Director R.S. Prasanna speaks about breaking barriers with Kalyana Samayal Saadham
A film that redefined manhood for Tamil filmgoers had its beginnings in an auto ride down Mumbai’s busy roads. R.S. Prasanna, caught in the throes of his own wedding, was narrating the joys and intrigues of a TamBrahm wedding to a friend. He decided his first film would revolve around a similar theme.
Thus was born Kalyana Samayal Saadham, a film that left many smiling at the way it dealt with the sensitive issue of erectile dysfunction.
Prasanna, a gold medallist from the L.V. PrasadFilm and TV Academy, worked on many short films before moving to Mumbai on work. During their many long phone calls, his girlfriend-turned-fiancée Meenakshi would narrate hilarious accounts of the wedding preparations. Many of them found place in his directorial debut. “Many have remarked about the female perspective in the film. The credit goes to Meenakshi,” says Prasanna. Mention has also been made of the ‘insider’ angle to the narration. “I don’t believe in pseudo-secularism. I grew up in the TamBrahm milieu, and knew it intimately. There was little reason to not showcase it. Also, I’m a student of Balu Mahendra. He says that when you go microscopic, you create something that has universal appeal,” he says.
The film has an ensemble cast of good actors, because Prasanna has an “allergic reaction to bad actors”. Even as he was writing the film, he decided ‘Delhi’ Ganesh would play the father. “He was the only one who could pull it off. I wanted a leading lady who was a good actor, carried off Indian and Western wear and had a confidence that stemmed from intelligence. I knew Lekha Washington from our theatre days and knew she would be perfect. My namesake, actor Prasanna, was the most natural choice to play hero. It helped that he was the first fan of the movie, and I am so glad it worked for him.”
Of Arun Vaidyanathan (of Achamundu Achamundu fame), the film’s producer, Prasanna says: “He’s a dear friend and promised me during my convocation that he would produce my first movie. It’s amazing how it came true.”
The filmmaker is delighted about the response to his film, and the kind words coming his way from people he idolises. “Kamal Haasan sir watched the film and told us he found it ‘cute’. That was such a high,” says Prasanna. Elsewhere too, the film seems to have struck all the right notes. PVR Cinemas has decided to screen a sub-titled version in metros as part of its Director’s Rare initiative. It opened in Mumbai on December 27.
Prasanna says he likes to look up to one filmmaker for every film of his. This time around, it was Woody Allen. “I love the existential angst and observational comedy in his works,” he says. Also an inspiration was a scene from Mouna Raagam. “When we saw the café scene where the father-in-law and son-in-law meet, it looked like an ode to ‘Mr. Chandramouli,” he smiles. “I told Prasanna I wanted an energy similar to what Karthik exhibited in that scene.” Also, while directing Prasanna and Lekha, he wanted the chemistry that Karthik and Revathi shared in that film — so lively, so real, so dignified.
The young director believes creativity must rule. “A good story is the strength of any film. A good film is one that connects with the audience. ” But, he also works to ensure the producers are happy. Which is why, once it was decided that the topic of the film would give it a UA certificate (robbing it of tax exemption), he trimmed the film’s budget. “Efficient budgeting, superhuman effort by technicians… everything kept the budget really low. To make a low-budget film look glossy is a challenge,” he says.
As for the UA certificate, he says the film is not meant for kids, though “it’s one of the most innocent films made — it’s about a guy who just cannot have sex!” “I believe there are stories that need to be told only to adults,” says Prasanna, who is working on his next script, something totally different from KSS.
KSS also showed who a real ‘hero’ is and questioned the general perception of manhood. “A man is someone who stands up for someone,” says Prasanna, who does his bit to change mindsets too — his only task these days is babysitting his four-month-old son and smiling at his every gurgle.
As for his Meenakshi, she went out to watch KSS by herself. And loved it.