Prithviraj Sukumaran, one of the top stars of India’s Malayalam-language film industry, will direct and play the lead of an as-yet-untitled series on Rajan Pillai, popularly known as the “Biscuit Baron.”
The Hindi-language streaming series will be produced by Yoodlee Films, the film production arm of Indian music giant Saregama, which has acquired the rights to the story from Pillai’s wife Nina.
Born in Kerala, India, in 1947, Pillai was based in Singapore by the mid-1970s, from where he managed positions in biscuit companies Nabisco, Huntley & Palmer, Britannia among a few others. By 1993 however, Pillai was the subject of an investigation by Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department. He returned to India in 1995, where he was jailed and died awaiting medical treatment.
As an actor, Sukumaran has more than 100 films to his credit, including “Celluloid,” “Vaasthavam” and “Ennu Ninte Moideen.” His directorial debut “Lucifer,” starring Mohanlal, is one of the highest grossing films in the history of Malayalam cinema.
Sukumaran said: “The existence of light and darkness in human lives has always engaged me as an actor and director and this story has it all: ambition, success, a jet-setting lifestyle and then a hubris-induced fall that took a man from the zenith of corporate power to the depravity of a prison cell. All this at the age 47. Even though he passed away in 1995, his story serves as a relevant example on how the effects of success and power blur the line of morality, to this generation. It will be very interesting to discover what made this charismatic personality tick and to relive his intriguing, complex life.”
Saregama MD Vikram Mehra said: “The story of Rajan Pillai serves as a cautionary tale to the times we live in and is a compelling story that must be told. This project is a proud addition to our diverse portfolio of Yoodlee Films – that ranges from Hindi cinema to regional cinema to now web-series. I am especially grateful that Nina Piilai – Rajan’s wife has trusted us with this project, and that we have the magnificent talent of Prithviraj Sukumaran headlining the project.”
Nina Pillai said: “Rajan always aimed for the stars and dreamt of heading the world’s largest food firm by 2020. However, the systemic flaws in India’s justice system and manipulative enemies tragically cut short his life – a wound that his family and I grapple with even today. It’s easy to see his rise and fall in absolutes, but there was more to the man. This is an important story which needs to be told and placed before the people’s court. I am happy that Yoodlee Films is taking the mantle to humanize the story of Rajan and share it with its varied multicultural audience. And I am especially excited that someone of the caliber of Prithviraj Sukumaran is spearheading this project. I feel he has just the right artistic sensitivity to bring Rajan’s life amongst the masses.”
The series is currently in pre-production and will commence in mid-2022.
Yoodlee’s credits include “Axone,” “Music Teacher” and “Noblemen.”