Ilankai Tamil Sangam

23rd Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

I Have a Dream

Producer J.K. Saravana is targeting his film Chennai 600028 at the India diaspora

by Ong Sor Fern, Straits Times, March 19, 2007

Hence, the film features both Tamil and English dialogue. It follows the template of recent offerings from Bollywood in Mumbai, which blend Hindi and English to attract an international audience.

SINGAPOREAN J.K. Saravana is hoping his first film - Chennai 600028 - will be the next big thing in Tamil films.

The movie, which follows a team of street cricket players through a year of their lives, is scheduled to open here early next month. It will also be screened in India, Malaysia, Canada, France and the United States.

The movie is directed by actor Venkat Prabhu, who is the son of famous director Kasthuri Raja, and boasts a soundtrack by popular composer Yuvan Shankar Raja.

Saravana, 26, co-produced the film with S.P. Charan, the son of actor-singer S.P. Balasubramaniam. He met many of these celebrities because his family was in the concert promoting business for many years.

The $1.2-million movie, a joint venture between Saravana's Tantra Films and Capital Film Works, was shot last year in Chennai, India, the heart of the Tamil-language film industry.

The numbers in the title refer to the postal code of a lower middle-class district in Chennai called Rajaannamalaipuram.

But Saravana is quick to add that he wants the film to be a hit in Singapore, 'like a Jack Neo film which reaches out to the entire population'.

Hence, the film features both Tamil and English dialogue. It follows the template of recent offerings from Bollywood in Mumbai, which blend Hindi and English to attract an international audience.

Saravana, who has produced award-winning television series for MediaCorp's Vasantham channel, is hoping to attract a mainstream crossover audience.

'Tamil movies so far cater mostly to the India market,' he says. 'My main aim is to create a parallel industry in Singapore. My audience is the Indian diaspora.'

Such audiences would include the substantial Sri Lankan diaspora, which forms a core audience for Tamil cinema.

So, the film's marketing campaign is pitched beyond Indian shores. The movie's soundtrack, a radio-friendly mix of dance, hip hop and pop ballads, was released on Feb 16 in India, Singapore and Malaysia to pique audience interest in the film.

And its release coincides with the cricket World Cup, which Saravana hopes will drum up audience interest.

The producer himself is a football fan. He inherited a love of the sport from his grandfather, former World Cup referee George Suppiah.

The only son of a retired concert promoter whose Ajantha Entertainment company organised shows featuring stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Saravana studied at Anglo-Chinese schools from primary to junior college level, and gave up a place at the University of Southern California to help out with the family business when his mother died.

He says earnestly that he hopes this producing gig will lead to directing opportunities.

Showbusiness, he says, 'is a long-term dream'.