With Ko releasing shortly, director K. V. Anand talks about how his third movie came about. nikhil raghavan listens in

Modesty is his middle name. “I am still a novice when it comes to direction,” says K. V. Anand. Never mind that he has worked as a cinematographer with some of the biggest names in the industry — Priyadarshan, Mansoor Khan, Shankar and Rajkumar Santoshi, to name a few. His directorial debut Kana Kanden, featuring Srikanth and Prithviraj, was for producer Thenappan. This was followed by Ayan with Suriya and now Ko, his forthcoming film with Jiiva. He has just announced another Suriya-starrer, Maatraan.

All this has taken Anand into the big league, but he has both his feet planted firmly on the ground and a steady head on his shoulders. Despite the successes and associations, Anand goes back to his press photographer days when he freelanced for such elite publications as Kalki, India Today and Illustrated Weekly. “My fate turned when I was rejected by India Today for a permanent job as a photographer. I went on a month's sabbatical — just me, my camera and hundreds of rolls of film, to picturesque Andamans. On my return I realised I had almost 10,000 transparencies; sort of giving vent to my frustrations, I suppose,” says Anand.

Then he went to noted cinematographer P. C. Sriram and expressed his desire to join him as an assistant. “Thus began my romance with the movie camera. I was his sixth assistant; Jeeva was his first. Once when he was filming for director Priyadarshan, the latter wanted some advice on his new camera and PC suggested my name. Many years later, when Priyan was launching his Thenmavin Kombathu, PC didn't have dates and Jeeva had committed to another film; it fell in my lap,” says Anand. After 10 days of shooting, Priyan reviewed the frames and, realising that the style was totally different from what he had done before, asked Anand whether he was confident of what he was doing. Anand didn't bat an eyelid when he said yes. Thenmavin Kombathu brought Anand his first National Award for Best Cinematography in 1995.

Having learnt a lot from big directors, Anand wanted to try his hand at direction. Ready with a story and script, he approached producer Thenappan who took an instant decision to do the film with Srikanth as hero. “It was a small-budget film. Alongside Srikanth, we roped in Prithviraj and Gopika. The film made a decent profit for the producer. This gave me the confidence to venture into a bigger film, Ayan with Suriya,” informs Anand.

Based on personal experience

Now, with Ko's release just round the corner, Anand reflects on how the movie came about. “During my days as a press photographer, I have known the writers Suba (D. Suresh and A. N. Balakrishnan). My earlier films Kana Kanden and Ayan were adapted from their novels. We put our heads together and came up with the theme for Ko, based on our own experiences in the field of journalism. When the character of a press photographer was conceived, I was sure that Jiiva would be the right actor to portray it. And, I must say he has done justice to it,” says Anand.

Anand may be a very creative photographer and an even more intelligent cinematographer and director, but, when it comes to making a film, all commercial elements are taken into consideration. “For the producer, it is a business proposition. For me as a director, I have to ensure that all classes of the audience are catered to. Movies do have to be realistic, but in the end, the medium is escapist. Fantasy is an integral part of movie-making. It adds an element of surrealism to the storyline. I make no pretences when making a film. Creativity is lent by the cinematography, the sets, the histrionics and the script. Once this balance is achieved, any decent film will score at the box office,” says Anand.

Having said that, are there any actors he would love to direct? “As a cinematographer, I have watched both Kamal Haasan (Thevar Magan) and Rajinikanth (Sivaji) from close quarters. Their dedication to the art is amazing. With his vast knowledge of various mediums, Kamal goes to any length to achieve perfection for each scene. Whereas, Rajini is not only punctual and cooperative, he is also an absolute director's actor. It would be a dream to work with them,” says Anand.

Having been a cinematographer, one would expect Anand to wield the megaphone as well as crank the camera. But, he chose to concentrate on direction giving his associates such as M. S. Prabhu, Sounder and Richard the responsibility of handling the camera. Says Anand: “Direction is a very big responsibility and I wouldn't want to compromise on either job when it comes to meeting deadlines and schedules. Diversion of attention will only affect the quality of a film. Moreover, just as I got the chance to prove myself in certain aspects of filmmaking, others should be given the opportunity to prove their talent.”

Anand has not forgotten his first love — photography. It gives him a creative high; he says he misses using his mother's kitchen sink for developing black and white prints. But surrounded as he is by technology today, he provides a visual treat to audiences through films.

Keywords: KoK.V. Anand