Bigil (transl. Whistle) is a 2019 Indian Tamil-language sports action film written and directed by Atlee and produced by Kalpathi S. Aghoram under the banner AGS Entertainment.[7][8] The film stars Vijay in dual lead roles as Michael, a mobster and former footballer and Rayappan, a gangster and Michael's father, alongside Nayanthara, Jackie Shroff, Vivek and Kathir in other prominent roles.[9] The film follows Michael, a mobster and a former footballer who decides to coach a women's football team when their coach gets attacked. Michael faces challenges when his team does not cooperate with him due to his violent background and also finds himself hunted by some rivals who want revenge.

Bigil
Bigil poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAtlee
Produced byKalpathi S. Aghoram
Kalpathi S. Ganesh
Kalpathi S. Suresh
Written byAtlee
Starring
Music bySongs:
A. R. Rahman
Score:
A. R. Rahman
Qutub-E-Kripa
CinematographyG. K. Vishnu
Edited byRuben
Production
company
Distributed byScreen Scene Media Entertainment
Release date
  • 25 October 2019 (2019-10-25)[1]
Running time
178 minutes[2]
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil
Budget180 crore[3][4]
Box officeest. 285–300 crore[5][6]

The film was officially announced on 14 November 2018, under its working title Thalapathy 63. This film marked the third collaboration of Vijay and Atlee, after Theri and Mersal. Principal photography for this film commenced on 21 January 2019, at Chennai and ended on 10 August. The film's title Bigil, was announced on 22 June 2019, along with the first look poster.[10] The film has music composed by A. R. Rahman, with cinematography handled by G. K. Vishnu and editing done by Ruben.

Made on a budget of ₹180 crore,[11][12] Bigil released theatrically in India on 25 October 2019, coinciding with the occasion of Diwali festival. It was dubbed and released simultaneously in Kannada in same name and in Telugu under the title Whistle. The film received mixed reviews upon release,[13] with Vijay's performance, and direction was praised, but criticism was aimed at the fault in delivering social message, casual screenplay, weak and formulaic first half and excessive length.[5] Bigil emerged as the highest-grossing Tamil film of 2019, collecting ₹285–300 crore,[5][6] upon its release, and Vijay's highest-grossing film in his career.[14] The film completed its 100-day theatrical run on 1 February 2020,[15] and also won two awards each at the Zee Cine Awards Tamil and Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards.[16]

It was the first Tamil film to be released in Egypt and Jordan.[17]

Bigil surpassed the box office collections of Rajnikanth's Endhiran and Petta and emerged as the fifth-highest grossing south Indian film of all-time.[18][19] It collected US$1.46 million at the U.S box office.[20] The film registered 35,000 footfalls in France highest for a Tamil film all-time in France.[21]

Plot

Michael Rayappan is a crime boss from Chennai who works for the welfare of people in his slum. He has a romantic relationship with Angel Aasirvatham, a physiotherapist who comically refuses to marry any groom at the last minute due to their love. He has a running feud with a rival don named Daniel. One night, Daniel attacks Michael and his close friend Kathir, who is the coach of the Tamil Nadu women's football team. Kathir suffers spinal injuries during the attack, due to which he is paralysed for a year. To allow the women's football team to take part in the upcoming National Championship in Delhi, Kathir requests to the Tamil Nadu Football Federation to replace him with his former teammate named "Bigil", who is none other than Michael. The story then shifts to Michael's past as a football player.

Seven years earlier, Michael was an aspiring footballer and contributed to victories for the Tamil Nadu football team along with Kathir. His father was Rayappan, a don who had a feud with a rival don named Alex, who was Daniel's father. Rayappan encouraged his son's passion for football as he did not want him to end up as a criminal like him. When Michael was unable to make it to the Indian football team due to Rayappan's criminal record, Rayappan personally took up the matter with the All India Football Federation president J. K. Sharma and forcefully ensured Sharma to include Michael and Kathir in the Indian team probable list. But despite Rayappan's efforts, Michael's football career was cut short as he witnessed Rayappan getting stabbed to death by Alex and Daniel, just when he was about to leave for Delhi to attend the selection trial for the Indian football team. Michael killed Alex in front of Daniel, taking revenge for Rayappan's death, and instead stayed back in Chennai to become the new leader of Rayappan's gang.

