The Thoongaavanam audio launch at Sathyam Cinemas was nothing short of electric. The event hadn’t yet begun. There was a sound check. Suddenly, we got a glimpse of a totally different musical arrangement. The excitement levels, already high, doubled. We immediately knew we were in for something really exciting. Then came Madhushalini, first to arrive at the venue. Posing for cameras and chatting with journalists. And then, the crowd on the balcony erupted. Kamal Haasan had arrived. Behind him was Shruti Haasan, who excitedly waved at the gallery. Much to the happiness of the Ulaganayagan’s fans. Next came Dhanush. Dressed humbly in his trademark veshti. When he spoke to Kamal Haasan, he spoke with folded hands.
Later, Dhanush would say, “He asked me not to fold my hands, but I couldn’t help it. When I see him, my hands fold involuntarily.”
The second trailer of the film was overshadowed by the silhouette of someone eagerly recording it on their phone. Poor bloke. He obviously didn’t realise that the video was being published online at that very moment. This trailer was longer. More dialogues. More action. Best of all, more Kamal Haasan. Much to the delight of the audience. The single track was launched, featuring behind the scenes footage. It was quite a sight to see Kamal Haasan playing pranks on the other actors. The man, not the character, dancing and laughing.
Kamal Haasan and lyricist Vairamuthu’s friendship spans across decades. Today was another bright day for the two to shower praises on each other. Kamal Haasan said, “I still remember listening to Oru Ponmalai Pozhudhu at Ilaiyaraja’s studio. I listened to just one line from the song ‘Vaanam Enaku oru Bodhi Maram, Naalum enaku Adhu Seidhi Tharum’, and decided that I must work with him. That’s how Andhi Mazhai happened, and since then, his words have been raining on me.”
Vairamuthu was poetic in his praise. He said, “The song I wrote for Thoongavanam goes ‘Neeye Unakku Raja, Un Thalaiye Unakku Kireedam Thozha’. (You are your own king, your head is your crown, friend.) I wrote these lines with Kamal Haasan in mind.
He is 60 according to the calendar. But to us, he is still a 30 year old.”
A thrilled Shruti Haasan called both the song and trailer brilliant. And said she was very proud of her appa.
Vishal arrived a little late. And the noise levels skyrocketed. Chants of ‘Pandavar Ani-ke vetri’ (Victory for Pandavar Ani) interspersed with Sarathkumar Ozhiga (Down with Sarathkumar) rang through the hall. With Kamal Haasan extending his support to Vishal’s Pandavar Ani in the Nadigar Sangam elections, it looks like Vishal has become a favourite among Kamal Haasan fans. Kamal Haasan had to raise his hands to get the cheering to pipe down. Vishal said that the Nadigar Sangam issue had brought him closer to Kamal Haasan. He added that Kamal Haasan was an institution to younger actors.
So much so, that Kamal Haasan gives other actors a neck pain. Because he makes them look up to him.
Trisha said Kamal Haasan was one of the best personalities anyone could come across. Gautham Menon had two words to add – Thalaivan Irunkindran (The leader is here). In his turn, Dhanush said he longed to receive an award for acting from Kamal Haasan someday. Because, “Only then will I feel fully satisfied with my career.”
Ghibran said that he had introduced the ‘Glitch’ genre of music through this soundtrack. It’s a kind of sound that comes from the malfunctioning of audio recording devices.
It’s experimental, works with an aesthetics of failure. And it sounded fantastic.
Ghibran said he had brought it in at Kamal Haasan’s behest. Kamal Haasan later clarified that he couldn’t take credit for it, as it was Shruti Haasan who introduces him to different genres of music.
He said that Thoongavanam took 60 days to complete, because it was filmed in both Tamil and Telugu. “Each and every scene was filmed twice. Even scenes where policemen walk into a place, was shot twice, because uniforms in Tamil Nadu and Telangana differ,” he said. Drawing loud applause from the audience. He stressed on the importance of planning, for any film with a short schedule.
“Filmmaking is a team effort. From the light boys and cooks, to the producer. Even if one of them messes up, the whole team is affected.”
Kamal Haasan has never liked the conventional audio launch ritual (the round cardboard-CD model unveiling). He refused to do it this time as well, and said he could use it on Bhogi day. Not a bad idea at all.