Takeaways from Katru Veliyidai: He is a Master, not a Clown

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It is April 9th, so Kaatru Veliyidai is out and running, easily one of the most anticipated movies of this year is here and the internet is already pouring out with so many takes on the movie. There are good reviews, bad reviews, and then some stupid reviews. But we are a bunch of aspiring filmmakers and let’s not review the movie, let’s look out for lessons. Any movie has a lesson, how to do or how not to do. In case of Maniratnams’s movie we surely have more than just few lessons. As I was thinking what to write upon, I recalled a recent interview of his with a channel. It was a fairly long interview and had so many takes on Maniratnam, the director. But one major point that came out from the director himself and from the people who spoke about him many times was how he can make films on only what he loves. I know am confusing, let me try making it simple.
So Karthi quotes in the interview that, “ Once I asked Mani sir, don’t you think you are taking films based on what you like and not from the audience perspective and he asked me what would I be happy doing, it was obviously the former. He said make films that audience will love to get your place as a director but after that make sure you solve the purpose of coming here- the desire to showcase in the cinema world what you love, but make sure you take them in a way that audience will love it as much as you do”.
Now this was wonderful. It is a wonderful take on seeing yourself as a director, as an artist. Because an artist does what he loves, does it in a way that makes the audience love it. This point was put forth by Maniratnam himself in many places in the interview. He makes sure he is unapologetically himself and does only what he loves. And by doing so he masters himself in that. If you carefully notice most of Mani’s films has either of these two things- Love and War. A single man has explored two singular subjects like no one else. Of course there are directors who take films of this genre but they don’t linger around it, they move on. But Mani doesn’t. He loves his domain and knows that he can do his best here and continues exploring.
At 61, he captivates the hearts of the twenties who quotes lines from his movie in real life. Can anyone pull it off so easily? Come on, we see twenty year olds struggling to write a unique romantic story. My point is age does not matter when you really know what you are doing and you have mastered it.
Kaatru Veliyidai in many places reminds us of the Inba-Sashi love story from Aayutha Ezhuthu. The man being an arrogant, self-centred person who no matter what thinks he has control over his lady. And the girl being this passionate lover who even though knows it hurts continues to love the man with no second thoughts. Inba and Varun are so alike. Both enjoy their power over the lady and even show love in the form of pain. A simple hug and holding hands is done with fierce. If you look at Ok Kanmani it was more of a spin-off to the Arjun-Meera track from Aayutha Ezhuthu again. So what is Mani doing?
He is staying in his home ground. He is playing best in what he knows best. Love and war are his domains and he is introducing us to the different sides of it. And let me tell you it’s tough. To show the one idea of love from so many angles, to show war from the actual victim’s eyes but in different angles requires practice. Only when you do so much with the subject you can really learn that there is so much more. You might listen people telling that you are doing the same thing again and again but when you are truly majoring in one thing you become master and not clown. You might easily crumble with the thought that this story of yours won’t click with the audience and your thought is different from theirs but that must not stop you is the lesson we learn from Kaatru Veliyidai and Maniratnam. Of course one can choose to be Jack of all trades over master of one and it might work just fine. However let’s try finding our domain, our home ground and try making different films on it, go into the depth of filmmaking, it is challenging and that just makes it more enticing.

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