Chennai, August 1: Recession has not hit huge paychecks of Kollywood (Tamil film industry in South India) heroes and heroines. If Kollywood production executives and film industry experts are to be believed, there has been a steady rise in the pay of actors in the industry which has an annual turnover of Rs.1600-crore and churns out an average of 120 films a year.
However, there is a correction in the top 5 mass heroes’ list in the industry. Actor Surya has gone a notch above and replaced Ajith who occupied No.3 position so far. Surya’s recent massive hit Ayan has contributed to this growth. Surya commands Rs. 6 crore as salary for his 25th film Singam to be directed by Hari. Ajith pins hopes on his forthcoming flick Asal for a comeback after successive box office duds.
Vijay, the No.2 in the industry, is getting Rs. 9 crore as salary for his 50th film which is yet to be named according sources close to its producer, Mr Sangili Murugan. This makes him share an equal space with superstar Rajinikanth who now does a film once in two years. Rajini earned about Rs.25 crore as salary for Shivaji (2007) while Chandramukhi fetched him Rs.15 crore.
Vijay commits himself to two films a year. “Even if Vijay does three films in two years, he will earn Rs.27 crore as salary alone,” said the production executive associated with the actor’s present film (Vettaikkaran) team.
“If Rajinikanth’s forthcoming Endhiran works well and contributes to a turnover of over Rs. 300 crore, he could still command Rs. 25 crore,” said one of the sources at Sun Pictures, the producers of Endhiran. “Rajinikanth has committed himself to do his next film also with us,” the source added.
“The top mass heroes are not decided on the basis of the salary they get. But it is based on the box office collection they are able to generate. Kamal Haasan may get a good salary. But he remains a class hero as producers cannot depend on his films for huge box office collection,” said R.Ramanujam, Editor, Tamil Nadu Entertainment, a film trade magazine.
Ajith has slipped to No. 4 from No. 3 after the rise of Surya post-Ayan. Vikram remains No. 5 in terms of box office collection. “If Surya’s next ventures Aadhavan and Singam work well in the box office, he could be the next big thing in Kollywood,” said a production executive from Ayngaran International.
As far as heroines are concerned, Nayanthara and Anoushka remain on top. Nayanthara earned Rs. 1 crore as salary for Aadhavan. Anoushka earned Rs. 1 crore for her lead role in Vettaikkaran. While Shriya Saran and Tamannah command upto Rs. 60 – Rs.70 lakh each per film, other actresses are far behind in commanding big salaries according to Kollywood's trade circles.