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Started movie with just $188: Maithanam director

Muthuswamy Sakthivel (SUPPLIED)

By VM Sathish

The debut film by a young Indian Tamil film director Muthuswamy Sakthivel is proving to be a major hit for the Indian and international audience at the Dubai International Film Festival 2011. The movie which had international premiere at the DIFF, narrates the story of four common friends and village folks from a Tamil Nadu village.

Speaking to Emirates 24l7 during the international premier of Miathanam (Life is a Game), Tamil writer and director said he started the movie project with just Indian Rs10,000 (Dh710, $188) in hand. “Tamil cinema industry is now a multibillion dollar business and commercially produced films are very expensive. This is not a low budget movie, but when compared to big commercial movies like Yenthiram, (Robot) by Rajanikanth, this is a relatively low budget move. Such movies are going away from peoples’ lives.”
Shaktivel said he is getting encouraging feedback from the audience, and his plan is to make more movies that tell the real life stories of people. 

Muthuswamy Sakthivel is a Tamil writer and director who has written several short stories and screenplays.

“Commercial films are moving away from peoples’ lives and Maithanam movie has proved that many important aspects of the community life are not reflected by the mainstream movie. He may not be fluent in English to talk extensively in a sophisticated style about the movies, but his camera touches real life,” said an Indian, who watched the premier show at the Mall of Emirates cinema hall. As he is not commercially prudent, the movie is already out and through pirated CDs it is already popular in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Maithanam, Life is a Game, is a Tamil feature film that had an international premier in Dubai International Film Festival, 2011 and the director and producers are thrilled by the feedback. Presented as part of the Celebration of Indian Movies section of DIFF 2011, Sakthivel said he could not afford to pay the very high fees demanded by some Tamil actors and actresses. Film producer S David and T Sathish Kumar said they were interested in the movie, after their first commercial movie did not succeed. “We feel there is enough scope to make such movies, which tell stories of our day-to-day lives. The Tamil movie industry is going only the commercial way and there is scope for such low budget movies.”

Sathish Kumar is a real estate dealer and plans to partner with Sakthivel for more such movies. Rajani Kanth, the Tamil Superstar is the highest paid Indian actor, drawing Rs125 million and distribution rights in some areas.

“We started the movie with just Rs10,000.  The four main characters in the movie, Sugumar, Logu, Suri and Sekar earlier worked as assistant directors of leading Tamil directors. They did not take any big money for their roles. The story happens in a hemlet in Tamil Nadu, live four friends Sukumars sister Santhi who falls in love with one of the four friends. The movie, a crime story based on village life, is based on a real incident in Tamil Nadu and it tells the story of four friends who live in a Tamil village neighbourhood and one of the friends kidnap a young girl, sister of one of the four friends.

“It is a story of friendship and love. Logu, one of the four friends is in a predicament because his close friend’s sister proposes to him, but he is in a dilemma as her family has already arranged her marriage. Mysteriously she goes missing, a week after her engagement. The movie has several dramatic twists and turns, as ultimately the missing girl was found in a neighbouring house.  It is based on a real life incident in a village and ultimately the man who abducted the lady is poisoned and killed by his own mother. After the missing girl was spotted, the family faces lot of social stigma, prompting the young girl to commit suicide. Ultimately, one of the four friends who had a budding love affair with Santi marries her, and the man who abducts the lady dies – his own mother poisons him.”

The film will not encourage people to take law in to their hands, but highlights a traditional wisdom that even a big criminal or criminal has to obey his parents or elder family members. Even after committing a big crime, he has to come back to his family and it is the mother’s right to punish him, said a movie observer.