Vaaranam Aayiram rights goes to Azhagiri, Kalaignar TV

The ongoing tussle for supremacy between Tamil Nadu chief minister, M Karunanidhi’s elder son M K Azhagiri and the Sun TV Network’s Kalanithi Maran is now playing itself out against the backdrop of the Tamil film industry.

Last month saw Sun TV foraying into films by acquiring the worldwide rights of Kadhalil Vizhundhen which turned out to be a huge success. The film also raked up enough political controversy, when its release was initially stalled in Madurai, a region known to be pro Azhagiri.

Now Azhagiri seems keen to have his share of the tinsel pie. His son, Dayanidhi Azhagiri has acquired the theatrical rights of a much-eagerly awaited Tamil film, Vaaranam Aayiram for close to Rs 18 crore. The film, featuring actor Surya and Kannada star, Divya in the lead, and directed by Gowtham Menon, was expected to hit the screens this Diwali.

However, Cloud Nine, a film company launched by Azhagiri’s family, has postponed the movie’s release to mid-November.

“They want to create a massive marketing blitzkrieg for Vaaranam Aayiram on Kalaignar TV, just the way Maran did for his film on Sun Network channels,” said a veteran distributor of Tamil films.

Sun Pictures had undertaken a ‘never seen before’ promotional exercise, both on television and print, that raised expectations for the film, and helped to popularise the films soundtrack.

Vaaranam Aayiram came about when, after the release of Kaaka Kaaka in 2003, both the director Gautham Menon and Surya Sivakumar expressed their desire to work together in the future. In early 2005, the pair came together for a film tentatively titled Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam which also featured Asin Thottumkal in the lead role and Daniel Balaji in a supporting role. However, after a photo shoot, the film was delayed and then subsequently called off.

Nevertheless, in 2006, producer Aascar Ravichandran signed up the pair for a new film, which they confirmed was not going to be a sequel of their previous venture, and was going to be a romantic thriller. Initially titles such as Naan Thaan and Udal Porul Aavi were considered to be the title for the project but however, Gautham announced the title was decided as Vaaranam Aayiram, whose literal meaning is “the strength of a thousand elephants”.

The film is believed to be based on Character, a Dutch film by Mike van Diem, however others have claimed that it is a remake of the 1993 Hollywood movie, Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks.

The film has seven songs composed by Harris Jayaraj. The songs from the albums were released to four leading FM stations in Chennai, with one song per station, in attempt to popularise it five days before the official launch. The move by Sony BMG was the first of its kind in Indian cinema.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Ravichandran and the film’s director Gowtham has turned bitter, with discussions centering around the film’s budget.

Gowtham’s Photon Factory had originally entered into an agreement with Aascar Film to produce the film on a ‘first copy’ basis for about Rs 7 crore. However, the film was rewritten soon after its launch. This not only resulted in a prolonged delay but caused the films budget to increase by several crores

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