Combo with a cause

Rathindran Prasad talks about his video collaboration with T. M. Krishna

He handled the camera and direction for Kodaikanal Won’t, a music video that came out in 2015 on the issue of mercury pollution caused by a now-defunct thermometer factory run by Unilever. It went viral and got the thumbs-up from global celebrities such as Nicki Minaj – her ‘Anaconda’ tune was used for the song — and Ashton Kutcher. Unilever also compensated more than 500 of their ex-workers who were affected by the poisoning.

And now Rathindran Prasad has embarked on a similar project with Ramon Magsaysay-award winner and Carnatic singer, T.M. Krishna. “It’s about a serious social issue. We are not revealing what it is right now. It’s set to release on January 14, on YouTube and a couple of regional and national channels,” he says.

Last time around, it was an English rap song. Now, viewers will be treated to classical tunes with Tamil lyrics by Kaber Vasuki of the indie band Kurangan. “Sofia Ashraf is not making any special appearance,” Prasad clarifies.

Photos of Prasad and Krishna on location show power grids in the background. On being questioned if it was about the Kudankulam power plant, he replies in the negative. “But the location is relevant to the issue,” he says. Prasad says he first met Krishna at the first Urur Olcott Kuppam festival — the latter’s initiative towards taking classical music to the masses. “I shot the fund-raiser video for it,” he says.

Kodaikanal Won’t, according to Prasad, was conceptualised by environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman, who wanted to execute it as a documentary. “He gave me volumes to read on the issue. But I wasn’t certain a documentary would take us anywhere. I was of the opinion that something like a rap song would reach a larger audience,” he says.

Prasad didn’t exactly expect that it would end up being such a hit. He started receiving offers to do more such socially-relevant videos. “Someone even asked me to focus on the issue of the polluted Noyyal River. But I don’t take up issues which I’m not very sure about,” he says.

“I don’t want to limit myself as a Chennai or a Tamil Nadu person. I identify myself as a global citizen. Even the Kodaikanal issue was taken up by more people from outside the region,” says Prasad.

When asked about his familiarity with classical music, Prasad admits that he has “no knowledge of Carnatic music. I had a teacher who tried teaching me when I was young, but I stopped soon.”

“When my father saw me standing next to T.M. Krishna (in the photos), he was like ‘Unakkum Carnatic kum ennada sammandham?’ (What connection do you have with Carnatic music?),” Prasad says, laughing. “But I know enough to say that he has experimented with the form.”

A teaser or a sneak peek is in the works, Prasad says, for the video featuring T.M. Krishna. And the duo, along with Nityanand Jayaraman, is currently brainstorming on how to effectively launch it.

On the side, Prasad is also working on a feature film with Ashwin Kakumanu and Guru Somasundaram (of Joker fame) that is expected to release for the summer holidays.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 9:35:20 PM |

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