In the present day, Michael confronts Daniel and attempts to kill him for the earlier attack, but fortunately the police intervene to arrest Daniel and send him to prison. Michael later accepts Kathir's request to coach the women's football team and leaves for Delhi with the team, with Angel also accompanying them as team physiotherapist. However, due to his criminal background, the girls refuse to cooperate with him, even blaming him for the team's opening loss to Manipur in the National Championship and requesting the Federation to have him removed. Dejected, Michael gives his resignation to Sharma, but he soon discovers that Sharma is targeting him in revenge for the humiliation that he had faced at the hands of Rayappan to allow him into the Indian football team. Sharma sends armed assailants to attack Michael; however, Michael subdues the assailants and withdraws his resignation. He convinces the girls to support him and starts training them hard with the sole focus of winning the Championship. He even manages to bring back two former key players to boost the team's strength: Gayathri, a Brahmin girl who quit playing football after she was married to a conservative family; and Anitha, who is in depression and has refused to even leave her room ever since a man threw acid on her face when she spurned his advances. Despite Sharma trying to rig the team's next match against Haryana so that they will be eliminated and sent home, they manage to beat Haryana and win all their remaining matches, eventually qualifying for the Final at Chennai, where they are to play Manipur again.

On the eve of the final, one of the team's players, Vembu, is kidnapped and forcefully injected with cocaine by Daniel, who is bailed out from jail and hired by Sharma in order to sabotage the team's chances of winning the Championship. Though she recovers, she is unable to play in the final as she would fail the dope test. The team's captain, Thendral, is also kidnapped by Daniel, who attempts to forcefully inject cocaine on her as well; however, Michael manages to rescue her. Michael chases Daniel to his house and proceeds to kill him once and for all, but once he sees Daniel's young son, he changes his mind and spares Daniel, as he realises he does not want the young boy's future to end up like his by killing his father. The next day, Tamil Nadu plays the Final against Manipur without Vembu. The match turns out to be a thriller with Tamil Nadu winning the Championship through a penalty shootout. Michael and the team dedicate their success to Kathir, who is watching the match from the dugout in a wheelchair.

During the credits, Michael gets Sharma exposed for drug possession, leading to Sharma's arrest and subsequent execution in Malaysia, where he is on a holiday. A few months later, Michael, no longer a rowdy, takes up football coaching for children, with one of his students being the son of Daniel, both of whom have now made peace with Michael.

Cast

Production

Development

In August 2018, there were rumours speculated that Vijay's Thalapathy 63, will be directed by Mohan Raja or Perarasu, however it was confirmed that Atlee, with whom Vijay has collaborated in Theri and Mersal, will be helming for their third film.[23][24] Later, in September 2018, Archana Kalpathi, the creative producer of AGS Entertainment, had announced that the company had bankrolled the rights of the film.[23] A small puja ceremony, announcing the launch of Thalapathy 63, was held on 14 November 2018.[25] And on the same day, AGS Entertainment, gave a press release, revealing the crew members and technicians working in this film. A. R. Rahman, G. K. Vishnu, Ruben, T. Muthuraj and Anal Arasu, whom worked in the director-actor's previous film Mersal, were roped in as the music composer, cinematographer, editor, art director and stunt choreographer respectively, with S. Ramana Girivasan, who regularly worked in Atlee's previous films, was roped in as the film's dialogue writer.[25][26]

The pre-production process for Thalapathy 63 took place on 29 November 2018, at Binny Mills in Chennai.[27] Ajay Devgn's NY VFXWAALA was roped in to supervise the visual effects. The company had already collaborated in Theri and Mersal.[28] Vijay had undergone special training in football,[29] with the sequences being choreographed by popular sports choreographers Aimee McDaniel and Justin Skinner, the former whom had choreographed for films like Pelé: Birth of a Legend, Million Dollar Arm and 13 Reasons Why, with the latter, an English footballer.[30]

In March 2020, the Indian Income Tax Department released figures from a tax evasion probe showing that Vijay received ₹50 crore for the film.[31]

Casting

Nayanthara (left) and Vivek (right) were signed for the lead roles, collaborating with Vijay, after a decade long-gap.

