Karan Johar's Dharma Productions just released the poster for Liger (Lion +Tiger), a film starring Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday, directed by Puri Jagannadh. The tagline 'Saala Crossbreed' refers to Deverakonda himself, photographed with boxing gloves, foregrounding half a lion, and half a tiger, and a vanquishing grin on his face.
Liger is a pan-Indian film, releasing in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam. It's not clear which versions will be dubbed. If we are to go by Deverakonda's twitter, nationwide madness is guaranteed.
When we caught up with Deverakonda two years ago, two days before the release of Dear Comrade, an experiment to see if a film simultaneously releasing in 4 languages — Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam — might work, he was very clear about his desire to be a pan-Indian star rooted in Telugu films. "When you become an actor you want a full auditorium, you want it to reach more people," he said.
He had come to Mumbai for a five-hour stopover to meet Karan Johar about remaking Dear Comrade in Hindi, where he has no interest in playing the lead again. When asked if there is the allure of being a Hindi film hero, he was clear, "I want to do something Telugu and Hindi — something that works back home and here. I don't see myself shifting bases and moving here. I like that laid back lifestyle, I cannot wake up everyday to 5 people photographing me. Mumbai is too fast for me."
Jagannadh, who has made 34 films in 20 years, has created his own grammar of commercial Telugu cinema. Deverakonda has created a myth around himself, undented by the failure of his last two films Dear Comrade and World Famous Lover. His fanbase called Rowdies, that snowballed post the release of Arjun Reddy, were trending the #RowdyRoarsBegin hashtag early morning.
The film, produced by Karan Johar, Charmme Kaur, Apoorva Mehta and Hiroo Yash Johar, will also star Ramya Krishnan, Ronit Bose Roy, Vishu Reddy and Makarand Deshpande.