Kaali: Director Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi says 'consciously or unconsciously, I end up writing commercially viable stories'
Nearly five years since the release of her maiden film Vanakkam Chennai, filmmaker Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi is ready with her sophomore Tamil directorial Kaali,
Nearly five years since the release of her maiden film Vanakkam Chennai, filmmaker Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi is ready with her sophomore Tamil directorial Kaali, with composer-actor Vijay Antony, in the titular role. As the makers gear up for a March release, Firstpost caught up with Kiruthiga for an exclusive chat on the film and the process of finding her space in an overcrowded, male-dominated industry that purely functions on box-office returns.
Kiruthiga is the first female director to collaborate with Vijay Antony, who has also produced the film and composed its music. Recalling how the project materialised, she said: "I was on the lookout for a producer who’d be genuinely interested in my script. I was very clear on not getting caught up in a project that’d get dropped halfway. I came to know that Vinay Antony was looking for scripts so I approached him with two of mine. He really liked the second script. What I found refreshing about even pitching a story to him was the fact that he didn’t have any qualms that I’m a woman director. He was very focused on what I was going to narrate and whether it will suit him or not."
Kaali crushes the notion that Vijay Antony is only interested in dark subjects, says Kiruthiga, adding: "I really liked him in Pichaikkaran and Shaitan. People have told me he usually prefers dark subjects but he’s always looking to do something different. My film has action, drama and romance. You can go and watch it with your family and connect with it in different ways possible. All the complex relationships you find in real life will be there in Kaali. As a subject, it’ll make you rethink your relationship with your loved ones, since we take most relationships for granted."
The film features Vijay in multiple roles and Kiruthiga admits it was a challenge to showcase him in different dimensions. "It was quite challenging for both of us. The star cast that supports each role will differ. Even the tone and treatment will be different from one character to another. We planned everything in a way that it’ll be supportive of the fact that audiences will see him in multiple roles. Honestly, I don’t see it as different roles. I see it as different dimensions of Vijay’s characters and I prefer audiences seeing it that way," she said, emphasizing that she wants to prove herself as a commercially viable director with this project.
“Even though he made his debut late as an actor, Vijay Antony shot to fame quickly because he stuck to a certain kind of commercial formula that’s required for Tamil cinema. I’m also looking to find my place as a director. I didn’t want to deviate from that path and make a film that’s preachy and end my prospects as a filmmaker. You need to have box-office numbers to establish yourself as a director and I was quite clear about it. Being married to a producer (Udhayanidhi Stalin) and listening to him speak about box-office numbers and collections, consciously or unconsciously, I end up writing stories that need to be commercially viable. I believe Kaali is a project that will work on a commercial level,” she said, quoting the example of Sudha Kongara and her film Irudhi Suttru, which released in Hindi as Saala Khadoos.
Kiruthiga thoroughly enjoyed working with Vijay Antony and she describes the experience as “a cakewalk”. “Despite being the hero, producer and music director, he gave me a lot of freedom to call the shots. As an actor, he’d told me I could take as many takes as I want. I remember Vijay telling me that I could yell into the mic if I was not happy with a shot. As a composer, he gave me options wherever I requested for a different tune. He was very supportive in every role he played and that’s what made working with him such a memorable experience.”
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