‘Mersal’s a giant wheel, Meyaadha Maan’s just a merry-go-round'
Debutant director Ratna Kumar, whose Meyaadha Maan is releasing tomorrow, didn’t even dream that his first film would get a festival release
It's uncommon for a debutant director to get a festival release and director Ratna Kumar is elated that his Meyaadha Maan will be released on Diwali. "We really didn’t expect that our film would get released on a festival like this. When distributors saw the film, they gave us the confidence that the film has the buzz and content to do justice to such a release," he says.
The film, he says, is "a rom-com, but it’s also about other relationships. There's also a brother-sister bond, a friendship track. The film is also about the trials and tribulations of a music band, and the class differences in society. But it will never get too preachy." From the promotional material, it is clear that the film’s loaded on comedy. "It'll all be situational humour. At all times, you’ll be somewhere between a smile and laughter. The torture people inflict on their loved ones served as a great ground upon which to build such situational humour."
Meyaadha Maan is actually based on Ratna Kumar's short film, Madhu, which was a part of director Karthik Subbaraj’s Bench Talkies, an anthology of short films. "All the films in Bench Talkies received good reviews. While the other films were message-oriented and experimental, mine had a larger reach due to its content. So Karthik believed that Madhu had the potential to become a feature film and that's how it began." Is the feature film then a two-hour-long variation of the short? "We didn't stretch the short film by adding scenes. We have extended it. If it had become bloated, there would have been no intensity. It would also become predictable. The short film's entire story is only the first few minutes of the film. What happens after that is the actual plot," says the filmmaker.
He is delighted that the songs by Santhosh Narayanan and singer-turned-musician Pradeep Kumar have become chartbusters. "When Santhosh got to know that Karthik was going to produce this film, he became interested in the project. He has been the composer for all of Karthik's films, and he listened to the story as a well-wisher. However, when he got to know about the light music backdrop and the importance of music in this script, he got on board. He also recommended Pradeep, who has composed two tracks, and I have ended up with seven good songs which have become the film's USP."
Ratna Kumar is also grateful to Karthik Subbaraj for his support as a producer. "It’s very helpful when your producer is also a director. If I wanted to shoot a wedding scene, I wouldn’t have to justify the expenses as he knows how much is required and how many days it would take to shoot," he says. "He also gave me some inputs while planning, and for a debutant like me, it was very helpful. The Address song was originally supposed to be a smokescreen, and just as the hero was ready to sing, he would get too intoxicated and fall unconscious. But Karthik suggested that we retain the song and that's how it happened."
While the film’s getting a Diwali release and that’s good, it’s also competing with Mersal for attention. "If Diwali is a carnival, Mersal is a giant wheel, while Meyaadha Maan is just a merry-go-round. When there's too much crowd at the giant wheel, I'm sure some will choose us."