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A director's take on movies

Director R. V. Udayakumar, who is all set for a second innings, talks about the changing trends in the film industry



Sentimental drama, his forte: R.V. Udayakumar

MELODRAMA HAS been his forte and his biggest hits Kizhakku Vaasal, Chinna Gounder, Ponnumani and Ejamaan — have strong emotional values. He surprised the audience with his foray into full-length comedy with Singaravelan, starring Kamal Hassan and Kushboo.

After Nandavana Theru starring Karthik, he took a break and channelled his energy towards shooting ads. After a three-year hiatus, director R. V. Udayakumar is back with Karka Kasadara, slated for a December release. This is Udayakumar's second coming and, predictably, he is anxious. In an interview, he talks about the changing trends in the film industry.

Changing audience

Talking about audiences today, he says, "The number of filmgoers has come down. It's only the youth who are still going to the theatres. Unless a film is a superhit, it is difficult to draw the family audience because of rising ticket prices and lack of a conducive atmosphere in cinema halls. Another major setback for the film industry is the drawing power of the small screen."

As for the trends in films, Udayakumar says that the "influence of the Western culture has become inevitable; so only movies with such elements run. I'm sure a movie such as Chinna Gounder or Ejamaan will not click now. Because, the mega serials on TV are providing that element of sentiment - and family audiences are glued to them. So, I have introduced commercial elements in this movie to stay in the race."

But is this a healthy trend? "We cannot say if it is good or bad. We have to follow the trend."

Referring to `serious' films, he says, "Tell me, where is the audience. Even marketing commercial films is difficult. Off-beat films may get critical appreciation, but distributors will not buy them. There is so much risk involved because what finally matters is the number of people who come to watch the movie in a theatre."

He says movie making is a `commercial art.' "Unlike other art forms, the risk element is more because they have to bring in the crowds. So, good themes go for a toss. The creator starts looking at introducing commercial elements just to ensure that he gets the returns. This trend has not changed since the birth of the film industry."

Talking about the need for striking a balance between the storyline and commercial elements, he says, "The term has a different meaning now. The formula is still the same - love, sentiment and comedy - but the winning components are different, be it costumes, artistes, songs and ideas. The song Muthu mani maalai, in Chinna Gounder expressed love in a subtle way, now it is more direct."

Story, the winner

Despite all these changes, a good story always wins, he asserts. "Though we speak English and dress in Western clothes, we are, by nature, sentimental. We value parental affection and still believe in the joint family system. Incident-based Hollywood movies such as Independence Day and Day After Tomorrow will not click here. The audience wants good stories with a mix of commercial elements. For instance, a song is definitely a `thrust element' in any movie, but it is valued here."

His best film? "Yet to come. Though I have given a lot of silver jubilees, there is no end to creation. Now, filmmakers compromise to satisfy the audience. When I started, my films were poetic with real-life elements as in Ejamaan; now there is more fiction."

Will one get to see R. V. Udayakumar casting stars such as Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan and Vijayakanth in his second innings also? He stops with saying that he is keen on moulding newcomers.

K. JESHI

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