Satish Kumar, the producer of Taramani , says that the film is nothing like the previous films director Ram has made— Kattradhu Thamizh and Thanga Meengal that both had a maladjusted protagonist. “This won’t be as extreme,” he says. “It is a trendy film.” Taramani ’s teaser, released last week, suggests that it is a light-hearted take on modern romance. “Many couples today separate over really small issues. The film talks about how important it is to not blow insignificant issues out of proportion.”
Over the years, Satish has built a reputation for producing profitable low-budget films like Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom , Aarohanam , Thanga Meengal and Kuttram Kadithal. “This strategy has served us well. Small films often make tidy profits, and even if they fail, we can break even easily.” Well, what if he had 50 crore? “If I did, I’d make 15 good, low-budget films.”
But Taramani , which has been in production for two years, isn’t really a small film. “Low-budget films are those that cost less than Rs. 3 crore. Taramani cost more, and we’ve shot for more than 100 days.” Satish doesn’t reveal the budget, but talks about the lavish spending on one song. “We have shot it entirely in the sea, and have spent at least 15 days on it.”
Satish decided to produce Taramani even before work on Thanga Meengal was complete. “I liked Ram’s one-liner a lot, and we immediately set out to convince Andrea to play the female lead.” She agreed, but that’s also partly why the film has taken so long—she had already committed to several projects, including Vishwaroopam . “She was the biggest member of our cast, and was extremely co-operative. So, we were happy to wait.”
Satish concedes that such delays take a toll on the producer. “I know I have the most stressful job in Tamil cinema.” But he says his passion for good cinema makes it worthwhile. Changing trends have also made it easier. “My YouTube channel brings in about Rs. 1.5 lakh every month.
There’s revenue to be made by telecasting films on the web for NRIs. I also own an audio channel that makes good money. We don’t just have to rely on films doing well any more.”
The problem isn’t lack of revenue; it is lack of recognition. When he learned that the Pondicherry Government chose Kuttram Kadithal for the Best Film last year, it felt bittersweet—the award was only for the director. It was the same the previous year when the Pondicherry Government chose Thanga Meengal for the same award. Satish has submitted a petition to Pondicherry’s Chief Minister about this. “It’s important that producers get recognised. That’s how we will get motivated to make better films.”