From Lokesh Kanagaraj to Madhavan...The directors who had a stupendous triumph in their first movie!

(This article is authored by Alar)

A film is half a success if the story gives a shape as a movie. Taking it to the production level, hiring the right producer, choosing the fitting actors, and completing the shoot without any troubles, is comparable to a baby birth for even the well-experienced makers in the industry. Standing out from the pack, Is it right to call them lucky when the debutant creators' first film is triumphantly wrapped up to the end, and gives life to the theatres and even grazes people's hearts? or as Benjamin Franklin says 'Diligence is the mother of good luck?'

The Effect made by Debut Makers:

A few debut directors paved the way for Tamil cinema to set a revolutionary film style, which till then was confined to specific film culture. To mention specifically, before Muni, Tamil cinema witnessed horror films in a serious tone, Raghava Lawrence was a debutant director in Tamil, who served a ghost story in a comic-horror style, and followingly, Yamirukka Bayamen, Aranmanai, Devi, Sangli Bungli Kadhava Thora, Nayaki, and Maragatha Nanayam were birthed. 

Thiagarajan Kumararaja made his debut in 'Aaranya Kaandam' which is supposedly the first neo-noir film in Tamil cinema. Neo-Noir is a genre that had originally prospered during the post-World War times, literally having the setting style from roughly from 1945- 60, commonly stated as 'Black Movie' or 'Dark Movie'. Happy endings are hardly found in this type of film. The neo-noir films have elements such as anti-heroes, female Fatales, and tough cynical detectives. Vikram Vedha, Sarabham, Super Deluxe, and Dhuruvangal Pathinaru served the same purpose.

The List - Here are the debutant makers of Kollywood, who ventured recently and stricken the gold, struck the right chord with audiences, delivering critically and commercially acclaimed films right in their first attempt.

Maanagaram by Lokesh Kanagaraj

May Lokesh is being called 'Vikram' fame in recent times. But he was notified as 'Maanagaram' Lokesh before this much reception that he gets for Vikram. He stamped his authority on the Tamil movie industry with his much-acclaimed debutant film, Maanagaram, which delivered his signature style of story of diverse characters who pass seat edge situations but are linked.  Released in 2017, Maanagaram is all set for a Bollywood remake as Santosh Shivan, the director of, 'Urumi', remaking Lokesh's first movie in Bollywood as 'Mumbaikar'. Interestingly, Vijay Sethupathi will play a role in this remake. 

Lokesh used a theme of hyperlink cinema, a complex theme that needs extreme manner of a lot of work and detailing. But Lokesh proved by the box office collection. Produced by S R Prabhu under his Potential Studios, the movie features Sundeep Kishan, Sri, and Regina Cassandra in the lead roles, while Charle and Ramdoss (Munishkanth) play supporting roles. Featuring music composed by Javed Riaz.

LKG by K R Prabhu

KR Prabhu, a former associate of Prabhudheva, debuted as a director with the political satire LKG, which had RJ Balaji playing a small-time politician with a desire to become the leader of the state. With a strong cast, including Priya Anand, Nanjil Sampath, and JK Ritesh, and a stronger crew, the film was appreciated by critics and the audience alike. The movie LKG was produced by Isari Ganesh's Vels Film International. RJ Balaji has written the story and screenplay for the movie for the first time too.

The movie hit the screens in February 2019. The film will also have its dubbed Kannada version released with the same title. He provided a convincing performance both as an actor and as a writer in the film. Prabhu subtly handled the movie by telling the sarcastic view a real politician would have of the people who believe his lies. The latest years of political happenings, trends, and lifestyle changes all together pierced all over the movie, and during the movie's release time, elections were approaching. The film was greatly got appreciated by the audience for its comic-serious direction and seamless transitionary acting from comedian to hero of R J Balaji.

Mandela by Mandonne Ashwin

Another politic-social satire film, helmed by newbie Mandonne Ashwin, was directly released via Star Vijay on April 2021, and on Netflix the following day. The script, cast selection, and technical aspects were critically acclaimed. The film was shortlisted as one of the 14 Indian films to be nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 94th Academy Awards. The movie is a patchy effort, which gives a stage for Yogi Babu to showcase his acting skill to an extent, known for his comic roles in his previous films.

The music is composed by Bharath Sankar of the 'Oorka' band. The film goes around the two caste-based groups and their rivalry incidents. Yogi Babu as Nelson Mandela accidentally comes in between them, and both factions use him as a playing card to win an upcoming election. In its review, The Hindu wrote, "Mandela is a first-rate political satire that shows how deep-seated caste is, by taking an unflinching yet unsentimental look."

Mookuthi Amman by RJ Balaji

Debuted as a writer in LKG, Balaji confidently stepped as a debutant director for Mookuthi Amman by holding hand with N. J. Saravanan. He signed the lady superstar Nayanthara as a lead role (Amman), for his first film itself. This comic fantasy was released in November 2020. RJ Balaji portrayed the fake godman and superstitious beliefs in a comic approach, as his signature style. 

