Billa II

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Billa II: The Beginning
Billa2early.jpg
Directed by Chakri Toleti
Produced by Sunir Kheterpal
Suresh Balaje
George Pius
Screenplay by Chakri Toleti
Sarath Mandava
Jaffer Mohammed
Story by Chakri Toleti
Eric Felberg
Starring Ajith Kumar
Parvathy Omanakuttan
Bruna Abdullah
Vidyut Jamwal
Sudhanshu Pandey
Music by Yuvan Shankar Raja
Cinematography R. D. Rajasekhar
Edited by Suresh Urs
Production
  company
Wide Angle Creations
IN Entertainment
Distributed by Aascar Films (India)
GK Media (USA)
Release date(s)
  • 13 July 2012 (2012-07-13)
[1]
Running time 129 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget INR350 million (US$5.8 million)[2]

Billa II: The Beginning is a 2012 Indian Tamil gangster-thriller film directed by Chakri Toleti. It is a prequel to the 2007 film Billa and focuses on how David, an ordinary man from the coastal regions of South Tamil Nadu, becomes Billa, a dreaded underworld don, with Ajith Kumar reprising the role of the titular character.[3] Supporting roles are essayed by Parvathy Omanakuttan, Bruna Abdullah, Vidyut Jamwal and Sudhanshu Pandey, all of whom make their debut in Tamil cinema. The film's soundtrack and background score were composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja, while R. D. Rajasekhar handled the cinematography and Suresh Urs worked as the editor.

The film, produced by Wide Angle Creations in association with the Hinduja Group company IN Entertainment, was officially announced in November 2010, with Vishnuvardhan as the director. Due to conflicting dates, he was replaced by Chakri Toleti, while a new script was penned by a team involving Toleti and Eric Felberg.

Filming, which commenced in July 2011 and was completed by December 2011, took place primarily at Tamil Nadu, Goa, Hyderabad and in Georgia. Billa II was released worldwide on 13 July 2012 and a dubbed Telugu version titled David Billa was also simultaneously released in Andhra Pradesh.[4]

Plot[edit]

David Billa (Ajith Kumar), a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee along with several others, arrives at the town of Rameswaram in boat. After being interrogated by an arrogant civil servant, he is let into the refugee camp where he befriends Ranjith (Yog Japee). David makes his presence felt, when he slaps Muthu (Theepatti Ganesh) one of the rogue workers around for making a derogatory comment. The refugee camp is constantly terrorised by a corrupt police officer Raghubir Sinha (Krishna Kumar). After witnessing the brutal murder of one of the inmates at his hands, David attacks Raghubir when he tries to forcefully detain one of his friends. Raghubir then gets David tortured in prison, and vows to make him suffer. A few days later, Muthu calls David and Ranjith aside and promises them work. Billa and Ranjith are hired to transport fish from Rameshwaram to Chennai. But unknown to them, the truck they were driving had diamonds inside, and Raghubir had alerted his men on the highway to catch them red-handed. As per the plot they get caught in the check post, and after realising what had happened, Billa kills all the cops and drive the truck to its destination. Here they meet Selvaraj (Ilavarasu) who is pleased by Billa's loyalty and includes him in his businesses. Billa gets back and murders Raghubir as well as the arrogant civil servant he had initially met at the camp. He then goes to meet his elder sister (Janaki Sabesh) and his niece Jasmine (Parvathy Omanakuttan) in a church. When they see his gun, they realise that he is involved in crime. Not knowing what to say, Billa simply walks away.

Kotiswara Rao(Manoj K.Jeyan) visits Selvaraj and asks him if he could help in selling off the cocaine he had brought along with him. Billa volunteers to sell it off on a five percent commission in exchange. Billa sets off and delivers the cocaine to a local thug who however refuses to pay for it in return. In a brutal scuffle that ensues, where one of Billa's friends is slaughtered, Billa takes out the thug and his men and returns with both the money and the cocaine. Soon Billa meets Koti's boss Abbasi (Sudhanshu Pandey) who is very impressed by the former and recruits him. After a party held at his club he receives a phone call from the Russian mafia led by Dimitri (Vidyut Jamwal) telling him that his arms consignment has been held by the Indian coastal guards and he asks for his help. Billa and Ranjith retrieve the consignment for him. Both are congratulated by Dimitri for their work.

