The film starring theatre artist MU Ramaswamy and now 11-year-old Nagavishal in lead roles has been directed by Madhumitha of Moone Moonu Varthai (2015) fame and produced by Yoodlee Films.

Flix Interview Friday, November 22, 2019 - 08:09

KD, short for Karuppu Durai, is hitting the screens on November 22. The film starring theatre artist MU Ramaswamy and now 11-year-old Nagavishal in lead roles has been directed by Madhumitha of Moone Moonu Varthai (2015) fame and produced by Yoodlee Films. 

Having chanced upon a newspaper report on the age-old practice of “thalaikoothal” (senicide) that is still in practice in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu almost 4 years ago, Madhumitha says she was intrigued and wanted to explore the dark ritual. 

“I wanted to know the thought process behind it. I spoke to a number of people and was surprised to find that there were people who found it offensive and there were also people who were defending it as well. And the ones defending it were also educated professionals,” she shares.

But by self-admission, Madhumitha prefers dealing with light-hearted subjects and so found it challenging to take up the topic until she went through a similar experience in life. In this interview with TNM she discusses a little about the film and what went into making it.

So what made you pick it up after?

My grandfather fell down and broke his hip at the age of 94. He was bed ridden and the doctors said no surgery could be done and so we brought him home and were waiting for him to pass. He was barely in and out of consciousness but one day he called me and said, “Madhu can you take me to Indonesia?” I grew up there and he has visited me quite a number of times and so I was not surprised by his choice of the location but I was surprised to know why he wanted to do it at that age. Older people have never seen themselves as individuals. I figured that was going to be my take on it. An old man at the brink of death who then realises that he wants to live life.

Before we get back to discussing more about the film, between your last film and this, you also did Bigg Boss Tamil season 1. How did that happen?

Until I was approached by Endemol, I had not seen Bigg Boss. They wanted me to do it for Telugu version but when I heard Kamal Haasan was hosting Tamil I immediately wanted to be a part of it. I was the creative director for the weekend episodes and the launch episode and also the finale. 

People asked me if it was a good idea to do a TV program but I said I won’t know until I try. As far as working, it was fantastic and we had a lot of engaging conversations backstage about cinema. I think it was fun and we also got the most number of TRPs that year. 

Now back to KD, is Karuppu Durai based on your grandfather? 

The film started from KD’s character and there are little nuances or characteristics that I took from my grandfather but that’s about it.

Tell us a bit about the film’s production. Where was it shot and what were your challenges?

In Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar district, thalaikoothal happens even today so it starts from there. It has been majorly shot in Madurai at a place called T Kallupatti. Portions have been shot in Tenkasi and Courtallam. We shot the film in 28 days. It was the first time I had shot it in sync sound and it was challenging. 

We also saw that the film has been to Festivals…

It was a conscious choice to send it to festivals. The film was ready in November last year but in Tamil Nadu, for smaller films without any big heroes, it is very hard to get theatres, regardless how good it is. We wanted to get accolades to get the buzz going and then come to India with some sort of ammunition for theatrical release. First screening was at a festival in London and we won best director there. It has been to 11 film festivals so far.

The Jagran Film Festival Jaagran (JFF) was the highlight in which Nagavishal was nominated for best actor, not child actor. We were quite surprised and happy about it. At the award function we realised that the nominees were Ranveer Singh for Gully Boy, Ayushman Khurana for Article 15 and Vicky Kaushal for URI and the best part is he won! When I asked him if he knew how big a deal it was he brushed it off saying, “I could’ve shown off at school if it were Vijay or Ajith.”

When you said the film was ready around November last year, it was also the time when Baaram released. This film that won National award too was based on thalaikoothal. Did you have any apprehensions back then? 

I reached out to Priya at that stage and I was curious to know her angle. I didn't get the opportunity to watch it but from what I heard, it's entirely on thalaikoothal. My film takes off from there. It is the journey of an old man with an 8-year-old boy and his will to live. It is sort of a bucket list the boy helps him form one. It is more about life and living it. We might have similarities but both films are entirely different. 

So you haven't addressed thalaikoothal in the film?

As a filmmaker my take is that: it is my responsibility to present both sides of the argument to the audience. I never let them see what my projection alone is, or give them my judgement. It is interesting to listen to the conversations from both sides. Thalaikoothal is just one of the elements in the entire film.

Tell us about your next project

KD has received good appreciation so far and there are talks to make it in Hindi. Nothing on paper yet, and we are still discussing it. I am also writing an action drama on interpersonal relations with the background of war.