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Disciples to directors

Express News Service

It has been raining remakes in Tamil cinema over the last two weeks. Interestingly, four of them—Hostel (Adi Kapyare Kootamani), Payanigal Gavanikavum (Vikrithi), Visithiran (Joseph), and Koogle Kuttappa (Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25)—have been remakes of Malayalam films. In this OTT era where people have access to films across languages, the need for remakes is sometimes questioned. However, Sabari and Saravanan, directors of Koogle Kuttappa, don’t agree with this take. “Those who watch films from other languages are a minority. If adaptations are done well with suitable actors, people will always be intrigued,” says Saravanan.

Both Sabari and Saravanan began their filmmaking journey as assistants of veteran director KS Ravikumar, who plays the protagonist in Koogle Kuttappa and has produced the duo’s debut film. Sabari calls it a ‘miracle’. “We have been assisting Ravikumar sir for nearly a decade now and have learnt everything about cinema from him. After watching the original Malayalam film, we felt it would be refreshing to have him play the lead. Once he watched the film, he agreed “.

Sabari, Saravanan

The film marks KS Ravikumar’s return to production twenty years after Thenali (2002). What made him fund this film after such a long break? “Only he can answer that,” says Saravanan, laughing. “I hope it has something to do with our sincerity. He must have seen the effort we were putting in. Some projects we began got dropped at the last moment. That must have played a part in his decision too.”

The Malayalam original, Android Kunjappan, was a delightful tale of a human bonding with a robot, with plenty of organic humour thrown in. Adapting it to suit local sensibilities was a real challenge, observe the director duo. “We retained only the soul of the original story. Certain characteristics of the leads were tweaked, and a couple of new characters have been introduced. These are calls we made after several rounds of discussions.”

One such call was casting Losliya as the female lead. In the original film, the role was a Japanese character, but in Koogle Kuttappa, it’s a Sri Lankan Tamil woman. “Ravikumar sir suggested that change. Malayali audiences are welcoming of foreign characters in lead roles. But in Tamil, he felt that it might not have the necessary impact. That’s when we zeroed in on Losliya, a Lankan Tamil in real-life as well. Both she and Tharshan are familiar faces post their Bigg Boss stint and we wanted to utilise their popularity.”

The filmmakers express delight about their performances, and Sabari says, “I’m not sure if they watched the original, but they completely understood their characters. We constantly discussed the scenes and had rehearsals all through the shoot. They were very cooperative and ready to give their best.”

Director duos are a rarity in Tamil cinema, and Sabari-Saravanan hope to continue their association for a long time. “We don’t have any plans of branching out and are currently working on our second film, featuring Hansika Motwani in the lead. Most of the shoot has been completed and we are confident of delivering an enjoyable film again.”

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