Billa II is big budget bet for Tamil films
By Patrick Frater
Thu, 14 July 2011, 07:02 AM (HKT)
Production gets underway today on $7 million gangster thriller Billa II: The Beginning that is set to be one of the biggest Tamil-language films ever produced.
The earlier Billa (2007) (pictured) about a drifter who becomes a big-time mobster was directed by Vishnuvardhan and proved an $8 million hit. The new film will be directed by Chakri TOLETI and see Ajith KUMAR return in the title role.
Preparations for Billa II — a prequel which charts the protagonists early years as he transforms from a refugee into a gangster — have been plagued with repeated changes of director and cast. Producers are convinced that they have a major franchise on their hands and anticipate shooting a Telugu version next year.
Kumar is joined by Huma QURESHI, a model and theatre actress, and Bruna ABDULLAH as the film's two leading ladies. Sudhanshu PANDEY (Murder 2 (2011)) plays one of the rival gangsters and Malayalam actor Manoj K. JAYAN also has a key role.
Billa II is presented by IN Entertainment, a Hinduja Ventures company, with Chennai based Wide Angle Films producing. IN's Sunir KHETERPAL and Wide Angle's Suresh BALAJE and George PIUS are credited as producers. It is the first Tamil-language production for IN Entertainment, which also controls distributor Serendipity Films.
Shooting will take place at locations including Hyderabad's Ramoji Studios for 40 of its planned 90 days, before moving to Goa, Pondicherry and unspecified spots in East Europe. It may also shoot in Bangkok, Thailand. Delivery is scheduled for April 2012 to coincide with the Tamil New Year.
"The business for Tamil films has grown tremendously since 2007. We are working towards carrying the franchise forward and leaving no stone unturned to provide whatever it takes to make Billa II into a much larger film than the film released in 2007," said Kheterpal.
He says that the company has received significant interest from sub-distributors in India. "However, we will only start discussing the film's exploitation after the end of the Hyderabad schedule. And, as we are hoping to give it a much wider release in international markets than other Tamil films" he said.
Billa II is the first Indian picture to use the Epic RED camera running at its full 5K resolution. R.D. RAJASEKHAR is the cinematographer. Other key crew include Selva KUMAR (Madrassipatnam) as production designer and Yuvan Shanker RAJA as music director.
The film's plot has significant overlap with the original Don (1976) starring Amitabh BACHCHAN; in 1978 it was remade in Tamil as Billa with superstar Rajinikanth. A hit Hindi-language retread, Don (2006) starring Shah Rukh KHAN altered the ending so that the the title character could live. Khan returns in the upcoming Don 2 (2011).