Rajinikanth’s ‘2.0’ and ‘Darbar’. Kamal Haasan’s ‘Indian 2’. Vijay’s ‘Kaththi’. Dhanush’s ‘Vada Chennai’. Suriya’s ‘Kaappaan’. STR’s ‘Vandha Rajavathaan Varuven’. Sivakarthikeyan’s ‘SK 17’, Mani Ratnam’s ‘Chekka Chivantha Vaanam’ and ‘Ponniyin Selvan’. And the list goes on.
With every big name in Tamil cinema working with Lyca, their fans and the whole industry are all smiles for the production house, which has carved its indelible imprint in Kollywood within a short span of time. In fact, the arrival of Lyca has infused a fresh blood into Tamil film industry, so to speak, as it is bankrolling big projects besides promoting young talents.
From Hiphop Tamizha Aadhi to Arun Vijay to Kamal Haasan to Shankar to Rajinikanth, Lyca is associated with every possible star, from the young to the experienced. And it is doing this with a sole mission to serve quality movies to the audience.
Lyca Productions was established by London-based Tamil entrepreneur Subaskaran Allirajah in 2014. A subgroup of Lycamobile, a leading internatinoal telecom company, the studio has been involved in the production and distribution of films in India.
Founded in 2006, Lycamobile is a solution for those who want to connect back home. Providing low-cost high-quality international calls to over 15 million customers across 23 countries, Lycamobile’s sheer span, focus on customer service and innovative business strategy has seen it outgrow its competitor set; achieving greater coverage of the European population than any other network operator.
A Mobile Virtual Network Operator initially developed for the expatriate communities in Europe, Lycamobile has fast become a global brand synonymous with connecting customers with their loved ones across oceans, borders and networks at the cheapest possible price. Thus, Lycamobile has emerged the world’s largest mobile virtual network operator.
Lyca is doing a lot towards charity, and an example to this is its donation of £100,000 to Alzheimer’s Research UK to kick-off a year-long charity partnership and to raise awareness of dementia.
Talking about his entry into cinema, Subaskaran says, “You can make a good margin on films in India, provided you run it as a business. But more than anything, film is my passion; I just really, really love it. When I was little I loved to watch movies – I’d watch one or two every day. Of course, I never thought I’d release a movie.”
In 1999, Allirajah moved with his wife, then a medical student in Sri Lanka, to London. Three years later, he set up his own firm, Lycatel, a calling card company. By 2006, he’d moved into mobile. Calling cards “were great for calling internationally at a cheaper rate, but a pain to use for the customer. In the early 2000s, not everybody had a mobile phone. But between 2000 and 2006, usage increased.”
Subaskaran decided to bring across the benefits of the calling card to a mobile platform – so customers would have the benefit of making international calls cheaply on their mobiles. “To do that, we had to become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) – a user friendly innovation. Regulations in Europe had recently changed to allow this to happen, and the Netherlands was one of the first countries to adopt the change. So we launched Lycamobile there with T-Mobile.”
Now, Lyca’s reach spans Australia to Poland, Tunisia to the US. Subaskaran says changing migration patterns and increasing movement means Lyca’s target audience has altered.
But what has driven him to do all this? “I simply took advantage of opportunities that were before me, because that was all I had at the time. Having some success has meant being able to give back to communities who need it. That is fulfilling.” And, Lyca is now making a fulfilling journey in Tamil cinema, too.