Kabali is set to be one of the biggest releases in Tamil cinema next week…
Kabali is releasing in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi on 22 July, across 5,000+ screens worldwide. In the US, it’s releasing in around 500 screens. The Malay version will be in Malaysian theatres on 29 July. China has more than 17,000 screens and we are dubbing it in Chinese and releasing it there in September. We will also dub the film in Thai, Indonesian and Japanese and release it then. The film stars a famous Chinese actor, Winston Chao, and a Malaysian actor Rosyom Nor, so it will resonate in those countries.
How did this collaboration between you, Rajinikanth and Pa Ranjith happen?
It was thanks to Soundarya, Rajinikanth’s daughter. We had decided to do a film together and were in talks with some directors. Soundarya met Pa Ranjith and listened to his synopsis and felt that I must meet him. So Rajinikanth and I met him and listened to the narration. We both hugged him when he finished the narration because he had come up with a wonderful story!
Your career in the Tamil film industry spans over 40 years. But is Kabali your biggest film?
I have produced so many successful films and most of them have been hits. But Kabali is special for me, and I have a soft corner for it as compared to all my other films. I think Kabali will be the crowning glory in Rajinikanth’s career. After watching the film, he told me how happy he was. I also showed the film to Soundarya and she said it was amazing.Tell us about your friendship with Rajinikanth.
Not many people know that it was I who gave him the title ‘Superstar’. We have been friends for over 35 years and when I was distributing his film Bairavi, I released ads stating that ‘Superstar Rajinikanth’ was starring in the film. And the rest is history. [Smiles] He is simple, has no ego and is very respectful. He is the same humble human being today as he was 35 years ago — despite his stature and success.
It is being said that the film has raked in more than Rs 200 crore before its release, thanks to distribution rights, branding, etc.
[Smiles and nods] I expect the movie to make more than Rs 500 crore when it releases. It will be bigger than Baahubali because that is the power and stature of Rajinikanth. He has fans all over the world, across all age groups. But I have still not sold the satellite rights, I’m waiting for the film to release.
The song ‘Neruppu Da’ has caught on like fire and Santhosh Narayan’s music is a hit.
I think the lyrics of that song are so simple and colloquial that people — even children — can remember them and relate to it. The bit where Rajini says: “Tell them that I’ve come back after 25 years” was so apt that I commended both Pa Ranjith and Santhosh for their creativity.
Was the buzzword for the film — “Magizchi” — your contribution since you always use that word?
[Laughs] No, that is purely Ranjith’s creativity. I use the word to sign off messages but I also found that he uses that word! Just a coincidence and then it became part of the film.
Were you surprised when Mohanlal bought the Kerala rights for Kabali?
Yes, I didn’t expect that at all. It’s special because he is a big star and he has a huge fan following in Kerala. Now all his fans will go watch the film because he has bought the rights.
After a big film like Kabali, what is next for you?
We are in talks to produce a Hollywood film but I will announce the details around December.