Subhaskaran triumphs in Kollywood | Sunday Observer

Subhaskaran triumphs in Kollywood

30 July, 2023
A scene from Ponniyin Selvan
A scene from Ponniyin Selvan

Lyca Productions is an Indian entertainment company which was established by Sri Lankan-born Subhaskaran Allirajah in 2014. It is a subgroup of Lyca Mobile, a telecommunication company based in London, England. Lyca Production Studio in Chennai has been involved in the production and distribution of films made in Kollywood, Chennai.

Subhaskaran started his career as a small businessman in France and later shifted his business to England. He is the founder and chairman of Lyca Mobile Company. He is also the producer of many Tamil films. In September 2021, he became the new owner of Jaffna Kings for the Lanka Premier League. Lyca Kovai Kings is a cricket team representing Coimbatore city, the textile and machinery hub of Tamil Nadu. The team is managed by Lyca Productions.

When India gained independence in 1947, the Tamil Nadu film industry was part of the then Madras Presidency. The film industry had been in existence for nearly three decades. With the birth of Madras after the division of Madras Presidency, the Tamil film production studios began to proliferate in the newly-formed state. In 1947, the Madras State was renamed as Tamil Nadu and Madras City became Chennai. Kodambakkam (Kollywood) in Chennai became the main centre for producing Tamil films. Telugu and Kannada film productions were shifted to Hyderabad and Bangalore. Malayalam film production was moved to Trivandram and Cochin.

With the growth of Tamil diaspora in foreign countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom, Tamil cinema attracted worldwide recognition. A fine balance between feel-good narratives and tales that highlighted the harsh socio-economic realities of a community is still trying to find its feet in its new home.

Tamil diaspora

More Tamil films began to be produced making an impact on the Tamil diaspora. It also created an abundance of opportunities for a new generation of filmmakers. All this led to an audience who were open to watch dubbed or subtitled content. Perhaps that may be the reason that Raja Rajan of Ponniyin Selvan is not a Tamil hero, but a pan-Indian hero.

The new development of the Tamil cinema enabled film producers such as Subhaskaran to enter the Tamil film industry. In fact, he was a complete outsider who ventured into the Tamil Nadu film industry. He led his film production group in Chennai to become one of the foremost film producing companies. Pirivom Santhipom (2005) was his first Tamil film produced for Gnanam Films. Lyca Production chose to collaborate with Ayngaran International, owned by another Sri Lankan-born Tamil, to produce a film casting A.R. Murugadoss and Vijay. Kathy was a social drama dealing with the issues of farmers committing suicide due to corporate encroachment. It became a profitable film at the box office for Lyca Production.

Subhaskaran’s wife – Prema – is the chairperson of Lyca Health and a trustee of Gnanam Foundation which is the charity arm of Lyca Group. With a degree in bio-medical sciences, she is an entrepreneur with a passion for philanthropic activities. She also runs medical and community projects designed to support the most vulnerable people across the world.

In the late 2015, Lyca signed an agreement with actor and producer Dhanush for the worldwide distribution of his films. In the same year, Lyca Production worked on the pre-production of 2.0, which is a sequel to Shankar’s Enthiran (2010) and signed on Rajanikanth and Amy Jackson to feature key roles. The film is believed to be the most expensive production. The film became another box office success.

Subhaskaran’s latest film was Ponniyin Selvan based on a 10th century story. It depicted the early life of the Chola Emperor Raja Rajan. Vikram, Nijam Ravi, Karthi, Aishwarya Rai and Trisha played the leading roles. The music was composed by A.R. Rahman. The film was produced in two parts and the first part was released in September 2022. It was a huge success at the box office raking in 500 crores in two weeks. The second part of the film was released on April 28, 2023.

Successful producer

Subhaskaran has proved himself to be a successful producer in the Kollywood film industry. As an entrepreneur, he has achieved phenomenal success in the film industry. In 2011, Lycatel was ranked 36th out of 250 leading mid-market private companies by the Sunday Times published in London. The Asian Voice Political and Public Life presented Subhaskaran its International Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2011.

The writer is a freelance journalist and an Indologist based in Hyderabad, India