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12/09/2009 12:37



DIGGING for gold appears to have become superstar Rajinikanth's favourite pastime. As if the Rs 80-crore blockbuster Sivaji ? The Boss was not enough, filmdom's money spinning hero has now signed up for India's costliest movie. Pegged at Rs 100 crore, director Shankar's Robot, a science fiction film, will see Rajni replace King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan as hero.

London-based Ayngaran International, in which Kishore Lulla-owned Eros International picked up a controlling stake last July, is to produce the film. Robot will be released in five languages for a global audience. This dream project of Shankar was also to be produced by SRK's Red Chillies Entertainment. In fact, last year, the film had been planned featuring filmdom's other cash king Shah Rukh Khan. However, owing to differences between Shankar and SRK on the creative front, as acknowledged by the latter in recent statements, the film was dropped about two months ago.

Observers say, given Shankar's penchant for large canvas presentations the cost of production of Robot could even cross the Rs 100-crore mark, setting a new Indian record. "Ayngaran and Eros Multimedia will be jointly producing Robot featuring Rajinikanth and directed by Shankar. The formal agreements will be signed soon," Ayngaran International CEO Rohan Manickavasagar told ET on Friday from London.

Eros and Ayngaran had together distributed Sivaji globally, which is said to have grossed between Rs 150 crore to Rs 170 crore from both the domestic and overseas markets. "Robot will be a joint production. The film will take anywhere between 18 to 24 months for completion and will be produced at a cost in excess of Rs 100 crore," Mr Manickavasagar said.

The film will be made in Tamil, but will be released in five languages, including Hindi and Telugu, besides a couple of other regional languages. "It will also have stars from Bollywood. But these finer details will be finalised in due course," he added.

Shankar had originally wanted to do Robot with Kamal Hassan over five years ago for Media Dreams, the now defunct film arm of Chennaibased Pentamedia Graphics. Somewhere down the line, even Hritik Roshan's name came up for serious consideration. But Rajini appears to have swung it yet again.

With Rajinikanth becoming a national phenomenon after Sivaji, which also generated interests in international markets, Robot is expected to be marketed in a big way overseas too. Tamil films have a huge market in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia and the Middle-East.


Two departments of film making -- Art and Cinematography are very important especially when you are making a futuristic film like Robot. So Shankar has signed up his favourite art director Sabu Cyril, probably the finest set designer in India, and the new and happening cinematographer Nirav Shah for the film.

Sabu has a tough job as Robot can be shot only on studio sets as the story is taking place in futuristic Chennai of the year 3000, according to the original one-line script of the director. Nirav, too, has a real difficult task ahead as he has to decide, in consultation with Shankar, the all important "look" of the film.

Will they go for a "Star Wars" futuristic look for the film? It is early days, but Shankar and his new team are going to take many weeks before they firm up the futuristic look of the film.

After everything synchronies with the script, only then will the heroine and other star cast will be decided.


Though the film's thread is not confirmed, the name 'Robot' and widely-speculated media reports suggest the story is about a maverick scientist who creates a robot and later runs into trouble with his pet creation.

When the movie does hit the screen, Shankar, known for his expertise in state-of-the-art film-making technique, could thrill filmgoers, especially Rajnikanth fans wordwide. Film buffs and Rajnikanth fans say if the duo team up again, it could be "explosive".