China’s HGC Entertainment has picked up rights to Indian drama film Mersal. The company plans to release it, dubbed into Mandarin, later this year or in early 2019.
The film is produced by Thenandal Studio Limited, directed by Atlee, and features Tamil-language star Vijay in three roles. Other cast include Samantha Akkineni, Kajal Aggarwal and Nithya Menen. The background score and soundtrack were composed by multi-Oscar- and Grammy-winner A R Rahman.
The film was released in India and multiple diaspora markets in late 2017, grossing some $35 million. It will be one of the first Tamil films to release in China in recent years.
The story sees a doctor and a magician attempt to expose corruption and inefficiency at the heart of the Indian medical system. The plot has the potential to resonate with mainstream Chinese viewers, who have collectively paid more than $400 million to watch “Dying to Survive,” a Chinese fact-based drama about a man who bucks the Chinese medical system and starts importing cheap pharmaceuticals from India. The success of “Dying to Survive” has also become a rare instance of grass-roots influence on government policy in China.
Beyond the politics, “content-driven” stories out of India have recently connected with Chinese audiences on an intellectual and emotional level. “We found this to be a particularly touching story,” Li Ying, HGC president, told Variety.
Other Indian film successes in China have recently included “Dangal,” “Secret Superstar” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan.” Earlier this month, it was announced that Salman Khan-starring “Sultan,” a 2015 title, will get a theatrical release at the end of August.
TSL (formerly known as Sri Thenandal Films) is a leading production and distribution company, founded by director Rama Narayanan and now in existence for four decades. It has credits including “Muni 2,” “Kanchana,” and “Kanna Laddu Thinga Aasaiya.”
HGC is one of China’s oldest indie distributors. It has previously released “Dhoom 3,” “The Mechanic,” and “Hellboy 3.” It is currently working on three animated films, including “Of Ants and Dinosaurs,” based on a story by Hugo Award-winner Liu Cixin.