Composer Ravi Basrur, who scored the two KGF movies, is set to write the tunes for Prithviraj’s upcoming period epic, Kaaliyan. Its director S Mahesh, in a conversation with Cinema Express, conveyed that his film demands a “certain kind of score” that could help it “reach the masses” and that he couldn’t have thought of a more suitable name than Ravi Basrur. “We always say that his music comes from the villages—how it embodies their spirit—and we have already seen how his work in KGF struck a deep chord with audiences. We expect the music of Kaaliyan to make that kind of resonance too,” says Mahesh.
Ravi Basrur recently made his Malayalam debut with Dr Pragabhal’s off-road racing action thriller Muddy. Aside from Kaaliyan, he is also part of Prashanth Neel’s Prabhas-Prithviraj starrer Salaar, Salman Khan’s upcoming Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali, Ajay Devgn’s Kaithi remake Bholaa, and Akshay Kumar’s Garuda.
Since S Mahesh is a Kalaripayattu guru (Thekkan sampradayam) and managing director of the Kalari retreat Agasthyam, he added that the action sequences of Kaaliyan will prominently feature the thekkan Kalari. “This being an action-oriented subject, I’m thinking about bringing a fresh approach to the fights as there are many ways to present them. We are currently doing the preparations for it. Ravi visited our retreat as he was enthusiastic about our work and became curious about the martial arts form employed in our movie. He wanted to learn all about it, and we—producer Rajeev Govindan and I—gave him a tour.”
Mahesh clarified that Kaaliyan is not a period film of the same scale as Baahubali but will be “the best effort of its kind so far from Malayalam cinema.” He describes it simply as a “period action thriller,” with its characters being a primary focus.
The team has already completed auditions in several places in India. There have been earlier reports of non-Malayali actors being part of the film. Asked if this is true, Mahesh says, “We are yet to make a final confirmation on that. We did the auditions because the film required the presence of people with different kinds of looks and personalities.” He also adds that Kaaliyan will likely have locations such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. “We are yet to take a final call on a few other locations,” he adds.
Though the team announced the project four years ago, they had to wait a while to go ahead with filming due to various delaying factors. Mahesh shares that the hurdles took some time to clear. “We initially thought of shooting it one-and-a-half years after the announcement, but we had to put it on hold due to Raju’s (Prithviraj) other commitments, especially Aadujeevitham. We had to take into account his arduous physical transformations for that one. Even Raju had mentioned this in various press meets. And then, of course, there was the pandemic.”
Mahesh says the filming will begin by December. He is aware of the heavy expectations surrounding the film. “Everyone is eagerly looking forward to it. When I go out, I often notice the Kaaliyan title on some buses and autorickshaws. It’s already in people’s minds. So, naturally, we hope to give audiences what they want to see.”