Filmmaker Raju Murugan gets talking about his upcoming Cuckoo, a musical love story about two visually challenged individuals. Nikhil Raghavan listens in

The call of the kuyil — 'cuc-k-o-o' — has a melody that is symbolic of the lyrical magic of love. It brings out the tender emotions of togetherness and belonging — of true love. Such love, according to director Raju Murugan, knows no colour or smell. It is all about touch, feel and imagination. For, how else do Thamizh and Swatantrakodi, two visually challenged people fall in love in his story, which he has aptly titled Cuckoo?

“The film is about how the two do not allow their handicap to come in the way of their affection for each other. She is a very confident girl who does not expect any sympathy and he is very humorous and full of life,” says Raju. Dinesh (Attakathi) plays Thamizh, an uneducated youth, while Malavika Nair (Black Butterfly in Malayalam) plays Swatantrakodi, a college student studying for a teacher's degree. Both the characters are from economically backward communities.

Inspiration for the story

The inspiration for Cuckoo came to Raju Murugan during his days as a journalist with Ananda Vikatan. “In the course of my work, I used to come across scores of interesting people. One of them was a visually challenged person on whom the character in Cuckoo is based. He used to tell me the story of his life, and the love for his girlfriend who was also visually challenged. I had this idea with me for years, and later, during the three years I assisted director Lingusamy, I had extensively worked on the story. Though Cuckoo is largely inspired by their life, for the sake of cinema, liberties have been taken with the story idea to make it more appealing,” informs Raju.

Initially, Raju had presented the Cuckoo script to director Shankar who saw great promise in it, but as he was already tied up with Ai he couldn’t take it up. “On his suggestion and with a little help from a couple of friends from the television industry, I got the opportunity to present it to The Next Big Film Productions and Fox Star Studios who gave me the go ahead immediately,” says Raju.

Raju didn't want big names for the lead roles, but people with a bit of experience and talent to grasp the nuances of acting as visually challenged individuals. “We had a two-month workshop when the actors were made to interact with the original couple, the inspiration for my story. Both Dinesh and Malavika quickly learnt how the visually challenged move, interact and go about their daily chores. There is another visually challenged couple, Elango and Nandini, who act as the friends of Thamizh and Swatantrakodi. So when we started shooting, it was quite a breeze for all concerned. More important was to get a cinematographer who understood the need to neither downplay nor glorify the blindness factor. In P. K. Varma I found a person with the right temperament to understand the script. This is his next big one after Attakathi. He has achieved a perfect balance of visual beauty that is so important to the screenplay. Being a musical love story we needed the right type of songs which Santosh Narayanan has composed in his inimitable style,” states Raju Murugan who is eagerly awaiting the release of Cuckoo on March 21.

Keywords: Raju MuruganCuckoo