-of-substance roles. Anjali is another one who promises much in the acting department.

Director’s cut: Shankar continues with his larger-than-life efforts and I promises to be in the same mould. Mani Ratnam with Kadal and Gautham Menon with Neethane En Ponvasantham have both disappointed in recent times as did Ameer’s Aadhi Bhagavan. Will there be strong comebacks from these accomplished filmmakers? Bala won critical acclaim for Paradesi and his next effort is certainly worth waiting for. AR Murugadoss kept his reputation for full-on masala intact with Thuppakki and fans will enjoy the Bollywood version, we think.

Expect technical razzle-dazzle and great story-telling from Tollywood’s Rajamouli. A completely different sort of filmmaker, Blessy will make meaningful and entertaining films in Mollywood.

Meanwhile, there’s the new breed of directors, especially in Kollywood, willing to work with small budgets, non-stars and pull off great films. We look forward to more good stuff from the likes of Kalavani maker Sargunam, and Balaji Sakthivel who made Vazhakku En 18/9.

Big flicks: What to watch out for in the coming months – Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiyaan is possibly the most-awaited film of recent times, replete with advanced technology. Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam 2 evokes curiosity. And Ajith’s next with Vishnuvardhan is eagerly awaited, too. Dhanush-starrer Mariyaan has been surrounded by hype long before release, thanks also to AR Rahman’s musical score. Suriya’s Singam 2 is for action buffs.

Is Comedy the king? Comic films have done well of late in Kollywood, perhaps because the serious themes have struggled for good stories and have also been badly handled. So there’s been a spate – Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, Kalakalappu, followed by Settai, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaya and Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga, to be followed by Biriyani and the remake of Thillu Mullu. Frankly, we think that other than Naduvula… the rest were pretty jaded, flogging the same one-liners spouted by Santhanam and his league. Kedi Billa… with its no-story and sudden serious twist to send out a message was particularly galling. If South cinema wants to do comedy, it should think of smarter ways to do it.

Music, music: While there are complaints that Southern film music is not what it used to be, there’s plenty of melody coming our way. Ilayaraja’s score for Neethane En Ponvasantham and AR Rahman’s for Kadal were remarkable. Expect more from the maestros. Imman also promises hummable tunes. We could though do without all the gibberish that passes as lyrics!

So, get set for a fun ride at the movies down South and we’ll keep bringing you all that’s hot and happening.