Friendship, the upcoming Tamil film in which cricketer Harbhajan Singh is making his acting debut in a lead role, is set to release theatrically on Friday, on over 300 screens in Tamil Nadu, co-director of the film John Paul Raj told Silverscreen India. The film also features Sri Lankan news anchor Losliya Mariyanesan in the lead role.
Friendship is the Tamil remake of the 2018 Malayalam film Queen. John has directed the Tamil remake along with his brother-in-law Sham Surya. The duo has previously directed Bobby Simha-starrer Agni Devi in 2019.
Queen, the original Malayalam film, follows the lives of students studying in a male-dominated mechanical engineering department in an college in Kerala. Saniya Iyappan plays the role of Chinnu, the lone female student in the batch.
In a conversation with Silverscreen India about Friendship, John said that Friendship is “not a frame-by-frame remake of Queen”.
“We got the rights of Queen, and have retained the core of it, while changes were made in the screenplay. My friends from the Malayalam industry made the original film and soon after its release, I liked the core of it. I liked how it had one female character among men and how it portrayed their friendship. In Tamil there are not many friendship-based films,” he said.
Harbhajan Singh will be making his acting debut in the lead role in Tamil cinema with Friendship. He was last seen in a cameo appearance in the 2021 Tamil film Dikkiloona. In Friendship, Singh plays Bhagwan Singh, a native of Tamil Nadu settled in Punjab.
Losliya who rose to fame through the reality show Bigg Boss will be reprising Saniya’s role in the remake. John said he chanced upon Losliya in the reality show and felt that her real character resembled the one of Chinnu in the film. After she came onboard first, the makers met Arjun Sarja. While not revealing what role Sarja plays in the film, John said his character development required a lot of work.
John said he was looking for different type of characters to play the students. “I wanted an angry North Indian man with a good physique to play one of the lead roles, and that’s how Harbhajan came onboard. His character in the film also plays cricket so we zeroed in on him,” John added. Sathish and Badava Gopi also play prominent characters in the film.
Friendship went on floors in March 2020 and after 15 days, shooting was brought to a halt by the Covid-19 pandemic. It was later resumed in March and wrapped up in July. Friendship was completely shot in Coimbatore by cinematographer Santha Kumar C.
Speaking about co-directing with Surya, John said “During the pre-production, schedule planning, we divided the work and sort out the differences. We handled the artists separately.”
Friendship’s music is composed by DM Udhaya Kumar and features five songs. John said that it was a conscious decision not to rope in Jakes Bejoy (music composer of the Malayalam version), although they were in talks with him regarding composing the background score of the Tamil remake.
“Jakes is a very good friend of mine and he has given the best music for the Malayalam version. However, he was sceptical if he can deliver the same in Tamil too. On top of this, we also wanted to try young musicians and that is when we chanced upon Udhay,” he said.
John, who is producing Friendship along with Stalin under the Cinemaass banner, confirmed that the film will have an OTT release post a one-month theatrical run.