IF ONLY COMMERCIAL FILMS ARE TO HAVE A GOOD RUN AT THE BOX OFFICE, WHAT ABOUT FILMS IN THE PAST LIKE KADHAL?

Interview Team : Thanveer, Ashok Kumar, Jyothsna, L Karthik, Venkat

Months after the National Award acclaim and applause for his role in Visaranai, actor and director Samuthirakani is busy with the release of his next directorial, Appa. What started as an interview, turned out to be a discussion on various topics which made the interview a solid, matter-of-fact, forthright look into the purpose and ambition of this Kollywood dream-merchant :

If only commercial films are to have a good run at the box office, what about films in the past like Kadhal?

The “En Appa” promotion strategy, wherein popular K-town celebrities have talked about their father has gained momentum in social media. Whose idea was it to start with?

Suriya was the first person I asked, to talk about his dad.

I talked about my father and shot a video while the shooting process was going on itself. Then it struck me that it can be tried out with other celebrities also. Suriya was the first person I asked, to talk about his dad. He immediately shot and sent me a video of his feelings towards his father. The good news to me is, everybody who shared their feelings towards their dad, thanked me for the opportunity. They told me that they felt better after having talked their hearts out.



Appa is being talked about as Saattai’s sequel. Was that the idea behind Appa?

No, It is not so. But yes, initially it was planned as a sequel to Sattai, and had it been possible for Anbazhagan to be a part of the team, it would have continued to be so. But since he was busy elsewhere,I had to take up the role myself, and plans for making it a sequel to Saattai subsided. Since the movie has touched upon the subject of children and education, it might seem like Saattai part 2. I wanted to bring out the perspective of children’s life outside school. Hence there won’t be any classroom or school scene in the movie.


What could be said as the reason for you to touch this subject once again?

Mainly because there is much to voice out on this topic. I love children. They are undoubtedly the  purest of souls living in this world. It could be said that as they grow up, society slowly corrupts them. So in this movie, I wished to record how we’ve been taking care of such angelic beings. Only when good thoughts are sowed in their minds, the society will be successful. That is the main theme of the film


Father - son relationship subject, as you know, is a redundant theme in Tamil cinema. Was there an exclusive perspective which you wished to present?

The whole film is a record of events one might have read in the newspapers

Appa is a presentation of three types of dad. The first is the sort of dad who’s encouraging and nonresistant to the dreams and aspirations of his child. The second is the sort of dad who has a predestined path and a personal plan for his son. The third is the sort of dad who is the sort of person that is contented with an average life, living and leaving without any records or achievements. The whole film is a record of events one might have read in the newspaper but would have scorned at and let it pass. You will find out what is different in the movie after watching it.



Appa's trailer sounds to be preachy. How confident are you that the film will work with the average movie goer who is savvy to commercial films?

Any newcomer to the field should be rescued.

There is nothing preachy about the film. The sad thing is, only in our nation, saying what is right and what is wrong gets trampled upon as ‘preachy’. If only commercial films are to have a good run at the box office, what about films in the past like Kadhal? They weren’t commercial! Good content always becomes a hit amongst our people.The problem is not with the audience or the makers. The problem is with the people in the middle who tend to give analysis. It is my wish that those people should be of such a nature that they support creators. Any newcomer to the field should be rescued and supported, not squashed upon with analysis.



You are choosy about picking good roles, be it VIP or Visaranai. But the roles in Amma Kanakku or En Appa, kind of gives a feel you will be stereotyped to teacher roles.Your take on this?

After Visaranai I got many offers where I was required to play a cop

After Visaranai I got many offers where I was required to play a cop. I’d say there cannot be a better cop role than Visaranai for me. Similarly I won’t do a teacher role again. All through my career of 35 odd films, I’ve always made it a point to take upon different roles.



Audience showing disappointment since your screen presence in Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum was short, stands testimony to the response your acting has garnered. What could be said as your dream role?

