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Muthaiya interview A raconteur of rural retelling- Cinema express

A raconteur of rural retelling

Director Muthaiya throws light on his upcoming release Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam, aspirations to do city-based films, his inspirations to do Arya-starrer, and more

Published: 30th May 2023

Creators have the power to take plenty of routes, genres, perspectives, and premises to narrate a story. While some explore many avenues to deliver creative results, there are others who prefer operating on familiar grounds. One such raconteur to fall in the latter category is director Muthaiya, who has created an identity for himself by making films that highlight the stories of the soil and are reflective of the livelihoods and lifestyles he has grown up seeing. “Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam is my eighth film and it is once again a story from the rural land and local soil, a premise that I am known to operate on regularly. The film will be a complete commercial package with an emphasis on emotions, and the importance of relationships,” says Muthaiya, who returns to Ramanathapuram for the first time after Karthi's Komban (2015).

Muthaiya terms Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam as a tribute to the sense of gratefulness in mankind and how it is an important quality that needs to be present in everyone. “If I have to put it in a simpler way, the film is about how a mother who is grateful to someone who has saved her and dedicates her child’s name to the person. But you need to see the film for whom she is grateful,” he adds.

With Arya playing the titular character, Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam, just like other Muthaiya films has an interesting ensemble. This time, Muthaiya has roped in Siddhi Idnani, Prabhu, Bhagyaraj, Singampuli, Avinash, Renuka, Deepa, and Madhusudhana Rao, among others. Giving a peek into these characters, Muthaiya explains that each of the characters will possess a sense of gratefulness, which will be the driving factor of the story. “Prabhu’s name is Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam and so is Arya’s. Who are these people grateful for, is where the story lies. Siddhi Idnani plays Thamizhselvi, an educated mother of three. All the characters will have some goodness, and to counter all this, there is an opposing power. But all said and done, this film is completely an individual’s tale, his emotions, struggles, and conflicts.”

While the setting isn't new for Muthaiya, Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam has him tapping into some local qualities of Ramanathapuram. “You can never separate Kilakarai (a Muslim-majority area) and Kilavan Sethupathis (a caste Hindu clan) presence in Ramanathapuram. They live in complete harmony. In fact, one article that I read about lyricist Ka Mu Sheriff’s life inspired me to do this film. After one of his friend’s daughters got pregnant out of wedlock, he took the woman under his wings and brought up the child, and even got her married. This instance, coupled with another, is what inspired me to write this story,” he adds.

It is not just the rural setting that he often returns to, but also his comfortable set of collaborators. With Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam, Muthaiya will be reuniting with composer GV Prakash after Komban. Talking about the composing sessions in his films, Muthaiya shares that he takes cues from his favourite songs to understand the soundscape he needs for his films. “The last time we worked, I had referred to the songs of Aadukalam. Now, I had referred to Soorarai Pottru. There are six songs in the film, and I hope people will enjoy it.” Another recurring collaborator working on Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam is stunt director Anl Arasu. This is their third collaboration after Marudhu and Viruman. “Since there were scheduling conflicts with Arasu master, we actually shot all the stunt sequences and the songs in a single stretch. I must thank my actors for being accommodative and delivering their best.”

One thing new about this Muthaiya directorial is definitely his choice for the lead role. Arya, who is largely seen in urban-centric roles, will be seen as the Muthaiya hero archetype. Incidentally, Muthaiya approached Arya first for a city-based film, but it was the actor who insisted they collaborate on a film with strong nativity. “Since he wanted to do a different film, I had to work on a different idea. And since the lockdown was in place, we went on to do different films. I did Viruman, while he worked on Sarpatta Parambarai. Later, we got back together for Kathar Basha Endra Muthuramalingam.”

But all that said, Muthaiya still harbours the dream to do a city-based film. “It will not only be a fresh outing for me but also give a refreshingly new perspective when I return to my roots to do films,” he signs off.

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