National Award-winning director M Manikandan’s assistant Suresh Sangaiah is all set with his debut Tamil film, Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu. Produced by Eros International, the film was officially selected for the prestigious 17th edition of the New York Indian Film Festival. Here’s Sangaiah in conversation with Rohini Nag Madnani
What inspired you to make a film from view point of a goat?
There are various rituals in my home town, Rajapalyam, where we offer a goat as a sacrifice to our village deity. The goat often travels the entire journey with the village folk without any knowledge of the fact that it is going to be sacrificed. Nobody ever wonders about what the animal would be going through at that particular time and hence as a Director, I thought that since the film is a goat’s mercy petition to God, why not treat the goat also as one of the main characters and show the film from its point of view as well which will give the animal its due importance after all it is the petitioner rather than it just being a mute spectator through the course of the film.
What is Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu about?
Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu (A Goat’s Mercy Petition) is based on a true sequence of events that actually happened in my home town of Rajapalyam, Tamil Nadu. It is a goat’s mercy petition to God. The main plot of the film is about how a group of village folk start on a holy pilgrimage in order to sacrifice a goat to their village deity. An inauspicious event happens on the way which leads to unpredicted hiccups, anxiety and a mix of emotions and how they deal with the entire incident forms the rest of the story.
There are around 40 to 45 characters in the film. How did you manage to shoot with so many actors?
As a director it is not often that people from small towns like Rajapalyam get a chance to work in the powerful medium of cinema. So for me getting that rare chance to work in this field, I was adamant that my first film would allow me to give back to the people from my home town and prior life who supported and helped me thought out my journey. Hence I decided to pick these 45 characters from my own home town. They were all enthusiastic to act in my film and it also in turn helped me maintain the authenticity of the film. The mannerisms, dialects and the wardrobe used for them is entirely realistic and it in fact made the shooting of my film even more easier because all the actors just has to be their selves and not act as such.
The film got officially selected for the New York Indian Film Festival. How did that come about?
People in Tamil Nadu are very much connected to their home towns, much like me, and hence we have taken great efforts to keep the film very realistic and simple, in such a way that when Indian audience see the film, they will perhaps feel that they themselves are projected on the screen. While I was on this idea, my team and I decided to send the film to all the prestigious film festivals as well because International audiences will be able to learn more about our Tamil heritage and cultural practices. I wanted my film to project a very simple yet an important emotion of the village folk of Tamil Nadu which is they stick together through tough times, even if it goes against their common sense Tamil Nadu culture is all about solidarity which is not often seen in Indian cinema. So, after sending the film to festivals like Berlin International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and Dubai International Film Festival, OKKM finally got selected at the prestigious NYIFF. This is one more feather added in the cap for us and our hard work will finally be shown across at NYIFF on May 6, 2017 in NY.
How did Eros International come on-board the film?
Eros International is a wonderful production house which encourages debut directors like me and others and they are always willing to take the risk of choosing content over actors. So when I narrated the script to them, they were thrilled by it because it was a fresh concept and a unique one. They immediately agreed for producing the film and that was even more fortunate for me because the entire working team at Eros knows the volume of film making and they are very passionate about cinema on the whole. This made my journey even more easy and flexible.
When will the film have an Indian release?
The film is scheduled to release on May 19, 2017. Right now, our focus is on the festival as it is a huge honour for us. Our film is an official selection and was chosen from among many others. For our India release, we have high expectations as the story has many layers at a human level. I cannot wait to see how my film appeals to the audience.
What’s next for you?
I am in the process of writing my next script which is also based on real incidents but also has a social message to give in the process. However, it won’t be a serious film. I like to project the various realities of life in a comical way rather than hard hitting which will give a feel – good experience to the audience and something to think over at the same time.