Not Prabhas' 600 Crore Kalki 2898 AD But Kamal Haasan Starred In The Costliest Indian Film With 1000-Crore Budget In 1996
Prabhas’ 600 Crore’s Kalki 2898 AD Would Not Have Been The Costliest Indian Film If Kamal Haasan’s 1000 Crore Marudhanayagam Could Have Lived ( Photo Credit – Instagram )

Indian film-making once upon a time was much simpler. However, while talking about ambitions, the industry would never fail to amaze you. Currently, Kalki 2898 AD, starring Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Kamal Haasan, and others, is said to be the costliest Indian film ever. The film, helmed by Nag Ashwin, is said to be set in a dystopian world and is an ambitious project.

However, if ambitions could live a long life, then Haasan would have delivered the costliest film in India in 1996 itself! It was the year when the Appu Raja actor saw a dream and then got possessed by the dream, losing everything to turn it into a reality.

In 1991, according to a blog by a Tamil film enthusiast Kanthaswamy Balasubramaniam, “Kamal Haasan had just shot for Guna. He had decided to make a movie with only verses and met S Rangarajan, known by the pseudonym Sujatha, and gave him an advance cheque for Rs 50,000 to write a new story to adapt the legendary tale of Ambikapathy. However, he later got obsessed with a drama called Khan Saibu Sandai and decided to make Marudhanayagam, the costliest film dreamt by an Indian filmmaker.”

The budget of this film was said to be 85 crore. Adjusting the inflation it would cost around 600+ crore, as much as Prabhas’ Kalki 2898 AD. However, when Kamal Haasan started planning the project, he was suggested by two of his friends, K Balachander & Nagesh, to not make the film, and they presented the ideal budget of the film to be 125 crore! In today’s age, it was a 1000-crore film.

Yes, you read that right, the Chachi 420 actor planned a 1000-crore film in the 90s. A dream that could have only been termed as madness. But it seems like the superstar was ready to endure this madness. The Vikram actor kept spending money on the arrangements. The blog revealed, “He imported 200 Authentic Muskets, paying $ 300,000, which was around 1.3 crore. He signed an import lease agreement with Vijay Mallya and MAM Ramaswamy Chettiar (Annamalai University) so they would purchase 14 Arabian Steeds, which Kamal would lease for three years at 55 lakh a year plus feeding plus no stud.” It was further reported, “Nagesh told him, “I feel something is off. We are not Hollywood. We cannot sell such grand films.”

But Kamal Haasan was adamant about making the film. He tried to close the budget around 90-95 crore. He even started signing actors for the film. Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan was paid a signing amount of 7 lakh from his regular fee of 35 lakh. He even signed Amrish Puri and Om Puri for the film and managed to get Rajinikanth on board for a cameo.

The Indian actor was so invested in Marudhanayagam that 2 crores were spent on just a raw summary of the film prepared for special guest. A war scene was shot to be premiered for the Queen of England, which was a rarity. She was thrilled to watch the 35-minute promo, reports suggested.

The film created such a buzz that a British production house offered to invest in the film. However, all came crashing down after the Nuclear Test done in India, which enraged Britishers, and the production house withdrew all the ties from the film, leaving Kamal Haasan deserted. Ironically, he already had invested close to 8 crore on the film by then, not concerned about his personal assets as well.

Later, it was reported that Kamal Haasan tried to revive Marudhanayagam many times, with a controlled budget of 150-200 crore, but it could never breathe again. Interestingly, Kamal Haasan is a part of the costliest film of India now as well – Kalki 2898 AD. A complete cycle, indeed!

For more such throwbacks, stay tuned to Koimoi.

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