Vijay Kiragandur of Hombale Films is busy giving final touches to his much-awaited film, Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire. Yet, he took out time to speak exclusively with Bollywood Hungama about the Prabhas-starrer, releasing it in Christmas against Dunki and a lot more.EXCLUSIVE: Salaar producer Vijay Kiragandur BREAKS silence on why he chose to release Prabhas starrer alongside Shah Rukh Khan’s Dunki; admits that December 22 was chosen as the release date due to astrological reasons
A lot is expected when a film is produced by Hombale Films. Do you feel the pressure of the tremendous expectations from audiences of all regions for Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire?
(Smiles) Obviously, there’s a pressure. After Covid, KGF - Chapter 2 (2022) was the first film that crossed the Rs. 400 crores mark. The bar was set very high. So, everything (that comes from Hombale) is compared with KGF (laughs)! People started comparing, dialogues and scenes of Salaar with KGF. Hence, I guess, whatever we come up with for the next few years, the comparisons with KGF will be inevitable. So, yes, the pressure is there but we are also confident that Salaar has shaped up very well and that it should do very well at the box office.
At present, we have started pushing content overseas. We have to send the film to many countries. We are right now busy with the last-minute mixing, mastering, etc. When we have a movie in five languages, it’s like releasing five movies together (smiles).
Not just KGF but people are also comparing Salaar with Prashanth Neel’s debut film Ugramm (2014) and that Salaar is a remake of the latter…
Prashanth Neel is the creator of both Ugramm and KGF. He’s aware of how to give a different product each time altogether. Hence, there’s no truth (to Ugramm rumours).
Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire’s trailer is novel as Prabhas is shown in the second half of the trailer, at 2:18 minutes. I am sure a lot of versions of the trailer were made before this one was selected. What was the thought process behind showing the lead hero so late into the promo?
Usually, trailers are cut in such a way that one doesn’t need to reveal the narrative. Hence, we tend to focus on the main talent. Hence, we show more of the hero, action sequences etc. With Salaar, Prashanth wanted people to understand the story and how the narrative is built. He insisted on the other characters. If you also see KGF - Chapter 2’s trailer, because there was Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon, people did not notice that Yash comes only in the later part. That’s what Prashanth does – he focuses on other characters first before unveiling the hero. I guess those who are not familiar with the other actors might grouse that they want to see Prabhas. Obviously, in the film, the hero (won’t have a late entry). But in the trailer, he was trying to convey what he was bringing to the screen. Nevertheless, I agree that it’s a bold decision.
The city of Khansaar, as shown in Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire, looks fascinating and imaginative…
Prashanth Neel gives a hint in the trailer that the story begins 1000 years ago when the forest was built into an empire and where different groups are fighting among themselves for the throne. Just like how he created a world in KGF, he has similarly created the world of Khansaar in Salaar Part 1 and 2. The territory is kind of autonomous, with no government control. Hence, a lot of illegal activities are flourishing in this city. It is massy. If you see the characters, even though they live in modern times, they dress up like they did in ancient times, following their ancestors.
Prabhas became the first Pan-India star much before Yash or Allu Arjun. Of late, his films have not done well. Does that worry you?
We don’t see one or two failures of a star as a reference. We take the success stories as a reference instead and make movies. We hope Salaar will become a blockbuster. His films might not have worked but look at the first-day figures. Nobody has got that kind of an opening in India that Prabhas sir’s movies get.
The advance booking of Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire has opened with a bang in North America. When will booking begin in India?
In India, you can’t start the booking if you don’t have the censor certificate. We have applied for the certificate already. There’s a process and a queue, which we can’t skip. We have announced that by December 15, we’ll open the bookings.
Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire was all set to release on September 28 and in the first week of September, it was announced that the film had been pushed. What was the reason behind it?
A lot of departments work together in a feature film, be it music, VFX, dubbing, sound etc. When we started putting these aspects together, we realized that there was a delay in a few departments. We had given the VFX team a deadline of mid-August. By mid-August, we could only get 50% of the VFX shots. That’s when we realized that there was no way we could bring Salaar on September 28. Prashanth told us that he had not even seen the first version of the film. Even if he got the first cut, it might have changes which would take time. That’s when we decided after discussing with all the stakeholders (to postpone the film).
