Shankar the director of such Tamil mega-hits as Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans and Boys is rightfully considered one of the hottest filmmakers in Tamil cinema. He has seldom ventured into Hindi cinema. His first Hindi film Nayak was also his last in Hindi.
Now the sci-fi flick Endhiran, said to be the costliest film ever, is being released in Hindi as Robot. Said to be the most expensive Indian film ever, Robot naturally has Shankar looking forward to another foray into Hindi cinema, albeit in a dubbed avatar.
Says the soft spoken director, "All my earlier Tamil films were dubbed into Hindi without my consent, let alone supervision. Some of them were very badly dubbed. I used to get to know about the release of my dubbed films from other people. In Robot I've sat on the details of the Hindi dubbing myself."
Shankar got writer-lyricist Swanand Kirkire to do the Hindi dialogues. Says the director, "He selected the voices in Hindi for every character. They were sent to me for approval, only then were they used. I made sure that the nuances from the Tamil were not lost in the Hindi version. I feel the Hindi version of Endhiran is closer in flavour and spirit to the Tamil version than all my Tamil films in Hindi."
Robot was supposed to be made in the year 2000 with Kamal Hassan in the lead. Says Shankar, "I was planning to make it in 2000 with Kamal Hassan and Preity Zinta in the lead. But I got busy with the Hindi film Nayak. I was supposed to get back to Robot with Kamalji. Now it's finally been done with Rajinikanth."
Robot has an unprecedented advance booking at the South Indian box office. Explains Shankar, "It's the first full-fledged science-fiction film in India. We've tried to make it on a par with science-fiction films from Hollywood because audience here are now familiar with the visual effects in the biggest Hollywood films. Our budget is more than Rs. 100 crore. Just the talent involved in Robot makes it an awesome project. We got technicians from Hollywood and China involved. We made sure whatever resources were not available here was made available to us from the outside. We couldn't afford the Rs.1000 crore budget of Hollywood sci-fi films but we've done our best. And we haven't gone overboard. The visual effects are the USP of Robot." Rajinikanth is of course the super-USP of Robot.
Says the director, "I don't know if I can be in Mumbai for the release of the Hindi version. I've to be in Chennai for the Tamil premiere. I'm at the moment still in the lab."