Shraddha Srinath is on cloud nine, as Maara that is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, has fetched her much praise for her portrayal of Paaru, a restoration architect who goes on a journey in search of a fairy tale. “Paaru, like me, believes every brick has a story to tell. Like her, I too am fascinated by old structures.” For the longest time, Shraddha wished she had a time machine. “When I see a fort, I wonder how it must have been when bustling with activity. Paaru is like that too; it’s why she is a restoration architect.” She smiles at the realisation that she speaks of Paaru as though she were a real person. “She is, in my head,” she says.
Netflix began its southern sojourn with Paava Kadhaigal, an anthology based on honour killing. Tackling themes like caste-based violence and atrocities against the LGBTQ+ community, Paava Kadhaigal is directed by some of the biggest names of Tamil cinema — Gautham Menon, Sudha Kongara, Vetri Maaran and Vignesh Shivan.
Here’s Sudha, along with her actors in Thangam — Kalidas Jayaram, Shanthnu Bhagyaraj, Bhavani Sre — talking to us about their short, the responsibilities of handling sensitive themes, and more.
The first feature you note about Vinoth Kishan is his eyes—the same eyes that made an impact in Nandha, in which he debuted as a child actor, the same ones that drilled dread into us in Naan Mahaan Alla. It’s an important tool in his arsenal, but what if he could not use them at all? This was the thought that made director Vignarajan approach the actor for his film, Andhagaaram. It is what made Selvam interesting to Vinoth as well. The duo decided that they would retain the look of the eyes, but that Vinoth would adapt to the lifestyle of a blind man. “I learnt their lifestyle. They have a way of doing everything—reading Braille, using laptops, general navigation etc. My character, Selvam, is a confident man.” Sympathy is a cornerstone of Selvam’s persona. “His problem wasn’t his disability, but other issues… Anyone who sees Selvam should feel for him.”
When Krishnakumar was in Class 6, he watched a play that fetched one of the actors a standing ovation. That kindled acting interest in his young mind. More than a decade later now, a film in which he has acted, Soorarai Pottru, has fetched him similar appreciation—so much so that he is now referred to as ‘Che’, the name of his character from SP. He is full of praise for director Sudha Kongara. “Every period has a filmmaker, who changes how the industry looks at cinema. Sudha Kongara is that person.” He says he knew the film would reach people the way it has. “The team is amazing,” he says, and adds that he considers all the love that has come his way to be a gift. “I was very surprised and am truly grateful.”
Singer Velmurugan is well-known for his enthusiastic singing and his peppy folk numbers like Oththa Sollaala (Aadukalam) and Venaam Machaan (Oru Kal Oru Kannadi). His vocal range and throw needed no microphone to get amplified. And yet, though the singer could often be seen singing in the show, he was barely seen talking to the other contestants in the Bigg Boss Tamil 4 house. Branded as a meek contestant, Velmurugan got evicted last Sunday. Here, he speaks about what life was like for him inside the guarded sets of the Bigg Boss house.
Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, which recently began streaming on Netflix, owes its diverse soundscape to three renowned musicians: singer-composer Kavita Seth, who composed and sang the ghazals, and acted as Saeeda Bai’s voice; the sitarist-composer Anoushka Shankar and Alex Heffes duo, who collaborated to create the ethnic soundscape of the newly free India in the 1950s. In this interview, they shed light on their process, working with acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair and the logistical challenges of making music remotely…
A 17-year friendship is behind SNDS Dreamcatchers LLP, the production company that put together Aha’s Addham, which recently opened to positive reviews. The producer duo, Sujatha Narayanan and Devasena ES, first met when working for an FM radio station in Chennai. “Later, I used to help Sujatha in her production projects. So, this was always on the cards and she insisted that I be part of it,” says Devasena.
If you are a listener of Tamil indie music, you have probably heard about Kaber Vasuki. The indie musician is known for his philosophical, brutally honest lyrics that are designed to penetrate your soul. Kaber Vasuki, the man, is no different. I ask him about his chosen name, Kaber Vasuki, and he shares that he didn’t like the name his parents gave him. “I did not want my name to reflect my gender, religion, or where I am coming from.” Why this specific one though? “Nothing in particular. A lot of people have asked me this, but I tell a different story to each one of them depending on my mood. Siladhu lam en epdi nu theriyadhu, apo thonum pannuvom,” he says, with a chuckle.
The first question I had asked Suhasini Mani Ratnam when meeting her for an interview two years back was, “Why aren’t you directing more?” She had laughed and said it would be a matter of time. And now, two years later, 25 years after her directorial debut, Suhasini has worn the director hat again for Amazon Prime Video’s first Tamil Anthology, Putham Pudhu Kaalai. “I began writing short stories in 2009 after taking a course. These were not published but worthy enough to be so. I have kept them to myself, but perhaps OTT is a good place for them.”
In this freewheeling chat, the actor-director talks about her return to filmmaking and what it’s like to work with her own family.
Aishwarya Rajesh is bemused about interacting with the press through a Zoom call. “All of this is new to me,” she says, taking in all our faces peering through the little boxes on screen. This actor, whose Ka Pae Ranasingam has begun streaming on Zee Plex, admits to being a fan of the big screen. “I prefer watching films on the big screen. My mom and I used to catch the early morning shows.” She adds that Ka Pae Ranasingam was made for the theatres. “The film has been ready for release since April, but as we had no idea about when theatres would be allowed to open, we had to opt for a digital release. We believe that if a film is good, it will be acknowledged no matter which platform it releases in.”