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Farhan Akhtar’s Move Into Telugu Cinema May Backfire

August 14, 2019

Farhan Akhtar and his business partner Ritesh Sidhvani seem to have hit on a goldmine, literally.After making more money on the Hindi dubbed version of Kolar Goldmine Films(KGF) than they made on all their productions so far (just for the record, Farhan and Ritesh’s cult film Dil Chahta Hai was a boxoffice flop) Akhtar and Sidhwani have now gone and bought the Hindi rights of the big Telugu historical bio-pic Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy which has Chiranjeevi playing the title role.

The film also boasts of a stellar cast that includes Sudeep, Vijay Sethupathi, Jagapathi Babu, Nayanthara, Tamannaah, Anushka Shetty and Amitabh Bachchan.Interestingly Mr Bachchan who has only a guest appearance in this ambitious wannabe epic is mentioned right on top of the credit titles in the Hindi announcement of the Telugu magnum opus.

However the endeavour to woo Hindi audiences into a Telugu-language period drama may not work the same magic for Akhtar and Sidhwani as KGF.KGF worked mainly because of the action scenes, never seen before in Indian cinema. On the otherhand Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy with its heavily colloquial dialogue-oriented format of presentation is another ballgame altogether.

This time trade experts in Bollywood feel Farhan Akhtar and his partner may have bitten more than they can chew.For one, this is a vehicle primarily to aggrandize and amplify Chiranjeevi’s star power. All the other stalwarts including Amitabh Bachchan who have agreed to be part of the film have done so only on the behest of Chiranjeevi.

Secondly, unlike KGF this time the action will NOT speak louder than words. Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy will be a verbose film with extreme culture-specificity in the dialogues. This time there won’t be the same visceral connect as an Baahubali or KGF.

Lastly, the director Surender Reddy has no experience in making historicals. How do we know he is capable of ‘making history’?

Is Bollywood’s gold rush towards Telugu cinema an excursion into an ersatz El Dorado?

We recently saw Karan Johar paying a hefty hasty amount for the remake of the Telugu film Dear Comrade and living to regret his generosity after the film underperformed.

Will Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar fall flat on their faces in their attempt to cash in on the Southside flourish of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy?