Ayalaan (also marketed as Ayalaan – Destination: Earth transl. Alien) is an upcoming Indian Tamil-language science fiction film directed by R. Ravikumar and produced by Kotapadi J. Rajesh under KJR Studios. The film stars Sivakarthikeyan, Rakul Preet Singh, Sharad Kelkar, Isha Koppikar, Bhanupriya, Yogi Babu, Karunakaran and Bala Saravanan, while Siddharth voices an alien. It follows a group of four friends who try to help an alien send it back to its home planet, while a group of hostile scientists are chasing and seeking to thwart it.
The film was announced in October 2016 under the tentative title SK14, as it is Sivakarthikeyan’s 14th film as the lead actor, and the official title was announced in February 2020. Principal photography commenced in June 2018. The film was predominantly shot in Chennai, and wrapped by early-January 2021 after being affected with delays made by financial issues, actors’ commitments to other projects and the COVID-19 pandemic, while additional photography took place in November 2022. The film has music composed by A. R. Rahman, cinematography handled by Nirav Shah and editing by Ruben. It has over 4500 visual effects shots, the most for an Indian film.
Ayalaan was initially scheduled to release on Diwali 2023, but was postponed due to unfinished post-production works. It is now scheduled to be released on 12 January 2024, during the week of Pongal.
An alien lands on Earth. It bonds with a group of humans, but a group of hostile scientists seek to thwart it.
- Sivakarthikeyan as Raghu
- Siddharth as the voice of the alien
- Rakul Preet Singh as Aditi
- Sharad Kelkar
- Isha Koppikar as Eliza
- Bhanupriya as Raghu’s mother
- Yogi Babu
- Bala Saravanan
On 16 October 2016, Sivakarthikeyan and his former manager-turned-producer R. D. Raja of 24AM Studios, announced their next project, which would be directed by R. Ravikumar, in his second directorial after Indru Netru Naalai (2015). Sivakarthikeyan stated, “It’s going to be a very ambitious project. It needs to be made on a bigger scale, and hence, it will take time before it goes on floors”. Ravikumar had to enhance the script of the science fiction film, which took more than a year, to finalise the pre-production works. Meanwhile, Sivakarthikeyan decided to concentrate on Velaikkaran and Seemaraja, both produced by Raja.
Post the completion of Velaikkaran, Sivakarthikeyan announced that he will officially collaborate with Ravikumar, for the project after completing the scripting works. It was reported that the project will be made on a lavish scale, with top technicians being brought in for the project. In mid-January 2018, Sivakarthikeyan further announced that he will start the shooting of the film only after completing the production works of Seemaraja. The project was reportedly produced by R. D. Raja via 24AM Studios. On 15 January 2018, it was announced that A. R. Rahman will compose music for the film, in his maiden collaboration with Sivakarthikeyan. Sivakarthikeyan described it as a “dream come true” moment, on associating with Rahman for the first time. The makers hired veteran cinematographer Nirav Shah as part of the technical crew.
In mid-July 2019, Raja decided to back out producing the film, and Sivakarthikeyan himself decided to lend financial support for the film, by producing it under his own banner Sivakarthikeyan Productions. However, when the project was revived in November, KJR Studios had decided to cash in the shares of Raja’s productions, including this project. The company eventually went on to co-produced and distribute the film along with 24AM Studios, but 24AM Studios backed out later. The makers announced the film’s title as Ayalaan on 3 February 2020.
Rakul Preet Singh was chosen for the female lead in February 2018, collaborating with Sivakarthikeyan for the first time. In April 2018, Yogi Babu and Karunakaran were reported to be a part of the film’s cast. In August 2018, Sharad Kelkar was cast in a pivotal role, making his Tamil debut. In March 2019, Bollywood actress Isha Koppikar, was signed on, marking her return to Tamil cinema, a decade after her 2001 film Narasimha. She described her character Eliza as a femme fatale and assassin, inspired by the Tomb Raider character Lara Croft. The actor voicing the titular alien was not disclosed until December 2023, when the makers announced it was Siddharth.
