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Kangana Ranaut deserves every rupee she is getting, says Jayalalithaa biopic producer

Thalaivi producer Vishnu Induri also insisted that the multilingual film cannot be considered a 'South' film.

Kangana Ranaut (left), Vishnu Induri

Mayur Lookhar

Kangana Ranaut is set to play the late film star turned Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. No one saw that coming until the announcement was made on Ranaut's 32nd birthday in March this year.

The bigger surprise, however, was the rumoured fee Ranaut is said to be charging for the biopic. The purported wage bill of Rs24 crore set tongues wagging in trade circles. Later, it was reported that Ranaut would be getting paid Rs12 crore up front with the balance being paid from the film's profits, if any.

But such information is usually confidential in the film industry and the figures being cited are just guesses. Vishnu Induri, producer of the biopic titled Thalaivi, did not want to disclose any confidential information but stated that Ranaut deserves every penny she is being paid for the trilingual film. The biopic will be shot in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.

Kangana Ranaut is learning Tamil for Jayalalithaa biopic Thalaivi

“Definitely she is one of the biggest actresses in the country and deserves every bit she is getting,” Induri told Cinestaan.com on WhatsApp.

A reliable source had revealed that Ranaut was paid Rs9 crore for her previous release, Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi (2019). That film’s budget was over Rs100 crore and Manikarnika only made Rs90.81 crore nett in domestic business.

Interestingly, Thalaivi is Ranaut's maiden South project and if she is indeed getting paid the figures being cited in trade circles, then it is likely to have an impact on the fees of leading actresses in the South.

Playing down yet again talk about the fees, Induri was at pains to point out that his is not a 'South film' but a 'pan-India project'. “This film is being made in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu," he said. "The movie we are making is a pan-India film in multiple languages. The scale is huge. So it can't be treated as a one language or a 'South film'. It is as much a Hindi film as any of Kangana’s other films.”

According to an article on the website EastCoastDaily.in in August 2018, Baahubali actress Anushka Shetty draws anything between Rs10 crore and Rs15 crore per film. She is followed by Tamannaah Bhatia, who reportedly charges between Rs5 crore and Rs8 crore. At number three is Samantha Akkineni, who bags around Rs4 crore to Rs6 crore per film, followed by Nayanthara and  Kajal Aggarwal, both of whom get Rs3-5 crore per film.

Asked if Southern producers fear a demand for more fees from these stars, Induri said, "No. Every project is looked at differently and again it's not a 'South' film, so there is no issue with other South actresses asking for a hike based on this [reported fee].” 

Jayalalithaa (1948-2016)

Asked if Tamil audiences would be able to identify with a non-Tamilian playing a popular Tamil film star and four-time chief minister of the state, he said, “As long as they are connected to the story, they will accept it.”

Jayalalithaa Jayaram (1948–2016): End of an aura

The producer cited the example of the Telugu blockbuster Baahubali – The Conclusion (2017), which won hearts across India. "Baahubali, which was a non-Tamil film, worked there. It worked in Hindi as well,” said Induri.

Induri said regional and geographical boundaries no longer count and Indian films are doing well even in China. “Language and geographical barriers don't impact much if the content is appealing," said the man who also produced the recent two-part NT Rama Rao biopic in Telugu which bombed at the box office. "If Kangana can impress the audience in the first couple of scenes, they will own it up.”

Nawazuddin Siddiqui had hoped to speak in Marathi in the bilingual Bal Thackeray biopic Thackeray (2019), but eventually that did not happen and another actor dubbed for him in Marathi. So will Ranaut really speak in Tamil?

“The film will be shot separately in Hindi and Tamil," Induri said. "As for the voice, for Tamil, Kangana wants to do it on her own."