A panel discussed the success of Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom and wondered why Tamil films did not make a mark in international film festivals

Who is better than Balaji Tharaneetharan, the director of Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, to talk about how novel ideas can be developed into full length feature films? At CIFF, Balaji Tharaneetharan was with his producer, V.S. Rajkumar and cinematographer C. Prem Kumar to tell the story of how Naduvula… got made despite the script not having any action or songs.

“Whenever I approached a producer, they wanted me to do a small film for Rs. one crore or 1.5 crore. I happened to watch Giuseppe Tornatore’s A Pure Formality, an engaging film with very few characters. That’s when I realised what mattered was how engaging the film was,” he said. The entire project was put together in the reverse. “The budget decided the story, the actors and camera used and so on,” he said.

But Producer Rajkumar did not want the film to come across as a film made by amateurs. “We rehearsed for four months. By the time we shot the film, all the actors knew what they were going to do.” Producer Rajkumar said that he never liked the songs. “I always thought it hampered the pace of the film,” he said and added, “When I heard the script with no songs or stunts, I immediately knew that this was the kind of film I wanted to do.”

But, how did they actually keep the costs down? “We decided that the film should have a ‘home video’-like feel. We decided to shoot with 5D cameras, which were mostly handheld,” said Prem. The panel, which also consisted of Alphonse Roy and Gautami Tadimalla, raised questions about how the film can be taken to the masses and why our films don’t make a mark in international film festivals. Suhasini Maniratnam wondered why Tamil films aren’t even considered at noted international film festivals such as Venice and Berlin. Amshan Kumar said that films such as Naduvula… were different within the context of Tamil Cinema, but pondered if our films could match the kind of films that were being made in countries such as Iran and Eastern European countries.

Answering the first question, Rajkumar said, “Getting the right number of theatres is important to get your money back. I even pulled the film out just before the release because I couldn’t get a good number of screens. Later on, JSK bought the film and released it in a much bigger way,” he said. On Tamil films making a mark on international film festivals, the panel agreed that it was a problem. “We cannot just ignore it and move on. We have to find out why our films are rejected in those film festivals,” said Gautami Tadimalla.