10 small films in the offing, says ‘Darbar’ producer Subaskaran Allirajah

Subaskaran Allirajah of Lyca Productions

Subaskaran Allirajah of Lyca Productions   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Sri Lanka-born British Tamil businessman also has Mani Ratnam’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ and ‘Indian 2’ starring Kamal Hassan coming up

Following his production house’s latest film Darbar starring Rajinikanth, Lyca Productions chairman Subaskaran Allirajah says he will produce at least 10 small films this year.

“It doesn’t always have to be a superstar or a big director. My interest is really in good cinema,” says the Sri Lanka-born British Tamil businessman, who was in Colombo recently.


Darbar, said to be made on a budget of ₹200 crore, is “doing well”. Lyca’s earlier Rajinikanth starrer 2.0 was reportedly made with a budget of over ₹500 crore. The production house has also been associated with the distribution of films made with relatively smaller budgets, including the acclaimed Kaala and Vada Chennai. “There is no contradiction there. In fact, the logic of business demands that we back different kinds of films and that has worked well for us,” Mr. Allirajah told The Hindu atthe Taj Samudra here.

Mr. Allirajah’s wealth comes from his huge mobile network operating company in London. But his decision to put his money into films is driven by his own passion for Tamil cinema right from his student days when he says he watched “one or two films” a day.

Today, his Chennai-based production house is behind some of Kollywood’s biggest and much-anticipated projects, including Mani Ratnam’s upcoming Ponniyin Selvan — which he is co-producing with Madras Talkies — and Indian 2 starring Kamal Hassan.

Mr. Allirajah hails from Mullaitivu, in the island’s Tamil-majority Northern Province. As a teenager he fled the country to escape the war that had just begun. After spending about 10 years in Paris as a refugee, he moved to London and went on to helm Lycamobile, a mobile network company that, according to its website, is present across 22 countries with 16 million users. Asked about his intriguing journey from a refugee in Paris to a business tycoon in London, Mr. Allirajah said: “I can only say it was a good accident.”

His company is one of the largest donors to the Conservative Party and has in the past been accused of evading taxes for years. The company has denied the allegations. “I’m a business man and I back the Party because of its economic policy,” Mr. Allirajah said, insisting there was “nothing political” in his choice.

The producer was also in the news here in 2017, when Rajinikanth — who was to unveil a housing scheme in Jaffna, as part of an initiative of Mr. Allirajah’s Gnanam Foundation — cancelled his visit following strong objections raised by some Tamil Nadu politicians.

“Even here [Sri Lanka], the southern media accuses me of being an ally of the LTTE, while some Tamil media say I am close to the Rajapaksas. I really wonder: Who am I?” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 8:56:35 PM |

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