Between Kana Kandaen and Ko, K.V. Anand has made just one film — Ayan — but it was enough to catapult the cinematographer-turned-director to the big league. Now that the release of Ko is round the corner, I had to know the reason for his shift from down-to-earth realism in KK to downright commercialism in Ayan and probably Ko. “You can't dumb down Ayan as a mere pecuniary exercise,” contends Anand. “Of course, a film has to follow the dictates of commerce. But I did as much research on the subject of smuggling for Ayan, as I did on desalination, for my debut, KK. And as I've worked as a photojournalist, my personal experiences have helped me weave a plausible line for Ko.

Writers Suba and K.V. Anand took nearly 10 months to give final shape to the screenplay. Visiting various newspaper offices to glean information about the day-to-day running of a daily was part of Anand's agenda, because Ko's hero is a photojournalist. “The operative word is authenticity,” he smiles and adds, “Script-wise Ko will be rated better than Ayan. And as Ko has shaped up well, I've begun to move on to Maatraan, my next,” is Anand's confident stand.

‘Ko', in Tamil, means king. “‘Leader' is more like it,” he laughs.

Talking about his days as a photojournalist, he recalls, “I had gone to click this picture of a piece of land that had been usurped by a bigwig, when goons began chasing me. Even as I ran for my life, I hid the exposed film and inserted a fresh roll into the camera. They pulled it out from me but the original pictures were safe.”

Ko could have such a scene. “Not exactly,” he responds. “Instead of the gun or the sickle, I've given my hero a more forceful weapon, the camera. He's a professional photographer, who records history. But when the situation is grave, shouldn't he go beyond the call of duty to offer help is my query. Remember Kevin Carter, the photographer who shot the disturbing picture of a Sudanese kid in its last stages of life with a vulture waiting nearby for the child to go limp? Carter committed suicide two months later.”

Is it conscience he's talking about?

“No, natural human instinct.”

So that's the core of Ko. Anand nods in assent.

Was Jiiva a last-minute choice? “I've admired Jiiva in Ram, Katradhu Tamizh, E and SMS. But his suaveness hasn't been showcased on screen so far, and I felt he'd do justice to such a character. He's proved me right,” certifies the maker.

But my question isn't exactly that, I tell him. Simbu, who was to do Ko, had walked out after the photo shoot. “A few differences cropped up. That was all. In fact, earlier I had thought of Ajith and Karthi too, he shrugs.

“What matters is that I'm 100 per cent satisfied with Jiiva's work.” Ko marks Karthika's debut. “She's very quick on the uptake, professional, and perfect for the role of a reporter,” says Anand. Ajmal returns in a power-packed role in Ko. “His portrayal in Anjaadhae impressed me.”

Anand's formidable technical team includes Harris Jeyaraj, Richard Nathan, Anthony, Peter Hein and Kiran. “They have excelled,” he commends. And he can't stop raving about the co-operation of the people of Sowcarpet, who allowed the unit to shoot a clamorous, gunfire-filled climax with commandos and villains, for 20 days at a stretch, from evening six till midnight. “‘Just give us a few hours to catch up with some sleep everyday,' was their only request.”

The director had zoomed in on exotic locations for Ayan. “Agreed, we shot a duet in a quarry on the outskirts of the city for KK. But after Ayan, grandeur has become a must,” says Anand. Being a lens man with a 13-film experience, he prefers virgin locations that offer stunning visuals. “You'll see Harbin in North China at its freezing best, and Norway too,” he sounds excited.

Couldn't he eschew the usual duet format? “We also have meaningful montages for a couple of numbers. And as for your poser, viewers have seen doctors and engineers prance around on screen. Why not a journalist's jig?” he laughs. So do I.

Keywords: K.V. AnandKo