'I want parents to take their daughters to watch Ratsasan'
...says director Ramkumar of Mundasupatti fame, who returns with the psychological thriller, Ratsasan that hits the screens on Friday
Filmmaker Ramkumar, who took the audience on a fun-filled retro journey with the rural fantasy Mundasupatti in 2014, is back with a completely contrasting release this week — the grim psychological thriller, Ratsasan. He says it was a conscious decision to make a film which was very dissimilar to his debut. “After completing Mundasupatti, I came across the life of a serial killer. The incidents in his life caught my attention, and I felt that making a film based on them would be very intriguing. I then added elements from the life of three such killers and came up with one single villain character for Ratsasan.”
The director researched the back stories of brutal killers, their pattern of murders and their mannerisms to design the antagonist’s character. “America has the highest number of serial killers and such murders happen regularly over there. But this is not the case in India. Though we have had some famous murders, we are nowhere close in terms of numbers. Since the concept is fairly new to our audience, we worked on minute details to establish an emotional connection with the audience,” he says.
Ramkumar believes in taking the time to perfect a script before going on floors with a film. “Mundasupatti revolved around a very small incident, and so developing the short film version into a full-fledged screenplay took us a whole year. Similarly, for Ratsasan, I took more time writing the script, than on the sets,” he says.
Vishnu Vishal, who had previously donned the khakhi in Kullanari Kootam, plays a cop again in this film. Ramkumar says Vishnu’s character will remind the audience of their own friends or family who are in the police force. “I’ve written and shot the character in a very realistic manner. Unlike the cooling glass-clad, larger-than-life cops we usually see in Tamil cinema, he plays a trainee sub-inspector in the film.”
He adds that he initially wrote the protagonist’s character as a 40-year-old assistant commissioner living with his kid. “But many actors, including Vishnu, felt it wouldn’t suit them. So I tweaked the role and changed it to an aspiring filmmaker-turned-sub inspector, without tampering with the main plot of the film. This actually became a blessing in disguise as I was able to add a lot of interesting elements to the script.”
Given the film is based on a serial killer, passing the censors without major cuts was a concern. But Ramkumar is happy that none of the shots crucial to the plot were cut out. “I wrote the script keeping in mind the restrictions of the censor board. Instead of showing the gory visuals on screen, I added dialogues and musical cues to invoke fear.”
Music naturally plays an important part in sustaining the film’s mood. The director even goes so far as to say that without Ghibran’s background score, the film would be a half-baked product. “Music is a very important aspect of all my scripts. I ensure to make notes for the background score whenever I write a scene. There are a lot of theme music tracks in the film. I wanted Ghibran to give the score a unique treatment, and after seeing the final cut, I can confidently say that he will win the best background score at awards next year.”
Though Mundasupatti was a light-hearted comedy, the film had subtle messages against casteism and superstition. Ramkumar says Ratsasan also has a social message. “Though it may seem like a usual psychological thriller on the surface, it has more layers to it. We wanted to create an awareness among parents and children that even those close to their families like friends and relatives might have hidden evil intentions, and it is our responsibility to beware of such people. I really want parents to take their daughters to watch the film.”
The director, who will be joining hands with Dhanush for his next, says he will continue to make unique films. “My next film with Dhanush sir will be a fantasy and the story will revolve around his interesting and unusual character. I’ve just come up with a base story and the scripting process will take about 6-7 months. I believe a script takes that much time to come to life organically. It is definitely not a serious film like Ratsasan. It’ll be a commercial film in my own style.”