After courting small screen stars, Kollywood filmmakers are now roping in popular YouTubers for that instant connect of the film among audiences. Films like Meesaya Murukku and the upcoming Nenjamundu Nermaiundu Odu Raja have already featured YouTube stars, and now, debutant director SAK has roped in comedy duo Gopi and Sudhakar of the popular Parithaabangal YouTube channel to play the leads in his film. While Gopi and Sudhakar are the leads, the rest of the cast and crew will comprise seasoned actors and experienced technicians from the film industry. Talks are on with a popular composer as well.
“This story needed a comedy duo because the story is about two individuals who are always together. When we were looking at a duo, like Goundamani and Senthil or Laurel and Hardy, who are familiar to our public, we realised that Gopi and Sudhakar have become such a brand. Since they are already popular among the public, we felt that they would be able to make the transition to the big screen effortlessly,” says the director who is the son of Sathish, a well-known choreographer in the Kannada and Malayalam film industries. “I have also worked as an assistant cinematographer for a couple of years, and as a script doctor with directors like KS Ravikumar, Dharani, PS Mithran of Irumbu Thirai fame, and choreographer-turned-director Kalyan.”
Interestingly, the director has chosen to go the crowdfunding route to finance the film. Explaining the rationale behind this decision, he says, “Generally, it is difficult to get producers for an offbeat subject because they expect a few commercial elements and you need to make certain compromises to make your film. When I decided that this duo should play the leads in my film, I felt that we could adopt the crowdfunding approach. They have over one million subscribers on their channel and my logic was that even if one lakh subscribers among those gave us `500 each, we would be able to generate five crore.”
The team made a video announcing the film and explaining their crowdfunded approach, and the director reveals currently, they have managed to generate `75 lakh, with 12,500 contributors pitching in with any amount, ranging from `1 to `50,000. “In India, until now, the highest amount a filmmaker has managed to collect through crowdfunding is `1.3 crore for the Bollywood film I Am. Even in that case, there were 600 people who contributed, but more as investors. Lucia was made with `70 lakh collected from about 100 people. So, ours has turned out to be the crowdfunded movie with the highest contributors. And if we manage to generate over `1.3 crore, we’d become the Indian movie that generated the highest amount through crowdfunding,” he informs.
The director says that the goal is to generate `8 crore. “The script requires such a budget. There is a period portion, and we are also erecting a big set. The film also involves visual effects. So, the scale is grander than your regular independent film. That said, the budget which we are planning to generate also includes the expenses that will have to be made towards releasing and promoting the film. We will be sharing whatever money the film makes at the box office with the people who have funded the film,” he says.
Talking about their involvement in the project, Sudhakar says, “We don’t see ourselves as leads. As far as this story is concerned, we are the protagonists not heroes. The characters suit us — with a bit of humour and naivety.”
He adds that they aren’t creatively involved in the film. “It is SAK’s script totally. We know what works on YouTube, but he knows what will work in a feature film as he has already worked on the scripts of several films. We are confident he will do well, so we are particular about not interfering in his work,” says Sudhakar.