Cinema

Funny once more

A still from the film

A still from the film  

C. S. Amudhan seems like a relieved man when I meet him at his friend, actor Richard’s, house. And why shouldn’t he be, considering his Rendavathu Padam that was ready for release a year ago will finally see the light of day? We quickly move past the courtesies and settle into conversation.

What delayed the release of Rendavathu Padam?

Well, let’s just say my content isn’t formulaic in nature. The alternative film is not something an average Kodambakkam person will take a liking to.

I cannot but wonder if you ruffled some feathers with your first film, Thamizh Padam. Perhaps that’s why your second film was delayed?

No, no, the delay has nothing to do with that. It’s just a different story. However, if Thamizh Padam hadn’t done as well as it did, I would surely have been a thing of history.

I just want to tell people who were offended by my spoof to make one themselves. Feel free to parody my work. I’ll be a sport about it.

What’s so different about Rendavathu Padam?

Even though there’s love in the story, it’s not treated in the traditional sense. There is no separate track for comedy. The humour flows inherently through the characters.

But we hear all directors say the same about their movies.

Okay, here’s the story then. It’s about secret identities; it’s about a CBI officer and a criminal living under the same roof. Isn’t that an improbable premise?

I noticed a scene in the trailer that parodies 7aum Arivu. Is your second film a spoof too?

No, no! It’s just that one scene. We had a mad scientist in the film, and we came up with this great parody scene — it was too good to reject. I repeat, this is not a spoof. Nobody seems to believe me, for some reason. That’s why we even have a line under the title that reads, “A period sci-fi action thriller with animation, romance and NO SPOOFS.”

But surely, after the success of Thamizh Padam, you must have had producers queuing up for something similar.

Oh, yes. But I’d made up my mind not to do another spoof. I had made the first Tamil spoof, and was keen not to be typecast — even now it’s a stereotype I can’t seem to shake away.

Perhaps Rendavathu Padam will do that for you?

Hopefully. Within the territory of humour, it’s a weird and wacky film. I think younger audiences are craving something different. They are bright people and are who I’m making films for.

If young audiences are as primed for experimental films as you believe they are, why aren’t we seeing more offbeat work?

Maybe it’s because of the emphasis on securing a ‘U’ certificate. Who can afford to let a 30 per cent discount go?

Thamizh Padam was a laugh riot. Your second film looks like a comedy. Clearly, funny is your thing.

That’s one stereotype that will always hold true for me, no matter what film I make. In fact, so inherent is my love for comedy that I wanted to make a funny film about a funeral. Can you imagine the endless possibilities for humour in such a situation? Think of a newly married couple whose wedding night is disrupted by death. There’s plenty of comedy that can be created around such a dark situation.

My next film (with an actor I can’t name as yet) is like that in a way. The story is serious, but the hero’s characterisation makes all the situations funny. So, yes, funny is my thing, and that’s why it rankles when funny films aren’t treated with the respect that serious films get.

Do you believe comedies take as much effort as serious films?

They require as much thought, if not more. I don’t like how they are treated as some lower art form. It seems that in the Tamil industry, you have to make a serious film to be thought of as an acclaimed director. I think Balachander’s Thillu Mullu was as much an achievement as Bala’s Pithamagan.

The title — Rendavathu Padam — doesn’t quite reflect what the film is about, right?

I come from an ad background. The title of a campaign is usually the first step towards marketing it. I felt that Rendavathu Padam was cheeky and summarised the spirit of the story. I believe it’s important not to mislead people with titles.

You’re a new age director who hasn’t assisted established directors, as is usually the norm.

There are plenty of ways to learn filmmaking today. You can make short films with digital cameras.

You can learn about blocking shots, about writing films… Assisting a director isn’t mandatory anymore. However, you must be prepared for the politics of the industry, and be able to handle problems tactfully. I learned this on the job and paid dearly for it. Hailing from a corporate culture, I thought everybody would meet deadlines. I wasn’t ready for the shocks. I’m still learning.

Amid all this, you’ve managed to write a song ‘Yolo’ in Anegan.

Harris Jayaraj, the composer of Anegan, knows me from our Minnale days… I’d written ‘Maddy Maddy’ in that film.

Wait. ‘This guy is on some fire. Object of desire…” You wrote that?

( Laughs) Hey, I wasn’t even 20 when I wrote that! So, cut me some slack.

Do you think you could ever pull off an utterly serious film?

I’ve always wanted to make one about depression. In our society, going to a psychiatrist is considered taboo. I’m amazed that so many people are affected by it and yet nobody really talks about it. People in the West flaunt their shrinks like they do their cars.

And you think you could resist the temptation to make jokes in such a film?

( Takes a long pause) To be honest, I don’t know really. But it’s got to be a serious film, right? So, yeah, I guess. In any case, I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to making it.

Considering you’ve got another comedy waiting for release, surely, you’re now further away from making serious films?

That’s true. But honestly, I don’t lose sleep over it. I’m at home making funny films.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 3:33:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/funny-once-more/article6688970.ece

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