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Meyaadha Maan director Rathna Kumar: I wouldn’t call releasing a film along with Mersal a gamble

Meyaadha Maan director Rathna Kumar has a sense of humour that leaves you in splits, which is reflected in his debut movie. He speaks about his experience in this exclusive chat with Hindustan Times.

regional movies Updated: Nov 01, 2017 14:03 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Priyanka Sundar
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Meyaadha Maan,Meyaadha Maan movie,Rathna Kumar
Director Rathna Kumar with Karthik Subbaraj (left) and actor Vaibhav (right).

Meyaadha Maan, literally translates to ‘a deer that doesn’t graze’. In the film, the leading man, Idhayam Murali, played by Vaibhav, doesn’t confess his feelings to the girl he likes. See the connection? The man behind this snarky humour is Rathna Kumar, the debutant director who adapted his short film Madhu for the silver screen.

Meyaadha Maan released on October 18 alongside the blockbuster of the season, Mersal. Produced by Karthik Subbaraj under Stone Bench Creations, this is his debut production venture.

In this exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, Director Rathna Kumar talks to us about the beginning. It was not what Rathna Kumar had expected. He had a different script for his first feature, but producers seemed to enjoy Madhu more. He ran around for almost a year and a half trying to find a producer and as fate would have it, he ended up at Karthik Subbaraj’s office and finally decided to adapt the short film.

“I produced Madhu, and directed the film. When it was released, it was appreciated by the younger college-going audience and it was made specifically to be used for my portfolio. I did not intend to make it a feature, but it happened,” he said.

Interestingly, Madhu was a part of the anthology called Bench Talkies, which was produced by Karthik Subbaraj. The film was also released on the silver screen. This released along with a huge film like Mersal for Diwali. It has worked for them, but didn’t they initially think it was too much of a gamble?

“I wouldn’t call it a gamble. Any festival season, there is a big movie, and that was Mersal. Crowds throng the theaters to watch this film and people who do not get tickets choose the next option. Such crowd for two days will help small budget film collect enough at the box office to break even,” he explained.

Meyaadha Maan is most appreciated for its humour. From the proposal style, to drunk Murali’s conversation with the dog, it connects with the audience. It probably worked so well because Rathna himself has a great sense of humour. Can you think of someone else who would have tried to tell a story of a character like ‘Idhayam’ Murali? Why did he chose to do that with his character? “Murali’s 1991 film Idhayam was about one-side love, and Murali in my film is a man who cannot confess his feelings. I felt that many movies connect more to Vasantha Maligai and such films, so I tried this.”

A still from the sets of Meyaadha Maan.

Did he ever consider retaining actors who had worked with him on his short film? He answered, “There are many reasons why we don’t have the same actors. The leading female actor is not interested in working on feature films and she is currently a corporate employee. I had written the first draft of Meyaadha Maan with Sananth, the actor who worked on Madhu. I also made sure that it suited a new face. It just didn’t happen. Vivek Prasanna, who did the role of the friend in Meyaadha Maan did the same role in Madhu too. So, it was mostly how things worked out.”

So how did casting happen, especially choosing a well-known television serial actor to do a leading role in film. “Honestly, we had approached Sai Pallavi for the film initially. However she did not feel comfortable with maturity of the role, and she did not want do it. We had wanted her to play the role because she has already got that girl-next-door image with the audience. After she rejected, we decided to cast a new face. Priya Bhavani Shankar still denies it, but we got a mail from her side. When we did the screen test, it worked and her image worked for us,” he explained.

After the release of the film, the audience have come to love Indhuja, the actor who plays the role of Murali’s sister. Interestingly, she was the last actor to be finalised. “I needed someone who could do the role in a balanced way and connect with Vaibhav. She shouldn’t overshadow the girl he is in love with either and the bond should be real enough to remind people of their sisters. Indhuja suited it well,” he said.

The other interesting aspect of the film is the address song. A TASMAC (government-aided liquor vend) song, especially after breakup or fight with girlfriends. But to break the monotony, Ratha Kumar did something interesting. He recalled, “When I had written the film, the cliched bar song situation happened, and inserting a song there is a done-and-dusted formula. So, I wanted to break that. Even the way the song was composed was quite interesting. We told Santhosh (Narayanan) what we wanted and he asked for the lyrics. On WhatsApp, I sent the lyrics and it worked.”

The movie has got a great response from the audience. Enough to add shows in theatres in Tamil Nadu, across the country and other countries like Malaysia and Singapore too. People have especially credited the director for the climax and the slice of life like character of the film. Why does Rathna Kumar think the audience liked his film? “Probably because they can connect to it as it real. It could also be because of the way I presented the film at the audio launch. This film is not something that you make time to watch, it is a movie that you watch when you have the time.”

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First Published: Nov 01, 2017 14:03 IST