Karthik Subbaraj and Keerthy Suresh on Penguin, its digital release, and bringing challenging characters to life

Keerthy Suresh's Penguin is the second big direct OTT release this year in Tamil cinema after Jyotika Ponmagal Vandhal.

Raja Sekar June 17, 2020 15:55:40 IST
Karthik Subbaraj and Keerthy Suresh on Penguin, its digital release, and bringing challenging characters to life

Keerthy Suresh's Penguin is the second big direct OTT release this year in Tamil cinema after Jyotika Ponmagal Vandhal.

The film's producer Karthik Subbaraj, director Eashvar Karthic, and actress Keerthy Suresh interacted with the media over a virtual chat session recently. "We made Penguin only for theater-going audiences. As a filmmaker and producer, I always prefer to watch films in the theater because the magic is meant to be witnessed only on a big screen with a proper sound system and projection. Even with a proper theatrical release, only a few theaters are equipped with the technology that supports our creative output. With OTT release, a few might watch our film on their mobile phones too and not all the audiences have proper sound systems at their residences. But the reach is huge. I can also assure you that this is an alternative plan during this pandemic," says director Karthik Subbaraj, one of the producers of the film.

"Most of my colleagues don't even have film releases during the pandemic. In a way, I'm lucky because Penguin has found its way to reach the audience. I had planned to watch the film along with a packed crowd but that can't be done now. However, more people will be watching my film. In the theatrical release, you have box office collections to gauge success. In OTT, the number of views and reviews would tell us the overall reception," says Keerthy who also reveals that she keeps herself updated about the box office collections and the overall business of her films.

"OTT will also break the language barrier. I was told that Penguin can be watched across the world so the reach is definitely massive," she adds.

Karthik Subbaraj and Keerthy Suresh on Penguin its digital release and bringing challenging characters to life

Keerthy Suresh in a still from Penguin. YouTube

Debutant Eashvar Karthic says he completed the shoot in thirty-six days. "We shot the entire film in thirty-six days. From the trailer, people think that Penguin is yet another murder mystery thriller. A few have even commented that the film has traces of Raatchasan and Ponmagal Vandhal. Compared to these films, Penguin will have an underlying emotional current. The film talks about the journey of a mother to find her child and the extreme steps she takes," says Eashvar who had his own doubts on whether Keerthy would agree to play a mother as she is just twenty-seven and has been pairing opposite superstars in the industry.

"I was glued by the narration of Eashvar. I'm not only playing a mother in the film, but she is also pregnant so the role was even more challenging. Though Mahanati was a proper female-centric film, it wasn't a direct Tamil film so when I was looking for the right project in Tamil, Eashvar came up with this script and I completely loved it. Only during interviews, I realised that playing a pregnant woman is a big deal," exclaims Keerthy.

When asked the actress about the homework she has done to get into the skin of the character, Keerthy says "I'm not the person who watches films to get inspired and perform. Since the film is about a pregnant woman, I asked my mom about the posture I've to sit, stand, and walk. All these things are new to me. Besides my mom, Eashvar was particular about his requirement. He penned the script when his wife was pregnant. Also, he got inspired by the search of a real-life pregnant woman for her child on a train. The script itself had all the necessary details for my role."

"But there was a problem. Just when I reduced my weight, Eashvar wanted me to bulk up as I play a pregnant woman in the film. However, with a few tricks, guess I've justified the role offered to me," laughs Keerthy.

Karthik Subbaraj is one of the leading filmmakers in Tamil cinema; his last film was Petta had Superstar Rajinikanth, his ongoing film Jagame Thanthiram has Dhanush and his upcoming film is with Vikram. "In my production ventures, I only look for good scripts. As soon as I read Eshvar's script, loved his writing, and now, after watching the film, the final output exceeded my expectations," says Subbaraj.

When asked whether he would interfere in the scripting process, "I only suggest a few changes to the directors but they are free to take the final call," says the Petta filmmaker.

Keerthy adds, "Mahanati also helped me to choose the right scripts. Even in mainstream commercial films, I'm now looking for roles with a good scope to perform. Having said that I personally feel female-centric and hero oriented films should coexist. As an actress, I want to explore all genres."

Both Keerthy and director Eashvar that the film was physically demanding. "While playing a pregnant woman, I couldn't eat and drink as I like. I'd to be always conscious of my body language. As the film is set in Kodaikanal, we had to shot the scenes at the mercy of the natural light," says Keerthy.

While Keerthy remains tight-lipped about her upcoming biggie Annaatthe with Rajinikanth, Karthik Subbaraj spilled the beans about his upcoming action thriller with Tamil superstar Vikram and his son Dhruv. "Yes, we recently met and finalised the project. While writing the script, I had both Vikram and Dhruv in mind. When I narrated the gist, both of them loved it. The script is at the initial stage, I haven't locked it yet," signs off Karthik Subbaraj.

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