So even a banner like yours can't get a concession from them?
Nothing. No concession! We too are no exception. But here I remember an incident with N T Rama Rao. NTR was charging a lakh those days and was to do a film for us. He gave an appointment at 4.30 a.m. I went to his house with our distributor Poornachandra Rao. NTR was up and ready with his make-up. He said, "Saravanan do you know how much I am charging?" I said I knew that he was charging one lakh. He said, you know that my last two films have not done well? I replied that I was aware of it. Then he said something that surprised and shocked me. He said, "When our films are successful we increase our price. Now that two of my films have flopped, you can reduce my fee to Rs 90,000." Though I may not get any concession today, I'm happy that like an NTR, an MGR, Sivaji or a Rajkumar, today too there is sill a Rajnikant, a Kamal Haasan and a Vijaykanth who show us the same respect. Which unfortunately we don't get from the rest in today's generation who treat us more like producers! Though I have to admit that they do come and meet us when we phone them.
Let's come to 'Sivaji'. It's taking a long time in making, the financial aspect must be bothering you.
Shanker has his own style of working. He is a very meticulous director who seeks perfection, and his schedules are well-planned. Even Rajnikant expressed his satisfaction over Shanker's work style. But one difference is that while for all our earlier projects we sold the film the day we announced it, this is the first time I'll be selling my film only after the entire shoot is over. When I can be sure what exactly my total cost of production is. As for the funding, the financial part has been taken care of by the bank (IOB), and the entire transactions are through cheques. The film should most probably be an April release.
Talking of Rajni, how did you get him to act in 'Sivaji'?
Frankly, there is no question of our 'approaching' Rajni! If he decides to do a film for someone, he himself will approach them. He came to our studio one day, and it was while we were talking casually that he expressed his desire to do his next film for us. We, of course, were elated. Incidentally, we are the only producers to have done a record nine films with him. It was Guhan who roped in Shanker for it. Later, on an auspicious day, Guhan and I went and gave Rajni a token amount of Rs 1,000 as the signing fee. He was reluctant to take even that. We share a comfortable rapport, he's not changed a all. Only, he's become a little more pious these days.
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