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Pandiraj: Kadaikutty Singam will be my angriest film yet- Cinema express

Pandiraj: Kadaikutty Singam will be my angriest film yet

The director's rural drama,starring Karthi in the lead, is all set for release next month

Published: 13th June 2018

Director Pandiraj is cognisant that his last film, Idhu Namma Aalu, didn’t get the reach he wanted for it. “Heroes can afford two or three of their films flopping and still remain sought-after. Directors, however, do not have that luxury,” he says. “It isn’t healthy for the industry. But you have to look at it from the production side too. Cinema, all said and done, is still equated with gambling and to borrow a parable, it is only natural that people bet on a winning horse.”

So how did he come to be that dependable winning horse? “I work hard. That is the one constant all through my journey. If we work hard to tell a story, I believe that it will help us in turn.”

He cites the example of Kadaikutty Singam as a project he has put much effort into. “The film has a rural setup and we wanted lush greens and rains to paint the screen  with. Unlike Kathakali, where we had to use the rain effect for just one day, here, we were blessed with natural rain. For another song, we wanted the grass to be a bit dry and brown, and guess what, we got accommodating weather in the second schedule again. This is why I believe films design themselves.”

Pandiraj, of course, realises that this sort of fortune is accidental. “Typically, a director has a one-liner for every scene when shooting. But I go one step further and take into account several hypothetical situations. For instance, what if there were rain when we are shooting? You cannot be prepared enough.”

I ask if this is why he thinks of himself as a producer’s director. He smiles in response, and admits to being so. “I believe it is the responsibility of every director to get the producer his money back. 2-D gave me this opportunity because Pasanga 2 worked within the budget we set out to do, keeping in mind all the artistes on the roll.”

While on artistes, Kadaikutty Singam has as many as 29 important characters. “Yes. I think this has as many characters as all my previous films put together (laughs). There are five-six scenes where we needed to have them all on screen. Imagine the logistical nightmare. But I think we have handled it all well.” He thinks of this film as his most challenging, after Pasanga. “But I have worked the hardest for this film.”

Despite all the films he’s done so far, Pandiraj is a director who’s known to work with a lot of new actors. “I remember how hard I worked to get my first break in this industry. So I consciously try to introduce atleast four-five people per film in some way.”

Director Pandiraj

Even actors like Sayyeshaa and Priya Bhavani Shankar who have done films before, are newcomers to him in a sense. “I haven’t seen either of their first films. I just liked the way they carried themselves in interviews.” Another quirk of Pandiraj’s is that he has worked with as many as eight composers so far in his eight-film-old career. “It’s not planned. (laughs) I really wanted to work with Yuvan after Kedi Billa...but couldn’t. I’ve also not worked with the same editor in more than two films. I think these things just happen.”

Kadaikutti Singam marks Karthi’s return to the rural backdrop after Paruthiveeran and Komban. “I think he had doubts over my ability as a director. People had told him I am too serious; that I fight a lot. Meanwhile, I’d heard that Karthi likes to ask a lot of questions while shooting. But a week into the shoot, we synced so well that we wanted to do another film together.”

So much did they bond that Pandiraj says that if he had wanted Karthi to, say, ride a motorbike into the crowd, he would have done so. “We had no fights on the sets whatsoever. He is a person who asks questions, yes, but it was the right amount and always meant to precipitate healthy discussions.”

Kadaikutty Singam, the director says, is about the elder sister-brother bond, a relationship not much shown in our cinema. “It is not a revolutionary story; just your everyday slice-of-life drama.” There’s an agriculture angle to this film too. “My father, mother, in-laws... everyone is into farming. We have seen firsthand how this generation is discouraged from taking it up as a profession. I needed to make a film to encourage them to keep at it.”

So an angry message movie? “Anger is a mainstay in all my films, but this is my angriest film yet. The issues of farmers are often over-dramatised. I wanted to make a film with a farmer for a hero, who takes great pride in being one. If you treat it as a business, it can be profitable.”

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