Is there a Formula for box office success of movies? I guess not. But let me hold the beer, check the case with Midhun Manuel Thomas’s Aadu 2 & Vyshak’s Madhura Raja. Two recent films that are helming positions in the charts of the biggest grossing films of their respective years. The former is a sequel to Aadu oru Bheegara Jeeviyanu, a box office disaster that ran into cult fan following after it’s DVD release. The latter is no different, it’s also one sequel of a 2010 film Pokkiriraja, which was a blockbuster multi-starrer.
These two films aren’t necessary sequels. But had a ground zero to be a potent franchise. Like the Rohit Shetty’s & Hari’s Singham universe. Aadu had frenzy fan following, it can be a brand, a perfect sequel material or character spin off turner. There were a plethora of quirky & funny subversive macho characters. Midhun opt for a conventional sequel. While Madhura Raja is a potboiler to the larger masses, it had no scope of a structural sequel but works right with character spin-offs, Vyshak goes for that with titular character Raja and a brief cameos of other bona fide characters.
Body of Work
Aadu was an atypical entertainer, with misplaced machismo being the forerunner for rib tickling humour. Midhun brands his characters with pun intended writing. It is a quirky universe. I always think, if the writing of Aadu was focussed on making a franchise it would have been a cracker, but Aadu 2 is a misconceived sequel made just for filling the pockets of producers. It is textbook formula where the character arcs fade out insignificant. Every single thing in its former part is present there, except creativity.
Aadu was a creative marvel for its usage of background scores or designing of quirky attributes to characters or for it’s plot which is a slapstick cum sitcom culmination. Aadu 2 follows the same route for massy character introductions, but Shaan Rahman literally does nothing Inventive. There are few add-ons including Mamukoya as Irumbu Abdullah, Ponnambalam as Mayilvahanam & few other immaterial characters. But even these couldn’t get that crackerjack bgm in the lines of it’s prequel.
The director too plays it safe without going for innovations in the character intros, Jayasurya’s intro from prequel was memorable but here it is the same old static slo-mo walk. If it was a slapstick run behind Neelakurinji here it is associated with money – Pappan’s house is at stake, dude-and-co is in dire need of money and there is some petty frenzy run for an unreleased 500 rupees note. I loved some creative tidbits like the one where Kaipuzha Kunjappan returns and freaks out Abu. Had if Midhun focussed on this kinda creative layering it would have been phenomenal. But sadly the larger picture is an irrational blueprint with additions of item songs and stuff.
Madhura Raja has the lead character Raja, who continues with his witty broken English dialogues, jamboree introduction sequence (here it is a plethora of boats instead of innova cars), comical dance steps & finally solving his Father’s cum Brother’s situation – which is the core masala template that fuels this franchise. But in addition, MadhuraRaja is a further formulaic recreation of the same writer-director-stunt master teams previous Blockbuster collaboration Pulimurugan.
Further additions being the hot-tempered character played by Anusree which is a rip-off of the already clumsy Kamalika Mukharjee’s in Pulimurugan. if it was the vfx-created tiger in Murugan, it’s the barbarous dogs in MadhuraRaja – which too was from the same. The antagonist is Jagapathi Babu in both the films and it’s associated with akin illegal business concerned with alcohol/drugs. Entire climax set up is a categorical photocopy of Pulimurugan, forest, dark blue colour grading, over-the-top stunt choreography – every single thing falls as formula.
A newfangled development being the political satire subplot, which is how they are carrying forward to the next sequel Minister Raja. Phew! this is how weird formula works. The Marvel Movies even though being formulaic, is substantial innovative writing. But this a clumsy path of formula application.
Both Aadu 2 & MadhuraRaja have numerous parallels, from the plot construction to treatment they are safe bet for the producers and effortless play for directors. These two films are quintessential masala quotients, snackable popcorn entertainers & short run potboilers. And the success of these underlines that non-inventive formulas are still having a riot at the box office. Aadu 3 & Minister Raja, continuing sequels have already been announced. Let’s look forward on how formula further plays part in this franchise and what would be the box office result.