Thanga Meenkal focusses on education and its impact on a father-daughter relationship. The director of the film, Ram, tells K. Jeshi that it’ll be a wake-up call to parents
Director Ram is a study in contrast. He loves masala films, but wants to make only realistic films. “As an audience I watch films that entertain me. Films such as Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, Enthiran, SMS and Singam II are my favourites,” he says. Ahead of his second film Thanga Meenkal, director Ram talks about why he chose to focus on the relationship between a father and daughter this time.
“Be it my first film Katradhu Tamil (it highlights the angst of an angry young man who can’t make it big) or Thanga Meenkal, both deal with globalisation and privatisation,” he says. “I want to highlight the contemporary issues a globalised society grapples with every day. I am part of this society and I can see the change unfold in front of me. It affects me and I deal with it through my films.”
Though emotions and relationships form the mainstay of Thanga Meenkal, there is also a subtle commentary on the education system and the perils of privatisation. “The film is partly inspired by my conversations with my daughter Srisankara Gomathy Ram. I also live close to a school in Chennai. The window in my room opens out to it. I stand there endlessly and observe the mood of the place, the emotions of the children, and the mindset of the parents and teachers,” he says.
The father and daughter share the credit for the screenplay. “She has been the starting point of this journey. We wrote the script together in a month’s time.”
The film portrays how the pressures of education strain relationships. “The father is forced to move away from his daughter as he has to earn more to educate her. Though I haven’t set the story in a particular place, it can happen anywhere. It talks about good teachers, bad teachers …. Government schools, private schools, everything,” he says and quotes the song from the film, ‘First Last Pass Fail…..Science Maths Social Science Subject Ellam Englishla Padikka Yaaru Kandupudicha….Schoolu Pogathaan Pudikkala…,’ which sums up what it is all about.
Eight-year-old Sadhana from Chennai plays the role of the protagonist (Chellamma) with conviction. And playing her father is the director himself. “The producer Kalyanasundaram requested me to play the father and I agreed. As a writer-and-actor, I get to write and speak my own lines,” he says. Chellamma’s amma is Vadivu, played by Shelley, a theatre artist from Kerala.
He says Thanga Meenkal is poetic and will leave you humbled. “It will affect you as a parent. It will bring about a transformation in you, and you will begin to prioritise what a child really needs. It’s a wake-up call. Anyone from the age of six to 60 can relate to it. Children will love it as it deals with issues they face every day in school.”
His next film is about love in the time of globalisation. On exploring new genres, he says, “Every film is a journey of self discovery. I also get to observe others’ lives at close quarters. The experience has made me patient and helps me handle life more maturely,” he adds.
Thanga Meenkal releases on July 26. The English subtitles are done by Nandini Karky.