Ritika Singh and Ashok Selvan: We want to take a Tamil film to the Oscars
The lead pair of Oh My Kadavule, Ritika Singh and Ashok Selvan, talk about the rom-com
Ashok Selvan finds video interviews to be tiring but says he can manage as long as Ritika Singh is also part of it. "It is fun this way." Perhaps buoyed by Ritika's vivacity, Ashok Selvan goes on to buzz with energy throughout the conversation. The conversation touched upon several topics including their latest rom-com, Ritika’s unreleased film MeToo, Ashok’s struggles, and even the Oscar winner, Parasite.
OMK is about second chances. How important are second chances?
Ritika Singh: I didn’t believe people could change. Now though, I think that when people genuinely want to change, they deserve a second chance. But sometimes, by the time the person changes, you also go through a similar transformation and are not the same person anymore. Then the sync doesn’t happen in relationships.
I have had a second chance in terms of my career. I thought my life was over when I got my knee injury and lost a big game. But then, Irudhi Suttru happened.
Ashok Selvan: I have yearned for a second chance many times. I think we all do. But the thing is, it comes with a lot of responsibility because if you fail again, it will hurt more. In a lot of ways, Oh My Kadavule is a second chance for me.
Do you see the film being more than all the humour in it?
AS: Definitely. It is full of emotions. The most hilarious film will be forgotten if it doesn’t have emotions in it. OMK has so many such moments. More than about romance, it is about friendship and the relationship between characters and their parents. I am sure it will appeal to everybody.
The film comes after a bit of a gap for both of you.
RS: I think I am doing a Tamil film after about three years. Things worked out like that. Maybe this is how it was destined. To get a film like this is a blessing.
AS: I think I had a difficult period. Also, I come from nothing. I don’t have a back-up plan. So, each time, I go through a trial-and-error method to find success. I have also decided to do a film only if I like it and not because I have to. To find something I like and to put that in production takes a lot of time, and sometimes, even then, it doesn’t turn out the way you want.
Ritika, you are a real-life boxer and did Irudhi Suttru. How did you escape from being stereotyped?
Well, I did two more versions of Irudhi Suttru in Hindi and Telugu. Later, I didn’t want to limit myself. However, I was not consciously avoiding similar roles. When Aandavan Kattalai came my way, I couldn’t say ‘no’. What a film that was! I only had a small role in it but I wanted to be part of it despite people’s advice not to do such roles. Yet, I am still open to action films and I am even ready to play the antagonist.
So, what’s happening with your film, MeToo, that seems to be facing issues with the Censor Board?
I saw the film, and I would like the world to see it as well. I never imagined I am capable of being ‘that person' on screen. We could have fine-tuned it a bit. It has a few cuss words as we have made the film as real as it can get. I hope it comes out because it is relevant to the time we live in.
A section of people attribute increasing divorces to women empowerment. As OMK film also deals with divorce, what's your take?
RS: I think people are becoming aware that if you are suffering in a marriage, if there is abuse and violence... you don’t have to put up with it. Back then, women didn’t know they had that option. Maybe they had the opportunity but they were worried about society’s perception.
AS: I think it is because women have started to become financially independent. Earlier, they had nowhere to go. Now, they can support themselves. The first draft of OMK had portions that addressed the issue of divorce, but we took a call not to take a moralistic stand on the issue. Divorce could be emancipation for one person and something else for another. So, we stopped ourselves from making a statement.
Parasite, the first non-English film to have won Oscars for the Best Feature film. What does this mean to filmmakers here?
AS: One of my dreams is to take a Tamil film to the Oscars. An ambitious dream, perhaps. When Parasite won the award, I took a screenshot of the news and sent it to my friend with whom I have discussed this dream. I told him: We are getting closer. Thank you to Parasite for showing us that it is possible.
RS: You don’t have to be in Hollywood to win an Oscar. As long as your content is strong and you do put the effort with utmost sincerity and hard work, you can get it.