Soon David Billa learns that his sister has died, and he brings Jasmine with him to live in a big villa in Goa. Jasmine displays her feelings for him, but Billa does not reciprocate, and is instead more concerned at her education and safety. Billa travels to Russia along with Koti to meet Dimitri who happens to own an arms and ammunition manufacturing unit, with Kotiswara Rao where he signs a deal with Dimitri without the knowledge of Abbasi in presence of Jagdish (Rahman), a corrupt Interpol officer helping these underworld criminals. Abbasi learns of this from Koti, and is furious at Billa's daring and disobedient behaviour. Tensions further increase when Billa beats up Satish Kumar (Rohit Khurana), son of an influential minister Praveen Kumar (Dinesh Lamba), when he tries to misbehave with Jasmine in a party. Abbasi expresses his discontent and vents at him. Billa surprised and enraged at his ingratitude, walks away with Ranjith. This is the first half of the movie.

Billa then along with his henchmen Ranjith and Ram (Sarath Mandava) plots to venture into the drug business on their own during the carnival. And at the carnival, Billa is betrayed by Ram and is brutally attacked and left for dead. Billa however survives, finishes off the assailants and returns to confront Abbasi and Ram and kills them both. Now Billa becomes the most powerful crime lord extending his business without any boundaries. He also ropes in Abbasi's girlfriend, Sameera much to Jasmine's displeasure.

Dimitri arrives into the scene and tries to negotiate a deal with Billa. But Billa refuses for his low payment, and angered by his defiance and rebellion, Dimitri seeks to oust him. Dimitri seeks out the help of Koti, Satish and Praveen Kumar to eliminate David. They proceed to kill the Chief Minister and the blame falls upon Billa. However Billa with Ranjith's assistance is freed and Koti kidnaps Jasmine to lure him. Billa rescues her and he informs Sameera to come to a church to take Jasmine away to Malaysia to safety. But Sameera conspires against them and the goons with the minister's son arrive at the church, and hold both Billa and Jasmine captives. Billa stabbed in his abdomen, is held to the ground. He is mocked at by Satish, who slits Jasmine's throat. Unable to witness her death, Billa overpowers everyone and kills all the goons including the minister's son. This is the scene at which the film initially starts.

Meanwhile in Russia, Dimitri is having an auction of his weapons and Koti is also present with him . He shows his factory in his computer via a series of webcams and much to everyone's shock, Billa is seen destroying his factory in Georgia. He also sees his delivery train go off course. Angered with fear, he kills Koti for not killing Billa as promised, and he sets out himself to finish the task. The arms factory is completely destroyed by Billa and his friends. Dimitri arrives and follows his delivery train, when to his shock, the delivery train is blown by Billa who would be waiting for him on his own helicopter. After an intense battle, Billa kills Dimitri by throwing him out of the helicopter. In the concluding scene, Billa and Ranjith board a plane, and the former's goons eliminate the rest of the conspirators. Sameera is also killed in the process.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In 2008, reports claimed that Soundarya Rajinikanth was planning to make a follow-up after noting Billa's commercial success, to be produced by Ocher Studios in association with Warner Bros.[5][6] However, the sequel did not materialise and the idea was dropped, with Ajith Kumar, Vishnuvardhan and Soundarya getting busy with other projects.

In 2010, sources confirmed that Vishnuvardhan had finished penning the script for a prequel, which would star Ajith Kumar as the titular character again,[7] and would commence in 2011.[8] The project became officially announced in late 2010, after Ajith Kumar signed up to the prequel and first production poster were published to the media.[9][10] Further details were disclosed, with Suresh Balaje, son of producer and actor K. Balaji, who produced the original Billa with Rajinikanth, and George Pius from Wide Angle Creations banner, being confirmed as the producer,[9] who would associate with Mumbai-based IN Entertainment Limited, a Hinduja group company.[10][11] The entire production team of the Billa remake, including cinematographer Nirav Shah, editor A. Sreekar Prasad and music director Yuvan Shankar Raja, were announced to be retained for the sequel.[12]

In a turn of events, Vishnuvardhan opted out of the project citing that his dates clashed with the making of his Telugu film, Panjaa (earlier titled as The Shadow).[13] Chakri Toleti who directed the 2009 Kamal Haasan-Mohanlal starrer Unnaipol Oruvan was subsequently signed on by the producers to direct the venture.[14] In May 2011, Chakri Toleti held his first press conference stating that production would begin in late June 2011 and revealing that "Billa 2 would focus on how David, an ordinary man from the coastal Thoothukudi in South Tamil Nadu, becomes Billa, a dreaded underworld don".[15] David's character was afterwards widely reported to be either a refugee from Tamil Eelam or a Tamilian from Sri Lanka.[16][17] Both the director and the producer refused to confirm the statements, disclosing only that the film would depict David's journey over a period of five years.[18]

