Filmmaker Pa Ranjith’s name has been on everybody’s lips. Courtesy – he has wielded the megaphone for one of the most anticipated films of the year ‘Kabali’. He talks to South Scope about what went into the making of the Rajinikanth-starrer.
With two films ‘Attakathi’ and ‘Madras’ director Pa Ranjith quickly made into the league of favorite directors in Tamil. But the two-film old filmmaker became the envy of many when he bagged the opportunity to wield the megaphone for a Rajinikanth’s film ‘Kabali’ in just his third project. The budding creator admits that his directorial work in his earlier films earned him the opportunity to direct the superstar.
Ask him what his initial reaction was when he was offered the project, “I was supposed to do my debut film with Soundarya Rajnikanth but it did not materialize. Last year, she called me and said that Rajni sir was listening to scripts and he mentioned my name in a conversation. (he called and appreciated me after watching ‘Madras’ twice). My first meeting with him was a memorable one. I was very tensed. He told me, ‘I want to work with you, tell me a story’. I narrated two ideas and one of them is ‘Kabali’. He liked the plotline, believed and gave me the nod. After that, all I thought was how to do justice to that belief, and nothing else,” he recounts.
Ranjith states that he wanted to break the superstar stereotype look and did a lot of homework to come up with the superstar’s ‘salt and pepper’ look. “I always want my actors to lose their ‘star’ness and live the character in the films. I need to be true to the story and still keep it up to Rajini sir’s image. Apparently, he wanted to do a role that flaunts his real age and look. When I asked him whether he can sport a white beard for the role, he was game for it, which is one of the reasons he agreed to do the project. But his grey beard will only last for 20 minutes, and rest of the film; you’ll see him in a young avatar, which I designed by taking reference from his 80-90’s films,” he reveals.
The ‘Madras’ helmer tips working experience with Rajinikanth as memorable. “He always looks for freshness and innovative scripts, and I guess that’s the reason he chose me. Directing him was a life-time experience. Though he’s a superstar he’s very down to earth and gave me the freedom to express myself. I saw his humility and love throughout the shoot. He was ready to do whatever it takes to look the part. I draw a lot of inspiration from him. When I was edgy about the release he said, “don’t worry, everything will come good’. He is a superstar off the screen too.”
Although the title ‘Kabali’ is associated with goons, the director insists that ‘Thalaivar’ will be shown in a positive frame. “Before independence, the British took Indians to Malaysia as blue-collar workers. Kabali, who is one of them, will be raised as a don to solve their problems. He fights for the life of Tamil people in Malaysia. The film will see Rajini sir in a very positive frame. I was also inspired by his intense portrayal of Kaali from his yesteryear film ‘Mullum Malarum’ but the way I designed and packaged is unique. It’s not just an action flick but also high on emotion.”
Interestingly, Ranjith exudes confidence that the gangster-based flick will pull through without having to be buoyed by the quintessential ‘punch’ dialogues.