Written and directed by Puri Jagannadh, Liger: Saala Crossbreed, starring Vijay Deverakonda, Mike Tyson, and Ananya Panday, is Dharma Productions’ next stab at the ‘Pan Indian’ cinematic ecosystem after Baahubali. The film releases in theaters on August 25th in Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, and Kannada.
A glimpse of the film shows Vijay Deverakonda’s character’s journey from being a “slumdog”, a chai wala from Mumbai to becoming a boxing champion. He is very angry — smashing skulls, smacking dialogues — though we do not know why.
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 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 snowballed post the release of Arjun Reddy.
Liger, produced by Karan Johar, Charmme Kaur, Apoorva Mehta and Hiroo Yash Johar under Puri Connects and Dharma Productions, will also star Ramya Krishnan, Ronit Bose Roy, Vishu Reddy and Makarand Deshpande.