Interview Team : Jyothsna, Ashok Kumar, Avinash Pandian, Venkat
Someone who could act, direct and produce quality music all by himself flashes out of nowhere. Yes, we are talking about Vijay Kumar of Uriyadi fame. Not many know such a person exists till last Friday and now his film Uriyadi is the sole talking point of all the critics. Avinash Pandian catches up with Vijay Kumar.
''Thala style la sollanum na, avanga kettavanga naa, ivanga kedu kettavanga''

Give us a brief introduction about yourself

I learnt how not to make a film through the 2 short films i made.

I always want my product to be talked about and not me. Uriyadi is people’s film. It is a genuine attempt that was made to satisfy the audience. I’m glad that people have accepted it as their own film. I’m basically a Metrology engineer. I just keep juggling between jobs and I don’t stay in one particular job. From USA, to Bangalore to Chennai, my jobs kept changing. At one point when I was in Bangalore, I was away from my friends. I was very bored then and that was the time I started watching a lot films which led me to a lot of ideas. A few years later, I decided that filmmaking is my forte; why not give it a try. That is when I directed a short film for my personal satisfaction with a budget of 1.5 lakhs. One day my mother on seeing a short film ad competition on TV insisted me to send my short film for contention. My short film was selected and I later directed one more for competition and that is when I had a small medical issue and could not compete in the competition after that. They were 2 amateurish short films. But what I learnt from them was, how not to make a film, the things I shouldn’t be doing while making a film. I did not work as an assistant to anyone. It was my short film direction experience which gave me the confidence to direct a film. Then I got married, went to USA. I did not work, my routine was to watch films and write script. I had first worked on a script. I took one whole year to develop it, but due to some reasons it did not materialize. But I would call that as a blessing in disguise because it helped to rectify all the mistakes that I made in my first script.


For the number of takes a fresher takes, it is more cost effective to go with professionals.

On one fine day, I decided that I wanted to direct a film, I did not know how but I told my parents that I need some money to produce, be ready to sell some properties. My parents were stunned but later came in agreement with me as they have complete faith in me. On the 1st of April 2014, I instituted my production company and started doing auditions. That was an interesting phase. You have two options while picking your cast; one is to go with seasoned professionals who make your work easy, although making them work is a little hard. The other option was to go with newcomers, who could be hired at cheap wages but you need to break your head to get the desired output. My intention was to challenge myself as much as I can and that is why I went with untrained actors. It is not for cost effectiveness. In fact, for the number of takes a fresher takes, it is more cost effective to go with professionals. Even a simple smoking scene took 15 takes. Today, people claim the acting to be so authentic. It is because of the three months training that was given to them. By August 2014, we completed the shoot and we took close to six months for post-production. When it was sent for censor, I know a serious content based film dealing with political and caste issue would be given an ‘A’ certificate. We had to cut a few scenes to pass the censor certificate. By that time we had a different name for the film. Many people insisted me to change the title as it was not commercial. The film was ready and I was trying all that I can to release the film. I approached a lot of people asking them to release the film but though they liked the film, they told me that audiences will not like the film, they have changed now. I could accept the fact that they were not interested to release my film, but putting the blame on the audience is something I could not take it. I thought of releasing the film on my own selling my sister’s property but even if I did that I would only get a sum of 80 lakhs whereas I needed 1 crore to do a decent promotion for the film. And that is when I approached Nalan Kummarasamy, who I was acquainted with, during my days with the TV short film show. I told him my situation and asked him to watch my film. He brought Karthik Subbaraj with him for the screening. They liked it. It is a customary practice to say that you like a film when you are called for screening of a film. But they started rooting for the film from the very next day, searching for distributor. Finally Nalan along with another friend Sameer distributed the film. Since the release of the film, all my days started off brightly, and on seeing the theatre occupancy of afternoon show, I got sober and again I got rejuvenated during the night shows where my film gets a standing ovation.

Regarding the excessive violence involved in the film-Won’t involving students in such violent acts, instigate them to do wrong deeds?

Thala style la sollanum na, avainga kettavanga naa, ivanga kedu kettavanga

I wanted to be honest to the script and make no compromise. The film has been promoted as a violent film right from the beginning and I did not want to cheat the audience. Films are only a reflection of what happens in real life. In my experience I have seen students like that. Had the warden been strict and perfect, you could expect the students to maintain decorum. By no means I’m justifying the act of the students. If the politicians are bad, these students are worse. ‘Thala style la sollanum na, avainga kettavanga naa, ivanga kedu kettavanga’. One thing why people think the film is very brutal could be because of the authenticity of the action scenes.

Your take on Tamil cinema audience?

I’m super impressed with the feedback they have given me. They keep me busy with their continuous appreciation and I’m forever grateful to them for that. To me, more than the critics, it is the fan’s response which is important to me. Specially the audience from southern side of Tamil Nadu.

K-Town stars' response for Uriyadi?

Few directors have personally called and wished me like Balaji Sakthivel. He is one director who I look up to and I’m happy that he liked the film. Popular producer Dhananjayan sir congratulated me and he also organized a special screening of the film to the students of BOFTA. I have high regards for Dhananjayan for being a film historian. You hardly have people to document works involving films but he does.

Can you tell us what exactly Balaji Sakthivel told about the film?

I could tell but I don’t want to misuse his love for the sake of promoting the film. Had he told it through a public platform, it would have been a different story but I don’t think it is right to use his appreciation note to promote the film.

Future plans?

Uriyadi is my child. It is not fair to talk about the second child when you have just given birth to your first.

I could assure you that all my works will be genuine and it would be films that will make profit to the producers. I have few lines but it is not the correct time to think about them. Uriyadi is my child. It is not fair to talk about the second child when you have just given birth to your first.



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