I like Vijay Sethupathi and Nalan Kumarasamy a lot

There is no such dream role. If I agree to act in a film, it would be because I feel a connection with the people working in that film. I do not enter a film with any personal notions. I go in blank and do what is required of the role, entirely based on the trust I have over the makers of the film. That is what happened in the case of the Mohanlal starrer Oppam,directed by Priyadarshan sir. I told him I will be with him for as many days that were required to finish my role as soon as he called me. But still he asked me to listen to the story and say yes only if I liked the role. I like Vijay Sethupathi and Nalan Kumarasamy a lot. And that is why I agreed to play the role in Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum even though it was just two or three scenes.



About Thondan with Jayam Ravi..

Thondan will be sensational and worthy of getting called ‘preachy’

I called up Ravi and told him about an idea I had conceived. He explained to me about the commitments he had till November and assured me that he will get back to me after that. Thondan will be sensational and worthy of getting called ‘preachy’ (laughs it out).



What sets the wheels in motion for you to write a film?

Something that happens around in the society, that disturbs me. For eg, in the case of Nimirnthu Nil, behind it is an incident where a person was able to obtain an arrest warrant for the then President late Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam just by bribing the system. In the case of my upcoming movie, news about a girl named Dhairiyalakshmi, who committed suicide since she wasn’t able to secure enough marks in the 12th std board exams, triggered me to investigate and present the causality behind something as atrocious as that.


Have you any plans of making a full fledged comedy or action film, without touching upon issues facing the society?

I do not know how to make films like that.

I do not know how to make films like that. I have in the past given heed to thoughts such as “Why should we go on about societal issues, why not do a full fledged comedy film?” I’d sit down to write and after a point, the person inside me will start questioning me. According to me, a creation should affect me in some way, it should be able to satisfy me. A creation becomes fitting only if it is able to reach somebody and disturb him in some manner.



Why do mega serials focus on making women folk cry. Can mega serials be made to not leave them teary eyed?

Radhika madam, is a lady superstar.

(Laughs out loud) Actually, wonderful things can be done through mega serials. I will say proudly that when my Guru late K.Balachander was there we used to do wonderful things. When I was working on my first mega serial, Anni, he used to say that there should be something in the content that caters to all age groups in every single episode. This he would insist during discussion for every episode. So a lot can be done if more thought process is involved. When I did Arasi with Radhika madam, whom I’d say is a lady superstar, people would cheer and applaud from inside their houses. Thus serials can certainly be made like cinema. But the trend has changed these days. Scenes are being written to accommodate time, effort and cast constraints. There are a few friends in the industry, who are working with better ideals. I salute their efforts.



What are the aspects of filmmaking that could be said as instilled in you through the legend K.Balachander?

After watching Pichaikaran, I immediately went to meet Sasi to laud him on his film.

The art of capturing emotions. He always used to say this “Carry your audience on your shoulder and tell a story to them as though they’re little children.” Another important thing is he’d always insist the importance of the first five minutes of a film. The first five minutes, he’d say, are crucial to get the attention of the viewer. Within the period some sort of an emotional change must be impacted inside him. After I worked with Ameer in Paruthiveeran I did my film Nadodigal. He called me up after watching it and told me that he felt Ameer had influenced me a lot. He noted that along with emotions I was able to mix a tad of violence to bring out something new. Having said that, he told me I’d become an accomplished filmmaker then, something very memorable for me. Apart from that, he’d never hesitate to appreciate somebody’s work. After watching Kadhal, he immediately met Balaji Sakthivel to appreciate him. He’d lament to Cheran after watching Autograph about why such an idea hadn’t crossed his mind! Taking example from him, I do the same thing these days. After watching Pichaikaran, I immediately went to meet Sasi to laud him on his film.



Who are the other directors who have fascinated you?

Each and every director is unique, and I observe everyone closely- Pandiraj, Sasi, Suseenthiran, Ponram. Having worked with them, I’ve always admired their way of filmmaking. Also in  particular, Vetri. The fascinating thing about him is he’d never give a feel that we’re being directed. Without our knowledge he’ll get into us and create magic. I’m always of the thought that if someone has reached a particular spot in the industry, it is because they have something new and fresh in them. And I ardently search for such qualities.


Future projects?

Vetri has called me for Vada Chennai.

Well, Vetri has called me for Vada Chennai. I’ve told him I’ll come after the release of my film. So, once I get into his set I’d be there till the end.




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