Kunal Kapoor's Veeram is not a commercial film: Jayaraj at IFFI 2016

Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla | First published: 24 November 2016, 18:58 IST

If you don't know a thing about the Malayalam film industry, a good place to start would be director Jayaraj's upcoming film Veeram. Already the most expensive movie to come out of Kerala, Veeram is an Indian epic historical drama film based on Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Starring Kunal Kapoor, and produced at a budget of Rs 35 crore, it's the fifth installment in Jayaraj's 'Navarasa' series and his third adaptation of Shakespeare after Othello and Anthony & Cleopatra. It has been shot three different times in three different languages - English, Hindi and Malayalam - because, as Jayaraj says, "the target audience is a global audience".

On day 4 of ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Jayaraj was in conversation with Mayank Shekhar about his latest work.

Not a commercial film

When one thinks big budget film, it's expected that the movie will be a commercial one. However, Jayaraj, who's known as much for arthouse as commercial cinema, claims this isn't the case with Veeram. "This has been my dream," says Jayaraj.

"Sairat is proving that regional cinema has potential and is doing well."

While Shekhar kept asking if the film was a commercial venture due to its large budget, and whether Jayaraj wanted it to join the Rs 100 crore club, Jayaraj shot his questions down saying that with films like Sairat getting a lot of money, it has opened the door wide for regional cinema.

"Pullimurugan passed 100 crore. There is a lot of potential in regional cinema. We never thought a film like Sairat would cross 100 crore. Why is Sairat becoming a big hit? I saw the movie in a regular theatre and wanted to find out. Sairat is proving that regional cinema has potential and is doing well," said Jayaraj.

Made for a global audience

Since the movie is releasing in Hollywood as well, Jayaraj needed to bridge the gap in technical proficiency. For that he got the same VFX team who worked on Game of Thrones.

Jayaraj is no stranger to international exposure either. His previous film, Ottaal, won the Crystal Bear for Best Film at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, he has been garnering more attention worldwide. With the upcoming release of Veeram, the audience is only going to grow bigger.

Also read - A short film by Satyajit Ray and the process of preservation: learnings from IFFI 2016

"arthouse is limited to your region. But do you think this award can open the doors to a larger audience?" asked Shekhar. "If you have a story and you're passionate about it, then you can proceed with it and it will succeed," Jayaraj answered.

The arthouse struggle and India's cinema scene