Nayanthara was selected to play the female lead role,[32] while Vivek and Anandaraj joined the film as a supporting role.[33] The actors collaborate with Vijay, for a decade long-gap, with Vivek's last collaboration with Vijay was Kuruvi (2008), whereas for Nayanthara and Anandaraj, was Villu (2009).[34] Yogi Babu, roped in the film's cast,[35] while Kathir,[36] Soundararaja and Daniel Balaji were also involved.[37] Rajkumar was chosen as a part of the film's cast, but it was proved to be untrue.[38] On 21 March 2019, Jackie Shroff, roped in the film cast, playing a negative role in the film.[39] It was revealed that Vijay would play a role of a women's football team coach, and later Indhuja Ravichandran,[40] Amritha Aiyer, Reba Monica John and Varsha Bollamma, were chosen as the football players.[41]

Filming

Principal photography for Thalapathy 63 started on 21 January 2019, with a small puja ceremony, held at Binny Mills in Chennai,[42][43][7] where the first schedule of the film took place with an action sequence.[44] A huge set was erected at the venue, and the filming of the schedule took place for 30 days.[44] A replica of Napier Bridge was erected at the EVP Film City in Chennai.[45] The second schedule of the film, went on shooting at a private college on 6 March 2019.[46] After 70 days of continuous shoot, the film entered its fourth schedule on 6 May 2019.[47] A song shoot for the film, took place at Gokulam Studios in Chennai in May 2019.[48]

The film's final schedule commenced on 10 August 2019,[49] with the wrapping of principal shoot, and entering through post-production. On the last day of shoot, the team gifted 400 gold rings, imprinting the film's title Bigil, to all the technicians who worked in this film.[50][51] In March 2020, Vijay's original bike stunt video from the film's shooting spot, went viral on social media.[52]

Copyright infringement allegations

Telugu filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar sued director Atlee for story theft and copyright infringement in Hyderabad court. He alleged that certain portions of the film bore similarities to his film, Slum Soccer.[53][54]

Soundtrack

The film's original score and soundtrack album were composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics written by Vivek. Bigil marks Rahman's second collaboration with Atlee after Mersal,[55] and also his fifth collaboration with Vijay.[55] The album features five songs, with three singles - "Singappenney",[56] "Verithanam"[57] and "Unakkaga"[58] being released on 23 July 1 and 18 September respectively. The music rights of the film were acquired by Sony Music India.[59] Actor Vijay, sung one song "Verithanam" which is the first time Vijay, has sung for a film composed by Rahman.[60] The film's music was released at the audio launch event held on 27 September 2019 at Sai Leo Muthu Indoor Stadium, Sri Sai Ram Engineering College, Chennai, with the presence of the film's cast and crew and all the other celebrities.[61] The songs were released at all digital platforms, the very same day, of the launch. A month after the film's release, an album with two additional songs written by Vivek - "Kaalame" sung by Bamba Bakya,[62] and "Idharkuthaan" was sung by Dhee with additional vocals from Sunitha Sarathy and Arjun Chandy[63] - was released in November 2019.

Release

Bigil was released simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu (titled Whistle) on 25 October 2019, two days ahead of the Diwali festival, which falls on 27 October 2019.[7] The Central Board of Film Certification, gave U/A certificate to the film, with a runtime of 179 minutes (2 hours, 59 minutes), which was confirmed by Archana Kalpathi, the film's creative producer on Twitter.[64] The film released on 4200 screens worldwide, with 700 screens in Tamil Nadu,[65] 400 screens in Karnataka, 300 screens in Kerala and 200 screens in North India, and rest of the territories.[66] It is the first Tamil film to release in IMAX screens.[66][67]

Re-release

After the reopening of theatres in Germany and France, which was shut down as a precautionery measure, due to coronavirus pandemic, the film was re-released in these countries on 18 June 2020, coinciding the eve of Vijay's birthday.[68][69] The film was re-released in the theatres of Sri Lanka on 24 July 2020,[70] and in Singapore on 7 August 2020.[71] Post the reopening of theatres in India, the film was re-released in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu on 10 November 2020.[72][73]

Distribution

The film was distributed worldwide by Screen Scene Media Entertainment.[74] The Chennai city distribution rights were acquired by Gopuram Films. Trichy and Thanjavur rights were acquired by Karpagam Films. Sushma Cine Arts acquired the theatrical rights of Salem. Surya Movies acquired the rights of Madurai and Ramnad district. The film will be released by Kanthaswamy Cine Arts in Coimbatore and Vasundhara Devi Cine Films in Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari.[74] United India Exporters and X Gen Studios have jointly bought the overseas theatrical rights for the film. The Telugu rights have been bought by Mahesh S. Koneru under the banner East Coast Productions, and will be released in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.[75] Actor Prithviraj Sukumaran bought the film's distribution rights in Kerala, under his production company, Prithviraj Productions.[76] Also the film's Hindi dubbing rights have been bought by Goldmines Telefilms Pvt. Ltd.[77]

