In 2010, conscientious Sub-inspector of Police Duraisingam made his first screen appearance in Hari’s Singam, transforming lead actor Suriya into a mass entertainer hero and launching a franchise that is one of the most successful in Southern cinema.
Expectations are naturally running high from the February 9 release Singam 3, which replays the exploits that have become the trademarks of the Tamil franchise – an upright and incorruptible hero, rapidly cut and flamboyantly choreographed action sequences, family values, and Duraisingam’s stinging slap, which sends crooks to the other end of the room. Plus, the gimmick that morphs a lion’s face onto Suriya’s, accompanied by a roar.
“I am not the kind of director who is going to be winning awards because I don’t do those types of movies,” Hari said at a press conference. The filmmaker has a reputation for fast-paced mass entertainers such as Saamy, Arul and and Thaamirabharani. His association with Suriya began in 2005 with Aaru, and the duo has continued their winning streak through Vel and the Singam series. “Singam 3 is really special because the producers have signed me the third time, and I don’t think there’s a precedent of a third part of a film in this industry,” Hari said. “This is a big movie for everyone and by far the biggest in the series. The continuity has been maintained.”
Singam 3 is finally emerging on the screens after missing its release date on at least three occasions – November, December and January. Demonetisation, the cyclone in Tamil Nadu, and competing releases were among the reasons for the movie’s inability to keep its deadline.
The new production is on a bigger scale than the previous entries. The first film, made on a budget of 15 crore, made thrice that amount at the box office. Its official Hindi remake, directed by Rohit Shetty and starring Ajay Devgn, was a blockbuster.
Singam 3 allegedly costs Rs 80 crore rupees, and has been shot at foreign locations, including Malaysia, Romania and Georgia. Harris Jayaraj has replaced regular composer Devi Sri Prasad, while Anushka Shetty (who has been in the films from the beginning), Shruti Haasan, Radhika Sarath Kumar and Soori will play important roles. The honour of playing the villain who will be punched to bits by Duraisingam has been bestowed on television actor Thakur Anoop Singh, who has also appeared in the 2016 Telugu film Rogue.
In an acknowledgement of Suriya’s appeal across the Southern states, Singam 3 will be simultaneously released as Yamudu 3 in Telugu. Suriya’s considerable appeal in overseas territories has ensured a dubbed version in English.
“Singam 3 is an extra responsibility for me as an actor,” Suriya said at the press conference. “It’s a much anticipated movie franchise, so we have been working really hard to satisfy the audience. The film has been made keeping in mind the time gap between the release of the second sequel and the third. It takes over from where we left off.”
The movie’s producer, Studio Green Productions, is anticipating a big opening. “Hari has sustained his brand image as a successful commercial director over the last 20-odd years,” Studio Green founder KE Gnanavel Raja said at the press conference. “Suriya is definitely one of the biggest openers in Tamil cinema.” Raja even claimed that Singam 3 had already done pre-release business of nearly Rs 100 crore.
“Singam 3 has been one of the most successful franchises in South Indian cinema,” explained trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai. “Suriya has a great market in Telugu and his movies do a business of over 20 crore from the two states. So the Telugu rights, satellite and audio all combined may well be over or about 100 crore.”
There is one obstacle to Suriya’s ambitions. Singam 3’s box office run will depend on the performance of the February 2 release Bogan, starring Jayam Ravi and Arvind Swamy. “It all depends on how Bogan will turn out because if it does well, screen availability will be a problem,” Pillai said. “Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 and a couple of English movies are hitting the screens at around the same time. But that doesn’t necessarily impact business in Tamil, where I am guessing it’ll be smooth sailing for Suriya.”
Hari is confident that Singam 3 packs enough of a punch to meet expectations. “The idea was initially to collaborate for a totally different script, but every time I meet someone on the street, I would be asked when Singam 3 was releasing,” Hari said. “We thought it would be really hard to let the audience down, so I used the cop stories I had in mind for Singam 3. This is my fourteenth film and fifth with Suriya. There are many sequels in Tamil, and the success of Singam 3 will be an encouragement for other Tamil directors to consider doing a third part.”