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Vidiyum Munn: A film on sex worker trying to stop child prostitution

November 28, 2013 08:32 IST

Vidiyum Munn: A film on sex worker trying to stop child prostitution


Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Los Angeles based artist Balaji K Kumar has made his first film, Vidiyum Munn (Before Sunrise). The buzz around this small film is high in the social media.

Pooja Umashankar who had wowed everyone with her amazing act in Bala's Naan Kadavul, plays the role of a sex worker who tries to rescue a 12-year-old girl from prostitution.

The film releases in theatres this Friday, November 29.

The 47-year-old first time director talks about what inspired him to make the film and try his hand at a new medium. 

The subject of Vidium Munn is a sex worker trying to rescue a young girl from prostitution. What inspired this choice of subject?

I was moved by a documentary about how kids are used in prostitution. I was so disturbed I couldn't sleep for many days.

 That is the inception of the idea. I felt helpless because I couldn’t do anything to help such kids.

Then, I thought, I would be able to make people aware of this issue by making a film on it.

Let me admit, I don't like to deliver any message as I don't think I am superior enough to preach. I can only make people aware.

Did you meet and talk to sex workers before writing the story?

No. I watched a lot of films on sex workers. I visited an NGO that has destitute children born to HIV+ people and also people affected with AIDS, and observed them.

The film is not about sex workers so I didn't have to do much research on the subject. My film is an action thriller and it is made cinematically.

The story of the girl and sex worker is a backdrop and there are only suggestions about what the woman does. 

Image: A scene from Vidiyum Munn


'Vidium Munn is not about physical action alone'

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So, what came to your mind first, the thriller part of the story, or the plight of the girl child being pushed into prostitution?

I don't know what came first. But let me be brutally honest with you: I love the thriller genre.

Thrillers are difficult to make as you cannot afford to have any loose ends in the story and it has to thrill the audience.

The story, the screenplay, the camera angles, acting, editing... everything is important in a thriller. If one fails, the entire film fails.

Vidium Munn is not about physical action alone, it is a thriller because of the action in the mind.

This film is about four guys chasing the woman and the child. Who are these men? What are the reasons behind them chasing the woman and child? What is their relationship to the guys? This is what the film is all about.

Who are the men and what are the reasons?

The three reasons are greed, lust, and fear and I had to build four characters around these reasons.

How did you weave them all together?

If I tell you that, I would be divulging the entire story. I am inspired by the many, many films I have watched.

In a thriller, crime is a tool and you have to use the tool to show the psychology of the characters. Here, revenge becomes a silent motive and I wrote several possibilities to finally come up with one. It was quite a journey.   

Image: Director Balaji K Kumar on the sets of Vidiyum Munn

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'I want to make a mythological film in a fantasy style'

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Pooja rarely acts in Tamil films. How did you think of her for the role of the sex worker?

I wanted a good actress and not a good looking, glamorous star. I am sorry to say you have many good looking, glamorous women but not good actors. Pooja has both looks and talent.

I narrated the script to her and she agreed right away. As she was portraying a sex worker who was past her prime, I wanted her to put on some weight and look a bit old. She had no qualms about it. I am glad she acted in it.

How did you, an artist, become a filmmaker?

I wanted to move to a more dynamic medium where there was motion. I discovered cinema to be a very valuable medium of expression. In cinema, you create various components and achieve one output.

Now that I have become a filmmaker, I want to make a mythological film in a fantasy style and I am working on this high budget film in three languages. 

Image: A scene from Vidiyum Munn

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'I have made this film in such a way that it is commercially viable'

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Painting is a lonely affair while you need inputs from so many people to make a film.

Even when you are painting, you have to trust many things but they are inanimate objects like paint, canvas, etc.

In filmmaking, I have people as company but the final product is mine. True, filmmaking involves lots of money.

As a filmmaker, do you want your film to make money?

Of course I want people to see my film so that I can make another film. I don't want producers to say that my films won't make money. I know they are not running a charity.

I have made this film in such a way that it is commercially viable. But I don't like anyone to be greedy.

Will you stop painting now and only make films?

I will never leave painting.

In my old age, I plan to paint 101 paintings on a subject.

I plan to continue to make the kind of films I believe in, as I enjoy the process of filmmaking. 

Image: A scene from Vidiyum Munn

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