Principal photography began on 27 June 2018, preceded by a launch event in Chennai. Sivakarthikeyan and Singh attended the event, while Bhanupriya, Kothandam and Bala Saravanan, were present during the event with other cast and crew members. Following the launch, the film’s team headed to Gokulam Studios for a brief schedule. Nirav Shah used the Alexa LF camera, making Ayalaan the first Indian film to be shot using this camera. Kopikkar joined the shooting sets in July 2018. Major portions of the film were shot in Chennai.
Filming was put on hold due to financial issues, as well as Sivakarthikeyan’s commitments in other projects. On 18 February 2019, Sivakarthikeyan had resumed filming in Chennai. However, Sivakarthikeyan’s involvement in the shooting of Mr. Local, Namma Veettu Pillai and Hero delayed the project further. Adding to these reasons was the financial issues, surrounding Raja’s production house, 24AM Studios, which led Raja backing out of the project, and Sivakarthikeyan himself decided to lend financial support for the film, by producing it under his own banner.
The project was later revamped on 20 September 2019, after Sivakarthikeyan sorted out the financial issues surrounding between the producers and the financiers. He further decided to forgo his remuneration to complete the film’s shoot. He initially revealed that 75% of the shooting had been completed and the remaining portions will be shot within 25–30 days. The shooting resumed on 29 January 2020. On 9 February 2020, a report claimed that the film’s team worked for 15 hours to shoot the climax sequence.
The filming was further affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2020, the makers reported that Sivakarthikeyan will join the shooting after wrapping his commitments with Doctor (2021). Later, the makers commenced the final leg of the shoot on 26 November 2020, with minimal crew, adhering to the guidelines imposed by the government. A special team was designated, to observe the crew, including the director and the actor abiding to COVID-19 protocols. Koppikar and Kelkar arrived in Chennai, to join the film’s shoot. The final schedule took place for two months to shoot. It was reported that the makers planned to shoot a special song in Chennai, featuring 600 dancers in background, which will mark the film’s wrap after its completion. The makers planned to shoot the song within 10 days. On 24 January 2021, the makers announced that the shooting of the film has been wrapped. Additional photography took place in November 2022.
Unlike many American films and the Hindi film Koi… Mil Gaya (2003), where a human actor portrays an alien after wearing prosthetics, the alien in Ayalaan was created entirely through visual effects. During filming, the makers used a boy as a stand-in for the alien so that Sivakarthikeyan, whose character interacts with the alien in several scenes, would have a reference point. According to Ravikumar, it was a challenge to synchronise this on the visual effects screen. In January 2021, it was reported that the makers need more than 10 months to complete the visual effects, and the makers spent more than ₹40 crore on them. Ayalaan has over 4500 visual effects shots, the most for an Indian film.
The film’s soundtrack and background score are composed by A. R. Rahman, which marks his first collaboration with Sivakarthikeyan and Ravikumar. Rahman agreed to do the picture in late-2017 and eventually began the music sittings and composition in March 2018. Despite the delay in the film’s shoot, Rahman had completed composing three songs for the film, apart from singing the intro song, after Sivakarthikeyan’s request. On the occasion of Sivakarthikeyan’s birthday (17 February 2021), the film’s first single “Vera Level Sago” was released online and in the official YouTube channel of Sony Music South, which acquired the film’s audio rights. The audio launch was held on 26 December.
As of December 2021, Ayalaan was facing uncertainty over its release due to 24AM Studios borrowing ₹5 crore (equivalent to ₹5.6 crore or US$700,000 in 2023) from Tag Entertainment, and the Madras High Court granted a stay over its release till 3 January 2022 unless the sum was repaid. On 24 April 2023, it was announced that the film would be released during Diwali in November 2023. Later the film was delayed indefinitely to allow time for the visual effects and CGI work to be completed, before being scheduled for January 2024, during Pongal. On 13 December 2023, the release date of 12 January 2024 was revealed.
The film’s broadcast rights were sold to Sun TV.
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