An independent house on the outskirts of Chennai had been transformed into a palatial Karaikudi home. The entire place wore a festive look. After all, there was a wedding in progress, and the bride and groom were none other than Aishwarya Rajesh and Rahul Ravindran! We were on the set of Kannan’s untitled remake of the Malayalam film The Great Indian Kitchen. While cinematographer Balasubramaniem was setting the frame for the thaali-tying ceremony, we got talking to Kannan. “We’d been doing the pre-production for about two months. The storyline has a strong emotional connect. It’s strange how we don’t give much importance to the women who are with us always and take care of our every need. I thought the film had great potential and must reach people in all small towns and villages. So, I got the remake rights and started work immediately,” he told us, before going ahead to can the scene. Here’s what the team had to say about the film…
The first remake I’m working on: Aishwarya Rajesh
On doing a remake: I believe it’s very difficult to recreate the essence of an original work. That’s why I have said no to many remakes earlier. But I couldn’t say no to this one; it’s my first remake. It’s content that needs to reach a wider audience. I feel this film should also be made in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. When shooting for Ka Pae Ranasingam, I met this girl who was married off at a young age. She was working, and she was brought to the mandapam, saying it was for a friend’s marriage, but they married her off. Even today, in the interiors of our state, I feel there is no value for consent. In such a scenario, I feel a lot of people in towns and villages will watch this movie if it’s remade and understand why it’s important to value every girl’s opinion. On working with the film’s team: Balu sir’s visuals are very realistic and lively and it will be a visual treat. Rahul is doing a Tamil film after a long time. Since he is also a director, he is able to bring more depth to his character. I’m working with Kannan sir also for the first time, and it has been an amazing experience.
It’s fun to speak Tamil lines again: Rahul Ravindran
On his experience shooting for the film: It’s a sweet team that’s passionate about the film. It’s a fantastic script. The greatest joy in acting is when you get a well-written script and character. This is a story that needs to be told. It will be an immersive experience.
On working with Aishwarya and Kannan: I’ve been a huge fan of Aishwarya, but I met her for the first time on the set. I’m enjoying acting with someone as talented as her. She is the sort of an actress who can make her co-stars better. Though I’d met Kannan once at the screening of my second film, Vinmeengal, I’ve come to know him because of Chinnu (wife Chinmayi). She told me I can blindly act in his film because he is a sweetheart. And it’s true.
On returning to Kollywood: It’s good fun acting in Tamil and speaking lines in Tamil. My mom and wife are very happy because they have always been asking me to do a Tamil film. The biggest difference between working in Tamil and Telugu is, Chennai-la production breakfast will be good and in Hyderabad, production lunch is good. (laughs)
This story must reach people in small towns & villages: Kannan
On choosing Karaikudi as the backdrop: Fortunately or unfortunately, in our culture, the kitchen occupies a major place in every married woman’s life. The first question people ask a girl is, Unakku samaikka theiryuma? I felt that in the city, people are more accustomed to fast food and takeaway culture. But in small towns, people still eat home-cooked food. So, I thought Karaikudi would be a better place to set the film than Chennai.
On working with Aishwarya and Rahul: Aishwarya is a very strong performer and I knew she would own every scene in which she appears. She plays a Bharatanatyam dancer, and we have two songs that showcase the grit of her character and the intensity of the climax. I also chose Rahul because I needed an actor who could complement Aishwarya performance-wise. He is a good artiste and has done a variety of roles before. Both he and Aishwarya worked really hard for the film.
Though a remake, the making style will be original: Balasubramaniem
On working with Kannan: I did his first film, Jayam Kondaan. In these years that have gone by, I don’t find much difference in him as an individual. But as a director, there are a lot of changes. He told me that he wanted to do the movie in 15 days and that he had planned out everything. He has worked quite hard for it.
On doing a remake: I’ve seen the original, but just once because I wanted to understand the essence of the story. I don’t like to get influenced. This might be a remake, but the making style will be original.
On colour tones: I’m from Karaikudi. So, it was easier for me to fix the colours and tones. Everything that you see in the film – from the home to the outdoors – are all based on my experience growing up there.
The great Indian kitchen set
The kitchen is an integral character in the film. “In an original kitchen, we won’t get the kind of working space that a film set needs to move around. So, we chose to erect a set. Our art director Rajkumar has come up with a traditional kitchen space with all the props. Balasubramaniem wanted a door and a window at a particular place so that he could use natural light sources to shoot. He and Rajkumar have aesthetically visualised the whole space,” says Kannan.
Yogi Babu makes a cameo appearance
“He plays Aishwarya’s uncle, someone who kind of irritates her by teaching her how to make black tea and how to chop ginger! It’s a fun role and he shot for three days,” says Kannan.
Mostly cotton costumes: Pradeepa, costumer
Since it’s a story set in Karaikudi, we have used mostly cotton for everyday wear. For this wedding scene also, we’ve used simple silks.