Cannes: Tamil cinema, which has been conspicuous by its absence at The French Riviera all these years, is making a major splash at the 70th Cannes Film Festival thanks to a hotly anticipated Rs 250-crore period drama that promises to outstrip 'Bahubali' in terms of scale and grandeur.
Set to go into production later this year, the upcoming film, 'Sanghamitra', a tale of valour, treachery and love, was formally announced here by Thendanal Studios Ltd, a Chennai-based filmed entertainment outfit that co-hosted the Cannes Film Market's opening night party.
The first instalment of the two-part magnum opus will be ready for release by the end of 2018, director Sundar C has revealed.
The stars of the film, Jayam Ravi, Arya and Shruti Haasan, have flown into Cannes to talk about their dream project, which has been in the works for nearly three years. Sundar has described the film as a fantasy inspired by Tamil history and set in the eighth century. "Sanghamitra will be grandly entertaining," he said on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival.
"This is the film that I have always been aspiring to make," says the director who has helmed over 30 commercially successful Tamil films, including the Rajinikanth starrer 'Arunachalam' and the Kamal Haasan vehicle 'Anbe Sivam.'
"I've had the Sanghamitra idea with me for a decade now. I was waiting for the right kind of budget and the necessary technology to come my way. The time is now ripe. I wanted to be sure that I'd be able to do full justice to the magnitude of the tale before embarking upon making it," he said.
Acknowledging that the success of 'Baahubali' has definitely been instrumental in throwing the doors open for a film as ambitious as his, Sundar asserted that 'Sanghamitra' will go beyond the S S Rajamouli-directed VFX blockbuster.
"Bahubali took south Indian cinema to the national level. Sanghamitra will take it to the global league. That is what we are aiming at and that is why we are in Cannes to launch the film," Sundar said.
"Although 'Sanghamitra' will be a purely Indian film without a trace of any western influences, we are looking for an international audience," he said.
Inspired by the reigns of Tamil rulers of ancient times, 'Sanghamitra', Sundar said, will be a purely fictional take on the state's glorious past.
"The idea is to bring to the world a sweeping view of the richness and achievements of Indian culture and history. Most Western films shot in India focus on slums and poverty. That is only 5 per cent of India. My film will celebrate the other side of India."
"All the hits that I have delivered thus far were only stepping stones towards this film. 'Sanghamitra' is going to be 'the' film of my directing career," Sundar said.
The director has roped in the best possible technical team to bring his vision to fruition.
Oscar-winning composer A R Rahman will score the Sanghamitra music, while the film will be lensed by National Award-winning cinematographer Thirunavukarasu.
Anju Modi will design the costumes, Kamalakannan will be in charge of VFX and Oscar winner Resul Pooutty will do the sound design of Sanghamitra.
One key member of the technical crew is production designer Sabu Cyril, who is already in the process of visualizing the look of the film.
"I was the production designer on 'Baahubali' as well," says Sabu. "So I have to ensure that I do not repeat myself in any way. 'Sanghamitra' has got to look like nothing that I have done before."...