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‘Varmaa’ Controversy: A Timeline Of Events Leading Up To Director Bala’s Exit

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E4 Entertainment, the producers of Varmaa, halted the release of the film, claiming they are not happy with the final cut handed to them. In response, director Bala issued a statement saying the production house is free to use any footage he’s shot as long as they don’t include his name in the credits of the film. The film is the official remake of Telugu hit Arjun Reddy. 

Production on Varmaa began in March 2018, with Dhruv Vikram, Megha – both newcomers – as the lead actors, and Razia Wilson, Easwari Rao and others in supporting roles. While Bala was signed on as the director, Raju Murugan was to write the film’s dialogues, with M Sukumar as the cinematographer, and Sathish Surya – who earlier worked on Naachiyaar – as the editor. Radhan – who composed the music for Arjun Reddy – was to work on Varmaa as well.

Dhruv, the son of actor Vikram, reportedly put on weight and built his body up for the role.

The film was shot in Kathmandu, Chennai, Thiruvannamalai. There was a brief pause in shoot in April 2018 due to the strike by the TFPC. Final schedule of the shoot ended in September 2018, and post production work began.

A single from the film’s soundtrack ‘Vaanodum Mannodum’ was released in December 2018. Shortly afterwards, actor Suriya released the film’s trailer in January 2019, with many expecting the film to release after Pongal, or early in February.

However, on February 7, E4 Entertainment’s Mukesh Mehta, the producer of the film, issued a press statement stating that they were not happy with the final cut handed over by Bala, and had decided to re-shoot the entire film with a different crew. However, no reason was given as to why the producers decided to drop Bala.

Some speculated that Bala was not the first choice as director at all, and it was at Vikram’s insistence that E4 signed Bala up. It was Bala’s Sethu that gave Vikram his big commercial breakthrough, with Pithamagan cementing his reputation as a serious actor.

As rumours began circulating over the controversial move to drop Bala, the director issued a press statement on February 9 as well as made public his agreement with the producers. In the statement, he said he had opted out of the film on his own and cited restrictions on his creative freedom as reason for it.

Bala said, “In order to safeguard creative freedom, it was my own decision to relieve myself from this project.”

The National Award winning director also agreed to handover footage of the film, film stills, all sound tracks, and unmixed/mixed songs as well as waiving the remaining amount if the producers agreed to never use his name in connection with the film.

Even as this was happening, the lead actress, Megha Chowdhury said that she wasn’t aware the film was dropped and that no one had informed her.

Some sources also claimed that the production house was not happy with scenes of actress Raiza Wilson and had asked to make some changes, which the director did not agree to. Silverscreen reached out to the actress, but she declined to comment.

A source close to the film told Silverscreen, “After the issue, the director left to Malaysia along with his family. Even we don’t really know what happened between them. The production house hasn’t decided upon new cast and crew. I think it will take another 10 days to resume the new work.”

Speaking to The Hindu on February 12, producer Mukesh Mehta said, “We cannot take chances with Dhruv Vikram’s first film as hero… that’s the reason we are going for a re-shoot. We will soon announce a new title and technical team including a fresh heroine, a noted cameraman and supporting cast for the re-shoot. I’m hunting for new locations now as we plan to start the shoot from the first week of March and release the film at the earliest.”

With inputs from Nadika

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