A tale of talent triumphing over treachery or hardwork scoring over hatred? Whatever you choose to call it, one thing is certain about director Karunakaran's past. His is a story meant to inspire — especially those who have given up hope after being repeatedly defeated by fate.
“I had been removed from the unit of a film that was being helmed by a successful director. Heartbroken, I was contemplating suicide. I felt worthless, especially after slogging it out for 10 years to make it big in the industry,” begins Karunakaran, who is today a very successful and respected director.
A conversation he then had with director Sasi of Poo fame changed the course of his life.
“Sasi chided me when he got to know I had contemplated suicide. He pointed out that my future did not depend on a director but on the people and that I should prove myself to them. He did not stop with advising me, but also introduced me to director Kathir, under whom he was working as an assistant. I joined as a clap assistant there for the film ‘Kadhal Desam,' recalls Karunakaran.
It's said that when a man is determined to do something, nothing can stop him. Karunakaran was no different. The man was so swift to learn about filmmaking and so eager to excel that he soon earned the admiration of his crew and director.
“Every day, I would closely observe all that Kathir had to teach. A great man, he is completely selfless. It's thanks to him and friends like Sasi and Stanley I have reached where I am now. I joined as a clap assistant, but by the time the movie was wrapped up, I became the co-director.”
That was just the beginning of good things to come.
“After the release of Kadhal Desam , I set out to make my first film, which again proved to be a big challenge. I saw the picture of a person who I thought would be apt for the lead and later realised he was Pawan Kalyan. It took me seven months to get across to him, but once I did, there was no looking back,” says Karunakaran, smiling.
His first film Tholi Prema , featuring Pawan Kalyan, was a blockbuster. More importantly, it won the national award for the best feature film in Telugu. Ever since, he has made several winners in Telugu such as Vasu, Balu ABCDEFG, Happy, UIlasanga Utsahanga and Darling.
Now, 13 years after setting out from Tamil Nadu, Karunakaran is returning with his first Tamil film YenEndral Kadhal Enben which is being simultaneously made in Telugu as Endhukante Premanta .
The film, featuring Telugu star Ram and Tamannaah in the lead, is a romantic comedy.
Says Karunakaran, “Ram plays a Chennai-based boy who enjoys excessive freedom and Tamannaah, the daughter of an Indian ambassador in a foreign country, who has no freedom whatsoever. Both meet under strange circumstances and fall in love.”
The director is forthright. “I won't claim I have made a path-breaking film. All I say is: My film will be refreshing and the narration, interesting.”