CS Amudhan: We are not trolls

Director CS Amudhan, in this conversation with me about Tamizh Padam 2, responds to some popular notions about his upcoming sequel, while emphasising the importance of irreverence in today’s social climate

CS Amudhan returns to filmmaking after eight years with the sequel to his debut, Tamizh Padam. It isn’t by design though, given he made another film in between, Rendaavadhu Padam, which looks to have been shelved. Admittedly, he didn’t want to follow up Tamizh Padam with another spoof film, but the passage of time in between, he says, got him excited about working on its sequel. Here, he answers some common impressions about Tamizh Padam 2, often with unexpectedly serious answers.

Notion 1: Tamizh Padam 2 can only be enjoyed by those with an extensive knowledge of Tamil cinema.

Not at all. Shiva’s mere presence is enough to have you laughing. And in any case, we only draw from iconic, memorable moments from Tamil cinema that almost everyone is usually aware of.

2. The objective of Tamizh Padam 2 is to troll celebrities.

I find people using words like ‘bangam’, troll, and ‘kalaai’ in talking about this film. Some seem to believe that the film is just a collection of memes. I reject such conclusions. Our objective is to make people laugh, and to that effect, we are picking well-known moments from Tamil cinema mainly. It’s not about targetting a few actors. Say, if within the context of TP2’s story, we need a climax fight sequence, we immediately look for the most recent hit fight sequence. If it stars an actor like Ajith, so be it. We have no other motive. Everyone is fair game.

3. Such films result in backlash from the actors whose films have been spoofed.

After Tamizh Padam got released, I didn’t get any calls from industry people to convey that they were offended. Of course, I have a cynical view of why that may have happened. The audience liked that film a lot, and obviously, you don’t want to take on the audience. Should Tamizh Padam 2 not do well, I think we’ll be in trouble.

Actually, I do remember getting a call from one person – who I can’t name for obvious reasons. The person conveyed disappointment that we had revealed how train scenes are shot. But such revealing of filmmaking techniques was done even in a film like Server Sundaram (1964). Films like Tamizh Padam are important because it shows the importance of being unafraid in society. Today, people are frightened to ask questions for fear of backlash. But we want to show that nobody will beat you up. Prachanai aagaadhu.

4. Tamizh Padam and its sequel are spoof films.

The films have spoof elements, but they should actually be called farcical films. Spoof is when you faithfully recreate the original scene – like in Lollu Sabha — to comedic effect. This is just a part of the Tamizh Padam films. In the first film, for instance, in almost 50 scenes in the second half, do you know that there was just one spoof scene? But it’s hard for me to educate people about what a farcical film is. So I find it easier to let them call it a spoof.

5. It’s easy to write films like Tamizh Padam 2.

It actually is. (Laughs) For me, anyway. When it comes to this genre, where I can write 10 scenes in an hour, others struggle to write even one. Perhaps the reverse will happen when I begin writing a serious film.

6. Shiva is the only actor today who can do justice to starring in a film like Tamizh Padam 2.

This could well be true. I mean, think about it. Which other actor can do such a film convincingly? It’s usual for directors to claim that only the hero they have used could have done it, but in the case of Tamizh Padam and its sequel, this is actually true. Shiva and I complement each other really well. Also, his baby face makes it very hard to get too angry at him.

7. It’s become more difficult to write a spoof today than it was eight years ago, when Tamizh Padam got released.

On the contrary, it’s become easier. With Tamizh Padam, we had to really hunt for scenes to make jokes out of. But these days, every Friday brings us a gold mine.

8. The jokes in Tamizh Padam had to be tempered to get a U certificate.

What we are doing with these films isn’t a censor risk. The censor board is mostly concerned about violence and sex, and we have neither. Sure, with the occasional scene, the officials get worried that we are hitting too close to the bone. Also, the occasional swear word gets muted, but I don’t mind that at all.

9. In spoofing scenes, it’s quite hard to recreate the setting of the original film.

We don’t really look to recreate scenes too faithfully. We know when to stop. For example, we know we can’t afford to set a scene in a ship. Instead, we set it in Binny Mills. It’s not just about the sets, of course. It’s also about other elements like background music. Having Sashi (Sashikanth of Y Not Studios) as the producer helped us here, as we could use the original background score of a couple of films he has produced. It’s great to have the backing of a producer like Sashi, who isn’t worried about the prospect of offended actors refusing to do films with him. He believes in treating each project separately. Perhaps it’s that very fear that has stopped any other filmmaker from making a film like Tamizh Padam in the last eight years.

10. Comedy may be serious business, but directors who make comedies aren’t taken seriously.

This is true, and I have no interest in fighting this. It does rankle me, but not so much that I let it get into my head. If the industry and fans believe that I should make a serious film to get taken seriously as a filmmaker, so be it. In any case, I can’t be making spoofs all the time. I’ve signed two more films – an utterly serious film without a single joke, and a commercial potboiler. It will be a challenge to get people to the theatres given what they expect from me, but these are films I want to make, and I will.

This interview was written for Cinema Express, the cinema division of The New Indian Express. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to its page if you’d like to share it.

 

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