About nine years ago, Bramma, then 29, was reading Ambai’s short story Vellippadu. Somewhere in the narrative was a mention of how many dosais women make in their lifetime. He moved on to other books, a National Award-winning movie Kutram Kadithal, and started working on his next, a women-centric film. That was when the dosais floated out of the recesses of his memory.
The teaser for Magalir Mattum struck a chord with most women, and men too. Social media was full of photos of men making dosais for their wives. The film’s producer, actor Suriya, made one for his wife Jyothika, the star of the movie.
“Even today, I get goosebumps when I think of how something I read years ago stayed alive in the mind and emerged out of hibernation when I needed it the most,” says Bramma.
If Kutram Kadithal was a raw take on the education system, guilt, love and human emotions, and starred unfamiliar faces, Magalir Mattum’s scope is vast. “This is a bigger palette and I’m working with actors such as Jyothika, Bhanupriya, Saranya, Urvashi and Nasser. It promised learning, and I jumped at the opportunity,” says Bramma.
“As a director, it was a great learning to extract performances from actors of their calibre, to direct a movie where the stars are as important as the story and characters… If the story drove Kutram Kadithal, Magalir Mattum is about its characters, and I had to ensure that while the personality of the actors was present, it did not overshadow the characters. So, yes, Jo brings her brand of flair to play Prabhavathi, but she stays true to the character.”
Bramma says the dosai teaser showed him a mirror to his life too. “I would wonder why my mother and wife asked if I wanted another dosa; why could they not make it? Now, I know better.”
Stating that Magalir Mattum is a feel-good film that he wants people to celebrate, Bramma says he’s waiting for the audience reaction. “As a director, I’ve watched the film about 200-300 times. I’m now waiting for the other perspectives that come my way.”
The director is also clear that he’s here to experiment before he decides what he does best. “In my next two or three films, I wish to explores genres. I feel I can do comedy, action, romance… and then take a call on what really drives me.”
Ask him how easy it was to direct veteran actors, and Bramma says that because they were a part of his childhood, he went to the sets as a fanboy. “But, they are such disciplined professionals, they allowed me to be a director, and waited for instructions. It was a joy to see them emote, infuse life into their characters, and take the scene forward. Now that the film is ready, I’m back in fanboy mode,” he laughs
If Bramma wrote Kutram Kadithal in his house, and Magalir Mattum at home and in Yercaud and Bengaluru, his next film will see the director travel to a place, imbibe its spirit and then write. “With my first two movies, the story was inside me and was raring to be written. For the third, I’ll wait to absorb experiences and allow them to dictate my story. I’m in talks with a few people. I can travel in three or four directions, but am yet to decide where I’m actually heading,” he says.
After Magalir Mattum’s theatrical release, the team does plan to do the rounds of the festival circuit. “Probably, Indian and Asian festivals,” says Bramma.
And then, once he feels the urge, the director wants to direct some short films. “Short films are like short stories. I’d love to work on some. In fact, I’d like to experiment with every format of filmmaking.”
It was this need to be different that saw the Magalir Mattum team launch comics in Tamil and Tanglish that spoke about women’s rights, the life they lead, and what marriage does. “The idea was to get people talking about issues they normally did not. And once you watch the movie, you will start recollecting the characters in the comics,” says Bramma.
Magalir Mattum is slated to released on 15 September. And so, we wait. While counting dosais.
The interview was published on August 17 first.