Film producer D Suresh Babu says that in the absence of good scripts, it is financially viable to back remakes of hit movies as they have already been tested in front of the audiences. Babu has bankrolled the Telugu movie Narappa, a remake of Tamil hit Asuran for which its lead star Dhanush had won the National Award for best actor earlier this year.
The Telugu adaptation, starring Venkatesh Daggubati, Priyamani and Karthik Rathnam, is jointly produced by Babu and Kalaippuli S Thanu, the producer of the original movie. "We have data which shows remakes are more successful than straight films. Like, Tamil to Telugu remake is successful. There are straight films that are also successful but remakes give you a sense of (financial) security because it is a tested script," Babu told PTI in a Zoom interview.
"Maybe there is not enough great content being written so when somebody writes content well in one language so why not make it in again," he added. Asuran, which also won the National Award for best film in Tamil, was written and directed by Vetrimaaran. The 2019 original revolved around a farmer who goes on the run with his family after his son murders an upper-caste landlord in a fit of vengeance.
Babu, who heads the banner Suresh Productions, said there is a dearth of powerful narratives, especially for stars in Telugu cinema. "Usually, they (writers) will not write such stories for a star like Venky and even if they do they will make it in a more glamourised way. They will not make heroes from the poor (background) and someone who has suffered so much," he said.
"In the earlier days we had 'Do Bigha Zameen', where we had (heroes playing) downtrodden people. Now you don't see our stars play this role so it was a great opportunity and he (Venkatesh) was very excited about it," he added. Directed by Srikanth Addala, Narappa released on Amazon Prime Video on Tuesday. What drove Babu to produce the Telugu remake of Asuran was the film's strong social commentary.
"There is a dialogue- 'They may rob your land, money but they can't take your education away, study and if you study you will make it in life'. It is an indirect message that getting educated is important. It is not a preachy film," he said. Echoing similar sentiment, Prabhu, son of producer Kalaipuli S Thanu, said good movies should be remade in different languages. "A good film with a good message should be passed on to everyone. The film is not about the caste system but more about how poor people suffer because of rich guys. It also talks about the importance of education," Prabhu said.
Lauding how director Vetrimaaran tackled the issues of oppression and the importance of education in Asuran, Babu said Addala has retained the essence of the original. "He doesn't hit it on your face but makes sure the message comes across. If you go directly, then there will be some aversion or controversy."
Babu is now looking forward to releasing his next Drushyam 2, the Telugu remake of the Malayalam film Drishyam 2 which starred Mohanlal. The remake version will see Venkatesh reprise his role of Rambabu from the 2014 Drushyam, which was also a remake. The film is currently in the post-production stage and the team is yet to take a call regarding the OTT release of the film, Babu said.