After Kavan, KV Anand returns to filmmaking with Suriya starrer Kaappaan. It is his third collaboration with the actor after Ayan and Maattrraan. “Ordinary subjects don’t interest me,” smiles Anand, who started his career as a cinematographer in 1994 with Priyadarshan’s Thenmavin Kombath that fetched him a National Award. “I am quite laid back when it comes to filmmaking. All I want is to sustain the interest of my audience and tell them a fantastic story with an honest approach,” he says.
Anand is neither a fan of formulaic movies nor a particular genre. “Though I did two films with Suriya, they were different from each other. Every time, I set out to make a film, I challenge myself that I cater to all sections of the audience. The same happened with Kaappaan. It wasn’t an easy film to make. The script demanded Suriya and I realise pulling off a film like Kaappaan is a huge responsibility,” he adds.
KV Anand is clear about his intentions, though. “I don’t want to deal with simple plotlines. But I like to show that as a filmmaker, I have worked hard on my stories. I want to make meaningful commercial cinema,” he reiterates.
The Kaappaan director acknowledges that his ‘protagonists’ have always been ‘different’. “I don’t write scripts for stars,” he clarifies, and quickly adds, “If you are talking about my anger-driven ‘heroes’, they are just a reflection of our society. The crux of my movies has always been contemporary issues.”
Heaping praise on Suriya, he elaborates how the actor has evolved as a better performer over these years. “Suriya never oversells his performance. He understands every little detail that goes into the script. I see him work and improvise on his characters constantly in front of the mirror. He is apt as an SPG commando, and so is Mohanlal, who plays the Prime Minister in Kaappaan. As for Lalettan, he is a realistic actor. No matter where he is in the frame, he gives perfect shots,” Anand says.
What’s Kaappaan all about? “Though we have discussed current affairs, it’s not a political film. It’s purely fictional. The story revolves around this SPG guy and what all he does to save the life of a Prime Minister. Prior to the shoot, Suriya, in fact, visited the National Security Guard office in New Delhi and met the officials concerned. Both Mohanlal and Suriya have gotten into the skin of their respective characters,” Anand shares.
KV Anand had to do a lot of research work and put them across in a subtle way without complicating them for Kaappaan. “It required a lot of homework than my other films. The challenge is to tell a serious story in an engaging way. To achieve the process, I have peppered the script with drama, suspense, emotions and conflict. I was very conscious that Kaappaan doesn’t end up as yet another message movie,” he says.
Anand understands filmmaking is more a business than art. “That’s why I am more inclined towards fast-paced edits and narrations. It’s all about narrating a not-so-believable story in a believable way. A good story is the strength of any film, after all,” he says.
The director believes in ‘subtle heroism’ and has a practical approach to filmmaking. “I don’t want my heroes to fly in the air like Superman,” he laughs.
KV Anand was a photojournalist before filmmaking happened. “As a part of my job, I had met a lot of ministers and all that experience came in handy while writing the Kaappaan script. Moreover, I like to work on stories that are based on real incidents,” he says. Anand doesn’t underestimate his audience. “Today’s movie-going crowd are more intelligent than the makers. They aren’t interested in watching predictable ideas, but look out for novelty,” he cites.
The cinematographer-filmmaker is unhappy about the dearth of screenwriters in Tamil cinema. “Usually, I prefer Suresh-Subha. But, for Kaappaan, I collaborated with Pattukottai Prabhakaran. Writers, in general, understand the nuances of writing powerful dialogues for a commercially-viable plot. But these days, most directors themselves write scripts,” he says.
Kaappaan, also releasing in Telugu as Bandobast, was stuck in a plagiarism controversy. A couple of months ago, John Charles had accused KV Anand of plagiarism and filed a case against him, which got dismissed eventually. “It’s scary how random people say this-is-my-film when I have invested all my time in it. The petition states Charles had narrated the script of Saravedi to me in 2017, but I never remember meeting anyone,” Anand elaborates.
Though KV Anand loves filmmaking, his first love is always cinematography. “Of course, that comes first any day,” he says, adding how he was rejected by a top publication when he had first applied for a job. “Maybe, my path into films was destined. It’s not often you find a director going back to handling lenses, which I did for Rajinikanth’s Sivaji (2007). To be honest, when Shankar approached me with an offer, I lied to him that I was busy with something else. Since everyone at home forced, I took it up,” he laughs, hinting how the cinematographer in him is very much alive and kicking.