Sense of a scene: Makings of a monster
In this conversation, director Ramkumar talks about the spine-chilling interval sequence of Ratsasan
'I am a filmmaker who believes that a good film should have at least one good scene every ten minutes. This scene will hold the attention of the audience and keep them hooked to the screen. For instance, I wouldn't call Ratsasan a film devoid of flaws. It has its share of sumaar scenes, but I masked it with good scenes. Some had felt that the pre-interval sequence involving the hunt of Inbaraj and his ally was a bit coincidental. I do agree with them to an extent; my focus was more on making the sequence connectable to the audience and make them react to the twists on screen, so I didn't bother much about the coincidence.
The pre-interval sequence starts at the point where Amala Paul's Vijayalakshmi remembers the sticker behind the auto and tries to call Arun (Vishnu Vishal). The audience would expect him to answer the call, but he ends up talking to the other cops who inform him about the newly found body. This distracts him from her call and makes it secondary. Shortly, the bike gets punctured and the auto he boards turns out to be the one Viji was trying to inform him about. I beleive these change of events kept a majority of the audience engaged. A filmmaker can even cheat the audience with a cliche or take creative liberty while penning a scene, but its end must be gratifying.
The abuse episode of Ammu might also seem like a coincidence since it happens in the same day. But it would have been established clearly by the time the story reaches that point. It was just supposed to happen. A lot of fine-tuning happened during the pre and post production. We had initially planned to have a fight sequence right after Vishnu catches the driver. The shoot of the fight was supposed to happen at a later date, but the editor San Lokesh made a quick jump to the lockup scene and suggested an alternate version. I felt this version was refreshing and went ahead with it. I had no clue about the formula to create a theatre moment while making Ratsasan. I just wrote the film from the audience's point of view and I guess that worked out. Now, I believe that I am better at writing such scenes.
The audience today watches more films, and has a clear understanding of what a good movie is. Bombarding them with extra information or not providing them with necessary details makes them lose interest in viewing. That’s why I wrote an easily relatable backstory to Inbaraj and cast Vinod Sagar, an unconventional actor to play the role.
Inbaraj is a problematic man in his late 30s. He neither gets love nor physical intimacy. This pushes him to a point where he starts setting his own justice system and starts abusing his students. This character is a direct reflection of the society. Most of the teachers who do such things have a back story similar to Inbaraj. Amala Paul’s Viji on the other hand has an identical life, with no ups and downs. She hardly has anything to cling to, except her sister’s kid. But she remains dignified throughout and helps others. Even when she falls in love with Arun, it feels organic and divine. Though these characters aren’t directly connected, I wanted to show them as opposites.
A few had even shared that they would have loved to see Inbaraj be the primary antagonist. But I believe the impact Ratsasan had on the audience would have been lesser if that was the case. Also the backstory of Christopher is more impactful than Inbaraj. Only when a man experiences such a blow in his life, will he be pushed to a point where he starts killing people for joy. I had written the first version of Christopher to be more menacing. I had designed the character as a cannibal who eats the flesh of young girls. But when I narrated it to a famous actor, he got petrified and advised me to rewrite the character and not to disclose anyone about this, if I ever wanted the film to happen. This advice gave rise to the version of Ratsasan you see on screen now.