My friendship with RJ Balaji is like a Kollywood love story: Kannan
The director's upcoming social thriller, Boomerang, starring Atharvaa, Megha Akash, and Indhuja is hitting the screens this week
Director R Kannan, much like his film titles (Vandhaan Vendraan, and Jayam Kondan), is a man of optimism. Despite the theatre shut-down issues plaguing the release of his previous film, Ivan Thanthiran, and the multiple postponements of his recent film, Boomerang, he remains positive. "What goes around comes around. We have given our best for the film and believe our hard work will be reflected in the form of audience's response." The film too is about karma, he says. "It plays a major role in the plot. We initially named the film Alangaram, and came up with almost twelve versions. What the audience are going to watch on screen is the final version titled Boomerang."
After debuting with a family drama, Jayam Kondan, Kannan did a couple of romantic films before switching on to social thrillers with Ivan Thanthiran. Asked if he always wanted to make films carrying a social message, he says, " Maturity determines the kind of film a director makes. One can't survive forever in this competitive industry by making only love films. To make heads turn, a creator should make films that address real-life issues and politics. Boomerang will be a step ahead of Ivan Thanthiran. It can be called my most political film till date."
Despite his films being heavy on political content, Kannan hasn't faced any backlash or threats. "I've never got a threat call because of my films (laughs). Hurting others has never been my intention. Irukardha dhaana solrom... Cinema is a reflection of society. If they shut down TASMAC shops today, there won't be bar songs or drinking-related jokes in upcoming films. It's as simple as that."
Taking a look at the promos of Boomerang, it's hard not to see similarities to Aaiytha Ezhuthu, directed by his "guru" Mani Ratnam. Quizzed if Boomerang has any connection with the 2004 political thriller, he says," No, there's nothing in common. The look and feel might seem similar, but once Boomerang hits the theatres, its uniqueness will be evident."
Atharvaa, the lead of Boomerang, has signed one more film with Kannan, which goes on floors in April. Asked if he was the first choice for Boomerang, Kannan says, "The script demanded a youngster who could play the role of an IT professional and also one that needed a seasoned performer. Atharvaa was perfect; all his performances after Paradesi have been refined and flawless. The audience will witness the performer in him in this film."
He goes on to talk about the physical transformation and strain that Atharvaa had to undergo for the role. "He has two never-before-seen getups in this film. The looks demanded that he shave his head and sport a prosthetic makeup. He readily agreed to do all this, despite working on a couple of films in parallel."
The director's not one to let past grouses dictate his relationships. RJ Balaji, for instance, played an important role in Kannan's Ivan Thanthiran, though there was a spat between the actor and director over the former's review of Settai. "Our friendship is like a Kollywood love story. We met over a fight and then it slowly transformed into a beautiful friendship. During the scripting of Ivan Thanthiran, my co-directors felt that he would be apt for the role. When I called him, he was genuinely scared that I was plotting revenge on him by casting him in a bad role. But we became good friends on the sets, and in fact, Balaji himself told me several times that he got the idea and confidence to do LKG after working with me in these two films."
Traditionally, whenever a film has multiple female leads, one is portrayed as an ambitious and no-nonsense girl and the other one is plain silly. But Kannan denies that will never be the case in any of his films. "I come from Mani (Ratnam) sir's school and I can never write an immature female character and call it 'bubbly'. Both Megha Akash and Indhuja have equal importance in the film and they are sensible and independent."
Out of the seven films in his career, two of them (Kanden Kadhalai and Settai) were remakes of Bollywood films, Jab We Met and Delhi Belly. Asked if he would ever direct a remake again, he says, "No. I believe the writing is stronger when a director writes his own film. I'm able to infuse a lot of social messages when I write my scripts, but while doing remakes, the options are highly restricted." He goes on to reveal the reasons behind his remakes: "I had to direct both films under compulsion. I did Kanden Kadhalai as Dhananjayan sir insisted and Settai happened because of my friendship with Arya and Santhanam."
The biggest films of Kannan's guru, Mani Ratnam, were inspired from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharatha. When asked if he would ever make a film inspired from a book, Kannan says, "Definitely. I love Ki Rajanarayanan's books; the dialects and references he uses in his books are unique and amazing. I also love Jayakanthan's novels. All his books were 30-40 years ahead of their time. He broke a lot of superstitions and made heads turn. If I ever make a film on novels, it would be based on their works."
Though Kannan's Boomerang is finally hitting the screens this week, there are still numerous films struggling to get released. "The accumulation of amateurish films is the reason for this. Munadi madhri yeno thaano nu padam edukka mudiyadhu. I believe the situation is improving slowly and films being made now are more refined. Producers' Council is also trying its best to take the films to the audience. The change is near!" It's very much a sign of the optimist he is.