RJ Balaji initially wanted to do a remake of Hindi 'PK', but later he settled to direct his own. For Tamil audiences, who were familiar with devotional movies which are in serious tone from black and white to the early 2000s, Balaji's 'Mookuthi Amman' served a comic but with a moral purpose. The movie touched on the common man's relevant everyday topic, which easily sponged to the Tamil audience. RJ Balaji shined as the middle-class youngster in the film while directed it. Interestingly, Balaji approached Shruthi Hasan to play Amman but was later inked by Nayanthara, and the godman role was first chosen by playback singer Hariharan, but later picked by Ajay Gosh, a Telugu actor.

Comali by Pradeep Ranganathan

Young and sharp as a tack, Pradeep grasped everyone's attention in his debutant work, with the 90s kid trend, which was popularized on the internet.  Pradeep went on to debut on the big screen as a filmmaker in a short film director, 'Comali', which stars Jayam Ravi in the lead. The film dealt with a man who wakes up from a coma after several years and is baffled to tackle with current trends and lifestyles of people around him. released in 2019. This film made Jayam Ravi the highest grosser, after Thani Oruvan. 

The film faced a plagiarism allegation when director Krishnamoorthy accused the film producers of plagiarising his script, 25+25=25, which, too, was about a man who wakes up from a coma. Despite this issue, the film is treated as a package of feel-good entertainers and nostalgia by the audience. Pradeep on his next journey, who stepping as an actor 'Love Today' project, where the first look was released a day before and turned heads for his mention 'Dedicating this movie to the girl who left me and fed a buzz for fans in social media.

Vellai Pookal by Vivek Elangovan

Debutant director Vivek Elangovan is the latest to join a heavily crowded list of engineer-turned-filmmakers and he roped veteran comedian Vivekh in the lead, the investigative thriller had showcased the actor in a completely new light. Based on a true incident, Vellai Pookal has been extensively shot in Seattle, USA, and carries a vibe of 'Vettayadu Vilayadu'. Vivek's performance was highly hailed, with many praising his deviation from his traditional comical roles. 

Pariyerum Perumal by Mari Selvaraj

Worked as an assistant director for 'Katrathu Thamizh' Ram, he plunged into the direction for the first time with 'Pariyerum Perumal' which was released in 2018. The movie received positive word of mouth and was successful at the box office. The film stars Kathir and Anandhi in the leading roles, while Yogi Babu and G. Marimuthu appear in supporting roles. The film features music composed by Santhosh Narayanan. The story covers a law student, who belonged to a specific caste family, and who got to face the realities of caste suppression.

The film portrayed the reality of caste discrimination in raw and dark themes. The audience was impressed with the climax portion with the representation of the movie ending with no dialogue. Times of India wrote, "The film never feels preachy, and unfolds as a tense drama. The message is always in the foreground, but Mari Selvaraj doesn’t sacrifice his narrative for its sake. And that is something worth appreciating in a filmmaker."

Kolamaavu Kokila by Nelson

The black comedy crime film, 'Kolamaavu Kokila' was written and directed by Nelson in his directorial debut, and produced by Lyca Productions. Released in 2018, this movie is on its way to a Hindi remake as 'Good luck Jerry'. Nayanthara, who played the titular role of Kokila, featured herself as an innocent girl, but the situation knocks her to indulge in a cocaine dealership, and furtherly she tricked the entire enemy team, sketched an escape plan, and succeeded in it. 

It is an exceptional debut for Nelson as his clarity in sketching the screenplay which is praise-worthy. He wrote the dark humour engagingly and establishes the motive of the characters from the word go. The climax part, defined by the titular definition was another laudable factor. 

Special Mentions- Actors who had a stupendous debut as a director

Pa Pandi - Dhanush

In his directorial debut, Dhanush has given us a heartwarming film, 'Pa Pandit. Dhanush, who produced and directed the film, portrays a cameo appearance in the film as the younger version of the protagonist. The movie welcomed well as the movie suited as a positive summer movie to watch with family. 

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect - Madhavan 

Rocketry: The Nambi effect is a biographical drama film based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, a former scientist and aerospace engineer of the Indian Space Research Organisation, who was falsely accused of espionage. Simran plays the opposite. In addition to directing, Madhavan plays himself as the Indian scientist, Nambi Narayanan.

The movie is a fresh release, and currently trending on social media with tons and tons of positive responses from film celebs and critics. Although, Madhavan earlier reported that he will stop making films, as it's a very consuming part for him. The movie is indeed evident that Madhavan must be counted on pursuing a trailblazing directional career for the technicalities and exertion that he put in for his first movie. 

Lucifer by Prithviraj:

The film was partially shot in Tamil which is of Malayalam origin and filled the box office in 2019. Actor Prithviraj made a debut entry as a filmmaker and made a successful venture. The movie has Mohanlal in the lead while Prithviraj, Vivek Oberoi, Tovino Thomas, and Manju Warrier played important roles. This political action thriller was made at a budget of Rs 30 crore but bagged over Rs 200 crore. Film Companion gave the film 3 out of 5 writing "Lucifer is a clichéd plot written cleverly and delivered with aplomb. Prithviraj makes an assured directorial debut with a film that was high on budget and expectation. The movie has lived up to the hype and will set the box office cash registers ringing for long."