interview Director R. Kannan, whose Settai releases this week, on why he alternates original films with remakes
Two out of the four films he has directed, including Settai , that’s releasing on April 5, are remakes.
But director R. Kannan isn’t the least bit insecure. “A good script takes three years to write. I spend a lot of time researching and detailing my script. A remake, on the other hand, is a little less work. That’s why after I did an original film Jayam Kondaan , I did Kanden Kathalai (a remake of Jab We Met ) and then an original Vanthaan Vendraan and now the remake... Settai ,” he says.
A huge departure
While the Jab We Met remake was faithful to the original with just a comedy track by Santhanam added to it, Settai is a huge departure. Kannan has taken the expletive-ridden Delhi Belly and turned it into a film that the Censors recently awarded a U certificate!
A toilet-humour based film turned into a clean, family entertainer, as the makers want us to believe. How is that even possible? “ Settai is about a journalist and how he achieves his dream of making headlines. This was a line that was in the original film but wasn’t exploited enough. So, we took away the vulgar content because the Tamil audiences are not ready for it,” explains Kannan.
“Otherwise, we have retained the original look, style, costumes and even the kind of performances. Only the jokes have been rewritten.”
The film works better in Tamil, he says.
“The friendship between the three roommates is the crux of the film. We have balanced it out and given all the three equal importance,” he adds.
“Not even ten per cent of the Tamil audiences would have seen Delhi Belly . The fact that it is a remake will not matter beyond Chengalpet. So it's like any other new film.”
Set in Mumbai
Kannan decided to set the film in Mumbai because of the plot elements from the original. “Prostitution, gun culture, kidnapping, etc. would have looked out of place in Chennai. So while we have retained the nativity by making the three work for a Tamil newspaper, we had to base it in Mumbai.”
The casting was an elaborate process, says Kannan. “Arya suited the young look we wanted and he’s one of the most selfless actors who puts the script ahead of his role. Though he initially wondered how well we would be able to adapt Delhi Belly , once he heard it, he agreed immediately. He has a very good equation with Santhanam, who came on board next. Instead of casting a new actor who had to play the third friend, we decided to look at people who were already good friends with Arya and Santhanam in real life and Premgi was one of them. Our casting helped a lot to make sure that the guys did look like they had been friends for 10-15 years.”
“Casting Hansika as an airhostess was easy since she is from Mumbai, but we had to work on Anjali because we were casting her against the type. We have given her a sophisticated look. So the audience used to her rustic looks will be surprised. Nasser took up the role because his son had told him that nobody could do what Vijay Raaz did. He liked the challenge and he’s really good in the film.”
Has anyone from the original team watched the film? The producers from UTV did, he says. “We sent them the full film with English subtitles and they said they didn't realise how well it could be adapted for the native audiences here.”
After Settai, Kannan will start work on his new project.
“That will be an original film tentatively called Alangaram . I’ve been working on it for over two-and-a-half years now. PVP will be producing it and I will decide on the cast after the release of Settai ,” he signs off.
The friendship between the three roommates is the crux of the film