It is not that tamil cinema fans have been blind to the recent trend that Kamal has been setting in his films. With the extensive focus on make-up for films like "Indhiyan," "Avvai Shanmughi" and its anxiously awaited Hindi version "Stree 420," mugaththai yeppadi-dapaa maaththalaam yendru kuri-yaagave irundhirikkiraar Kamal.. Surely, the make-up had its benefits, as Kamal won the National Award for "Best Thatha (Actor) Award" for his work in "Indhiyan." But there is a strong feeling that "Thatha and Mami" were just trailers that Kamal used to show what his fans could expect from his dream project "Marudhanaayagam."


Indian taatha Avvai Maami
Netru Indru Naalai

For many years, Kamal has been blamed for his "high-handedness" on the sets, especially during times when he tries to take over the director's helm himself. Except for a select timid group which includes Santhaana Bharathi and Singeedham Srinivasa Rao, many directors like Shankar and kam-shan.jpg (4800 bytes)Shantanu Shoerey have been disgusted at Kamal mookkai koduthth-ing into their direction duties. Shankar sternly told Kamal to behave, while Sheorey (who was directing "Stree 420" when it was still "Chickni Chaachi") walked out refusing to continue the 'directorial charade.' Now, Kamal finds himself in the shoes of a director for his Hindi production, even before his tamil directorial debut film is still to be raised and nurtured in his mind!..

The film "Marudhanaayagam," which Kamal has waited for so long to create is the biggest BUZZ word that hit Kodambaakkam since Director Shankar announced the launch of his mega budget film "Jeans." Yet, there is a big difference in the way Kamal has approached this film..

"Pannam yennadaa pannam pannam" is Kamal's motto and therefore, "Marundhanaayagam" will indeed be the biggest, the most costliest venture ever attempted in Indian film history. He has designed this film in such a fashion that every artist and technician in the film will be of the highest caliber and will have the 'know how' to give the very best to his film..

MAKE-UP.. With support from the American make-up man, Barry Cooper (shown here) , cooper.jpg (26770 bytes)flown from the U.S. to perform make-up on him for "Avvai Shanmughi," Kamalahassan conducted a make-up workshop for 20 Indian make-up artists in June in Sathya Studios, Chennai. Barry R. Cooper, who happens to be the valadhu kai to Michael Westmore (who made "Indhiyan Thatha" possible), is no jujubi by anybody's standards. Cooper currently serves as Head of the Make-Up Department in CBS Studios in Los Angeles, U.S.A. and has served as make-up man for films like "Adams Family Values," "The Santa Claus, "Murder in the First," "Mars Attacks" plus T.V. shows like "The Bold and Beautiful" and "Star Trek Voyager." According to Kamal, he had Barry postpone his trip to the U.S. for a week, in order to coordinate this workshop for the make-up artists.

This workshop was the mudhal kattam preparations for "Marudhanaayagam." The artists who learned from Cooper in this workshop were expected to use the skills learned in "Marudhanaayagam," at least that was what Kamal wanted from them as "gurudhakshanai." To make things more interesting, Kamal paid full costs for the entire workshop lasting seven days, which trained Lakshmi Indhira Shahul, Eeswar Raju, Rama Krishna, M.K.Jayakumar, P.Guru, Ravidran, Nageswar Rao, Mohan Rao, Koththagiri Nanjandan, Krishna Rao, K.Shanmugam, Mothi, S.P.Madhavan, Gopinath, Venkat Subramaniyan, Mrs. Nushad Khan, Mrs. Sarika Kamalahassan, S.Eeswar, and Karthik. Cooper divulged that he taught these artists some of the very basics of the latest techniques in make-up, including: raththam ponga seivadhu, creating cuts and bleeding on the skin; birth marks and scars etc. He also reported the current situation of make-up in India to be in a very paridhaabam state, noting that he obtained products from a #1 store in Mumbai which were considerecd the highest quality here, but went out of use 50 years back in the U.S. Kamal-ai poruththa varai-yil, he is clear about what he wants: Excellence in Everything and in Every Arena of Film Making.. Kaasu Pattri Kavalai-illai.. 

MOTIVATION.. Yet, there is an underlying motivation for why Kamal ivalavu kaas-ai vaari vaari selavazhikkiraar!.. oscar.gif (26981 bytes)For the last 10-15 years, Kamal has continually dreamed, everyday and night, about winning the Oscar for a tamil movie. This being something which has alluded him for so long, "Marudhanaayagam" will indeed be that "PERFECT" project that would help him win those honors. Many sources near and far from Kamalahassan have begun their guesses as to the "whats, whens, wheres, hows" of the film. Thamizhan Express's July edition dedicated a major segment to this: "Marudhanaayagam" currently possesses all the criteria to be a period film, set in the 10th century.. Furthermore, all rumours point to a strong reliance on the Hollywood film "Braveheart," which won four oscars last year. The story of a man fighting to bring freedom to a nomad group to which he belongs was so well-received and critically acclaimed, insiders expect Kamal to be considerably influenced by the film. They also predict "Marudhanaayagam" to be in a similar realm of movie making.. 

PREPARATIONS.. Kamal has one aspect going in his favor. Since he speaks too many thaththuvams during his interviews, he nicely nazhufies and jagaah vaangu-fies from answering all questions regarding his bramaanda padaippu.. Kamal has been trying out several get-ups for the film, as a new kind of advertisement campaign for the film. A Photographer by the name of Sruthi Ramakrishnan has been flown to Chennai from Bangalore to capture some stills for the various get-ups. First, Kamal puts the make-up on one of his assistants(whose another job is being a guinea pig) and eventually puts the make-up on himself. Basically, a trial and error game!..

