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'Soodhu Kavvum was not possible without Vijay Sethupathy'

Last updated on: June 5, 2013 10:06 IST

'Soodhu Kavvum was not possible without Vijay Sethupathy'


Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Nalan Kumarasamy struck gold with his very first directorial venture Soodhu Kavuum, a black comedy starring Vijay Sethupathy in the main lead.

In this interview, this engineer turned film-maker talks about the making of Soodhu Kavuum.

How did the idea of Soodhu Kavvum originate?

I had written a script that I felt was quite bad and was discussing it with my friend. I was in a very depressed mood. My friend consoled me by saying, I had already made seven short films and the script for a feature film would be there in one of my short films.

There is a character called Arumuga Prakasham in one of my short films, and my friend asked me, what if he became a minister in the end? He is the wickedest character in the story and in the end, he becomes the minister. That set me going. That was the beginning of Soodhu Kavvum.


Image: Vijay Sethupathi and Sanchita Shetty in Soodhu Kavvum


'Soodhu Kavvum is plot driven and not character driven'

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But it is not the minister's son who is the central character in your film; it is the kidnapper. How did he come into the picture?

It is the minister's son that set the script rolling. All the other characters were added slowly as we progressed.

I wanted the minister's son to be kidnapped. Then, I thought, who could do that? I didn't want a stereotypical kidnapper or a villain. That was how Das, the man who was a failure as a kidnapper, got developed.

The story is plot driven and not character driven. So, as the story progressed, I went on adding characters. Somehow, many felt it was a character driven film.

You started with the minister's son getting kidnapped. How come the kidnapper became the hero of the film?

I wouldn't call the kidnapper the hero of the film. He got more attention because it was played by Vijay Sethupathy. If the role was played by a character artist or a comedian, nobody would have called him the hero.

Image: Vijay Sethupathi and Sanchita Shetty in Soodhu Kavvum. Inset: Director Nalan Kumarasamy

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'The film would have worked without a heroine'

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The kidnapper has an imaginary girl friend throughout the film which nobody else sees. How did this idea to come to you?

When I wrote the script and showed it to my friends and my family, all of them told me that it was a very male-centric film, and would not run. The feedback was quite disappointing.

Many asked me to have a lover for the kidnapper which I did not want. I was very sure that there would not be a romantic angle in the film as I felt romance and songs would spoil the flow and mood of the film. Their worry was how can you make a film without a woman in any frame? They felt such a film would not run.

One day, suddenly the idea of an imaginary girl friend came to my mind. That was how she was created, as an imaginary girl friend whom nobody else can see except this guy.

Do you feel the film would have worked even without the female character?

Yes, I feel the film would have worked without her too. I don't think it would have been less entertaining without her.

I feel audiences don't always look for romance, love or women in a film. If it's a good film with a good story, audiences will like it. You don't need any formula to make a good film.

Why did you decide to make it a black comedy, a rarity in Tamil cinema?

I am a true lover of this genre. The plot can be quite serious but you can treat it like a comedy. I also watch a lot of black comedies, and most of my short films are also in this genre. It was a familiar genre for me. I didn't feel I was doing something new.

Image: Vijay Sethupathi and Sanchita Shetty in Soodhu Kavvum

Tags: Tamil

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'We need good producers to make good Tamil films'

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Does that mean you will stick to this genre?

No, I am basically a story teller. If I have a very serious subject, I will definitely not follow this genre.

I would say the story will decide what genre the film should be. I want to make all kinds of films.

When you made the film, were you expecting this kind of success?

I knew it would have a decent run but never expected this kind of response from the audience.

Did you have any difficulty in getting a producer for such a film?

Luckily, C V Kumar, the producer, made offbeat films like Attakathi and Pizza. He is always on the lookout for offbeat and innovative scripts. Only because of him, the film got made. Otherwise, I don't know when I would have been able to make Soodhu Kavvum.

After I wrote the script, I told myself that I would show it to four or five producers and if all of them rejected it, I would write another one. That was my plan. Luckily, Kumar got interested in the script, and the film was made.

I would say that if you want good films to be made in Tamil, you need good producers. There are good directors and innovative ideas but we do not have good producers who understand good scripts.

Image: Vijay Sethupathi and Sanchita Shetty in Soodhu Kavvum

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'I would like to direct stars but their presence should not affect the story'

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Is it heartening for film-makers like you that films like Pizza, Naduvula Konjam.., Soodhu Kavvum, Neram etc are accepted by people?

People are always ready but producers are not. They still feel that people prefer only formula films.

Film-makers like you may start your career with an actor like Vijay Sethupathy but they always say their dream is to work with a star. Is it the same for you?

Yes. I would like to direct stars but their presence should not affect the story.

I am of the opinion that we shouldn't be averse to directing stars. But I would like to say that Vijay Sethupathy is a star now! If there was no Vijay Sethupathy, Soodhu Kavvum would have been a different film.

The truth is we needed him to bring in the audience for a film of this budget. If the budget is more, you need a bigger star to bring in the audience.

What is the best compliment you got for your film?

When other directors call and congratulate me, I feel very happy. Their compliments are very special.

Kamal Sir called us to his office and told me that I should stick to making these kinds of films with good scripts, and not go after big budget films.

Image: Vijay Sethupathi in Soodhu Kavvum

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