February 18 2019
Other directors steal from foreign films, I steal from my village, says Pandiraj
06 July 2018

Director Pandiraj gets ready with Karthi-starrer Kadai Kutty Singam, a film set in a milieu he is familiar with

It’s nearly a decade since the release of your first film Pasanga. But the films you made after that hardly resemble the artistic quality of that film...

One’s career doesn’t always go according to plan. After a point, you get swept away, based on how the wind blows. When I was making Pasanga, I never thought I’d make films with big heroes. I just wanted to make films comfortably. I was the guy who made films for ₹2 crore or less. But that changed with the success of Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga (KBKR).Heroes, production houses, technicians... they all wanted to work with me. I too realised I needed to make such films if I wanted to survive for long. I was able to support films like Moodar Koodam and Goli Soda because of KBKR. You need a lot more strength to keep making films like Pasanga.

Are you saying that you’re not creatively satisfied when you’re making a KBKR?

When I’m making a film like that, I’m thinking of my family, the producer, the distributor and their happiness. My creative happiness comes from films such as PasangaPasanga 2 and Marina. But that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with films like KBKR. Before I worked on that filmI had shifted from 33 different apartments in Chennai. It’s the film that gave me my own home and my in-laws the confidence that I can take care of my wife.

That’s a lot, given that my first salary was ₹5000. I studied only till Class XII... but that shouldn’t be the case with my children.

Does that mean you can go back to making those ₹2-crore films?

Certainly. I have plans to make several unconventional films and some of them need to have small budgets.

For instance, I want to make a film that’s just an hour and 15 minutes long, without songs or action scenes. I also want to make a movie that will have only an online release.

But there’s a catch to that; I can only make a small film parallel to a big-budget film. If I don’t, then I will be branded a ₹2-crore director again.

Where does Kadai Kutty Singam fit into this?

It’s a very real film for me, because it talks about people and situations I know in real life. Even though I’ve settled in Chennai, I keep travelling to my village every month. There are 30 characters in this film and most of them are based on people I have grown up with. Other directors steal scenes from foreign films, I steal scenes from my hometown (laughs).


Other directors steal from foreign films, I steal from my village, says Pandiraj

So, was the effort to recreate incidents that you observed back then?

Yes it was. That’s why I discouraged improvisation and changes, even in the dialogue modulation.

These scenes have played out in front of me in real, and I wanted that to be recreated exactly as I had seen it. So if I remember an incident because it made me tear up, I kept shooting that scene until I was brought to tears, even if that meant a dozen retakes.

What about the action and song sequences then?

It’s a commercial film, after all. Honestly, I’m bored on the sets when we’re shooting fights and songs. The only reason I still go to sets on those days is to ensure that the stuntmaster doesn’t go overboard. I don’t want cars flying in my films. I want them to be set in a milieu that I am familiar with.


Other directors steal from foreign films, I steal from my village, says Pandiraj

But you also made an urban film like Idhu Namma Aalu.

INA is a film that ended up becoming something very different from what it was intended to be. But I have to take the blame for that, just like how an actor gets credit for the success. It was a film that was far from my strengths. It was like a villager thinking he can play cricket just because he’s an expert at gilli danda.

In Kadai Kutty Singam, Karthi plays the role of a prosperous farmerIsn’t that a departure from the reality of our farmers in the State?

This is a criticism I know I will have to face. But I feel that farming needs to be shown in a positive light for youngsters to take it up. This is a story about a successful farmer, just like there are millionaire businessmen who might have started out with a potti kadai. Either ways, the film is more about family than farming.

I have heard that you have a quirk to how you are credited in a film...

Most of the films I have made come with a ‘written and directed by Pandiraj’ credit. But there are a few movies in which I prefer using the ‘A Pandiraj Film’ tag, because it has my signature on it. Kadai Kutty Singam is one such.



Related Stories