With Vishnuvardhan's exit from the project, his script was also scraped, and Toleti along with Ajith Kumar began penning a new script for the prequel.[14] Yuvan Shankar Raja only was retained from the original production team,[19] with the rest of the technical crew being finalised in the following weeks.[20] Hemant Chaturvedi, who hitherto had worked in Bollywood productions only, was signed on to replace Nirav Shah as the cinematographer after the latter's schedules clashed with the making of his other film, Vettai.[21] However in July 2011, Hemant Chaturvedi too moved out of the project, fearing that the delay in commencement of Billa 2 may hurt his chances in Bollywood, and R. D. Rajasekhar was appointed as the new cinematographer.[22] Selvakumar who had notably worked in Madrasapattinam was selected as the art director.[23] The crew also announced that the film would become the first Indian production to be filmed with an RED EPIC Camera, being shot at 5K resolution.[24] Writer Ee. Raa. Murugan, who had previously collaborated with Chakri Toleti in the Kamal Hassan-starrer Unnaipol Oruvan, was appointed to write the dialogue.

Casting[edit]

From the previous film, the producers made it clear that apart from Ajith Kumar,[25] and Rahman, most of the other characters would not be retained. The female lead role was expected to be handed to Anushka Shetty, but despite media speculation she was not signed on.[26][27] The female lead role was handed to debutant Huma Qureshi, a Mumbai-based theatre actor who had previously been featured in commercials, with Toleti finalising Qureshi after a nationwide search for an actress.[28][29][30] However, she was removed from the project by September 2011, due to date clashes,[31] and became replaced by Miss India World 2008 Parvathy Omanakuttan later that month,[32][33] who the director had spotted and offered the role of Jasmine at a fashion show.[34] Parvathy described her character as a "simple girl who transforms into a modern person" and that Billa looks up to, adding that she was had more scenes in the "emotional part" of the film.[35] Bollywood actress and model Bruna Abdullah was selected to portray another significant character,[36] which she went on term as "super powerful, very strong and sexy".[37] Besides Abdullah, another Brazilian model Gabriela Bertante was recruited to perform a dance number alongside one more model.[38] In June 2012, reports confirmed that model Nicole Amy Madell would be doing another item number.[39]

Television actor Krishna Kumar, was signed on to play a "dirty cop".[40] In June 2011, Sudhanshu Pandey, a former model who has appeared in several Hindi films, was given the role of a "greying ganglord", who becomes the mentor to the yound David,[41] whilst Malayalam character actor Manoj K. Jayan was roped in for a "key role".[42] Actress Vimala Raman was signed on to make a special appearance in the film,[43][44] however she opted out in July 2011 citing date problems.[45] Meenakshi Dixit was later finalised for that role and shot her scenes in July 2011 during the first schedule.[46] Vidyut Jamwal, who played negative roles in the Hindi film Force (2011) and the Telugu film Oosaravelli (2011), was selected to play the villain, also making his debut in Tamil cinema.[47] In December 2011 sources revealed that Sricharan, who starred in Payanam, was shooting for a supporting role in the film.[48] Reports in February 2012 suggested that the team was trying to sign Nayantara, who played the female lead in Billa, for a cameo role;[49] the actress refuted the rumours.[50] Furthermore, composer Yuvan Shankar Raja on Toleti's insistence agreed to make a brief appearance in one of the songs.[51] Sources also reported that director Seeman would be acting in the film.[citation needed]

Filming[edit]

The film's production was delayed as Ajith Kumar's previous film, Mankatha, progressed beyond the anticipated completion dates. In March 2011, the producers released a press note that the film would begin in early May 2011, however this failed to happen.[52] During that period, it was also suggested that Billa II may not be Ajith Kumar's successive project and commence only after the actor completed a film with M. Raja.[53] Eventually, a photo shoot was held in June 2011 with Ajith sporting an appearance of a man in his mid-twenties.[54] Principal photography commenced on 14 July 2011 at the Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad.[42] Filming during the first 30-day schedule throughout July and August 2011 was held in Hyderabad and Vizag.[36] As part of the schedule, one song was shot in Puducherry under the direction of choreographer Raju Sundaram.[55] Both actresses Parvathy Omanakuttan and Bruna Abdullah joined the crew for the second schedule in Goa,[56] that lasted for 39 days and ended in the first week of November.[57]

