The element of mass is in history and not in artists: Manikandan
Manikandan Believe in walking the talk. The director is making a film about farmers and their way of life, and to put into practice what he hopes to convey to his audience, he bought his own land and began to cultivate. I don't like to preach or put messages in the throat. But luckily for me, they capture what I want to imply through a movie. After observing Kaaka Muttai They did not conclude that eating pizza was wrong. They understood that we don't have to be strongly influenced by others and find happiness with what we have. They began to debate whether giving a punishment as severe as the crime was important after seeing Kuttrame Thandanai and asked who they should be faithful - work and company or those who depend on work and their own social morals - after Aandavan Kattalai. And after seeing Kadaisi Vivasayi , I hope they will feel encouraged to do farming, ”says Manikandan,“ When I chose to do this film, someone advised me that I should actually do farming to understand the whole process. So, I bought land in my town, Usilampatti, and also in Vandhavasi, and started cultivating there. We are doing organic farming and the rice that we consume at home comes from there. ”
It’s been over three years since Manikandan had a release. What took him so long to come out with this one? “For every film, I make it a point to visit the place where the story is set and interact with people. For Kaaka Muttai, I spent six months in the slums. For Aandavan Kattalai, I met people who’ve lost their passports and have been cheated by agents who promised them work abroad. It took me a little over two months because the person who had written the story had already done in-depth research. So, when I decided to do a film on farming, I wanted to meet people who are actually involved in it, ”he says.
Manikandan visited over 100 villages to check out locations and that took him over a year. “I had also selected all my artistes from those villages. If the film was set in Chennai, I could have just called for an audition. But in these villages, I’d to convince them to come and act. They are already working - someone is involved in farming, sila peru aadu, maadu meikkaranga. So, it took a lot of convincing from my side. I shifted my office to Usilampatti, near my hometown, Vilampatti. Also, the story captures each stage of farming. So, vedhai vedhaikkaradhe romba naal shoot panninom. I couldn’t have skipped any process and that took me 95 days of shooting. Thotta Tharani sir had put up a set of a sub-jail in the village, away from the noise of traffic, because we were shooting using sync sound and the ambience was very important. To top it all, it was my own production and sourcing money took time, ”he says.
Working with real villagers was an experience that I would appreciate for a long time, says the director. “These people came to act not because they would be seen on the big screen. Innaru peran padam panraan, adhula namma iruppom - appidingara orey karanathukkaga nadikka vandhanga, says with a smile, These people are not aware of the structure of the cinema. The first day, they thought I was going to take pictures of them and they stiffened. Then I explained how they could walk and talk, and that would be captured and only then did they move. I can't treat them as I would treat professional artists. Manasu nogara maadhiri edhavadhu sonna, adutha naal varamaatanga. Those who act as villagers in the films are villagers who have come to Chennai to become actors. These people have no such interest.
In fact, the hero of the movie is an 86-year-old farmer, Nallandi . He had no previous experience in acting and could not have given him dialogues and hoped he would comply. One day, we were going to shoot a scene where I had to make a Ganesha idol with clay. We had already established the framework, but while taking the shot, he refused to do so because it was not eesani moolai! So, I had to completely change the track, ”he says with a smile.
“Similarly, I had to wait for the villagers to choose an auspicious day and hour to sow the seeds to film that because, for them, this is real. They are sowing the seed of truth and will cultivate crops of truth. I can't force them to do it my way. Even for those who formed the atmosphere, I had to explain the whole scene or else, they would walk like dolls, flat and emotionless. So, I used to tell you, you two go to a store and you two are talking about domestic problems. I gave money to two villagers and asked them to buy tea, sit on the bench, talk for a while, keep the glass low and then, take your cycles and go home! Add.
Lately, filmmakers are choosing to portray stories of older adults on the screen. Do you think today's audience agrees not to see a hero doing massive things? “The element of mass is in history, not in artists or in their age. If the mass element is present in a scene, it will be reflected on the screen, regardless of who does it. And if the element is missing from the scene, it won't work, even if it is done by a great hero, he says, I don't think age is a criterion.
The filmmaker has roped in Vijay Sethupathi and Yogi Babu to play important roles in Kadaisi Vivasayi. “These were characters not written for them, but I'm glad they agreed to play them. If a popular actor performs a certain role in a film, the reach is much better. Vijay Sethupathi plays a devotee of Lord Muruga who walks to all the temples, and Yogi Babu plays a man who’s sold his 15-acre farmland and bought an elephant instead. If any other actor had done these roles, it would have still been received by the audience. But, the magnitude of the reach will be higher now because they are well-established actors, ”he says.
Hasn't it become fashionable to include a farmer's angle in the movies these days? “If it includes an angle that has no relation to history, then it makes no sense. We all know that the problems farmers face are a reality. So it makes no sense to say it again. Instead, we should probably talk about why such problems arise and what could be a possible solution. In my movie, we are talking about who is a farmer and why he is in that state. But I'm not looking at the camera and saying that in so many words because the movie is not a means to that. He is not a documentary or a documentary, nor am I a journalist. My responsibility is to tell a story, and I'm just doing that, he says with conviction.