It is the first Tamil film to be released simultaneously in the US, Canada, Europe, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Australia. With 270 prints in Tamil for the Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka markets, a record 140 for the overseas market, and as many as 300 prints of the dubbed Telugu version, Sivaji is the costliest Indian movie ever made-- at an estimated Rs 80 crore. (Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas cost Rs 50 crore.) This is not counting the superstar's remuneration that involves a share in profits besides fees. Across Tamil Nadu, five days before the date of release, Sivaji's tickets have been booked for two weeks. "So there's no question of the film not making a profit," says S.C. Babu, CEO of AVM Studios, the oldest surviving studio in the country. Such confidence springs from the fact that Rajnikant's last release, Chandramukhi, that grossed over Rs 70 crore in 2005-2006, is closing in on its 800th day. The over-hyped Baba flopped in 2002; but Rajni had compensated the distributors.
Made over 18 months, Sivaji has director S. Shankar teaming up with Rajnikant, the first time ever. Shankar, known for his extravagance, had earlier launched Aishwarya Rai in Jeans (1998), featuring a song shot across the 'seven wonders of the world'. He is also known for Indian (starting Kamalahaasan, dubbed as Hindustani in Hindi). With the celebrated A.R. Rahman handling the music, the Rajni-Shankar-Rahman-AVM combination hopefully will not sink under its own weight. Why such a budget? In a recent interview, Shankar said of the picturisation of a song, Vaaji, in the film, "It is a fantasy song. Neeta Lulla has done the costumes for this song, while for the other four songs Manish Malhotra has handled costumes. In Vaaji, Rajni and Shriya (Saran) appear as king and queen with over 100 dancers in the background and a Babylonian-type palace designed by Thota Tharani." Then there are some technical firsts. According to Babu, this is "one of the world's very few and India's first film to undergo scanning at 4K resolution for a very high-quality image that would be closest to that of an original negative".