Decades ago, Indians, mostly Tamils, were hired to work on the plantations of the Fiji islands. Now, most of the population in its third and fourth generation is well-integrated into the Fijian lifestyle; but, Tamil as a language is almost forgotten, while Hindi and the local Fiji dialect are the spoken languages. With this culture as the background, R. Selvaraj has written a story which director Selvaa has made into a touching romantic film, Naadi Thudikkuthadi. “The story is about the son of the Indian High Commissioner to Fiji, who hails from Tamil Nadu, falling in love with a local girl, a descendant of a Tamil migrant family. Cultural and lifestyle differences become major issues in their relationship,” says Selvaa who has shot the entire film in the Fiji islands.

The most interesting aspect of Naadi Thudikkuthadi is Ilaiyaraja’s music. “In the last 25 films I have directed, I have never been able to get Ilaiyaraja to score the music. This has happened now and I have built in an interesting episode of Ilaiyaraja visiting Fiji to perform. There is a lovely song with meaningful lyrics relevant to the romantic alliance between the hero and heroine. For the song sequence, the orchestra performs with Fiji musicians, who were thrilled to do so for someone they have all along admired,” says Selvaa. He has cast Subin, Archana and Joshna in the lead roles.

No stopping them

The advantages of being associated with a director of A. R. Murugadoss’ (ARM) stature have translated into an independent production for A. M. Sampath Kumar. “As a co-director for his movies from Dheena to Ghajini, I have overseen the production aspects. This has given me the confidence to launch Iruvar Ondranal, more as a creative producer than just funding the project,” says Sampath. He was fortunate to get another co-director of ARM, Anbu G, to write the story and the screenplay. Yet another protégé of ARM, P. R. Prabhu, is the hero, while new face Krithika Malini is the heroine. Says Prabhu: “After completing Engineering and MBA, I am able to live my role as an engineering college student in Iruvar Ondranal. While with ARM, I involved myself in every aspect of film production which I continue to do on the sets of Iruvar Ondranal. Anbu's story is about young love and his treatment of the subject reflects the casual approach of the youth to such relationships. They are serious about it but at the same time, break-ups don’t mean the end of the world. They move on; there is no stopping them in whatever they choose to do.”

Wipe the tears away

Coming across a girl filling petrol at a nearby gas station, director V. R. P. Manohar asked her if she would like to continue her studies. She replied in the negative, saying she needed the money to feed her family as her father was a drunkard. Besides, he tortured her for money to buy drinks. “This prompted me to make a short film, Kanneerin Vilai (33 minutes), and release it on DVD (Rs. 130) for people to view and understand the consequences of alcoholism on their family. It is not loaded with messages, but only shows the feelings, emotions and the trials and tribulations a family goes through when its breadwinner takes to alcohol. In the film, a drunkard father breaks up the family, forcing the wife to leave him. Consequently, the daughter cannot continue her high school education. The father's friend, realising the plight of the family, adopts her and helps her study further,” says Manohar.