Reporting by Janani K; Photos by Sriram Narasimhan. Photos from the press meet are below the report.
Before the Kathakali press meet could officially begin, there was some chaos. One journalist, with a reputation for asking scandalous questions, was arguing with Vishal about the Producers Council rule, which states that only selected media can enter a press meet. Vishal, who is also the General Secretary of the Nadigar Sangam, put on his diplomat hat. After listening to the journalist, he called T Siva to double check. When T Siva reiterated that “the rule stays,” Vishal said with a conciliatory air, “As an actor, I would want each and every media-person at my press meet. But, as a General Secretary, I have to cooperate with other bodies of the film industry.”
This wasn’t the only controversy at the event. When director Pandiraj was gearing up to address the gathering, a journalist asked, “Are you Pandiraj or Pandiyaraj?” Pandiraj tried to brush off the question with an amused response, “Enna inniki ellarum semma form la irukeenga pola? (Looks like you are all in super good form?)” It wasn’t much to the journalist’s liking, who persisted with his query.
Eventually, Pandiraj was given an opportunity to begin his speech. After watching Kathakali’s trailer, everyone had one common response: “This film doesn’t have Pandiraj’s touch.” Pandiraj, who is known for directing feel-good films, had anticipated the question. He said, “Many people who have seen the film said that Kathakali did not look like any of my household films. After Pasanga and Pasanga 2‘s success, I was branded the ‘Pasanga’ director. I wanted to change that tag, and hence Kathakali happened. Kathakali is based on a true story that happened in my friend’s life. We shot this film in a period of 65 days.”
Talking about how he got Vishal on board, Pandiraj said, “I have met him so many times through director Suseenthiran. One day, I went to narrate two stories to him. The story which I began to narrate was an action film, and I was confident that Vishal would definitely pick that film. Vishal liked the storyline. I told him that I had a second script, thinking he wouldn’t be interested in the second one. But, he surprised me. He was impressed with the second script.”
Kathakali is a traditional dance form in Kerala. Quiz him about the title, and he says, “The film does not have any relation with the art form. We have just taken its metaphorical meaning. Speaking about the film, Vishal said, “We planned to name the film ‘Idi Minnal Mazhai’, since mazhai (rain) plays a major role in the film. Later, we chose ‘Kathakali’ because of the twists and turns in the second half. After listening to the script, I decided not to include any songs in the second half as it would disrupt the pace of the film. In fact, this is a first for me, to have a film with no songs in the second half. Kathakali‘s story is about the incidents that occur after one horrendous phone call.”
Vishal, who has had a successful 2015, said that what drew him to Kathakali was its down-to-earth script. He also complemented Hip Hop Adhi’s re-recording and the music in Kathakali. He said, “I went to Adhi and asked him to compose great BGMs that would go well with the pace of Kathakali. He has delivered his best. The two songs in Kathakali will showcase only half his talent. The rest of his talent will be known to the world through his re-recording.” Hip Hop Adhi added, “I had initially composed four songs before seeing the movie. After watching the movie, I discarded those songs and began afresh. My re-recording in the second half will definitely enhance the film’s pace.”
Kathakali marks the first collaboration between Vishal and Karunas. Although, the two were so busy during shoots that they spent most of their non-shooting time on the phone. Vishal also said that the film planned for the Nadigar Sangam building would be made, with a multi-star cast of Arya, Jiiva, Karthi, Vishal, and Jayam Ravi. The team is currently on the lookout for a director.
On the subject of Radhika’s tweet about the word ‘condom’ in the trailer, Vishal said, “Asking for a condom is not offensive. If people had found it offensive, the censor board wouldn’t have allowed it in the first place. There is something called sex education and it is quite funny to respond to such questions.”