2018 is the year of sequels – from 2.0, Vishwaroopam 2 to Saamy 2, Sandakozhi 2, there are several sequels in the pipeline this year. But if there’s one sequel that has everyone excited, it has to be Tamizh Padam 2. The film marks the return of CS Amudhan and the ‘Agila Ulaga Superstar’ Shiva, who gave us the rib-tickling first installment. Excerpts from a conversation with CS Amudhan about the return to spoofs and much more.
Did you expect the kind of response that you have received with Tamizh Padam 2?
We knew that it would be well-received but the numbers are something we didn’t expect. We are confident of the content we have but with great power comes great responsibility.
We didn’t have a benchmark for spoofs back in 2010. Thanks to Tamizh Padam, Kollywood now knows the genre well. How is Tamizh Padam 2 going to be different?
Tamizh Padam 2 will be completely different — that was the challenge. To make just a spoof film out of Kollywood is not difficult now, there is so much material. The challenge is to surprise you. For example, both Tamizh Padam and Tamizh Padam 2 have introduction songs. While ‘Pacha manja’ from Tamizh Padam is a celebration of the genre, ‘Naan evanum illai’ is a subversion. Both are spoofs of the opening song genre.
However, I can assure you that this will be a much better theatre experience — in terms of its immersive nature, our visuals, music and production values.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing a spoof?
The difficult part about writing a spoof is that you can’t have your own scenes to move the story forward. But the story is still yours. And it is integral to have a story or it will end up looking like a meme. So you have to think of popular scenes that can be used to fit the situation in hand and pick the ones that have the most recall value. There is no space to go after a particular person or troll them. What is the scene that I need to move the story forward and what has already been done in this space — that’s the criteria.
Tamizh Padam 2 has not only parodied films and Kollywood but has extended to have social and political references as well.
We have included a few other elements in Tamizh Padam as well — with the Hutch dog and ZooZoos. The fact that they were received well gave me more confidence to add more. And if you go by what people remember the most in recent times, politics is on par with cinema. In fact, the news cycle has more recall value than cinema. The proportion of what you see in the movie reflects on what is happening in real life.
Never in Kollywood have we watched a trailer so intently that we had to pause to get all the details.
I always have problems cutting trailers. I jealously guard what the film is about. We have shot exclusively instead of taking stills from the film for promotions. In fact, I would be the happiest if I didn’t have to cut a trailer. Since that isn’t an option, we chose things that don’t give away the plot but will clearly tell you the tone of the film.
The fast run was Editor TS Suresh’s idea. He correctly predicted that there would be breakdown and decoding videos that would give us additional buzz. And I immediately saw the potential and that’s how that happened.
How did you chart out the hilarious, no-holds-barred promotion strategy for Tamizh Padam 2? Even Donald Trump wasn’t spared!
We are constantly looking for opportunities to keep the film in the minds of people. So we see everything that people talk about as an opportunity for us to exploit. Spoof as a genre and Tamizh Padam as a brand is something that never stops giving — even if I do another film or Shiva does another film, we won’t have so many opportunities to capture such a high degree of mind space. Anything we do now goes viral and we don’t have to try too hard for it. That’s what the spoof universe gives you.
On writing the Evada Unna Petha, probably one of the few soup songs for women.
A guy gets drunk and starts singing about the woman who cheated on him. It is a trope that has existed at least for thirty years. It is something that you can easily turn on its head. You don’t imagine a girl doing that at all. It achieves two ends, first, it is a spoof and second, there’s a female perspective to this. It is not fair that we have only been hearing the male perspective and that there are many things that they want to say. It is actually an opportunity for us to not just say something that is funny but makes a point that is significant.
Even your tweets have their own following, thanks to your great sense of humour. Have you ever been worried that you won’t be taken seriously?
I do have that fear, even more so now as what I am planning to do after Tamizh Padam 2 is not at all a fun film. But we can’t hold back our punches now thinking about the future. Let me cross the bridge when I get there. The struggle to be taken seriously will be there, but it’s a battle that has to be fought.
There’s also the stereotype trap. Did that restrict you in picking up different topics?
I have eight years of pitches that have gone wrong. It’s not new. After Tamizh Padam or Rendavathu Padam want something funny or a spoof and when I pitch something else, they say ‘idhu avan strength ilaye’.
Mental Health is a cause that I feel very strongly about. I’ve had friends who have battled it and I have seen how easily you can get help if you know about it. Not many people know the horrors they go through and it is possible to help them if there is awareness.
My upcoming anthology on depression will not be preachy. A film needs to have commercial value to end up watched. So while it is an anthology about depression, it will have its thrills, funs and songs.
It has been a while since you finished Rendavathu Padam. What is it about?
Rendavathu Padam is a farce. Even Tamizh Padam is, for example. If you keep only scenes that are borrowed from other films, it becomes very boring to watch it and to also make it. So we do farcical things that are so outrageous it would be funny. Like for example in Tamizh Padam, how Shiva changes his dress before a bullet could reach him. While it is a direct spoof of a film, but you know its quintessentially Tamil cinema. Rendavathu Padam will mostly be like that.