After months of speculation, Kalanithi Maran’s Sun Pictures finally confirmed on Monday that Lokesh Kanagaraj, the filmmaker behind “Vikram,” will direct the Thalaivar 171 st film of South Indian cinema icon Rajinikanth.
Indicators point to this being an action film, given the involvement of renowned soundtrack composer Anirudh Ravichander (“Jawan,” “Jailer”) and stunt coordinator Anbariv (known for the K.G.F. series). The title of the movie is “Thalaivar 171.” Rajinikanth, often called “Thalaivar,” which means “leader” in English, is at the forefront of this venture.
Both the lead actor and director are riding high on success. “Jailer,” the third highest-grossing Indian movie of the year, raked in a staggering $76.6 million. It was a Sun Pictures production directed by Nelson Dilipkumar.
In 2022, “Vikram,” starring Kamal Haasan, a contemporary of Rajinikanth, also proved to be a massive hit, grossing $60 million. Another film by Lokesh, “Leo,” starring Vijay, is set for release on October 19. Ahimsa Films, the movie’s UK distributor, reports that bookings opened over 40 days before the release date, and sales at 120 venues have already exceeded £100,000 ($125,000).
Lokesh Kanagaraj is known for his Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU), which began with “Kaithi” (2019), continued with “Vikram,” and retroactively included the 1986 film “Vikram.” Whether “Leo” or Rajinikanth’s 171st movie will be part of the LCU remains uncertain.
Rajinikanth & Thalaivar 171
Rajinikanth is set to make a cameo appearance in Aishwarya Rajinikanth’s sports drama “Lal Salaam.” Currently in production is his 170th movie, directed by T. J. Gnanavel (“Jai Bhim”).
Sun Pictures, before the success of “Jailer,” had produced films like “Annaatthe” (2021), “Etharkkum Thunindhavan” (2022), “Beast” (2022), and “Thiruchitrambalam” (2022), all featuring leading stars like Rajinikanth, Suriya, and Vijay. Dhanush is directing and starring in an untitled movie currently in production.
Rajinikanth, born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, began acting in 1975 with the Tamil movie “Apoorva Raagangal.” Since then, he has acted in films in various Indian languages and garnered a cult following. Rajinikanth is not only a sensation among South Indian celebrities but also enjoys popularity in Japan and the United States.
While he announced his intention to enter politics in 2017, health concerns led him to change his decision. In 2021, he was honored with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest film honor.
Sun Pictures on Thalaivar 171
Sun Pictures’ official Twitter account has confirmed the news. The music for the upcoming film will be composed by Lokesh’s collaborator Anirudh Ravichander, who also worked with him on “Vikram” and “Leo.” Anirudh also provided the soundtrack for Rajini’s latest film, “Jailer.”
As Lokesh Kanagaraj works on “Leo,” “Kaithi 2,” and “Vikram 2,” filmmaker TJ Gnanavel, known for “Jai Bhim,” will be Rajinikanth’s next director. “Leo” and “Thalaivar 171” are reported to be part of the Lokesh Cinematic Universe, which will feature leading actors from Tamil cinema.
Sun Pictures is basking in the success of “Jailer,” which is expected to surpass the Rs 400 crore mark at the Indian box office. In recognition of their contributions to the movie’s success, Sun Pictures owner Kalanithi Maran recently gifted Rajinikanth, Nelson Dilipkumar, and Anirudh Ravichander with luxurious automobiles. He organized a successful meet and distributed gold coins to “Jailer” employees.