As Kumki releases today, the film’s director Prabhu Solomon talks about how the film came about, his love for Nature and the journey so far

After setting a benchmark with Mynaa, director Prabhu Solomon is on tenterhooks on the eve of Kumki’s release. But, he’s also confident that his effort at story telling will pay off. “Three things interest me — train, sea and elephant. I decided to make the pachyderm the central theme of my movie, because I wanted to showcase the a very emotional link between the elephant and its mahout. It’s a relationship that is built on familiarity and trust.”

And in Vikram Prabhu, he found the right actor to portray the mahout. “When I have a 12-ft tall elephant in the frame, I don’t want a short man alongside. When I met Prabhu, I was taken in by his height and looks,” says Prabhu.

Producing and directing Mynaa gave him the freedom to shoot at his own pace and create a visual masterpiece. In Lingusamy, he found a director-producer who understood the needs of a story such as Kumki. “I had the freedom to wait for weeks and sometimes months to get the right feel of the natural surroundings. Kumki had to be larger than Mynaa and I didn’t want anything to go wrong. Most of the time, I would shoot in the mornings or evenings to get the right texture for the scenes. Movies are a sound and visual medium. It is difficult to write a script when you are dependent on Nature. Visuals cannot be written and the scenes would unfold as we go along. This way, I have been able to get the best of both Nature and my artistes,” says Prabhu. “I have grown with Nature in my hometown of Neyveli; it is probably the only town in India with more trees per capita. Having spent my entire childhood there, it has ingrained in me a sense of belonging — Nature is my parent. With Mynaa, I explored a lot of Nature, and with Kumki, even more,” says Prabhu, who produced Saatai. “I want to take the audience on a refreshing journey into the wilderness, away from the concrete jungle.”

While in school at Neyveli, Prabhu was always an outdoors boy, travelling on his bicycle at the drop of a hat, to explore the countryside. He would ride up hillocks to sit and gaze at the greenery all around him. “Even while in college in Tiruchi, there lurked in me a restlessness that prompted me to take to more creative aspects. Further, regular visits to the local Sippy Theatre, one of the best maintained those days, to watch Hollywood masterpieces such as Ten Commandments, Dr. Zhivago, Ben-Hur and Lawrence Of Arabia, stirred a latent interest within me to veer towards filmmaking.”

Finally, when he came to Madras (now Chennai), it took him three years to even get near a studio. “My first stint was to help around a Sundar C. film. The lights, camera and sets caught my fancy and I knew I had to become a director. Later, I moved to assist Agathiyan for Kadhal Kottai, which went on to win several awards for the director. And, there was no looking back; I realised I was ready to venture out on my own,” says Prabhu.

Since 1999, he’s made films such as Kannodu Kanbadhellam, Usire, King, Kokki, Lee and Laadam. But, not Prabhu feels Kokki, Lee and Ladam were films made probably to satisfy the masses. Then he realised it was not necessary to follow the beaten path to make good and meaningful films. And, Mynaa came about.

As for Kumki, Vikram Prabhu Kumki puts it across perfectly, echoing the sentiments of the director. “For me to do a stylish romantic hero would be akin to just another page in a book. I took up this challenge to create my own book.” Precisely what Prabhu Solomon has set out to do with the film.