Marketing

The film's title, Bigil was announced on 22 June 2019.[78] The first look was released on 21 June 2019, featuring Vijay in a double role, one a footballer, and the other as a gangster. Vijay wears a salt-and-pepper hairstyle for this film.[79] The film's second look poster was released on 22 June at midnight, featuring a multi-dimensional format of Vijay,[80] and another poster was released at 6pm on the same day, with Vijay holding a cycle chain as a similar reference to Thirumalai (2003).[81][82] The new poster from the film was released on 28 August 2019, featuring Vijay, Anandaraj, Yogi Babu and others.

The theatrical trailer was released on 12 October 2019,[83] and upon its release, it crossed 14 million views within 14 hours.[84] The film's trailer crossed 2 million likes, within four days, becoming the most liked Indian trailer,[85] until its record was beaten by Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer Dil Bechara (2020),[86] which crossed more than 10 million likes, becoming the world's most liked trailer.[87] Nevertheless, the trailers of both the films, were listed in the most liked trailers of the world.[88] As of 19 February 2020, the trailer crossed 50 million views, becoming the most viewed Tamil trailer.[89]

To promote the movie the makers teamed up with Chennai City FC, an Indian professional football club, to organise a mini football tournament consisting of 64 teams, on 19–20 October 2019, at Tiki Taka, Velachery, Chennai.[90][91] Another event titled Bigil FIFA Esports Championship, organised by Sky Esports was held in Arkmensis Gaming India, Chennai on 17–20 October 2019, and in Woot Gaming Lounge, Kochi on 15 October 2019.[92] The makers teamed up with Chennaiyin FC, for the upcoming Indian Super League season.[93] A new Twitter emoji for the film was launched officially, for the film's marketing purposes.[94]

The first look of the dubbed Telugu version titled Whistle, was released on 6 October 2019, and its trailer was released on 17 October 2019.[95]

Home media

The satellite rights of the film were secured by Sun TV Network,[96] which also secured the rights for the film's dubbed versions also.[97] The global television premiere of Bigil took place on Sun TV on 15 January 2020, coinciding with the Thai Pongal festival,[98] and registered a TRP rating of 23.5, with 16473 crore impressions.[99][100] The digital rights were sold to Amazon Prime Video, which was released through all digital platforms on 13 December 2019.[97] The film's dubbed Kannada and Malayalam versions were released through Sun NXT.[101]

Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 60% based on 9 reviews, with an average rating of 6.19/10.[102]

M. Suganth of The Times of India gave 3 out of 5 stars stating "Though it lacks depth and is overlong, Bigil proves to be an engaging entertainer".[103] Sify gave 3.5 out of 5 stars stating "Bigil relies squarely on the charm of its leading man and Vijay dives into the character with an enthusiasm we haven't seen before. It is a paisa vasool mass, sports-action-entertainer which is sure to be enjoyed by the masses and family audiences".[104] Sreedhar Pillai of Firstpost gave 3.25 out of 5 stars stating "Bigil is designed as a crowd-pleaser from the very word go; with the basic underdog story, women empowerment and equality as themes, it works to a large extent. Vijay takes Bigil to its winning goal".[105] IndiaGlitz gave 2.75 out of 5 stars stating " Despite its predictability, Bigil is lead to a victory by the impressive Vijay!".[106] Rediff.com stated "Bigil packs in enough entertainment in its three-hour running time".[107] Karthik Kumar of Hindustan Times stated "Despite a problematic first half, the Atlee-directed Vijay starrer makes up in the second half with an emotionally rewarding end, and is excruciatingly long and if not for the football portion which is executed on a grand scale and visuals, the film would've struggled to stay afloat".[108] Behindwoods gave 2.75 out of 5 stars and stated "Bigil is an engaging star vehicle with sports as its backdrop, which could satisfy the family audience during the festival season. Vijay's screen presence and an interesting second half making it as worth watching women centric sports film".[109]

