EXCLUSIVE: India’s Hombale Films, the studio behind mega-hits Kantara and the K.G.F. franchise, has confirmed that Kantara 2 will be a prequel that delves into the backstory of the folklore that features in the first film.
Kantara star and director Rishab Shetty is currently scripting the highly-anticipated Kannada-language feature, part of an ambitious slate across four South Indian languages announced by the Bangalore-based studio, which recently pledged to invest Rs30bn (U.S.$370m) in films and series over the next five years. Shetty will again star in and direct the film.
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“Rishab is writing the story now and has gone to the forests of coastal Karnataka with his writing associates for two months to conduct research for the film,” Hombale Films group director Chaluve Gowda told Deadline.
Hombale Films’ founder Vijay Kiragandur added: “He plans to start shooting in June, as a portion of the shoot requires the rainy season, and our intention is to give the film a pan-India release in April or May next year.”
Released last September, Kantara became a huge sleeper hit across India, initially taking off in its original Kannada-language version, then snowballing when versions in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam were also released. Produced on a budget of Rs160m (US$2m), the film went on to gross Rs3.97bn (US$48.8m) in India and overseas.
Prime Video acquired Indian and select international rights to the South Indian language versions of the movie, while Netflix has the English and Hindi versions in some territories.
Deeply rooted in the traditional folklore of coastal Karnataka, Kantara revolves around the conflict between a group of villagers, whose land is under the protection of a local deity, and the forestry department that is trying to claim the land for the government. The prequel will explore the backstory of the deity and its pact with a troubled king who was intended to protect the villagers, and the nature that surrounds them.
Gowda said the budget for the prequel will be substantially bigger than for the first film: “Kantara was so successful that whatever we do next has to be big, as expectations are high. We’ll add a few names to the cast but we want to keep it authentic and similar in style and substance to the first film.”
Other key titles on Hombale’s upcoming slate include Prashanth Neel’s Telugu-language Salaar, starring Prabhas, which is scheduled for a wide pan-India release this September; Dhoomam, a Malayalam-language film starring Fahadh Faasil and directed by Pawan Kumar; and Tamil-language Raghuthatha, directed by Suman Kumar (writer on hit series The Family Man) and starring Keerthy Suresh.
Neel also directed Hombale Films’ KGF: Chapter 1, the first Kannada-language film to be a hit across India when it was released in 2018, and KGF: Chapter 2, which was the highest-grossing film in India last year, outpacing even S.S. Rajamouli’s record-breaking RRR.
Kiragandur and Gowda also confirmed that Hombale will start producing series from next year. “We’re already in talks with streaming platforms and are looking for good writers and directors,” said Gowda.
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