Director C.S. Amudhan is basking in the huge success of his latest ‘spoof express’ Tamizh Padam 2. The film has grossed more than 20 CR in TN in its first week and looks like it’s headed for a healthy second week too. Amudhan sounds composed and says he is eager to start his next film, the announcement of which can be expected soon:
Do you closely track the box-office collections of your film?
I don’t know the basics of how the box-office works. Terms like net, share and gross are Sanskrit to me. But as the director, I obviously watch the audience’s response and make an effort to find out how the film is doing in theaters. The parameter I use to gauge the film’s reach is the number of jokes that clicked with the audiences.The response has been overwhelming. I accept their valid negative points, such as the lags in the first half and the needless item song. I’m not here to argue with the audience and say that they didn’t interpret my film properly. Their judgment is correct.
How closely do you follow the reviews of your films? Some directors have said that they shut themselves off from media reviews once their film releases.
Since it’s our livelihood, we tend to read all the reviews and every single tweet that bears our film’s hashtag. Those who say that they don’t pay attention to reviews aren’t being honest. Of course, some reviews which lack depth can’t be taken seriously. But we live in a democracy and everyone is entitled to their opinion. We have to live with it.
Having the elusive 5am first day first show slot for your film must have been a surreal feeling
It was a great feeling, one which gave me goosebumps. All of us went for the 5am show at Rohini theatre after spending a sleepless night. From the moment Shiva’s jeep flew and entered the frame, the audience started clapping and didn’t stop until the end credits Baahubali 2 scene rolled. I was relieved and felt that I had a future as a filmmaker.
How did you go about picking the scenes to reference and spoof?
For whatever story and screenplay sequence that I had in the film, I picked relevant references and trolled them. I didn’t give preferential treatment to any hero or political party, which is what some people felt. I’m not here to defend myself either. For example, if it was a marriage scene, Vettaiyadu Vilayadu was an easy reference. But beyond the story, there are certain ‘epic scenes’ which are a must-have when we make spoof films like this. They’ll just scream ‘do me’ and I included them without a second thought. Ultimately, visually strong parodies were my focus.
Did all your references and jokes connect with the audiences? You have referenced quite a few older films and also Hollywood films and shows.
In the advertising world, they say, ‘Don’t always go for the least common denominator’. It’s not necessary for everyone to get everything in the film. Some references and jokes fell flat but most of them connected well with the audience. My family members didn’t get the Game of Thrones reference but since it was visually striking, they enjoyed it. The same goes with some of the spoof scenes of older Tamil films (like the Saamy tiffin box scene).
Sathish’s various looks and make-up have been keenly noted and appreciated by viewers
Our special makeup expert Shiva did a great job, given the budget constraints that we had. For the famous ‘Hannibal Lecter’ look, he just took a hockey mask and drilled two small holes; it served our purpose and people could relate to the character and the movie (The Silence of the Lambs). Instead of prosthetics or fabricating a new mask, he took a simple route and made it work.
In the eight long years between the release of Tamizh Padam 1 and 2, a few of your films failed to take off and your second film Rendavathu Padam is yet to see the light of day. Was it a frustrating phase?
It was frustrating at times but I had other things to keep me occupied. I don’t depend only on cinema for my survival. I am a marketing consultant and have ad films to keep me busy. Since the pressure to survive wasn’t there, I didn’t suffer as much as some of the other directors would have.
Rendavathu Padam will finally release next month. The producer is putting in a lot of effort. The film was made six years back and a lot of the jokes were relevant then. I hope the audiences won’t find it stale now. They shouldn’t come in expecting another Tamizh Padam kind of a full-on spoof comedy. It’ll be funny, innovative and won’t follow the usual Tamil film structure.
As a filmmaker, what inspires you? What are your all-time favourite comedy films and commercial mass entertainers?
I’m a big fan of the 80s Tamil film era, when directors like Manivannan, Bharathiraja, R. Sundarrajan and Gangai Amaran flourished. They packaged their films well with ‘masala’ elements and got the mix right, in addition to conveying a strong story. Present-day filmmakers struggle to get that packaging right; I wonder how they did it so effortlessly and organically.
Kadhalikka Neramillai, Singaravelan, Thillu Mullu, Aan Paavam and Nadigan are my all-time favourite comedy picks. Coming to mass entertainers, Dhill, Saamy, Dhool, Murattu Kaalai, Ghilli, Annamalai, Baasha, Vetrivizha and Dheena are my favourites. I also intend to make such mass entertainers with big stars in the future. Just the four songs-four fights template doesn’t imply a mass entertainer; Thalapathi and Nayagan are also ‘mass’ films!
How do you see the numerous troll and meme pages which are popular on social media now?
I really enjoy these meme pages and YouTube channels. I catch up on them whenever I have time. The content on these pages shows how much innovation, humour and talent is waiting to be harnessed. In our case, the fact that the film was the subject of numerous memes, both positive and negative, was proof of the extraordinary buzz that it had created. In terms of pre-release promotions, all publicity is good publicity!
Finally, you seem to be the only player in the spoof genre. Why do the majority hesitate to touch this space?
Firstly, like Sashikanth, a producer has to be gutsy and forthcoming if this genre has to thrive. He has to have strong belief in the content and not think about extraneous factors and his other films’ prospects. I also hope that someone else takes up this genre at least to troll the films that I do in future. That said, I don’t intend to take up Tamizh Padam 3 anytime soon. My next two to three films definitely won’t be in the spoof genre. People will get restless if I and Shiva keep making such films frequently