Director RDM: Police officials agree with my portrayal of their department
The director talks about his critically acclaimed film, Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban, has found its OTT release on Zee5
After a wait of almost five months, Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban, which received a warm reception at the time of its release, has now found a release on the OTT platform, Zee5. The relatable conflict faced by the leads in the film and the realistic making made it a success with the film getting almost a 50-day run at the theatres. RDM, the director of KUN, feels that the love for this film has grown after its digital release. “I have been getting many calls from people who see Suresh Ravi's Prabhu, the protagonist, as one of their own. The climax has deeply affected them,” he says.
The director notes that the everyday conflicts in the story contributed to the film’s success. “The protagonist faces problems that most of us are vulnerable to. Any of us could potentially be in Prabhu's position, as we are all insignificant in front of the system.” He also credits the husband-wife angle in the story to have resulted in more reach for the film. “No woman can bear to see her husband getting beaten up.”
Excerpts from the conversation:
How did the police department react to your film?
Many policemen spoke to Mime Gopi and Raveena Ravi after seeing the film. A senior official in fact said that the portrayal of cops in the film is quite realistic and that we have not exaggerated it. Some others spoke to Raveena and mentioned that they showed the film to their subordinates and asked them to rework how they handle convicts. If the film results in real change, that is its crowning glory. I couldn't ask for more.
Did you face any opposition from the department before release?
We did. I saw some cops tearing up our posters. Thankfully, we got our film censored even before the first look came out. Also, the voices against our film faded when people learned that the censor board had already cleared it.
Even after we procured all the legal clearances, we were forced to change the location of the press show. In hindsight, if we had followed traditional promotional strategies like releasing the first look before the project was completed, our film may not have seen daylight.
Your quirky and innovative posters of KUN were instrumental in its publicity. Tell us how they were devised.
Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban is a sarcastic title. So, we wanted our posters to signify the same tone. Our publicity designer gave us a few ideas. Be it the Adam and God art or the sniper at the Tuticorin shootout in the title design, it was all ideated by him. Typically, we have to submit promotional posters along with the final copy of the film for censorship. I thought a few posters would get rejected, but instead, they lauded our creativity.
The brutal inspector played by Mime Gopi is named Kannabiran. Is this a reference to the Kodiyankulam violence on which Karnan was based?
No, this was a coincidence. I learned about the connection only after watching Natty's role in Karnan. The name, Kannabiran, means a ‘watchful protector’. But this character does the opposite. I liked the irony. The character is egoistic and unpredictable. In fact, we almost finalised on a popular actor for this part, but he was unable to join us. I then felt that Gopi would do justice to the role and I liked that he has a small potbelly as many cops do. Vetrimaaran sir said his performance was outstanding, and I was delighted to hear that.
The story happens mainly within the four walls of a police station. Were you worried that it could all seem a bit claustrophobic?
Even while writing it, I realised that more than half of the film takes place within a police station. Typically, such an idea makes the audience restless. But we wanted to shoot in a way that keeps them feeling curious. We created a new police station set for this film and planned all our shots.
We added details to make the experience more relatable. For instance, someone who has been caught in a station will avoid sitting in the same place when they visit it again. That's why we show Prabhu sitting in different places in the station. We also worked a lot on the sounds of the station. The smallest sounds become audible around a station, as people are usually quiet around it. This is why you hear the occasional train during the night scenes.
What takeaway did you want to present audiences with?
Most people who talk to me, say, “Apdiye police station kulla poitu vantha madhri irundhuchu sir!" This was the takeaway I wanted for them. The film is a trip to the police station. Some people ask why the film doesn't end on a hopeful note. I didn't want to give hope; I wanted to give them a simulation. I feel happy that the people have felt the same.
Should we expect more serious cinema from you, given the reception to KUN?
(laughs) I was originally to make my debut with a film called Adhi Medhavigal, which was a fun story set in a college. The film was to hit theatres this June, but it has now been delayed further. The one I am working on right now is a crime thriller with sensibilities that are different from my previous films. I want to work across genres. Unless I work on something new, I won’t really learn what I am good at.