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Nerkonda Paarvai: Remakes are safer investments, says Boney Kapoor

Boney Kapoor with Ajith Kumar on the set of ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’

Boney Kapoor with Ajith Kumar on the set of ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The Bollywood producer, brother of actor Anil Kapoor, discusses his upcoming film with actor Ajith Kumar, which is directed by H Vinoth

Boney Kapoor was 25 when he first visited Madras in 1978.

He had already been exposed to cinema from the South, and he speaks of his admiration for Tamil film directors of that era and earlier, like A Bhimsingh, CV Sridhar, P Bharathiraja, K Balachander and K Bhagyaraj.

The visit was special for two reasons — first, it introduced him to a phenomenon that was late actor Sridevi, whom he’d go on to marry years later, and second, it proved to him beyond doubt that the South produced movies with richer content than the Hindi film industry.

“The thrust of film-making was on the subject. It brought a freshness. The films were far more daring. For instance, a Sigappu Rojakkal could not be attempted in Hindi,” says Boney, the eldest son of the late Surinder Kapoor, who was also a Bollywood film producer.

Thus emerged the idea of borrowing scripts of films that had hit the critical and commercial jackpot down South, restyle it to suit the cultural sensitivities of a Hindi-speaking audience, and turn it into a profitable commercial venture up North. And Boney, as he admits, was quite successful in the art of remaking a film.

“When doing a remake, you’re on safer territory. You know you cannot go absolutely wrong. But how right it goes depends on various factors like casting and the way you adapt the film,” he adds.

Ajith Kumar in a still from ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’

Ajith Kumar in a still from ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In the line of sight

Boney, 63, has ventured into Tamil film production for the first time in a nearly 40-year career.

Via his production house Bayview Projects, he has financed Ajith Kumar’s upcoming Nerkonda Paarvai — an adaptation of the Hindi film Pink, starring Taapsee and Amitabh Bachchan — which is directed by H Vinoth.

“We’ve kept the spirit and soul [of Pink] intact. But we’ve kept in mind the star power of Ajith plus the kind of acceptance the subject would have in this region. I feel Vinoth has done a swell job,” he says, adding that the original’s director, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, was “very happy” with the new situations and scenes that have been added to Nerkonda Paarvai because “all the additions were organic” and it “gelled well with the original content” too.

“In fact, he (Chowdhury) had conceived Pink keeping a hero of Ajith’s age group in mind but when Mr Bachchan came on board, he had to make some changes to adapt the script,” says Boney.

Ajith Kumar in ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’

Ajith Kumar in ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

On a new trail

With Nerkonda Paarvai, however, the producer is also reversing a trend he helped establish in Bollywood.

Not in 10 years has a South film he remade in Hindi, since the Salman Khan-starrer Wanted (2009), emerged profitable. But it is not a messy financial situation — he adds that he’s “almost out” of his much-publicised debt — that has turned the tables for him. Instead, it is the dearth of content-driven films with remake potential.

“I feel southern cinema was far richer in content than what it is today. All your content-driven films now have a new cast or feature upcoming actors, whereas filmmakers like Bharathiraja and Balachander were responsible for making stars. Bhagyaraj created many heroines,” he says, adding that a film like Pithamagan, which featured Vikram and Suriya, would not be possible with the same cast today.

(from left to right) Abhirami Venkatachalam, Shraddha Srinath, Andrea Tariang in ‘Nerkonda Paarvai Movie’

(from left to right) Abhirami Venkatachalam, Shraddha Srinath, Andrea Tariang in ‘Nerkonda Paarvai Movie’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Could another reason be the established stars’ disinclination to be part of content-oriented films? Boney says he believes that their decisions are influenced by the fact that Tamil cinema has limited market potential, unlike Hindi films. “Their (big stars) films cater to Tamil Nadu and the people of this region who have settled abroad. Obviously, they would choose subjects which have doses of nativity because business potential in B and C centres increases proportionally to the nativity element. And since the stars have a huge following in these areas, they have to play characters which can be identified in these regions,” he adds.

Nerkonda Paarvai could be a game changer in two respects. For Boney, who tasted success in the Chinese market with Mom (2017) — Sridevi’s final film which grossed over $16 million in China after releasing earlier this year — is considering releasing the Ajith Kumar-starrer in this previously untapped market.

“There’s huge potential in China. They have about 50,000 screens and they need content, which we produce a lot. Earlier, the Chinese State controlled which films would release but now there are private distributors too.”

Ajith Kumar with cinematographer Nirav Shah on the set of ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’

Ajith Kumar with cinematographer Nirav Shah on the set of ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Changing perspectives

The second, more crucial, aspect — at least as far as Tamil cinema is concerned — is that Nerkonda Paarvai can shake up the choice of films for big heroes. “Although it is a remake, it is a bold step for a big hero to do this kind of role, where he is not doing formula-oriented things.”

Already, there is speculation that Tamil cinema’s other big star — Vijay, is likely to follow suit with content-heavy roles. At the forefront of this change is Boney’s most prized asset for now, Ajith Kumar, with whom he is already making another film.

Dubbed Thala 60, this project too will be helmed by Vinoth. Boney has gone on record to state that this film will incorporate elements of racing, something his star is passionate about in real life. For now, though, he is only willing to reveal that it is an “action entertainer.”

Ajith Kumar with H Vinoth on the set of ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’

Ajith Kumar with H Vinoth on the set of ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Will Boney Kapoor back the changes that he so wishes to see in Tamil cinema? Such as producing a content-oriented script, if one were to come his way? “I’m still taking baby steps in this industry,” he remarks cautiously.

But he’s no newcomer, considering his association with the Tamil industry extends back to 1978. “Making a film and having an association is different. Today, I owe a lot to the South in terms of my personal and professional life. This could be my payback time. I have to learn the aspects of how film-making happens here, in time. I’ll also have to play by the rules of this place,” he says.

Yet despite the highs and lows, he adds in conclusion that his passion for making films remains unflinchingly strong. “My passion for film-making was bordering indulgence. But gone are those days when I was adventurous.”

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 12:59:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/nerkonda-paarvai-remakes-are-safer-investments-says-boney-kapoor/article28619220.ece

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