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Hombale Films, redefining the Indian film industry one film at a time- Cinema express

Hombale Films, redefining the Indian film industry one film at a time

Published: 03rd January 2023

In a year that reiterated South Indian cinema’s storytelling excellence, and put the Kannada film industry on the global map, the presence of one name cannot be ignored — Hombale Films. Having backed KGF 2 and Kantara, two of the biggest blockbusters of the year that made a theatrical and non-theatrical business of Rs 2000 crore, Vijay Kiragandur’s Hombale Films is a production house that clearly has the vision to become the brand connected with content-driven films that also set the cash registers ringing.    

With a name derived from Hombalamma, a deity who is a form of Goddess Parvathi, Vijay Kiragandur’s Hombale Films is stepping into the tenth year of their cinematic journey, which began with Puneeth Rajkumar’s Ninnindale in 2013. The production house has shown a proclivity for putting quality over quantity, and this striking aspect is seen in the fact that they have produced just seven films in all these years.

In this exclusive conversation with CE, Vijay Kiragandur and his business partner Chaluve Gowda, speak at length about their blockbuster 2022, their five-year plan, and priority projects.

Both KGF and Kantara were blockbuster successes, do you have a favourite?

Compared to Kantara, the KGF franchise was made on a bigger canvas and budget, but there is no doubt that both were phenomenal successes in their own ways with brilliant returns. I can’t pick a favourite. From the production point of view, if KGF helped us to reach places across India, Kantara further strengthened it.

What were your takeaways from the reception to KGF and Kantara?

2022 was a good ride, especially since this happened post the pandemic. Honestly, we did expect something from KGF Chapter 2, but Kantara was a big surprise, which I guess was a divine blessing. Two films have given a massive turnover to the concept of pan-Indian films, and have impacted the theatre economy too. Prashant Neel and Yash’s KGF 2 was a massive commercial success, and the credit will go to the team and the technicians. Apart from the huge success, Kantara also gave a message about our rooted culture, which should be passed on to the next generation. We owe it all to Rishab Shetty. The success of these two films has given us more responsibility and helped us to plan better for 2023 and 2024.

When did the idea of launching Hombale Films start in your mind?

The drive to enter the film industry started at a very young age. Actually, catering to the huge and diverse population of India was a fascinating idea, which is a financially viable prospect. Another important reason is that films have the power to inform a generation. What was earlier spoken through drama and Harikathas started coming through the medium of cinema. Each film has been a learning experience for me, and every film has taught us something, Learning is a never-ending process, and understanding the evolution of our vision has helped us execute our projects better.  

Interestingly, Hombale Films has signed multi-film deals with a lot of filmmakers.

Unlike signing projects with actors, we usually sign multi-film projects with directors. I believe that the primary requirement for a film is the story and the right director to tell it. For any film, it is always better to choose the actor according to the script. We have collaborated with directors like Santhosh Ananddram and Prashanth Neel in multiple films, and now the latest director to join this list is Rishab Shetty. It is also about mutual understanding. The thing is there are no restrictions for these filmmakers to work with other production houses. At the same time, we are ready to work with them as long as they find it comfortable.

You are stepping into Bollywood at a time when your regional films are doing well in the Hindi-speaking belt.

Honestly, when you look at the business perspective, it is not that we have to do Hindi films. Our dubbed films are doing good business already. But just like how we are making films in all languages in the South, we want to make our presence felt in Bollywood too. Moreover, some subjects that come our way will work for actors and directors of that region. Though most films are considered multilingual today, the face of the story becomes important, and that is one of the primary reasons to move into the Hindi market. However, we are sure that the linguistic barriers are being pulled down, and even a dubbed Kannada film will have its takers in the Hindi market.

With such a global vision, there are trepidations around Hombale Films moving away from Kannada cinema.

Never. We will stick to our Kannada roots. However, as a production house, we don’t want to restrict our films as coming from a particular language. All our films will be Indian films. We aim to take our films outside India and get revenue from there too. Just like how foreign language films have a business in India, we must also work towards getting revenue from other countries. I seek cinema as a force of change. We want to unlock the potential of Indian cinema and promote Indian culture, and our traditional roots across the globe. Having said that, not all our films have to be pan-Indian, it will differ from project to project.

You have been quite vocal about the Rs 3000 crore investment plans you have for the next five years

With Indian cinema now being industry-driven, and multiple mediums like OTT becoming game changers, there is a huge vacuum in the entertainment industry. Anyone interested in making movies should make use of these options. China has 50,000 theatres, and the US has 33,000 theatres, But India’s population of 140 crores has just 9000 theatres with around 5000 theatres coming in future. Cinema as a medium, irrespective of where we watch it, will work only when it has good content. That content can come through only if the right kind of writers, directors, and production houses fill the vacuum. So we plan to invest at least 500 to 600 crore per year in all sectors of entertainment mediums, and our main focus will be on films. We believe that the entertainment industry will grow more and more, and we are looking forward to bringing a bag of stories across various languages.

Hombale Films has an exciting pan-Indian lineup of films for 2023 and 2024...

In 2023, Hombale Films has some really huge pan-Indian films like Prashant Neel’s Salaar (Telugu), starring Prabhas, Pawan Kumar’s Dhoomam (Malayalam) with Fahad Faasil and Aparna Balamurali, Raghu Thatha (Tamil) with National award winner Keerthy Suresh directed by Family Man writer Suman Kumar. All of these films will release in multiple languages.

Then, in Kannada, we have Bagheera with Srimurali, which is written by Prashanth Neel and directed by Dr. Suri. Then, we are launching Yuvarajkumar in a film directed by Santhosh Ananddram.

Even in 2024, we have pan-Indian films lined up like Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Tyson, and Rakshit Shetty’s Richard Antony. There is also another film with Rishab Shetty and a project with director Sudha Kongara.

Finally, we have one more project with Prashant Neel that will go on floors after he completes Salaar.

We can’t help but ask about the sequel and threequel prospects of Kantara and KGF

The Kantara series will happen, for sure. We will get more clarity once we have a discussion with Rishab Shetty. As for KGF 3, we have no plans to take up the project anytime soon. It all depends on what Prashant Neel has in his mind.

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