In the third week of November, a unit of thirty-six members left for Georgia in Eastern Europe for the final 20-day schedule of the film.[58] In Georgia, the crew filmed at the country's capital, Tbilisi, Borjomi and Rustavi.[59] Billa II became the first Indian film to be shot at the Likani Palace, which functions as a summer residence of the President of Georgia.[60] Midway through the filming, heavy snowfall began. The crew, however, carried on shooting and later reshot the complete sequence with the snowy background to maintain the continuity.[61] The climax portions were also filmed there against a snowy backdrop, for which aerial shots were done from a helicopter.[62] Approximately half a million dollars were spent for the whole schedule in Georgia,[63] which was finished by mid-December.[64] In February 2012, the remaining scenes, including the film's title song,[65][66] were canned at the Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad,[67] despite the ongoing strike in the film industry.[68] An item number featuring Brazilian model Gabriela Bertante was shot in a studio in Goa.[69] Although producer Kheterpal had named Bangkok, Thailand as a potential location for filming,[70] shooting was not held there. The entire filming was completed over a period of 90 days.[71]

Three stunt choreographers were involved in the making of Billa II. The stunt sequences in Georgia were partly choreographed by an award-winning German-based company led by stuntman Stefan Richter,[18][72] while the climax action scenes were done by Kecha Khamphakdee's Jaika Stunt team.[73][74] K. Rajasekhar choreographed the fight sequences in Hyderabad and Goa.[74] Madhu Sudhanan, a VFX creative director, said that VFX had been used in action sequences, in "set extensions" and in sequences involving 3D.[75]

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Billa II (soundtrack)

Yuvan Shankar Raja, who had also worked on the score of Billa (2007), composed the soundtrack and score of Billa II, becoming his fifth project starring Ajith Kumar. The album conists of six tracks, five songs and a theme music track.[76] The producer however confirmed that the film would feature a sixth song, not included in the soundtrack that was composed for a belly dance sequence.[77][78] Na. Muthukumar agreed to write the lyrics for the songs.[79] In a departure from convention, the lyrics were penned first which were set to tunes later.[80]

The audio launch was initially to be released in mid-March 2012, but was then pushed to second week of April. Actor Rajinikanth was approached to unveil the soundtrack, with the team supposedly rescheduling the audio launch to suit Rajinikanth's dates, who had left for London for the filming of his film Kochadaiyaan.[81][82] The soundtrack was unveiled on 1 May 2012, coninciding with Ajith Kumar's birthday.[83] Sony Music Entertainment that marketed the album of Ajith Kumar's previous film Mankatha, acquired the music rights of Billa II as well for an unprecedented sum after some weeks-long negotiations.[84] In the week before the audio launch, Sony Music began releasing teasers of each of the songs every day and promoted them across social platforms.[85][86] The Telugu version of the soundtrack was released on 5 June 2012 at the Taj Deccan in Hyderabad.[87] The soundtrack received positive response from critics[88][89] and topped the charts.[90][91][92]

Marketing[edit]

Billa II underwent an extensive marketing spree before its release.[93] A first teaser poster displaying the new logo design was published in Diwali 2011,[94] while the first posters depicting Ajith Kumar's look were released in January 2012 during the Pongal festival.[95] From late February onwards, further posters featuring Ajith were unveiled,[96] with one poster in late March portraying a young Ajith carrying a kerosene can on a boat that led to speculations over the character's origin.[97] On 13 April 2012, a one-minute teaser trailer was uploaded to YouTube.[98] The teaser garnered over 500,000 views within the first three days of its release, setting a new record for Tamil films.[99]

As part of the marketing, the makers planned to release a Billa 2 calendar featuring the two lead actresses, Parvathy Omanakuttan and Bruna Abdulla; the stills were shot exclusively for the calendar in Goa.[100] An event to launch the official theatrical trailer was planned to be held on 2 July at the Anna Centenary Library auditorium in Kotturpuram, Chennai.[101] The entire cast and crew along with Russian dancers were expected to attend the function, which was to be telecast on television later.[102] The event was cancelled at short notice.[103] The trailer was however uploaded to YouTube the same day, gaining record views.[104][105] Moreover, a promotional video featuring Ajith with composer Yuvan Shankar Raja was shot as well, but was not released either.[102]

Release[edit]

Billa 2 was released in 2500 theatres worldwide[106] On first day Mayajaal Multiplex released Billa 2 in all screens and all shows – a total of 85 shows in 14 screens. The overseas distribution rights were sold for 53 million to the US-based company GK Media, the highest ever for an Ajith film.[67] In March 2012, the local media corporation Sun TV Network bought the satellite rights for a record price,[107] with sources estimating the price at INR62.5 million.[108] Three prominent production houses were reportedly trying to purchase the domestical theatrical rights then.[109] Venu Ravichandran's Aascar Films eventually acquired the theatrical distribution rights of Tamil Nadu for INR260 million.[110][111] All the distribution rights of the film, except the Kerala and Hindi dubbing rights had been sold at a record price of more than INR400 million, making Billa II one of the top pre-release revenue generating films of all time in the Tamil film industry.[112] In early May 2012, the Kerala release rights were finally sold to Sagara Entertainment and Money Tree Entertainment for INR15 million, likewise a new record for an Ajith film.[113] Billa II received an adult rating ("A" certificate) from the Central Board of Film Certification, due to its "high glamour quotient, violence and the mature content".[114] In the UK, the film was issued an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification with an advice that it contained "very strong violence and revenge theme".[115]