Since the film requires extensive sets and art work, Kamal has bought close to 200 acres in Irungaadu Kottai, near Sriperumbudhur. Along with Lead Art Director Sabu Siril and assistants, Prabhakar and G.K., Kamal is also bringing in a few art directors from the U.S. for the film. A whopping total (definitely whopping considering this is just for art direction), of 20 art directors will be employed during the making of "Marudhanaayagam." Above all, a film with a caliber equalling "Brave Heart," does command an "One Man Army" effort by Kamal as he handles the Story, Screenplay, Dialogues and Direction of the film!..

CINEMATOGRAPHY.. All hands had actually been raised in favor of P.C.Sriram to perform the duties of cinematographer for Kamal's biggest venture to date!.. But P.C.S. "Hee.. Hee"-ed his way out by stating that he will be the first ever thamizhan cinematographer for an English film. He definitely would not kottai vittu-fy his chances for doing so in the English film "London," set for the same call-sheet times as "Marudhanaayagam." So, in comes ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who stunned and thrilled Kodambakkam with his work in films like "Roja," "Indhira," and "Iruvar."

Since 180 days of "Marudhanaayagam's" shooting has been set in medu pallams of all sorts, a 'Steady Cam,' a certain type of camera which gives excellent results in cinematography even in bad and shaky terrain was needed. The cost of renting one of these cameras for a day runs into the thousands. As mentioned before, kaasu prachchanai-ye illai yenbadhaal, Kamal decided to purchase a "Steady Cam" for the film!.. He has also already packed off one of his unit men to America to learn the workings of the "Steady Cam." 

MUSIC.. From the news gathered as of this moment, Kamalahassan has signed tabla maestro Zakir Hussein

to compose music for the film.. Hussein had made a trip to Chennai and had extensive talks with Kamal, until the deal was finalized!..

STARS.. With Kamal, everything is done only in a glamourous fashion, and "Marudhanaayagam," definitely would not be an exception!.. For the first time in Indian film history, Kamal will use the most number of supporting actors, (the number running into the thousands) for his film!.. Furthermore, big stars like Rajinikanth, Amitabh

rajini.jpg (14826 bytes)amit.jpg (8768 bytes)madhuri.jpg (16778 bytes)

Bachchan, Karthik, Arjun, Sathyaraj and many others are expected to cut cameos or sizeable roles depending on what Kamal assigns them.. Madhuri Dixit (who actually needs a blockbuster hit soon!) is predicted to play the lead heroine, as many can expect several leading ladies in the Indian film industry to make surprise appearances in the film!..

PRODUCERS.. So far as we know, Kamalhassan's "Rajkamal Films International" has been declared the official producer of the film. Yet, there maybe more than 5 or 6 units involved in the production of the film, on behalf of "Rajkamal Films Int." Abaswaram Ramji, who was one of the on-lookers of the make-up workshop, appears to be the first unit's producer of the film!.. Hopefully more info on the producers will be available soon.

BUDGET.. Kamal's current budget for the film is a whoppingBS00005A.gif (2466 bytes) Rs. 25 crore. Yet, industry estimates indicate that that figure might double during the course of   production. Without a question, "Marudhanaayagam," will indeed be the most cosliest venture in Indian cinema history. Kamal is definitely not joking about this anymore!!..

INVOLVEMENT.. One aspect Kamal is extremely careful about is the involvement of the artists and technicians in his film!.. Undoubtedly, being an artist seeking the highest quality in technical aspects and acting, Kamal has signed a 2 year contract with each of his prime participants in film production (camera men, art direction, music etc.) for an unbelievable (eye-popping) salary figure!.. On a side note, Sarika Kamalahassan, who learned many of the make-up techniques in Barry Cooper's workshop, refused to divulge her exact role in the making of the film!.. She non-chalantly stated: "Padam thodangattum.. appodhu paarkkalaam."

WORRIES.. With a project of this magnitude soon to be underway, Kamal continues to be bothered by just one issue: What if another tamil film industry strike occurs again within the next two years, while he shoots the film? With so much cash flowing from all directions into the film, it is no wonder that Kamal is contemplating such issues before he begins the actual shooting!.. His current decision to continue shooting "Stree 420" with FEFSI workers has come under intense scrutiny, as the so-called gurus of tamil cinema, Bharathiraja, K.Balachandar and Balu Mahendra shun him as an entity in the film field.. Whatever be the end result, we all wish Kamal's "brave heart" the very best in fighting the odds and delivering excellent quality entertainment through his life long dream project "Marudhanaayagam." 

FINAL THOUGHTS.. Like any other Maniratnam film, it appears that "Marudhanaayagam," will be a completely 'hush-hush' project by Kamal. To maintain a surprise element in the film, very little information might be released to the press in coming weeks. Additionally, whatever information magazines have obtained so far have presumably been from sources who are close to Kamal on a day to day basis. Similar to last year's silent treatment for "Indhiyan," Kamal, his producers, artists and unit will keep mum for obvious reasons :-)

SOURCES: CINEMA EXPRESS, ANANDHA VIKATAN, KUMUDAM, THAMIZHAN EXPRESS.. (Also a Special Thanks to D.Tamizh Selvan of Chennai for sending us some valuable information!)

- Sandya Krishna -