With multiple Jayalalithaa, Kunjali Marakkar, NTR biopics, South Indian cinema is picking repetitive scripts
While audiences are excited to see the different versions of the same stories and how directors handle the subject in their own style, this sudden battle for scripts has caused needless havoc in the industry
When there is a common universal subject, filmmakers tend to develop it into a feature film. But the recent surprising trend in South Indian cinema is pushing multiple filmmakers to simultaneously work on the same plot.
While audiences are excited to see different versions of the same stories and how directors handle the subject in their own style, this sudden battle for scripts has caused needless havoc in the industry. Exhibitors and distributors are particularly skeptical about the box office success of these films because of not gaining the first mover advantage. If the first film tanks at the box office, the scope of the upcoming releases will be diminished.
For example, Balakrishna’s NTR Kathanayakudu has turned out to be a disaster at the box office. Now, there is no there are no big hopes pinned on the sequel and the expectations from Ram Gopal Varma’s version of the NTR biopic have also gone down. Generally, any biopic will work at the box office only if the makers unearth the hidden side of the personality, but NTR Kathanayakudu only focussed on glorifying the Telugu superstar. Ram Gopal Varma’s recent statements indicate that he is going to portray the real relationship between Chandra Babu Naidu and NTR and how the former back-stabbed the latter. After the Kathanayakudu debacle, Ram Gopal Varma has started promoting his Lakshmi’s NTR as the real biopic.
Pa Ranjith, the director of Kabali and Kaala is currently working on his Hindi film which is based on the life of famous Dalit leader Birsa Munda. Interestingly, Gopi Nainar of Aramm fame has also announced a film based on Birsa Munda, but it will be released in Tamil. Both the filmmakers feel that the story of Birsa Munda should reach everyone so they are actually happy that the biopic is being made in two different languages.
In Malayalam, veteran filmmaker Priyadarshan is directing Mohanlal’s Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, based on Kunjali Marakkar IV, the fourth naval chieftain of the Zamorin of Calicut. The film has an ensemble of stars, including Arjun, Prabhu, Suniel Shetty, Keerthy Suresh, and many others. Previously, ace cameraman and filmmaker Santosh Sivan had also announced a biopic on Kunjali Marakkar IV with Mammootty, but the project is yet to go on floors.
The epic Ponniyin Selvan novel written by celebrated Tamil writer Kalki Krishnamurthy has always been Tamil filmmakers' dream content. Actors like MGR, Kamal Haasan and director Bharathiraja missed the opportunity to adapt the project due to financial constraints. Now, Rajinikanth’s younger daughter Soundarya is working on a web-series based on Ponniyin Selvan and maverick filmmaker Mani Ratnam is all set to begin his new feature film based on the same novel. In Mani Ratnam’s film, names like STR, ‘Jayam’ Ravi, and Vikram are being thrown around, but the director is yet to officially announce the project.
Jayalalithaa’s biopic is the most sought after story in Tamil cinema. Four directors are working on their own versions of the late Tamil Nadu chief minister's biopic.
Director Vijay, who made films like Madarasapattinam and Deiva Thirumagal, is currently penning the script based on the life story of Jayalalithaa. Vijay’s film will be bankrolled by Vibri Media, producers of Ranveer Singh’s 83. The Saivam director has approached National Award-winning actor Samuthirakani, and Sai Pallavi to play pivotal roles in the biopic whereas Vidya Balan is being considered for Jayalalithaa’s role.
Debutant filmmaker Priyadhaarshini is also directing her version of Jayalalithaa biopic which is titled The Iron Lady. She has roped in Nithya Menen to play the lead role. Known for his stylish films, Gautham Menon is directing an original web-series based on the life story of the leader, in which Ramya Krishnan plays the lead role.
Lingusamy of Sandakozhi fame is also said to be writing a script on Jayalalithaa’s life story which will be funded by TTV Dhinakaran’s camp. Jeyananth Dhivakaran, nephew of TTV Dhinakaran confirmed on his Facebook page that Lingusamy’s biopic will have information from Jayalalithaa’s close associates.
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