Kalaprabhu Thanu, the young director on the sphere whose
maiden directorial venture Sakkarakatti hit the screen
last week, is a relaxed man. He has an impressive lineage
in the form of his dad, the eminent producer Kalaipuli
S Thanu, who has a track record of setting the box office
on fire with imposing productions involving the leading
stars of the industry.
Prabhu, in a friendly tête-à-tête
with Behindwoods, talks about his film, his family,
A R Rahman and much more. Read on to discover this young
director who has made an impression on Isaipuyal A R
Rahman to score music for his first film.
go happily in torn jeans, rubber chapal and
shirt to see Rahman
What kind of
person are you?
I’m a pet
only to my mom and to the rest of the world,
a super, naughty brat…
Who is Kala
in your name?
I am Prabhu and
my mom is Kala. As I want my mom to be always
with me, I have prefixed her name with mine
in her memory.
What was your dad’s contribution
to your film?
a general feeling that my dad helped
me in certain things. Well… you
can say that. (chuckles). Actually,
you can only say that.
As regards my dad, he can get me a hearing
time of one hour from the crème-la-crème
of the industry in India and I can narrate
my story to them. However, how I utilize
that one hour to my optimum benefit
rests entirely on my capabilities. Though
the initial impetus came in the form
of my dad, A R Rahman agreed to this
project based only on the merit of my
did your sister help you realize your
my mom, I’m very close to my sister
and we share a good rapport with each
other. My dad was completely against
me entering the film industry. However
my interest was only in films and somehow
I wanted my dad to give a green signal
on this. In this process I had made
a couple of short films but even this
did not help me get my dad’s assent.
Having sensed my disappointment, my
sister Kavitha helped me get dad to
hear my story.
dad can get me a hearing time of one
hour from the crème-la-crème
of the industry”
Did your dad listen to the full story?
No. I had narrated the story of Sakkarakatti till
the interval and when I had stopped to get his
feedback, he said that he had total faith in me
and asked me to start work right away. I would
like to tell you something. Till date he has not
listened to the second half of the story at all!
friendship with Sundar C Babu?
C Babu is one of my close friends. When I knew
that it is going to be an uphill task convincing
my dad, I tried various things like multimedia,
music album etc. Sundar and I have done a couple
of songs for a music album and that’s how
our friendship developed.
was your school life?
have not much to say about school life. I was
a very troublesome boy at school and was pulled
up for anything mischievous. Of course, those
days, I felt like a hero for being in the limelight
for the wrong reasons but I realize my follies
was the first film shooting that you attended?
used to visit my dad’s production ventures
whenever I felt like. “Yaar’ was the
first film shooting that I remember attending.
I should have been 10 years old. In the initial
stages it was only a desire to watch a shooting
but later on it changed to an active pursuit and
I started taking keen interest and wanted to learn
the nuances of film making. The first film that
I watched with an interest to know more about
film making was Gharshana, the Telugu film when
the shoot was going on in Hyderabad.
R Rahman agreed to this project based
only on the merit of my story”
difficult was it to rope in A R Rahman?
dad took me to Rahman sir, I was not
able to believe my luck at all. I belong
to the generation which has grown on
Roja and here I am in front of him in
flesh and blood. I was given 45 minutes
but I exceeded my time by another 45
minutes and then he had agreed to do
my film. The magnitude of the situation
struck me when I came out of his room.
I saw many distinguished people waiting
for hours to get just a glimpse of him
and here I go happily in torn jeans,
rubber chapal and dirty T shirt and
had his rapt attention for 90 minutes!.
I simply could not believe my fortune
and should thank the Almighty and my
dad for such an opportunity.
you and Rahman discuss the music?
course. I had explained about the placement
of songs and the feel of them and he
had those as reference points. Later
when the tunes were played, they were
one hundred times more than what I had
sought out for. The tracks would be
given and the lyricist asked to pen
their verses. The time taken for each
song to get completed was different.
‘Taxi taxi’ took us four
days while ‘Elay’ was completed
in almost 24 hours. When it came to
lyrics, Rahman can never be easily satisfied
and he would be at it till it reached
a stage of perfection. I was privileged
to have Muthukumar and Paa. Vijay working
in sync with Rahman and they understood
each other perfectly.
interesting anecdote during music composition?
working on ‘elay’ number,
Muthukumar was in Rahman’s house
till midnight and completed it and was
asked to come again next afternoon.
The next day when we went and gave the
completed lyrics, Rahman sir looked
at the paper and there was one word
‘ulagam thiranda vaazhai’.
He was apparently impressed with the
word and said, “Wow! This phrase
is nice, we can start from this.”
And we ended up having a totally different
start to the song.
Rahman as a person
you work with him in such close quarters, you
realize that besides being an ace music composer,
he is such a wonderful human being. His presence
makes you feel that you still live in a good world.
