Wish to take Indian cinema to the global level while adhering to our roots, says producer Vijay Kiragandur

The producer talks about the pan-Indian phenomenon, his vision for Indian cinema, future projects of Hombale Films, association with Yash and Dr Puneeth Rajkumar, and a lot more.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published Jan 08, 2023 | 11:00 AMUpdatedJan 08, 2023 | 11:00 AM

hombale films producer vijay kiragandur

Producer Vijay Kiragandur, the man behind the Hombale Films banner, recently made news by announcing that they intend to invest ₹3000 crore in the entertainment sector in the coming five years.

The writing on the wall is clear, as Vijay aims to take Indian cinema to the global level.

In an exclusive interview with South First, he takes a look back at the journey of Hombale Films, its future projects, and much more.

Why did you enter this field? Was it accidental or was it your love for cinema that prompted you to become a producer?

I have been drawn to movies since my childhood. I have always been a filmmaker at heart and wanted to venture into movie-making.

My movie-making has always been fuelled by passion and I don’t believe in virality.

I seek cinema as a force for change and want to unlock the potential of Indian cinema. I want to promote Indian culture, tradition, and roots across the globe.

Tell us about your initial days and your journey from Ninnidhale to KGF.

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Producer Vijay Kiragandur. (Supplied)

As a first-generation filmmaker, the journey has been like a sine wave, but it has been a fruitful and fulfilling one.

We have had our share of trials and tribulations on this journey. But with the support of a strong team at Hombale Films, we have overcome the difficult phase.

We want to achieve a lot more in the future. My vision is to create an ecosystem in the movie industry that would be admired and sought out for its professionalism and quality of work.

Q. What prompted you to put a huge amount into the KGF franchise? Did you ever think of the risk involved in producing one of the biggest projects in the Kannada film industry?

A. We believed in the story initially and then decided to take the plunge. We did show it to SS Rajamouli sir also and a few other distributors.

Everyone around expressed the same opinion that the movie had everything to become a pan-Indian project. The risk and the reward ratio always go hand in hand.

We believed in the content and went ahead. The journey has been terrifically rewarding.

Q. Now that the South Indian film industry has made a mark for itself in Indian cinema, in the recent past, what’s your take on the present scenario?

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A poster of ‘KGF: Chapter 2’. (Supplied)

A. The pandemic changed a lot of things. People got accustomed to watching high-quality shows on streaming (OTT) platforms, in the comfort of their homes.

This offered them greater variety and great comfort at a far more reasonable cost. They visit the theatres only to watch a spectacular film that has all the possible bells and whistles.

In this altered worldview, South Indian films got their heightened drama, fantasy-style action and overall grandiose treatment tick all the right boxes for cinema hall enthusiasts.

The writing was perhaps on the wall since Baahubali captured the public’s imagination in the Hindi heartland.

The struggle hasn’t been easy for the South Indian film industry. Now it has started getting its due, after quite a long time. People started acknowledging good content and appreciating real and practical cinema.

Thanks to subtitles and good dubbing, language is no longer a barrier. Hence, the South Indian film industry is reaping the benefits.

It continues to offer something to everyone — a desi milieu, slick action, a tough hero, a dastardly villain, romance, scale and splendour.

Also Read: How Kantara put Kannada cinema back in the limelight

Q. While KGF was made on a huge budget, what made you take up Kantara? What, according to you, made it reach beyond boundaries?

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A poster of ‘Tyson’. (Supplied)

A. For us, no film is big or small. Story and project matter to us. Our planning has always been big (for a big picture).

Kantara was a divine blessing, indeed. We take pride in it as we could share our culture with the rest of the world. We like to reach our masses and want to convey our story to every nook and corner of India.

The movie could penetrate because people could relate to it. It all started with mouth-to-mouth publicity. Fans were the actual catalysts for our rapid growth.

Q. What’s your take on the pan-India phenomenon? Do you think KGF‘s success led to the surge in pan-India projects in the Kannada film industry?

A. It is always good to feel inspired and to inspire everyone around. We have a lot of potential, not only in the Kannada film industry but across India. It’s a welcome step in the right direction.

Cinema has, for a long time now, been lifting the mood of the nation, whether in good times or bad. More content-specific movies are the need of the hour and the audience is also reciprocating positively to the pan-India movies.

Q. Which one of these excites you more when taking up a new project — is it the content or the film cast or the making process?

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A poster of Prabhas’ ‘Salaar’, (Supplied)

A. We lay a great emphasis on the script and the content of the movie. For us, that’s paramount.

We have been following the same strategy with all our movies. We have a strong team at the backend, which is heavily involved in research and marketing.

For the content and the script, we do multiple rounds of sittings, till we are satisfied. Once it is locked, we leave it at the disposal of the director’s creativity and don’t interfere much after that. We believe in the professional freedom of an individual.

Q. Tell us about the association of Hombale Films with Rocking Star Yash.

A. We have had a long association with Yash before KGF. We did Masterpiece with him. It was a regional release and had a successful run at the box office.

The story and the bond never had a pause since then. Together, we have shared a phenomenal run since then. Well, there’s a lot to achieve and our story will continue for long!

Q. Tell us about your memorable association with Power Star Puneeth Rajkumar since Ninnindale.

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A poster of Dr puneeth Rajkumar’s ‘Ninnidale’. (Supplied)

A. Everyone in Karnataka and outside has been a fan of the great Dr Rajkumar sir. He was revered everywhere with the deepest regard.

Since our inception, we always wanted to do our first movie with him. We waited a long time for his date and, fortunately, it happened. Since then, it has always been like a family affair.

Both on and off the screen, we’re closely affiliated with him and his family. The tradition still continues.

His demise has been a personal loss for us. He was more than an actor. He had a zeal for life and always wanted to do something big for society. We deeply miss him and can’t forget his infectious smile and personality.

Also Read: Yash, Shankar to come together for Netflix series on King Vel Pari

Q. What about your plans?

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Keerthy Suresh’s ‘Raghu Thatha’. (Supplied)

A. We intend to do 12 movies in the next couple of years. We are launching Yuva Rajkumar, the grandson of Dr Rajkumar.

We have movies lined up in Malayalam with Prithviraj, Fahadh Faasil, and Aparna. In Tamil, we are doing a film with Keerthy Suresh.

We are also listening to stories in Kannada and are already in touch with a few actors here. We also have a surprise for Sandalwood!

Q. As regards your ₹3,000 crore-investment plan, where do you like to invest in the coming days, other than full-length feature films?

A. We are working on a couple of things for now. We have always believed and aimed to achieve a certain effect by mirroring our culture across boundaries through our movies.

We will keep inspiring future generations through our content. The plan is already in process and soon we will unravel everything.

Q. Finally, do have any plans to venture into straight projects in Kollywood, Bollywood, and Hollywood in the next five years?

A poster of ‘Dhoomam’. (Supplied)

A. We have already expanded our base and are working with many stars outside the industry.

We have announced Tyson with Prithviraj, and Dhoomam with Fahadh Faasil. We are doing Salaar with Prabhas.

We want to take Indian cinema to a global level and leave an indelible imprint on our glorious culture and industry.

We are already discussing a few projects with a couple of writers for Bollywood. We are doing Raghuthatha with Keerthy and are closing on another project with a pan-India star.

We wish to take Indian culture and cinema to the global level while adhering to our roots. Hopefully one day, you never know what the future beckons for us!