Srinivasa Ramanujam, writing for The Hindu, stated "An emotionally-strong tale from the Atlee-Vijay combo which could have used better writing and trimming".[110] Baradwaj Rangan of the Film Companion, stated "The screenplay could have been tighter, but it’s still a model of how we can get serious even in the overblown world of a “mass” movie, and yet not forget to have fun."[111] Janani K of India Today, gave 3 out of 5 stars and stated "Despite having more flaws than positives, Bigil is a treat for Vijay’s ardent fans".[112] Writing for Huffington Post, Karthik Keramalu stated "While Atlee’s intention, in spite of seeming ‘inspired’ from other movies, doesn't come across as sincere, it might help some folks pick up the ball".[113] The New Indian Express gave 2.5 out of 5 stars and stated "There was solid scope to deliver a strong 'message', one of women's empowerment, but the film never lets it surpass the need to celebrate Vijay’s heroism".[114] Anupama Subramanian of Deccan Chronicle gave 3 out of 5 stars and stated "Bigil could have used a lot of trimming, especially in the first half. It is a deliberate attempt to convert the fans expectation of Vijay into a story about women’s empowerment. There’s of course the usual white knight complex, but at least it’s a start for Vijay to play more mature roles. Hope he does more of such script driven characters. Perhaps Atlee should have taken a more gritty and realistic approach where the villains are discrete and the problems more complex than they seem. For a while, you need to force yourself to sit through this one. Eventually, you do walk away feeling good that the applause were for the footballers involved".[115]

Economics

Pre-release revenue

The Tamil Nadu theatrical rights of the film were sold for 80 crore (US$11 million),[116] with the South India theatrical rights, were reported to be in the region of above 25 crore (US$3.5 million);[116] the overseas rights were purchased for 30 crore (US$4.2 million).[116] The satellite and digital rights for both Tamil and dubbed Telugu and Malayalam versions, were bought for ₹30 crore and ₹25 crore respectively,[116] whilst the Hindi dubbing and satellite rights were about 27 crore (US$3.8 million).[116] The audio rights were sold for 3.5 crore (US$490,000).[116] Thus totalling up to 220 crore (US$31 million).[116]

Box office

Firstpost stated that Bigil has collected a total of ₹285 crore worldwide, while Business Today stated a gross of 300 crore.[5][6] The film's Tamil Nadu theatrical distribution rights were sold at ₹80 crore[117] and it has grossed ₹143 crore in Tamil Nadu after four weeks.[118][119] In three weeks, the film had collected ₹13 crore from Chennai alone.[120] Bigil collected US$1 million at U.S box office, Vijay's fourth film to do so.[121] The film has performed very well in Delhi and Mumbai,[122] with sold-out shows at most locations in Mumbai the first week.[123] As of 6 November 2019, Bigil has collected $11.5 million in overseas territories.[124][125] The film earned more than 33,000 entries in France, overtaking Mersal and Enthiran.[126] The film also earned GBP 588,234 in United Kingdom surpassing highest Mersal which earned GBP 560,858.[119] In first six days, the film has reported to have earned $2 million in Malaysia.[127]

Impact

Bigil created much anticipation before its release, with Karan Johar,[128] Shah Rukh Khan,[129] Varun Dhawan,[130] Indian race driver Alisha Abdullah,[131] Sri Lankan criciekter Russell Arnold,[132] among other celebrities praising the film's trailer.[133][134] Post-release Johar, called the film as "a roller coaster of emotions, triumh and adernaline rush".[135][136]

Bigil has become an influential film for women. According to the coach of Madurai women's football team which recently won national qualifiers in Bangalore, parents are encouraging their daughters to take up football.[137] Bigil, becomes the most tweeted hashtags of 2019, becoming the only Indian film to be a part of it.[138] Vijay, Atlee, A. R. Rahman and Archana Kalpathi were featured in the top 10 entertainment charts of India on Twitter.[139]

Post the demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the film's creative producer Archana Kalpathi, revealed that Vijay's Rayappan character in the film's first look poster was inspired from Sushant's role in Chhichhore (2019).[140]

Awards and nominations

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref
Zee Cine Awards Tamil 4 January 2020 Favorite Heroine Nayanthara Won [16]
Best Music Director A.R. Rahman Nominated
Favorite Song Of The Year (Verithanam) Nominated
Favorite Actor Vijay Won
Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards 11 January 2020 Best Choreographer Shobi & Lalitha Shobi Won [141]
Most Popular Film AGS Entertainment Won
Best Music Director A. R. Rahman Nominated
Edison Award TBA Best Playback Singer Male for Singappenney A.R. Rahman Pending [142]
Best Background Score Pending
Best Music Director Won

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External links