Raghava Lawrence opens up on Hindi remake of Kanchana, starring Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani

Sreedhar Pillai

May 08, 2019 11:37:12 IST

Several choreographers have turned to acting in Tamil cinema, but no one has been quite as successful as Raghava Lawrence. His horror-comedy series Kanchana (also called Muni) is today the biggest film franchise in South India. The latest in the series, Kanchana 3, is first summer blockbuster of 2019 in Tamil, along with its dubbed Telugu version.

Despite being panned by critics, the film has grossed Rs 150 crore worldwide in 10 days of its release. It's important to note that the horror comedy also clashed with the record-breaking Avengers Endgame. The film is a runaway super-hit not only in Tamil Nadu but also in the two Telugu states and key overseas markets like Malaysia and the Gulf. But with the release of Avengers Endgame on April 26, the film's screen count reduced in areas of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In Tamil Nadu, the distributors of Kanachana 3 were told that their film would dominate shows only for a week. Once Avengers Endgame released, the Tamil dubbed version of the Marvel tentpole took over even in tier 2 and 3 areas. There was more money to be made from the Hollywood film for the exhibitors due to higher ticket rates.

Raghava Lawrence opens up on Hindi remake of Kanchana, starring Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani

Raghava Lawrence in a still from Kanchana 3. Twitter

Raghava Lawrence’s series began with the 2007 film Muni, a horror film laced with comedy and family elements. Then came Muni 2: Kanchana (2011), which also became a hit, followed by Kanchana 2 (2015) a mega blockbuster and finally, Kanchana3 (2019). Somewhere along the line, Lawrence decided to stick to the name Kanchana, claiming that the name was catchy as well as lucky for him. According to sources, the four-part franchise has so far grossed a worldwide total of over Rs 350 crore in theatricals and other rights.

Now, Lawrence is headed to Bollywood and is directing the Hindi remake of Kanchana 2, the most successful film in the series so far. It has been titled Laaxmi Bomb and features Akshay Kumar in the lead along with Amitabh Bachchan (rumoured to be playing a transgender character), Kiara Advani, Tusshar Kapoor and Nikki Tamboli. The plot of the film revolves around a man who is still a child at heart and still lives in the protective care of his mother. He gets possessed by the ghost of a transgender who wants takes revenge against the people who ruined his life.
The basic formula of the franchise remains the same - how the hero helps a ghost avenge those who wronged him by letting it possess his body. This plot particularly works big time with rural audiences who love a comic spook saga. The storyline remains the same in all the franchises with minor modifications here an there. Some crass comedy, tacky VFX and special effects are thrown in liberally.

“The Kanchana franchise has a 100 percent success ratio, and is largely targeted at tier 2 and 3 markets, though Kanchana 3 is performing well in multiplexes too. The critics make fun of the film but at the end of the day, the film trade is happy with its box office performance. After years, a Tamil dubbed film, Kanchana 3, without any big stars is doing extraordinary business in Telugu states. Lawrence was successful in bringing the family audiences, especially kids, to the theatres and he revived the B and C markets with this franchise. Today, the hottest genre in Tamil cinema is horror comedy, with almost 15 to 20 percent of the total films released in a year falling in this genre," says Venkateswaran, a leading Madurai-based distributor.

From a background dancer to playing a mass hero, Lawrence has come a long way. His association with Rajinikanth and Chiranjeevi made him their favourite dance choreographer in the 1990s to the early 2000s. Lawrence also understands the psyche of the mass audiences, as he comes from a lower middle class background. He has also worked astutely as a social crusader by running an orphanage in Chennai and also conducting heart surgeries of children. He was also at the forefront of the Jallikattu agitation.

However, his non-Kanchana films have not been doing the same kind of business in the last few years. “My idea for the Kanchana series is to provide maximum entertainment to mass audiences who come to cinema halls to be entertained. My target audiences are children and families; if they enjoy the film, it works at the box office. I also try to convey a social message without being preachy," says Lawrence. His priority at the moment is to finish the Hindi version of Kanchana with Kumar and others.

The buzz is that Lawrence is planning to continue with the Kanchana series, with probably a Kanchana 4, for which he will start shooting next year. He wants to make it in 3D with state of the art VFX.

Updated Date: May 08, 2019 11:43:53 IST

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.