Jan 13, 2008

ROBOT TO START WITH RS.120 CRORE INITIALLY


Rs 120 crore has been allocated to produce the Rajini Starrer Robot film to be directed by Shankar. It has been said that the investment of the film will exceed the money that was ever spent on any big-budget film from Kollywood, Tollywood or Bollywood. A.R.Rahman is going to music direct the film in which high technoligies are introduced. The film will be produced simultaneously in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi languages and it is not known whether the allocation of Rs.100 crore meant for all these languages or for the Tamil vernacular alone.


The announcement has concluded unending speculation in the industry about Robot, scripted first in 2001 by S Shankar, the reigning super showman of the south.


Shankar is said to have been allocated an initial budget of Rs 120 crore to give shape to his brainchild. After all, money should not be the constraint to create “the grandest and the most entertaining film ever made in India.” The total investment in the film will far exceed the money ever spent on any big-budget film from Kollywood, Tollywood or Bollywood.


Going back to the history about the Robot film, Shahrukh Khan, was signed on as the male lead for the film in July 2007; he was to double up as the producer of the film, as well. But, Khan had second thoughts about its potential and reportedly and commented that the script was “dull” and “half-baked” in comparison with the other films like Om Shanti Om, he was doing. The director, who was feeling on top of the world with Rajnikant himself commending his prowess as “excellent scriptwriter”, could not stomach such comments.


With Rajinikant’s golden touch and the creative genius he can spark in artists and technicians, not to mention the absolute trust he evokes among moneybags who sustain the industry, Robot has the potential to lift Shankar to the global league of creative cinematographers.

While Eros International, headed by Kishore Lulla, has built a successful business model around the release of 30 new films every year; Ayngaran, established in 1987, has been the pioneer in distribution of Tamil films in theatrical and home video formats in the international market. Eros produces and commissions mainly Bollywood films and distributes and exploits films. This is done across formats globally via cinemas, home entertainment, television formats and new media. It has distribution rights for some 1300 movies, including blockbusters like Devdas, Om Shanti Om, Munnabhai MBBS and Partner. Ayngaran had the vision two decades ago to acquire the international rights across formats of many Kollywood films that became blockbusters. It made a big fortune with earlier Rajnikant starrers like ‘Padayappa’ and ‘Chandramukhi’ before the latest success story Sivaji – The Boss.

One reference the word Robot alludes to is a dance style propagated by the famous Jewish physicist Sean Kirchheimer. The style that came into vogue ten years ago, attempts to imitate a dancing robot or mannequin. All movements of the Robot are started and finished with a lock, to bring alive the starting and stopping action of stepping motors in digitally controlled gadgets. The expert dancer is able to relax while maintaining the robotic illusion. Rajini’s fans recall that it is none other than the ‘style’ that Rajini has mastered in film after film; not only in dance but in fight scenes as well to thrash evil doers!

One important contribution to the high tech film will be from the new-age art director Sabu Cyril. Basically a graphic designer, Sabi cut a niche for himself in the 1980s with his freelance work for Welcomgroup and Taj Group of Hotels as well as giants like Lucas TVS and Madura Coats. He rose to be the undisputed captain of special effects for video albums and motion pictures. Sabu has produced close to 500 ad films so far, and the list is virtually the who’s who of corporate brands – LG Care, Pepsi, TVS Victor, Videocon, Blue Dart, Liril, Nerolac, Fair & Lovely, Santro Xing, Leher Kurkure, Kanan Devan Tea, Henko, Kissan Sauce, Milkman Cheese and Cherry of Britannia, Bru, ANZ Grindlays Bank, Aquafresh, Ponds, Asian Paints, Director’s Special Whisky, Tata Tea, Coca Cola, Timex Watches, Reynolds, Britannia, Akai TV, Fa Perfume, Chick Shampoo, Emami, Airtel and what have you!

Sabu was the art director of Shankar’s psychological thriller ‘Anniyan’, the most expensive Tamil feature film made in 2004-05, costing Rs 27 crore. The film, incorporating state-of-the-art special effects, became the first Indian movie to be dubbed in French and then released worldwide in French-speaking countries.

Shankar is also reported to have roped in science writer Sujatha to write the dialogue for Robot. Sujatha is, in fact, a 70-plus-year-old male, who has become a celebrity in his own right in Tamil Nadu through his youthful style of science fiction writing. The ex-employee of Bharat Electronics takes the credit for using the short story format for familiarising lay magazine readers of Tamil Nadu with cutting edge technology. Way back in the 1960s and 1970s, when other Indians were not aware of Telex and Fax, Sujatha’s fictional characters employed Instant Messenger and Internet for communication! The science fictionist cum engineer happens to be a classmate of ABJ Abdul Kalam.

Yet another celebrity, who will propel Robot to great heights, will be the one and only Big B. It is reported that the present day ad celebrity did not even bother to look at the script when it was known that ad film Czar Sabu Cyril would be the art director.

With such a formidable array of celebrities from various disciplines lined up, unlimited monetary resources provided to back them and the propitious hands of Rajini to guarantee results, India’s ‘Robot’ could pose a serious challenge to the Chinese dragon in filmmaking, if in nothing else!

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