- Billionaire BR Shetty has interests in healthcare and finance
- Mr Shetty’s company is UAE’s largest private healthcare provider
- He is investing $150 million in the film adaptation of ‘Mahabharata’
UAE-based Indian billionaire BR Shetty, who has interests in healthcare and finance, said on Sunday that he expects to make $1 billion in revenue from his first foray into the film-making business – an adaptation of the epic, the Mahabharata.
Mr Shetty, joint non-executive chairman of London-listed NMC Health, announced in April he was investing $150 million in the film franchise, which is set to be India’s most expensive film.
Mr Shetty, who is producer of the project and VA Shrikumar Menon, the director, on Sunday spoke with reporters about their plans, which will involve two films of just under six hours in total. The films will have three different language versions – Malayalam, English and Hindi.
Mr Shetty told reporters the revenue from the first film was expected to be around $1 billion.
The film will be made partly in Abu Dhabi and other locations, including potentially Sri Lanka and India, which are still to be confirmed.
More details about the cast and crew will be disclosed within 100 days, Menon said. Filming will start in May 2018, with the first film’s release slated for 2020 and the second film around 100 days later, he said.
Mr Shetty’s founded NMC Health in 1975, which has become the UAE’s largest private healthcare provider. After stepping down as chief executive in March, he is now joint non-executive chairman. He is also chairman of UAE Exchange, the largest remittance and foreign exchange business in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi, Jun 4 : In the first interaction with international media held on Sunday, Jun 4 here, the producer, Dr B R Shetty, UAE-based billionaire businessman and philanthropist and the director, V A Shrikumar Menon, shared their vision and plans to build the US$150 million Mahabharata into a billion dollar franchise. The announcement of the magnum opus had earlier created waves in the international entertainment media.
Dr B R Shetty said, “I have always been proud of our rich heritage and culture and have promoted Indian culture for over four decades. Like millions of Indians, I have been immersed in the teachings of the Mahabharata ever since I was a child. I remember reading the epic in its simpler form as a boy and being fascinated by the way the battle between good and bad was depicted. Growing up, I continued to find inspiration in its pages whenever I faced a challenge, and the epic never failed in showing me the right direction. It has always been my vision to take this grand epic to the people of the world and this project gives me the opportunity to honour my commitment to the epic.”
Elaborating further on his vision, Dr B R Shetty continued, “The movie will be produced to the best global standards and drawn upon the finest creative and technical talent to ensure a magnum opus of epic proportions that will capture the imagination of a global audience.”
The film will be a coming together of the crème de la crème of the global cinema in terms of its cast and crew. The technical crew would include some of the great names in world cinema including Academy winners. The cast will have the best of talents from Indian cinema as well as some big names from Hollywood. A global team led by an Internationally renowned casting director will handpick the cast. Director V A Shrikumar Menon said that discussions in this regard had already begun with various parties.
Explaining further, he said, “My vision for this magnum opus is to be a rendition of the one of the world’s greatest epics that will take the audience’s breath away. Internationally renowned Malayalam superstar Mohanlal will be essaying the role of Bhima and has set aside two years for this project. This dedication and investment of time will be required from every actor. We will have the best of global and Indian talent associated with the film. We are paying special attention to the VFX and over 50% of the production budget has been reserved for it to ensure that no corners are cut in delivering a dazzling visual experience.”
‘Mahabharata’ is to be made with master versions in three languages, i.e. Malayalam, English and Hindi. It will be dubbed and sub-titled in all Indian languages as well as major foreign languages.
Elaborating on the plans for distribution of the film, Menon said, “We will soon be announcing specific additions to the team in the areas of marketing and distribution to build global alliances to ensure ‘Mahabharata’ reaches audiences worldwide. We aim to have a large global release worthy of the film, targeting multi-country and multi-platform releases as also international franchises across its lifetime. We will begin showcasing the project at major film markets across the world soon.”
About Dr B R Shetty
Dr Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty (known as Dr. B.R. Shetty) is the Founder and Chairman of Abu Dhabi based NMC group. He also heads UAE Exchange, Xpress Money and Travelex. A serial entrepreneur, Dr Shetty has business interests in pharmaceuticals, global financial services, retail, advertising and information technology. The enterprise he has built over the years is truly a metaphor of India’s emerging leadership in a global marketplace.
Dr B R Shetty has been a keen supporter of Indian arts and culture for over many decades. With his decision to back Mahabharata, Dr.Shetty will join the league of visionary producers like Lord Richard Attenbourgh, who backed the biopic ‘Gandhi’ which was based on the life of India’s most famous freedom fighter, which appealed to a global audience.
About V A Shrikumar Menon
V A Shrikumar Menon is an Indian Ad film director. He is the Founder Chairman, Managing Director and Creative Head of Push Integrated Communications, an integrated communications company that provides a gamut of services including business consulting, branding, advertisement, corporate events, public relations etc. As an ad film director, he has directed more than 400 films for various brands. His first feature film titled ‘Odiyan’ is set to release in 2018.
It remains almost impossible to narrate Mahabharata in the big screen except by way of adaptation of M T Vasudevan Nair’s Jnanpeeth Award winning novel Randamoozham (The Second Turn). This novel narrates Mahabharata through the eyes of Bhima, the second of the Pandavas. The screenplay is written by the writer himself, who holds a record of maximum national awards for screen writing in the history of Indian cinema.
The ancient Sanskrit epic of Mahabharata has been a topic of creative adaptation in different formats for many decades. There have also been efforts to render it, but the success of these have been limited to the stage or serialization for the television audience. Hence, this project will be the first of its kind to take the epic, which has engaged generations of audience, on the silver screen at such a grand level. The Indian core team led by Dr B R Shetty augurs well to ensure that the sanctity and the iconic status of the epic is upheld.
Dr B R Shetty said, “Mahabharata is one of the greatest epics. This movie will be a true ‘Make in India’ made for the world. Mahabharata mesmerizes as well as brings focus on life and living. I believe that this film will not only set global benchmarks, but also reposition India and its prowess in mythological storytelling. Importantly, am awestruck by the fantastic screenplay by Vasudevan Nair and I have tremendous faith in the ability of Menon to paint this narrative on celluloid. His passion and energy are boundless.” Dr Shetty added.
Commenting on the initiative, Vasudevan Nair, recipient of almost every literary award in the India including the Jnanpith Award and many abroad said “I’m extremely happy with Dr Shetty’s belief in the potential of the story and his passion and commitment to take it to global audiences. I sincerely congratulate him for his vision in backing a project of this scale.”
Menon who has been living the script and researching for this project for the past few years, said, “I would like to sincerely thank Dr Shetty for having immense faith in this project and help bring it to life with his financial commitment and innate pride on Indian heritage. We are fully geared to attain the next level of production quality and visual magic, as well as narrative wizardry with this initiative.”