We then looked at the dates from September 2023 to May 2024. The date which we felt was favourable and had long weekends was December 22. Though a Bollywood film and films in other languages are releasing at the same time, we analyzed that it is a holiday period of ten days from December 22 to January 1. This is when people will come out in large numbers to the cinemas. That’s how we locked December 22 as the release date for Salaar.
Did you think of releasing Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire on January 12, 2024, during Pongal?
Pongal is always crowded in Telugu and Tamil. Hence, we decided to avoid this period.
Dunki and Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom are releasing on December 21 while Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire releases on December 22. It is said that the decision was taken to release on December 22 due to astrological reasons. Is that true?
Yes. We announced the date based on our beliefs. So yes, we do believe in certain aspects. We always plan our dates in this manner for 10-12 years and we’ll do so even in future. That’s how we announced December 22 and then we didn’t prepone a day though Dunki and Aquaman are coming on December 21.
What have you decided about show-sharing? We have seen how things get ugly when two films clash due to the sharing of screens and shows…
We don’t want things to be ugly. We are already having meetings with the exhibitors and distributors. When we have a solo release, the occupancy generally will be around 60-70%. Some screens will go to Aquaman but between Salaar and Dunki, we hope to get 50-50 screens in the best scenario. In such a scenario, if an occupancy of 90-100% is achieved, it’ll be a good result for both films. Even if we get more screens, the occupancy will anyway go down to 60% or 70%. What we are planning is that we should get more occupancy, even if we get fewer screens than what we would have got if Salaar was a solo release. Even Overseas, these discussions are going on. Programming is the key now and that’s what we are focusing on, without getting into ugly fights (laughs)!
Earlier, people used to release two big films without a problem. In recent times, in Hollywood, Barbie and Oppenheimer released peacefully…
Yes, and they even promoted each other’s films. That’s what we should do. Going forward, during clashes on festivals or holidays, we should start respecting each other’s films. We should support each other instead of pulling each other down. By doing so, we would take the industry forward.
Hombale Films is in the news not just due to Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire but also Kantara A Legend: Chapter-1. The teaser has unanimously received a great response…
We are very excited for Kantara. The first part gave us a lot of exposure in the sense that a local story from coastal Karnataka has proved to the world that it’s the story and the storytelling that matters and yet, it can become a global phenomenon. As we often say, it’s a divine blockbuster! We took blessings from the daivas before starting the second instalment. We intend to do a neat, clean, respectable film with Kantara 2. The first look has gone viral across the board and regions. It’s a project we are eagerly waiting for, and we hope it is also successful.
When can we expect Kantara A Legend: Chapter-1 to release?
We are planning to release it in the last quarter of 2024 or the first quarter of 2025.
Which film will be released first – KGF - Chapter 3 or Salaar: Part 2?
Salaar 2 is definitely in the pipeline. As for KGF - Chapter 3, we’ll have to work out with Yash as he’s also starting work on a couple of other films. Whenever both Yash and Prashanth Neel are free, KGF - Chapter 3 will happen.
Last year, you expressed a desire to produce an original Hindi film…
We are open to doing a Hindi movie, but we always give importance to the story and the director who can implement the story. Once we tick these boxes, then we’ll align the talents. We toyed with a couple of stories, but we were not satisfied. Hence, we are looking for a promising plot. We want to debut in Bollywood with full satisfaction and confidence. We don’t do a Hindi film just for the heck of it.
Hombale Films also completes 10 years next month. Any plans to throw a party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of your respected production house and hopefully also celebrate the success of Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire?
I think we will complete 10 years this month. We would have loved to have a get-together. Because of Salaar, we are fully occupied. We are travelling and we don’t even know where we’ll be the next day. We haven’t planned anything but towards the end of the month or January, we plan to do something. We have something in mind.
More Pages: Kantara: A Legend Chapter - 1 Box Office Collection , Kantara: A Legend Chapter - 1 Movie Review
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