Fast forward three years, on an overcast Thursday morning, Chandran walked through those big black doors and went straight onstage.
He is a hero now, you see.
Kayal‘s audio launch was a celebration of the lives of people like Chandran – “Ceiling ah paathu colour kanava kaanaravanga,” as he put it. Inspiring young men and women who fought all odds to make their dreams come true.
And it was fitting that Prabhu Solomon, who gave them this platform, introduced them to the media. He asked his cinematographer V Mahendran to come onstage first. “I have been privileged to work with Mahendran. I’m very choosy about the visual aspect of things and he put up with it. He has painstakingly recreated what I envisioned for Kayal.”
Chandran came in for particular praise from his director for his hard work and dedication to his role. As the film deals with the 2004 Tsunami, the actor was forced to stay in water for days together while shooting. And sometimes, even ate his lunch there. “There was just no time some days to get out of the water. It would break continuity, and so Chandran chose to take his meals in a tank, neck deep in water. He suffered so many bruises and wounds because of that and fell sick so many times. I don’t think he will work again with me.”
Vikram Prabhu made wise use of this opportunity and quipped, “That’s fine Prabhu sir. Even if Chandran wants to work with you on your next film, he has to stand in line. I’ve booked you already. On a more serious note, Prabhu sir gave me an elephant, but he has given you a Tsunami, Chandran…so I know for sure that you will go places.”
D Imman was oohed and aahed over as usual. Debut actor Vincent, who plays Chandran’s sidekick in the film, even pinched his cheeks onstage, while Imman just stood there, resigned to his fate. “Ever since Priya did this at the Oru Oorla… launch, everyone’s been following it…I blame her!” he joked. When the host asked him to talk about the film, he said, “I have worked on this project for two years and I don’t know how to reduce that wonderful, beautiful experience to two minutes…Prabhu is a God sent angel and somehow, we always do our best together. I will always be grateful to God and the heavens for bringing us together.”
T Siva was in agreement with Imman. “These two make such magic together and it’s a delight to be a part of yet another film from this combination.” Kalaipuli S Thanu also spoke highly of Prabhu Solomon’s talent. He compared the director’s talent for making unusual films with that of Bharathiraja and Balachander. “Prabhu is probably the only director out there who has carved a niche for himself. There are certain films which have been labelled ‘a Prabu Solomon type movie’, and that’s a big thing.”
Though actor Arya spent most of his time onstage speaking to Anjali and Rajesh, he did have some nice things to say about Prabhu’s ‘positivity and good vibrations’.”Prabhu Solomon exudes goodness and that’s an integral part of his success. He is a man who is supremely confident and also gutsy. A man who has made most of his films with newcomers has to be!” he gushed. Soori’s attempts to evade the host were in vain; he was eventually pulled out from his spot – hiding behind Vimal and Anjali. “I haven’t prepared anything, so I’m just going to say nice things about everybody in the hope that they will offer me a new role,” he said and proceeded to thank everyone on the stage. Needless to say, the audience was in splits within seconds. Soori also managed to ask Prabhu Solomon to feature him in a new film, to which the director simply smiled.
The surprise package of the event was Siva Karthikeyan – “the lucky mascot of Escape Artists” – who was there to cheer his annan D Imman, and P Madan. He expressed a wish to act in Prabhu Solomon’s films, but quickly realised that it would not really be his cup of tea. “I read somewhere that the last thirty minutes of Kayal will have no dialogues at all… that is a very intimidating prospect for actors like me and Soori. Namma pozhappe indha punch dialogues dhaan,” he joked. “Besides, Prabhu sir never takes on established actors anyway. He likes to get new faces.” Sivakarthikeyan said he was blown away by the music of Imman. “We realise the true potential of Imman anna in projects like these. I think we have not made use of him properly…’Indha Ponnungalae Ippadi Thaan’ maadhiri paattu poda vechi avara keduthuttom!”
Sivakarthikeyan’s words, though said in jest, did ring true. Imman’s music for Kayal is definitely not instant earworm material. The songs are the kind that you would warm up to gradually. Every track has a certain haunting quality to it, especially Unna Ippo Paakkanum featuring Vandana Srinivasan and Haricharan and Yengirundu Vandhaayo with Shreya Ghoshal. Yugabharathi’s earthy and simple lyrics are a value addition to the soundtrack, and are easily the best feature. As Prabhu Solomon said, “Every person in Kayal may work on other projects, but for this film of mine, they have dedicated their lives.”