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Spoofing Tamil cinema in Tamizh Padam

Last updated on: February 24, 2010 20:43 IST

Spoofing Tamil cinema in Tamizh Padam

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Rajaneesh Vilakudy in Mumbai

The hero works 24/7 to solve the world's problems. His drooping shoulders carry the weight of India's economy. His heart beats only for the poor.

This evergreen Tamil hero has been given a fresh lease of life on celluloid in Tamizh Padam (Tamil Film).

Spoofing almost everyone in the Tamil industry -- from Rajnikanth to Mani Ratnam to Vijay to Shankar, the film is creating ripples across Tamil Nadu. And it has managed to create a flutter without ruffling the feathers of the high-flying actors.

Produced by Union Minister Azhagiri's son Dayanidhi, the film has been directed by top advertising professional C S Amudhan. He tells Rajaneesh Vilakudy how he pulled it off.

You have urged through your advertisements not to call up. After watching the film, it was irresistible not to.

(Chuckles) Thank You. Let us talk.


Image: The Tamizh Padam poster

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'Tamizh Padam script was ready three years ago'

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Your film has taken Tamil Nadu by surprise. When and how did this idea of a spoof crop up?

The script was ready three years ago. I kept jotting down whatever came to my mind. There was no particular idea of converting the scribbles into a film. Later, when I looked through the script, I sensed an opportunity to make a film. I finally took the plunge when a good producer came forward to make the film.

But there has to be an inspiration. Is it inspired by a Hollywood film or perhaps the MTV show, Fully Faltoo?

Frankly, there was no inspiration. I have seen some Hollywood spoofs and used to wonder why spoofs are not made in India. But that does not mean the idea came from there. I have not seen the MTV show you are talking about.


Image: A Tamizh Padam poster

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'I was spoofing films and cliches, not stars'

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You seem to have taken a critical look at Tamil cinema, an industry full of cliches.

There is no critical angle in the film. More than Hollywood, I feel Indian regional cinema has scope for spoof. Tamil, particularly, is cliche-ridden. This film is an out and out spoof -- no criticism was ever meant.

But if carefully sifted through, your film pokes fun at many elements prevalent in Tamil Nadu. In the opening scene, a child is administered cactus milk. Tamil Nadu is known for female infanticide.

I have made the film, now it is open to interpretation. But let me repeat I meant only comedy. I want the film to be a complete entertainer. As a director, it is not my job to change the world, or change the way things are. There are people from other spheres who can do that. My job is to entertain, and I guess I have been successful in that. The scene you are talking about is straight out of a film called Karuthamma.

Yes, agreed. But it's no joke making a Tamil spoof, where the stars have such a huge and passionate fan base. Were you ever worried about a backlash?

I would be lying if I said I was not worried. I was concerned only while we were shooting. Once the film released, I was sure fans would not have any bones to pick. I was spoofing films and the cliches -- not stars or directors.


Image: Cinematographer Nirav Shah and director C S Amudhan discuss a scene

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'I recreated every sequence, wanting people to identify the original scene'

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A powerful producer like the Chief Minister's grandson would have helped. No one could have protested even if they wanted.

Not exactly. As I have told you, this is not a spoof on a particular star or actor or director. It is a dig at the cliches or the system. Having said that, Dayanidhi has been a wonderful producer, giving me every freedom I wanted.

Rajnikanth and Vijay seem to have taken the brunt of the jokes.

Could be. But again, if you say their films have been spoofed, that means they are the most successful ones. When I recreated every sequence, I wanted people to easily identify the original scenes. That is why you feel some have taken the brunt and others haven't.

But some claim you have spared some actors and films.

It was not deliberate. If someone has been left out, that means they may not have had releases in the immediate past, which people would not be able to relate with instantly. People should recollect the original sequences - that was the only thing on my mind when I shot the film.


Image: The Tamizh Padam poster

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'Ajith's Asal has not affected Tamizh Padam's collections'

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Any feedback from the industry?

I got many calls, appreciating the effort. Bharatiraja said he liked the film. I cannot reveal what people said.

The audience response has been huge.

Yes, the response has been overwhelming -- be it in Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru or even the United States, where the film is a huge success. It's huge in Malaysia and Singapore too.

There is a trend in Tamil Nadu, where some films do very well in Chennai but not in the other major towns.

Yes. But that has not happened to Tamizh Padam. The film is working in B and C centres as well. Ajith's Asal released after that but it has not affected the film's box office collections.

The film's title could not have been better. Was it your idea?

No, my assistant came up with the title. We had the title Aracha Mavu in mind, but when he suggested the current one, I readily accepted.

What next? Any more spoofs?

Definitely not a spoof. It is too early to divulge details though I have two-three scripts ready.

The conversation is incomplete without mentioning two names: Cinematographer Nirav Shah and lead actor Shiva.

Nirav's contribution was immense, going beyond the realm of cinematography. His sense of humour and inputs have changed the film's tone. His innovative camerawork needs no praise; he is already been described as one of the best in the country.

I had two challenges when I cast Shiva. He should look credible as a hero, who does everything unthinkable. At the same time, he should make an ass of himself. Shiva was hugely successful in both ways.


Image: The Tamizh Padam poster

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