Irreverent and witty adman turned filmmaker, C.S. Amudhan talks on his Rendavathu Padam and why he loves to do things differently
Some people cut films with editors. Ad man turned filmmaker C.S. Amudhan cuts his film with sheer wit and razor sharp one-liners.
So when we asked him to think of ideas for a photo shoot that would go with his irreverent personality, the Tamizh Padam director, whose Rendavathu Padam is ready for release next month, came up with this: “I want a Tata Sumo. I’ll get two henchmen. I’ll wear a gold chain and a bracelet, hold an aruval (sickle) while the thugs behind me will have oruttukattai (clubs). What do you think?” he pitched.
Next thing we knew, we were at Binny Mills, near the airport, one of the most used and abused locations in Tamil cinema for this spoof of a picture.
“I know I am making a fool of myself,” he says as he rolls up his sleeve and the photographer asks him to pull up his collar for impact. Impact, in fact, should be his middle name.
“After I finished engineering, I started out on my own. I started a company called Winds of Change and did events because it didn’t cost any money,” he starts his flashback.
The year was 2000. Winds of Change did everything from fashion shows to rain dance events. And even a jallikattu. “We merchandised it in Alanganallur village near Madurai. Nearly two lakh people were to participate. We gave away T-shirts, painted the town red etc.”
Events got him access to sponsors. One such trip to Hi Style to design a newsletter became a turning point.
“I met Kiron and he asked me what I thought of his advertising and what I would do! I went back to him with options. I didn’t even know back then that it was a pitch,” he recalls. “I was lucky to work with people who didn’t ask me too many questions. Because if they did ask, I wouldn’t have known what to answer,” quips Amudhan.
“When everyone was doing bedroom shots and photos of interior design to sell real estate, I thought let’s do something else for Indira Homes. We did a crazy campaign called No Rent, No Rules where we had pictures like a horse inside a kitchen. We got noticed. We started getting calls.”
And then came the campaign that ruffled many feathers when regular readers of newspapers The Hindu woke up to a scandalous teaser campaign that didn’t carry any brand name or logo. Just the words: “Breasts to die for.” Another ad screamed: “The sweetest pair of legs you ever saw.” And the third in the series said, “Thunder thighs is coming to town.” It was about a new fried chicken chain in town called Prime Roaster. “It was a very big risk. But Prime Roaster had the budget to make our work visible. That was the first irreverent campaign I ever did. I learnt it could work. And I realised I liked doing it.”
He did ultimately run into trouble with a campaign called “Dress to Kill” that flashed violent, gory images of people lying dead, on hoardings all over town. “We had people sitting in front of the showroom to protest and we pulled it off in a few weeks.”
This was also the time that Amudhan got involved with a small comedy show for Raj TV. He met S. Sashikanth of Y Not Studios to pitch Tamizh Padam as a tele film initially. Sashi said: “Why not make it a proper movie? My original idea was to hire a director and I saw myself writing the script... But once it was ready and Sashi asked, “So who’s going to direct it? I said, “Me”. He asked “Are you sure?” I said, “Sure.” “Once again, I found myself a guy who didn’t ask many questions. I had no clue what I was doing but it worked out in my favour,” chuckles Amudhan.
Tamizh Padam poked fun of clichés and even the most celebrated films were not spared. “I did not think it would have any grave repercussions. We had not been disrespectful to anyone, except one (I am not saying which one). It just made fun of the clichés in Tamil cinema and turned popular scenes on its head.”
“To be honest, I don’t think that I am all that irreverent. It’s just that the threshold for irreverence is very low here. I am just a regular guy.”
On Rendavathu Padam
Rendavathu Padam is not a spoof. It takes formula elements from Tamil cinema but does not spoof it. It’s used in dead earnest. It will be irreverent and we have gone off the charts in terms of craziness. We have tried stuff that’s never been done before. It’s Grade A Unique. That I can promise. I wish I had a handle on it and could say: It’s like Road Movie but no. You’ll realise what I mean when you watch the film.