Movies are not conceived in isolation. Every aspiring director in Tamil cinema today will harbour memories of watching a Nayagan or a 16 Vayadhiniley on screen; every young actor will speak of how Kamal Haasan and Sivaji Ganesan inspired them; and every aspiring music director will have a favourite Ilaiyaraaja song. Each week, Silverscreen talks to a different celebrity to find the sparks that triggered their creativity – the films, the music, the writing, the photographs and the locations.
Madhan Karky likes to keep things simple. He doesn’t just talk, he explains. Every little thing.
And that’s also where he finds inspiration from.
The seemingly trivial things that we often take for granted, but cannot do without.
Karky loves observing people. “Real people, their shades, and their lives inspire me. They need not always be people I know. I used to do a lot of my writing in coffee shops.”
One morning at Barista, his favourite haunt in Besant Nagar, Karky witnessed something unforgettable “A couple was meeting for the very first time. They were sitting at a table next to mine. The girl wanted to know how the guy seemed to have so much hair on his head in his Facebook profile picture. He seemed a little embarrassed, but brushed it off by telling her that the photo was taken a long time ago. And on the same day, in the evening, another couple walked in and took the same table. They were silent for a very long time. The girl had tears in her eyes; it was like she could break down any moment. She didn’t say a word; she simply gazed at the sea. After some time, she took a phone out of her bag and threw it down. She said ‘that’s it’, and simply walked away. The guy just sat there as though nothing had happened. He didn’t even pick up the pieces of the phone that lay scattered on the floor.”
These incidents left an indelible mark on him “So in just one day, I witnessed a first meeting and also another one which was probably the last. I can’t really tell you how this affected me, but it left an impact. The whole world is full of different love stories. When you see these things, you realize how one moment can change your life.”
When he was writing dialogues for Baahubali, Game of Thrones served as a huge inspiration, Karky claims, “The series is just mind-blowing. I love the way the characters are built. The dialogues bring out the core of each character and they have so much depth, you know. It helped me understand characters better and it also helped me bring out the essence of each character. Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage is my favourite. I like the character’s philosophy the most; it’s mind-blowing really.”
“I follow random pages and people on Twitter. I try to learn more about things that don’t interest me much. Sometimes things you have no idea about have a unique way of surprising you. For instance, I came across an article about animals and their unique characteristics in a science journal I was reading. I thought it would be nice to use these facts in a song. So I ended up using them in the back drop of a love song in Idhu Namma Aalu. They’re not direct, but I’ve used them subtly. This kind of reading really helps. It’s fascinating.”
4. Hiking / Travelling
“Once every two months, I trek with my friends and family. We go on a one or two-day trek to Nagalapuram or some other hill station. It’s always wonderful to connect with nature. It’s a refreshing change to the fast-paced city life.”
Karky also travels a lot. “Every year, I take a month off from work and travel with my family. We visit a country we’ve never been to before. We don’t go there like a tourist. We explore the place, live with the locals, get to know their culture and adapt to their lifestyle. Recently, when we went to the USA, we stayed in the house of locals; we ate with them and observed their lifestyle. We also make it a point to either walk to places or take the public transport. The road ahead is so much more beautiful that way.”
Madhan Karky’s son, Haiku, is the reason for the twinkle in his eyes; together, they create, explore, learn and have fun. “My son has been a major inspiration to me. He is intelligent, he has an inquisitive mind, and I love seeing the world through his eyes. I have had many ‘sharpening the saw’ moments with him, if you know what I mean.”