Billa II was initially planned to release on 13 April 2012, coinciding with Tamil New Year, but the release was postponed to 1 May 2012, coinciding with Ajith Kumar's birthday,[116] with the makers considering to bring forward the film by four days to release it on a Friday.[117] However, the release became further delayed and was pushed to the second half of May 2012.[118][119] After considering the first four Fridays in June 2012 for the film's release,[120][121][122][123] the producer finally zeroed in on 13 July as the release date.[124]

Billa 2 was released across over 1,400 screens worldwide, making it one of the largest Tamil releases ever.[4] The film was released simultaneously in the four southern states, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala as well as in North India and international markets.[4] In Tamil Nadu, it opened across 550 theatres,[125] while a dubbed Telugu version of the film released in Andhra Pradesh as David Billa.[126] In Kerala, the Tamil version was screened and Karnataka saw the release of both the versions.[127] The film was also released by Aanna Films in most of the major multiplexes in France with French subtitles;[128] in Malaysia, North India and the Gulf Nations, Malay, Hindi and Arabic subtitles were added to the film, respectively, while in other international markets, it was screened with English subtitles.[4][129]

Reception[edit]

Billa 2 received mixed reviews from critics. Rohit Ramachandran of Nowrunning.com rated it 2.5/5, calling the film "an underwhelming film experience."[130] Sify's Movie Buzz said the film is "All style, no substance."[131] Behindwoods rated it 2/5 stating that it "doesn't pack a punch".[132] Pavithra Srinivasan of Rediff rated it 2.5/5 saying that it "fails to meet expectations".[133] Karthik Subramanian of The Hindu said, "Where the movie lacks in substance, it does try to score with technical aspects. The camerawork by R. D. Rajasekhar, background score by Yuvan Shankar Raja and editing by Suresh Urs are superlative for the most part", and that the film "does not live up to the hype".[134] MSN India said "Billa 2 would be an interesting film only if you are an ardent fan of Ajith. Otherwise it is an average film with a weak script spoiling the show."[135]

Meena Iyer of The Times of India recommended it with a 3 star rating, "If you're a Ajith fan—Billa 2 is a must. If you're an action aficionado, it's a treat. If you're neither, then don't bother."[136] Indiaglitz called it as a slick entertainer running for just 129 minutes.[137] Prathibha Parameswaran of IBN Live said, "If you liked Billa and Mankatha, and expected as much from the prequel, it falls well short of expectations." and further wrote, "watch it only for Thala."[138] Anupama Subramanian of Deccan Chronicle rated the film 3 out of 5 stars and said, "The film works to a great extent because of the sheer screen presence of a star called Ajith Kumar. After all, it is his film all the way!"[139]

Box office[edit]

India[edit]

In the domestic market, Billa II had a good opening with 95% occupancy in single screens as well as multiplexes. The film raked in close to INR34 crore worldwide in its opening three-day weekend. In the opening week, it grossed around INR2.65 crore at the Chennai box office and after 5 weeks, it amounted to INR79.7 million.[140][141][142]

According to Superwoods the film collected INR 190+ crore worldwide.[143]

Overseas[edit]

In Malaysia, Billa II collected INR10.2 million in the opening weekend.[144][145] By the fourth weekend, it further added $5k to make a total of INR42.2 million.[146] Billa II successfully completed its 5th weekend and was still in the slot with the total collection of INR52.5 million.[147]

In the UK and Ireland, in its opening weekend, the film collected £72,120 on 20 screens, with the per screen average working out to £3,606.[148] In the second weekend, it had collected £5,598 from 12 screens.[149]

The film's performance at the Australian box office was also good: "In its opening weekend, the film had collected A$ 48,743 [Rs. 2720,000] from 5 screens.[150]

Billa II failed to touch the INR1 crore mark at the US box office. By the second week, it had earned about $130,314 (INR7294,000).[151]

Awards[edit]

Ceremony Category Nominee Result
7th Annual Vijay Awards Favourite Actor Ajith Kumar Nominated

|- ||2nd South Indian International Movie Awards |Best Actor in a Negative Role |Sudhanshu Pandey |style="background: #FDD; color: black; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; " class="no table-no2"|Nominated |} |-

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