The story behind the most expensive Indian film ever made
A refugee who fled war-torn Sri Lanka and made his home in Britain has told how he turned his life round to become a producer on the most expensive Indian film ever made.
Allirajah Subaskaran’s firm Lyca Productions has made the science-fiction extravaganza 2:0 – at a cost of $75 million (£59m), it is directed by one of India’s biggest directors and stars some of its hottest talents.
It is a tale worthy of a Bollywood movie in itself.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Subaskaran said: “I got involved in the movie because of my passion (for film) but I’m a businessman and now I’m going to open up offices in India and produce movies in different languages and also go into Hollywood.
“When I started this movie people were wondering if I could collect this money (that I had invested) or not but actually now, because the market is growing day by day, I think our goal is already achieved before the movie is released.
“I think we will double the amount we invested.”
Mr Subaskaran initially fled to Paris from Sri Lanka and worked for his family’s business. He quickly learned that pre-paid international phone cards for immigrants to call home were their biggest sellers, and later moved to the UK to start his business.
He founded Lycamobile in 2006 and now has 15 million customers in 23 countries.
Now pursuing his passion for film, 2.0, starring Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson, has just been released.
Jackson is a British actress and a huge star in Bollywood, but has also starred in the Hollywood series Supergirl. Kumar is the current king of the North Indian box office, while Rajinikanth is regarded as the most popular actor in South Indian film history.
Directed by filmmaker Shankar, one of the biggest directors in India, the film has been launched in three different languages and is expected to be a huge hit – the trailer alone has received 25 million views in less than 24 hours.
Mr Subaskaran says he loves everything about the film.
“I liked the script, I liked the story, I liked the concept,” he said. “The biggest director in India is Shankar so I liked his concept, I believed in his talents.
“When I was approached I could see the potential of this movie. Rajinikanth is a superstar, Akshay also stars, and it has music from the Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman (who won two Academy Awards for Slumdog Millionaire). And Amy Jackson, of course. I’m British now – we had a British star as well.”
London-based firm Double Negative, winners of five BAFTAs and four Oscars for their work on Inception, Blade Runner, Interstellar, Black Mirror and Harry Potter, worked on the special effects, while the music was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Bollywood still has a way to go to catch up with Hollywood when it comes to spending – Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides officially holds the record for the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of $378.5 million (£296m)
:: 2.0 releases worldwide on Thursday