There is a wry sense of humour in debutante Rathna Kumar’s answers, something we get to see in his film as well. His first feature film, Meyaadha Maan is having a dream run at the theatres, thanks to the positive reviews and the word of mouth the film has garnered. Similar to the movie, the humour highlights the clarity in his thoughts and rationale. An interesting example would be the way Rathna Kumar narrates how he decided the subject for his short film Madhu, which has now been made into Meyaadha Maan. “When you take a short film, the resources available are limited. And the access is limited to people belonging to our age group. Thus, the intention was to create a script that caters to that specific group. ‘Ukkandha edathulaye vaayala vada suttu oru short film pananum’ (The film should be made using minimum resources),” says Rathna Kumar.
When Meyaadha Maan happened, similar thought and effort went into the casting as well, keeping in mind the requirements. “If you see, all they do in the first 15 minutes is talk over the phone. In such cases, it is the face of the artistes and their expressions that engage the viewers. I needed faces which can sustain the intensity of the movie throughout; it would feel cliched otherwise. So we were a bit conscious about our choices,” he says. He further adds that Indhuja, who plays Vaibhav’s sister, was the tough find of the lot. “It took us a while to find Indhuja. We needed a person who’s facial features would gel with the appearances of Vaibhav, Priya Bhavani Shankar, and Vivek Prasanna,” he says.
Be it the heart-shaped varatti (dried cow dung) or the ringtones used in the movie, the details and nuances in Meyaadha Maan are delightful. While we have classic “Thattipathen kottankuchi”, we also have peppy “Aaluma Doluma” as well. “When you’re in love, everything you see appears beautiful. And we had a budget to adhere to. Pathu rubaila epdi mudiyum nu yosichom (How to get the effect by spending the least amount of money). Ringtones to remind you the character constantly and the songs helped us a lot with scene transitions and to set the mood for the scene,” quips Rathna Kumar.
Even before its release, Santhosh Narayanan and Pradeep Kumar’s music earned Meyaadha Maan a lot of attention. “Idhayam Murali is an introvert but he is shy only with the girl he loves. The contrast will seem more obvious when his relationship with his sister is casual but strong. We wanted the sister to be quirky, naughty; let it be her language or her behaviour. And we wanted to highlight that in a song,” explains Rathna Kumar.
With the “Address Song”, the idea was to end the entire genre of bar songs that lambaste women. “The writing happened organically. I didn’t think ‘It has been ten minutes, let’s have a song. Or the humour is weak in that scene, let’s add a joke’. Unfortunately, the flow took the story to a bar in a cliched situation. We didn’t know what to do,” he narrates. “If it is something that no one has done before, we can do it in any way we want. The need for it to be new arises when it has already been done. Even if the characters are inebriated, their thoughts should have clarity. If you want to say something against a person, it should be a particular person and not an entire sect. With this song, the entire genre ku sangu oodhanum nu dhan pannom. (we wanted to signal the end of this entire genre),” he adds.
The response the songs acquired was very heartening, shares Rathna Kumar. “A lot of girls had liked Address Song, while several boys had liked Thangachi song. It made me feel that we achieved what we had intended to with these songs,” says Rathna Kumar.