Cinema

‘People have smartphones, but no toilets’

Raju Murugan  

It’s common knowledge in Tamil cinema that when you make a hit, you cash in on it… literally. The aftermath of a hit has producers flocking to the director. But Raju Murugan, who made the critically and commercially acclaimed Cuckoo (2014), refused to bite. “I had other scripts, but I wasn’t really disturbed enough by any of them.” This was so crucial for Raju, that immediately after the release of Cuckoo, he went on a six-month journey across India, looking for “something to be disturbed by”.

Travel is a major preoccupation in Raju Murugan’s life. He suggests that it’s non-negotiable for a filmmaker, and seems to consider his trips as creative pilgrimages. “You see new places, meet new people. The new stories come along.” It sure did for Raju; the idea for his upcoming film, Joker, was born out of his reflections during the pan-Indian trip. When he returned, he headed straight to Dharmapuri. “The story happens there; so I thought it’d be best if I wrote it there.” And as people hadn’t yet forgotten Cuckoo, “thankfully”, it was rather easy for him to find producers. “In any case, I’m great friends with S. R. Prabhu and S. R. Prakash (founders of the film’s production house, Dream Warrior Pictures).” The film was shot for a total of 50 days, mostly in Dharmapuri.

He calls Joker a film about the ills of globalisation. “Nobody talks about poverty any more, maybe because everybody now has a smartphone. But do all of them have access to toilets?” It is this contrast that Raju has written a story around, and with a rather unconventional protagonist. “He’s middle-aged and poor, a simpleton who doesn’t understand why he doesn’t have the right to dismiss the corrupt politicians he has helped elect.” Somasundaram, who has previously played cameos in films like Jigarthanda and Aaranya Kaandam, plays this part. “I think he’s an important artiste, and deserves more attention.” Raju has treated the film as a comedy for the most part. “Hence the title. But at the end, he poses a question that will get you thinking.”

The importance of Santhosh Narayanan’s music in Cuckoo’s success cannot be emphasised enough. But this time, Raju has signed up Sean Roldan (who sang two songs in Cuckoo). “We are all great friends—Santhosh, Sean and I. When we were working on Cuckoo, Santhosh suggested that I work with Sean for my next film. People don’t yet know what he’s truly capable of. I can’t wait for people to listen to the album.”

One of the songs, ‘Ennanga Sir Unga Suththam’, will be released as a single on April 1. After all, the story is about a fool.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 2:32:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/%E2%80%98People-have-smartphones-but-no-toilets%E2%80%99/article14176382.ece

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