Jul 30, 2008

The 'Kathanayakudu' Story

Director P. Vasu speaks about the making of the much-hyped Rajnikant starrer Kuselan. S. R. Ashok Kumar listens in

Kollywood has seen it all. Films based on the protagonist’s fixation for a star doesn’t sound unusual. But Kuselan seems to make news everyday. Naturally, because the film star happens to be superstar Rajnikant and the film maker is none other than P. Vasu, the man who gave Kollywood’s mega hit in recent times — Chandramukhi.

Vasu, who was actually working on the script of Chandramukhi 2 before Kuselan happened, unwinds between hectic schedules to talk about the film. “Yes, following the success of Chandramukhi, I was scripting its sequel. Even Rajnikant had heard the outline of the story and given the green signal. When things were beginning to fall in place, Natarajan, an associate director in Malayalam cinema, suggested I watch the film Katha Parayumpol, a runaway hit in Kerala. The film revolved around a barber’s fascination for film star Mammootty. The minute I saw it, I imagined our own superstar in a film like that. The climax made a deep impact on me. I’ve never come across such a story,” smiles Vasu.

So the next thing the ace director did was call up Rajnikant and ask him to watch Katha Parayumpol. “The superstar watched the film, but left without a comment. I was puzzled. But the call came the following day. He told me how much the film had impacted him and evinced interest in it. We met and discussed the nitty-gritty. But having said yes to Robot, he wondered how he would be able to juggle two films at a time. I assured him I would wrap up his portion real fast. He agreed — mainly because the film had affected him so deeply.”
Rajni as Rajni

Vasu, who can’t stop gushing about the superstar continues, “It was Rajni who suggested that K. Balachander, his mentor, watch the film so that his production house Kavithalaya could take it up. Balachander felt the story had a striking semblance to that of the superstar and insisted Rajni play himself in the film. That’s how things began to roll with Pushpa Kandasmy as producer. It’s set for release on July 31.”

The Telugu version, Kathanayakudu, will have Jagapathi Babu playing the barber. “In Tamil we zeroed in on Pasupathi. Rajni was impressed by his performance in Veyil. We wanted someone who has not seen the superstar in person or acted with him. Vadivelu plays a meaty role, and so does Meena (she appears in the Tamil and Telugu versions). Rajni’s heroine in the film is none other than Nayanthara.”

Regarding the speculation relating to the number of scenes in which Rajni makes an appearance, Vasu says, “It’s a role that will be remembered. And it’s not merely a guest appearance. We have seen bits and pieces of ‘Rajni as Rajni’ in Valli and Anbulla Rajnikant. I personally feel the scene count doesn’t matter. What matters is the impact a character makes and the message he/she conveys. And that’s where Kuselan scores. What sets it apart from such star-centric films is the treatment.”

Talking about the ‘Cinema Cinema’ number, one of the highlights of the film, Vasu explains, “The number will be a sure-fire hit. It features the icon in 10 stylish looks. Portions of the song were shot with real fans at the Shanti theatre. If you remember, A. R. Rahman’s first film was Roja, a Kavithalaya production; now Kuselan has music by the maestro’s nephew G.V. Prakash.”

When asked whether it would be a ‘superstar versus superstar’ situation with Priyadarshan planning to remake Katha Parayumpol in Hindi with Shah Rukh Khan, Vasu smiles, “Each is great in his own way. They have distinct styles and a major following. But much depends on the treatment of the script.”

Switching to a mellow mood, the director says, “Eight years after I did Uzhaipali with Rajni, Chandramukhi happened. Soon, Kuselan followed. I wish to do more films with him. But as you know, man proposes, God disposes. So let’s wait and see.”

Vasu Vignettes
Director Vasu
Rajni appears in Kuselan only

after the third reel.

There are a couple of scenes from Annamalai. But Rajni looks much younger in Kuselan!

Even after 25 years of their association, Rajni’s regard for KB is the same

Superstar wanted Livingstone in the film. He also wanted a meaty role for Vadivelu.

Meena appears in both

Tamil and Telugu versions of the film