Theatre

Thinking big for the small screen

Devyani in Hitler.

Devyani in Hitler.  

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Director Suresh Krissna sets a trend with ‘Hitler’, a film made for television.

Not one to rest on past laurels, Suresh Krissna, the maker of all time hits like ‘Baasha’, ‘Annamalai’ and ‘Aaha’, is a director who is always on the go. “I never close my doors to worthwhile opportunities,” he says. Probably the reason why as director he could smoothly shift gears to work in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada film industries, all at the same time, a feat not many of his ilk can boast of.

Fast Forward to the present — Krissna’s full length Tamil film, ‘Hitler,’ made on an impossible budget of just Rs. 35 lakhs, had a direct television release on Zee Tamil a couple of weeks ago and proved commercially viable. Starring ‘Delhi’ Ganesh and Devyani in pivotal roles, with Vignesh, Bharat Kalyan, and newcomers Arjun and Pavithra, the two-hour film was made in nine days. “And that includes post-production,” he laughs.

In a scenario where research has shown that television lures mainly the 35-plus age group, the available option for story-driven entertainment is the week-day soap. Satellite channels have woken up to the fact that only films with a success run at the cinemas garner revenue. Hence they do not buy films that have bombed at the BO.

Sensing the lacuna, Krissna hit upon the idea of providing wholesome, full-length features for drawing room viewers — “films with all the commercial aspects of an appealing script and music, dance and capable actors who have not been over-exposed in serials.” But Devyani … Even before I can complete my query, Krissna clarifies, “She has returned to television after a two-year hiatus, with ‘Hitler’ and ‘Delhi’ Ganesh’s portrayal of the protagonist is remarkable. In ‘Hitler’ he has entertained viewers with panache.

“Earlier as satellite channels bought a film before knowing whether it would win or come a cropper, it was like a betting of sorts for them. But here I give them scripts, and they select from them, based on its suitability for their target viewers, and back it.” Suresh Krissna produced ‘Hitler’ under his home banner on a mutually agreed-upon budget, and at the end of the day everyone is happy.

Written by Mumbai-based writer Uttam Gada, ‘Hitler,’ with its tag line, ‘Engirundho Vandhaan,’ (the tag is more appropriate because the protagonist isn’t exactly a Hitler) is the story of an old man who seems callous, selfish, arbitrary and slightly villainous. Bharat Kalyan, an under-utilised actor with potential, shines, whereas Arjun, the young lover in ‘Hitler,’ isn’t expressive enough, particularly in the climax.

The trust Nandini reposes in the old man and the related scenes that border on melodrama irritate.

Nevertheless the reasonably suspenseful denouement is interesting and this attempt for television is undoubtedly new.

‘Hitler’ opens a lucrative avenue for small producers. “Such films with strong story content cannot be made for the big screen. Films for television have really picked up on Zee Marathi and Zee Bangla channels. It’s a matter of time before it catches up here. I am already getting offers for such projects from other language channels. It could be a win-win situation for filmmakers,” says Krissna.

In their promotional bytes, directors from K. S. Ravikumar and Chimbudevan to Vetrimaaran and

Karthik Subburaj, and actors Vishal, Karthi and Sangeetha, have lauded the effort. Suresh Krissna has paved the way — cinema for the box could flourish if capable, young makers follow suit.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 9:25:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Thinking-big-for-the-small-screen/article14425908.ece

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