Report by Priya Saravana
When you have an event on a Saturday, and the invite says “press meet followed by delicious lunch”, it sets off all kind of warning bells. And throw in the fact that the movie’s star cast is practically no “star” yet, and the movie is called Joker, you are just dragging yourself to the event, preparing yourself for the snooze fest. But I was in for a surprise.
As I entered Prasad Labs, the venue, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a mellifluous song –Chellama from Joker – playing in the background. The song set a nice tone for the event, and also, it assuaged my doubts about the evening.
The young and energetic team of Joker entered the hall and took their seats. Directed by Raju Murugan, the movie, which is a political drama, has Guru Somasundaram and debutante actresses Ramya Pandian and Gayathri Krishna in the lead roles. The movie is produced by Dream warriors and and the music is by Sean Roldan.
First from the cast, Gayathri Krishna addressed the crowd. Although Joker is her second movie, it is her first release. Exuding calm confidence, usually unseen in a debutante, the actress spoke about her character, Isai, a bold and strong woman. “My character is someone who breaks the shackles of the society and fights for change”, said the actress.
Director Raju Murugan said that Tamil cinema has rarely explored the genre of political drama. “The Tamil industry itself offers a very restrained atmosphere for political cinemas. I hope to break this restraint with my attempt”, he said. Comparing Guru Somasundaram to the likes of Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, he said that he hopes Guru would also carve a nice for himself in the industry. The director added that almost everyone who worked in the movie shared a “gypsy-like” state of mind.
Famous Tamil Writer Bhava Chelladurai addressed the crowd next. He was all praises for the crew of Joker, which he described as a ‘disciplined team’. “The crew followed a strenuous schedule to pull off the film. He also appreciated the director’s efforts to register a landscape that very few has brought into in Tamil cinema. “Tamil films are always set in places like Chennai, Thanjavur and Madurai . Other places are completely ignored in the Tamil cinemascape”, he said. “Joker, which is set in Dharmapuri, captures the very essence of the city and the people. From their dressing to even the yellow tinge on their teeth, which is caused by the Dharmapuri water, the director has paid minute attention to the details. Joker takes us into the heart of life in Dharmapuri and the kind of poverty rampant not just in Tamil Nadu, but all over India.”
Veteran theatre artist Mu.Ramaswamy Aiyya plays an important role in the film. With a commanding body-language and a bold voice, befitting a theatre artist, he spoke about his experience of working in Joker. “Joker is the first movie that I can proudly call “my film”, he said. “The movie came at a time when I was feeling suffocated in my own life. This movie gave me a channel to release all my internal angst”, the actor said.
Actor Guru Sumasundaram had a child-like quality to him when he addressed the crowd. He started with a couple of anecdotes that he seemed to genuinely relish recalling. Although the audience failed to share his amusement. The wait for the movie’s release is very similar to what one might experiment after writing the board exams. Actress Ramya Pandian called the movie not just political, but also poetic.
During the question and answer session that followed, the director was asked how the movie, which handles a sensitive political subject, got a ‘U’ certificate from the censor board. Raju Murugan said that he himself was surprised by the censor board’s decision to clear the movie with a U certificate. Apparently, the team had prepared for battling it out with the censor board as they were sure that the movie would run into trouble. But thankfully, the censor board cleared the movie with a few minor cuts.
No matter how bizarre or irrelevant the question maybe, throw in a superstar reference and the entire gathering comes alive in response. A reporter asked the movie crew if the poster, where the actor is seen wearing a coat, has any connection to superstar wearing a coat in Kabali. Amidst hoots and cheers for Kabali, the director laughed it off saying that’s a “superstar coat” this is just a “poor coat”.