Why Suriya's action-thriller Kaappaan is one of the most important films of the superstar's career
Suriya's all important film Kaappaan, Telugu-dubbed version Bandobast, is finally hitting the screens on 20 September.
Suriya's all important film Kaappaan, Telugu-dubbed version Bandobast, is finally hitting the screens on 20 September. It was slated for 30 August release but was pushed as Prabhas’s Saaho, which released on the day, monopolised all screens especially in the two Telugu states and overseas markets.
Kaappaan is a big budget multi-starrer (rumoured to be Rs 80 cr), also starring Mohanlal, Arya, Boman Irani, Samuthirakani and Sayyesha in key roles. It is directed by hit maker KV Anand. The film comes at a time when Suriya’s box-office clout is under a cloud as his last two releases have not performed up to expectations.
In the film, Suriya plays a Special Protection Group (SPG) officer, in charge of the security of the Prime Minister of India, played by Mohanlal. The film is made on a big canvas with politics, national security and farmers' plight as its many themes. The one-line story is as follows: a top spy turns rogue and plots to kill the PM; meanwhile the SPG officer and the intelligence have to thwart the threat. KV Anand and his writer Pattukotai Prabhakaran — who faced charges of plagiarism on the script of the film, which was subsequently dismissed by Madras High Court — revealed that they had the script ready seven years ago and were waiting for Suriya to give the nod.
Anand is working with Suriya for the third time after Ayan (2009) and Maattrraan (2012). In an interview to Firstpost, Anand said: “Coming originally from a print background and starting off as a magazine photographer, all my film stories are taken from newspapers and research that my writers and I do. [This is how] we stitch together a commercially viable project. Kaappaan is about an SPG officer trying to trace a threat to the Prime Ministers life. We have touched upon socio-political issues but the film is not political.”
Anand says there have been many films in Hollywood based on the life of secret service agents who are assigned to protect the President of United States of America. “In India too there is trained personnel in the PM’s security ring whose job it is to protect him at any cost including taking a bullet, especially after what happened to two of our ex-prime ministers (Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, who were assassinated). But what happens if there is a spy among them? A mole who is part of the security apparatus and what if he is part of a group that is plotting to assassinate the PM? This is the basic plot of my film and it’s made as a fast-paced commercial entertainer.”
In fact when the first trailer of Kaappaan released, Anand was trolled heavily on social media for the film seeming too massy. To this he says, “The trailer was meant for the theatre and targeted the tier 2 and 3 audiences. When you spend so much money on a film it should show on the big screen. I believe in fast-paced entertainers that tell a story and at the same time have sufficient emotions, intercut with action scenes and songs. Yes my movies always target the mass audiences and I do not want to be known as a class director and be limited to the multiplexes. My film is looking beyond ‘social media’ audiences and it should be enjoyed by all classes of audiences.”
Anand also added that the film is made like a multi-starrer and initially he had Amitabh Bachchan in mind to play the role of the Prime Minister (he knew Amitabh from his cameraman days as the cinematographer of Khakee) but it did not work out due to date issues. His next choice was Mohanlal, with whom he had worked in his debut film as cameraman, Thenmavin Kombathu (1994), which won him the national award for best cinematography. “Lal sir is one of the finest actors in Indian cinema, a superstar and a 'one-take actor'. His scenes with Suriya and their crackling on-screen presence is going to be one of the highlights of the film.”
In a way, Kaappaan may turn out to be Suriya's most important film. The action-adventure has to be a hit in Tamil trade circles, for him to be in the superstar rating system devised by the trade, which determines the pricing of a film in areas in Tamil Nadu. But consecutive failures at the box-office have taken toll on his market value. His choice of scripts have been criticised, but to be a star who features among the top five saleable actors in the industry you have to do mass commercial films and please all sections of the audiences.And so, to say a lot is riding on Kaappaan for Suriya would be an understatement. He is the only Tamil actor after Rajinikanth to command a huge market in the Telugu states of Andhra and Telangana and his dubbed Telugu films go for a very high price.
When asked about Suriya's form at the box-office, KV Anand says: “Suriya is one of the finest actors we have. He has evolved as an actor and a superstar from a shy individual when I first shot him as a still photographer in Vasanth’s Nerukku Ner. Life is all about ups and downs and it is applicable to stars too, but nothing to worry as I feel Suriya has a huge fan base among all sections of the audiences. Believe me, Kaappaan will work big time for him.”
Meanwhile Kaappaan and Bandobast are getting ready for a huge release; the London-based Lyca Productions seems to be in a safe zone. All areas and rights of the film have been sold before release and the buzz is that they have already made a table profit. The number one financier and producer in Kollywood, Anbuchezhiyan, popularly known as Madurai Anbu, will distribute the film in Tamil Nadu, which ensures a wide release. His control over theatres in Tier 2 and 3 markets will see the film getting a long run as there is stiff competition this festival season.
Sivakarthikeyan’s Namma Veetu Pillai marketed by Sun Pictures is releasing on 27 September and two other biggies will hit the screen on 4 October - Dhanush’s Asuran and Vijay Sethupathi’s Sangha Thamizhan. At the same time, the industry is hoping that Kaappaan turns out to be a hit and brings back the audience to the theatres, just in time for the festival season.
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