Kabali director Pa Ranjith: 'Rajinikanth approved politics, dialogue, rhetoric in film'
In this exclusive interview, director Pa Ranjith talks to Firstpost about his superhit film Kabali, his star Rajinikanth, and more
As per the latest reports Kabali has made more than Rs 200 crore from ticket sales and is set to make history in Tamil cinema. But director Pa Ranjith is his usual calm self when you chat with him about the film and its success. In this exclusive interview with Firstpost, he talks about the film, the controversies around it and more:
This is not the usual Rajinikanth film. Were you very nervous before the release of Kabali?
Yes, I was. Everyone’s expectations were high and people expected the film to be like Baasha. And I knew it wasn’t. The day it released and people saw the film, I was relaxed.
There were negative reviews of the film.
Only some were negative. Most reviews were positive and people have appreciated the film. The movie is running houseful in many theatres and the people are going with their families to watch the film. They like it.
When you wrote the script initially was it about the oppression of a community — in this case Tamils in Malaysia?
Yes. The script I gave Rajini sir was the one which was made into the film. In fact, Rajini sir liked the script and it was after his approval that the entire project came together. All the politics, dialogues and rhetoric in the film had his approval. Rajini sir liked the film.
There was a controversy after the release that you were referring to the Dalits in the film.
My film does not refer to any particular caste or community — it only speaks about people who are marginalised and oppressed. This can be about any caste and community. I wanted to raise an important issue and I did it through this film.
Do you think this particular issue is important right now?
Yes, I do. Look at all the incidents happening around you. Look at what’s happening in society. Don’t you think this is an important issue that needs to be spoken about? Where is the equality in society? There has to be change in society and people have to talk about these issues.
Why did you cast Bollywood actress Radhika Apte for the role instead of a Tamil actress?
I like Radhika Apte and she is talented. Considering it was Rajini sir’s film I could have cast any top Bollywood actress for this role. But the role required someone who is a talented actress. And I felt she was apt for the role. But Dhansika and Riythvika are Tamil actresses.
Winston Chao was not a strong villain the film. Your take.
The role needed a Chinese actor and we cast him with the belief that he would be ideal. But I take your feedback.
Your third film was with Rajinikanth and it’s a big hit. People’s expectations from you have sky-rocketed.
I will continue to make the kind of films I believe in. It is only when you start looking at people’s expectations and tweaking your stories and scripts according to that that things will go wrong. Whether it was Attakathi or Madras or Kabali, I wrote scripts that I believed in. I haven’t changed my thoughts or style according to expectations. And I will continue the same way.
The fact that Rajinikanth’s fans didn’t get tickets on the first day of release was an issue.
Yes, when I went to Kasi theatre to watch the film on the first day there were fans who stopped me outside the theatre and asked me for tickets. I told them I myself don’t have tickets!
You have worked with music director Santhosh Narayanan for all your films. Is he going to be part of your next film too?
Yes, he will. He will be on this journey with me. We are good friends.
When are you starting your next project with Suriya?
I need to first look at all the feedback and see how and if I can improve my films. Post-that I will start working on my script. The story has not been finalised yet.
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