At the same time he does not take anyone lightly
and gives everybody their due respects. He is
always concerned about society and talks constantly
about the welfare of people. I am certainly blessed
to have worked with such a great person.
you say something about ‘taxi taxi’?
song is a super duper hit and is on everyone’s
lips now. We felt that this number would be on
the top list while we were recording and we are
On Chinnamma chilakkamma taken from Hindi movie Meenaxi?
I went to Rahman to tell the story, I
felt that he would be too busy and thought
that it would help him ease out if I had
taken few Hindi tunes of his. However,
Rahman sir took his Hindi ‘Meenaxi’
number for Chilakkamma and the rest of
the songs are all freshly scored for Sakkarakatti.
As regards Rahman sir, I think he would
accept any film only if likes the story
and if there is any scope for his performance.
And I am glad that he did my debut film.
in the songs and Saundarya Rajnikanth’s
friend Karthik is the only reason behind
this. Through him I got to know Sunil
who is the visual coordinator at Ochre.
Initially it was only Chinnamma chilakkamma
song. However they ended up doing all
the numbers. There is a solid team there
and I liked their working style. We had
brain storming sessions and worked in
unison. If one of us felt something was
not alright, we would analyze, discuss
and take the remedial course.
sir took his Hindi ‘Meenaxi’
number for Chilakkamma”
a rigorous search we zeroed in on Shanthanu”
Why not bigger stars like Vikram instead
of a new comer?
script needed a newcomer, one without
any image as my story is a sweet little
love story with a different treatment.
My hero is a ‘boy next door’
who hails from Chennai boat club area
who appears very cosmopolitan. After
a rigorous search we zeroed in on Shanthanu
who fitted the bill perfectly.
which scene did Bhagyaraj get totally
I first went to narrate my story to
Bhagyaraj, he sized me up and asked
if I had worked as an assistant director
to someone and I said no. Then he started
listening to my narration and I could
see his involvement from the 3rd minute
which was made known by his facial expressions.
There were some occasions where I had
gone a bit fast and he stopped me and
asked me to repeat. After I completed
my story, there was a pregnant pause
for a few perceptible moments and I
was nervous. Then he started speaking.
He said that my film is full of technical
domination and mentioned about the growth
or progress in my script which should
ideally be there in any story in every
being said that you narrate your story
with lot of oral sound effects...
to me when one wants to enter cinema,
one should shed all their inhibitions
especially when it comes to script narration.
When I visualize how a scene should
appear on screen that includes sound
effects also. So, it is only natural
that I bring in lot of oral sound effects
when I tell my story. I want my listener
to get the complete feel of my script.
would you polish your story narration?
I record my narration and keep on hearing
and honing it till a point when I am
totally satisfied with it.
Who are the directors you like?
like Mani sir. In the younger brood, I like Venkat
a young film maker, you are talking about Rudraiya
and Mahendran. Comment?
have heard many assistant directors speak about
Iranian films and other world films. But according
to me, to have a feel of realism and to connect
with the audience and to strike a chord with them,
one should watch Rudraiya’s or Mahendran’s
films. In Aval Appadithan or Mullum Malarum the
character portrayal strong enough to transcend
time barriers. Their films are woven around their
characters and the story is moved ahead with the
help of these characters who appear fresh even
after fifty years. Such films are a rarity these
Can you tell us
something about Vamsi?
I am a big devotee
of Vamsi sir just like the way I worship A R Rahman
sir. Vamsi sir’s songs are amazing and it
is unfathomable how he contrived them those days
when facilities like graphics never existed. His
hard work would have been palpable in every minute
shot. He would have taken utmost care about the
smallest of smallest sounds that would go with
every shot and sometimes one can see more than
two frames which would keep changing.
you want to shoot Sakarakatti in those unusual
My father encouraged
me and gave me the total freedom of choosing the
shooting spot. But as a debutant director working
with newcomers, I knew my limitations and was
keen to work within a framework. As my story also
did not demand exotic locales, I shot my entire
film within south India. It was mainly in Chennai,
Bengaluru, Kodaikanal, Vaagam and Pereecham.
Will you do films for your dad or for outside
How can I forget my dad? Not only me but whoever
has done films for my dad’s banner would
like to come back and work for him. He would go
to any extent to do anything if he feels it is
essential for the story. But to convince him to
do that is a mammoth task and once it is done
it is a smooth ride from that point.
In the recent times, what are the films
that you enjoyed watching ?
film that I enjoyed completely is Chennai
does Tamil cinema figure in world cinema
cinema is also a world cinema. When a
foreigner sees our film, it is a world
cinema for him and vice versa. Tamil cinema
is on par with world cinema- be it in
the script department or in any other.
Just like Hollywood, Tamil films also
try out varied themes.
dad, my elder brother Parandaman and his
wife, my younger sister Kavitha and her
husband Nataraj, children and a whole
load of aunts and uncles. My family is
very big and it would require almost one
day to talk about them.
film that I enjoyed completely is Chennai