Deepavali release Meiporul has been shot entirely in the U.S., says writer-director Natty Kumar

What can be common among three young men settled in the U.S. — one a software engineer, another civil, and the third a research scientist — apart from their zest for life? Passion for cinema, of course! Especially with one of them — Natty Kumar — hailing from a family which has made around half a dozen films, the medium means a lot to them. Krish Bala and Narayan Sundararajan complete the trio.

Discussing films threadbare is their favourite pastime. Once when Narayan’s wife Rani butted in and said “Stop critiquing film after film. Try making one and you’ll understand the constraints,” the three decided to take up the challenge, and Dreams on Frames, was born. The production house’s maiden effort, Meiporul, shot entirely in San Francisco, except for a few scenes canned in Santa Clara, is all set for the festival race round the corner and Natty is in Chennai for the purpose.

Natty’s father T. N. Janakiraman was the producer of Moga Mul, the 1996 Indira Gandhi Award winner for Best Film. It also won the National Award for Best Direction for Gnana Rajasekaran. (Incidentally, today’s popular television actor Abhishek made his bow as hero in it.)

Interesting team

The cast and crew are completely from the U.S. “Lenin, editor of Meiporul, and composer Rahul, A. R. Rahman’s associate sound engineer, who has given us five lovely songs are exceptions,” says Natty, writer-director and producer. Narayan is co-director, and Krish Bala, co-producer.

Armed with an associate degree in filmmaking and TV production, from California, Natty has made nine short films in English and even acted in two of them. “I owe it to my wife Nithya. She earns, while I dabble in cinema,” he smiles.

Partner Krish is the protagonist of Meiporul. Anusha Ramanujam, again an engineer from Anna University, working in the U.S., is the heroine. The cast includes Chinese, Koreans, African-Americans and Mexicans in minor roles. “Anusha would drive down two hours from her place in Salinas for the shoot in San Francisco. She’s done a wonderful job, and so has Krish,” says Natty. “And all our main actors are fluent in Tamil,” he adds. Now that’s news!

Be it Chris Eldridge, the cinematographer, or John Massei, who was thrilled to do the re-recording thinking Indian cinema means only Bollywood with its lead pairs prancing around, the crew struck a perfect rapport with each other. “John was a little crestfallen when I said we do have songs but shot only as montages,” laughs Natty. “He’s given us a splendid background score.” Yugendar, the lyricist for three songs, resides there, while writer Va. Mu. Sethuraman, who had gone over for a Tamil conference, was roped in for two.

So what’s Meiporul all about? “It’s a neat, realistic, suspense thriller,” says Natty who’s worked on the script for six months to come out with a clean edge-of-the-seat entertainer.

Probably the time is ripe for the new breed of filmmakers, but with big films in the fray is Deepavali the right time for release? “Publicity is more during this season and if the movie is good it is bound to stand,” Natty asserts.

The very title, Meiporul has a poetic feel to it. “The story is based on a couplet from ‘Tirukkural’ that has the word. We found it relevant,” he explains. Check it out on the big screen this Deepavali.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN