Adithya Varma: Dhruv Vikram's Arjun Reddy Tamil remake gets new title; producers laud decision to re-shoot film
Kollywood producers laud the makers' decision to not let director Bala get away with his first-copy version of Varmaa and re-shoot the entire film as Adithya Varma.
The decision taken by producer Mukesh R Mehta to scrap Dhruv Vikram’s debut film Varmaa, directed by Bala, and re-shoot the entire film with a new set of technicians has stirred a hornets’ nest in Kollywood. Varmaa, a Tamil remake of Vijay Deverakonda’s Telugu super hit Arjun Reddy, was slated to release during the Valentine's Day weekend. The buzz is that Vikram and his family, along with the producer, saw a sneak preview before the certification process began and took the call to scrap the film.
The producer Mukesh Mehta issued a press statement, “We at E4 Entertainment are not at all happy with the final version of Varmaa handed over to us (Director Bala had made the film on a first-copy basis) and due to various creative and other differences, we have decided not to release this version. Instead, we will start afresh, and shoot a new Tamil version of Arjun Reddy with Dhruv as the main lead by staying true to the soul and intention of the original.” And when the controversy blew up Bala, issued a muted press statement, “I’m forced to safeguard creative freedom. It was my own decision to relieve myself from this project. Considering Dhruv Vikram’s future, I would like to end this here.”
According to sources close to the producer, the decision to make Bala the director of Varmaa was taken by Vikram as he thought it would be the perfect launchpad for his son. After all, it was Bala who gave Vikram the big breakthrough with Sethu (1999), his first commercial hit. Bala made Varmaa on a first-copy basis but did not allow anybody to see the rushes during post-production. The producer and his team were able to watch the final copy only a few days before the certification process began, which is when they decided to scrap the film.
Now, Mukesh Mehta and his team have gone ahead and renamed the film as Adithya Varma. The re-shoot will start from March with a new director Giri Sayya, who was an associate to Sandeep Vanga, who did the original. Banita Sandhu, who starred in Shoojit Sarkar’s October, replaces Megha as the new leading lady. Ace cinematographer Ravi K Chandran will serve as the cameraman. The buzz is that Vikram will fund the entire re-shoot of his son’s maiden film.
The Varmaa producer’s decision has received a lot of praise, especially from other film producers. A leading producer remarked, “I was harassed by my director working in league with my hero as production cost spiralled. And at the end, they were not willing to listen to me to reduce the length of the film, especially cut down on unwanted heroism and focus more on storyline. Subsequently, the film flopped and I ended up with huge debts. Today’s directors, under the guise of 'creative freedom', will not allow any interference from the producers”.
The whole controversy has created a stir in Kollywood. For the first time, top financiers have got together to form an association which will take on Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC). Industry sources say that barring one or two big banners with deep pockets, all Tamil films are funded by local financiers. A spokesperson of the newly formed South Indian Film Financiers Association (SIFFA) said, “In a way, the scrapping of Varmaa is an eye-opener to the producers as these creative rights versus commercial reality issue has been raging for years. Finally, a producer had the guts to scrap a film which he was not satisfied, this happens when you sign a director on first-copy basis.”
The SIFFA also pointed out the instance where directors (most of them are also producers) borrow recklessly, abandon projects and move on to greener pastures. Take the case of ace director Gautham Menon, whose two films as director (Dhanush’s Enai Nokki Paayum Thota and Vikram’s Dhruva Natchathiram) and another as producer (Naragasooran) are stuck in the cans owing to financial problems. A top financier said, “From now on, no producer will be able to pledge the negative of his film or pledging different rights of his film with multiple financiers. Now that we have formed an association, no star will be able to do multiple films at the same time without releasing his earlier films.”
It is a well known fact in the industry that the stars give dates to directors and not producers. Once big star green lights a project even if it is a newcomer director, then only the producer comes into the scene. They would pick only a producer who does not ask questions and budgets regarding the film. With money rolled out by financiers, including the main star’s astronomical signing amount, the producer starts the production. Producers go out of their way to please the star and his director, thereby leading to cost escalation and release problems.
Meanwhile, some of the biggest projects in Kollywood are under the microscope due to their budget. A big budget sequel film from a top director, featuring a big actor, is facing the heat. The producers of the film now want an undertaking from this ace director regarding the budget and number of days that the film will be completed in. Till then, the shooting of the film has been put on hold. Will Kollywood’s servile producers finally crack the whip on directors and superstars who rule the industry? Will the stars take a salary cut as budget goes haywire? The answers to these questions will be known soon, as the scrapping of Varmaa has changed the ballgame in Kollywood.
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