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Interview Team : Dilani Rabindran; Jyothsna; Avudaiappan

Kirumi, Anucharan’s debut directorial film has opened to strong reviews from both critics and the audiences alike. A design engineer by profession, Anucharan returned to Chennai after years of film school and commercial directing in Australia to collaborate with the likes of National Award winner M. Manikandan for his first film Kirumi. In addition to its second wave of screenings in Tamil Nadu the film was chosen to have its international premiere on November 7 in Toronto, Canada by the 19th annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. Here, Anucharan speaks to Behindwoods’ Dilani Rabindran about his stellar debut and about taking the unconventional film to non-Tamil audiences.


First off, congrats on the critical success of Kirumi! The film and your directing debut have garnered great reviews!

Thank you. I’m very happy with the critical response for the movie. Almost all newspapers and online sites have given it very favorable reviews. Box office wise it could've performed better because it released right around the time of some really big box office banner films, but “Critically acclaimed” is, how it is mostly described and for that I’m very grateful and find it very encouraging.

I’m very grateful and find it very encouraging.

So how did you first get into the Indian film industry? You were working and making films in Australia, right?

I finished my college in Coimbatore and went on to work in Kolkata for about 1.5 years. Even though I loved being a Design Engineer it still wasn’t enough for me. I was always into movies, but I didn't want to jump straight into the field; I wanted a proper education.

In an interview, Steven Spielberg once said that in order to learn direction one has to learn Animation; so his advice took me on a crazy journey to Australia!

I joined an 18 month “Animation Mentor” course while in Sydney, where I was learning from the masters in the field of animation - including people from Pixar and ILM. I loved it, but I realized I was more into Live action, so I shot Infinity, my first short film on a zero dollar budget, with whatever I had learned in that course. The film was selected for Tropfest Sydney, the world’s biggest short film festival and competed until the semifinal round! Thanks to this, people took notice of me and got a lot of commercial directing work, like music videos, which I shot, directed and edited myself. Somewhere in between I shot Watch Dog my second short and began working on ideas for my own feature film with Mani (M. Manikandan) over Skype. It was really tempting to come to Chennai and start directing movies, so when I came back for a visit for a family function I decided to stay and we created Kirumi.

 His advice took me on a crazy journey to Australia! 

Kirumi is certainly a unique debut! Where did this story come from? How did you think of this with Mani?

I watched a Youtube video of a kid being beaten and interrogated by the public for stealing bikes in his locality. He finally admits that it was the cops who asked him to steal so that they can return the bikes to their owners and get commission. This sparked the idea of how cops and criminals work together in this system for their own benefits. Kirumi began from there.

Police informants and their dangerous lives were always an interesting subject to me. Combining that with youngsters who risk their lives to help cops was a unique idea. I saw the opportunity to create an original story for my debut film as this subject had not been dealt before in movies.

How cops and criminals work together in this system 

How did you choose this cast?

Casting took a long time. Since the subject was unique, I wanted to keep the treatment fresh and real, for which an unseen combination of actors was necessary.

Hero Kathir immediately shared my enthusiasm towards the subject and actually brought the producers on board. Even though Kirumi is his second movie as an actor, he underwent heavy rehearsals with acting mentors from Koothupatarai for about two months before he could face the camera. He worked very hard to fit into the character.

I always felt that Tamil film makers have forgotten what a fantastic artist, Charle is and I wanted to bring him back. Charle, with his experience, has done an excellent job in “underplaying” the role of a Police informer who blends in with ordinary people to extract information.

Initially I had doubts if Reshmi would fit in as a middle class girl. But her audition tape was very convincing. She is a very talented and matured artist who understands what a character demands and delivers it with ease.

 An unseen combination of actors was necessary. 

You had national award winner, ‘Kaakka Muttai Manikandan’ collaborating with you to write your first film. How did you two become friends and work on this together?

Mani and I have been friends for about 5-6 years. We began our friendship by sharing short films, story ideas, etc. I came back to Chennai around when he was finishing the post work for Kaakka Muttai and I began drafting my own story to direct; he liked it when I first told him about it. Mani helped connect me to Kathir and JPR films so I could pitch my story, which led to Kirumi.

K has done a great job with the album! Why did you want K to do the music for Kirumi?

Yudham Sei and Mugamoodi…K has done some great albums. I’ve been a fan of his music for a while. But one of my favorite Malayalam films - “Annayum Rasoolum” - I didn’t know for a long time that he was the music director for it! When I was searching for a composer for Kirumi I realized that and made it my goal to meet him. He agreed to the story right away and that was that. Almost every review has lauded him, which is great and so well deserved.

Almost every review has lauded him

It's your first feature film, and you've got it into a major North American film festival! How did it feel when you heard the news that KIRUMI is invited to Toronto for the 19th Reel Asian International Film Festival - Canada's largest showcase of Asian cinema?

It was very exciting!!! I'll treasure the moment forever. No matter how many movies I make in the future this one will always stay close to my heart. When I finished making this movie, almost everyone who was involved in the project asked me to send it to various film festivals even before seeing the end product. That was the level of confidence they all had in the movie and I'm very happy that their belief in Kirumi has paid off. Thanks to Reel Asian International Film Festival.

I'm somewhere in the middle of happiness, excitement and nervousness. I'm finding it hard to explain how I feel. The most exciting thing about this trip to Toronto is waiting to have that adrenaline rush just few seconds before the movie begins. That black screen always gets me. And to have that rush in Canada is going to be something.

To have that rush in Canada is going to be something.

How do you think international (Tamil & non-Tamil) audiences will like or receive Kirumi?

It's a very native movie and has a lot of sequences, scenes, satires and jokes which are better understood if you know the language, but the story has a lot of emotional elements to which any human can relate to irrespective of what language he/she speaks. So I can't wait to watch the reactions at Reel Asian Film Fest.

Why was it important to you to submit your film to festivals around the world? And will you continue to do this with your future works?

There is a big misconception that movies that get selected in festivals are art films. My idea is if a movie is made with the right intentions and if it stays true to its story, it will always be received by audiences around the world. Tamil films have to get out there and stand tall. Yes, I'll continue to send my films to festivals.

So, what is next for you after you return from premiering the film in Toronto?

Once I get back, I've to start putting together my next script. I can't wait to get back in the field. But first I need to completely move on from Kirumi. Hope this trip to Canada will help me do that.


Favorite Indian Director - Mani Ratnam

Favorite International Director - Steven Spielberg 

Favorite Indian Film - Nayagan

Favorite International Film - Ratatouille