How the director of local Tamil film 'Maindhan' beat the odds

C. Kumaresan in Maindhan.

C. Kumaresan in Maindhan.

'I knew that Malaysians would support me and the local movie industry. All we needed to give them is something they like.' — C. Kumaresan

When C. Kumaresan first decided to direct a Tamil film, he was constantly discouraged by naysayers who argued that “nobody watches Malaysian-made movies”.

Thankfully, Kumaresan knew better than to give up on his dream because his movie Maindhan is currently the highest grossing locally-produced Tamil film of all time in Malaysia.

Almost reaching RM1mil in ticket collection nationwide, Maindhan beats the record previously held by another Astro Shaw movie – Appalam – and is also slated for release in India on Sept 19.

“I knew that Malaysians would support me and the local movie industry. All we needed to give them is something they like, something the audience can enjoy and be proud to call their own,” explained Kumaresan.

“I had the idea to do the movie in my head, for over six years, but only in the last couple of years I seriously thought about making the movie, and I am happy that I finally did it.”

Although Kumaresan made his debut as a Tamil film director with Maindhan, he has been involved in the local entertainment scene for over a decade.

He has acted in several locally–produced TV series and movies, and even directed the hit Gerak Khas series for about 13 years.

“This is not new for me, however this is the first time I have produced the screenplay, directed and acted in my own movie,” he said.

There are two reasons why Kumaresan decided to act in his own film, instead of leaving it in the hands of another established actor.

The movie requires the main actor to shed weight and Kumaresan didn’t have enough budget to pay an actor to commit that much to the role.

“I figured that it would be cheaper for me to lose weight, and grow my hair, than to ask someone to do it,” he said.

However, the bigger reason is because Kumaresan had emotionally invested so much into the main role that he felt it is unfair to himself to let another actor play the part.

“I did nothing but watch Tamil movies for over a year, analysing and studying the story lines, the main characters, the attractive elements in the movies and how I can produce them in my own movie,” he revealed.

Maindhan tells the story of Dev (played by Kumaresan), a drifter who struggles with depression and whose life changes when he meets a boy escaping human traffickers.

Of course, like most Tamil movies, Maindhan too has elements of love, comedy, drama and more important, songs which have enjoyed repeated airplays on local radio stations.

“I worked with so many talented people in Maindhan, it truly was an honour. I knew that the movie had what it takes to make it big, but honestly, I didn’t know that it would be this huge,” he admitted.

Kumaresan believes that one of the reasons Maindhan resonates with Malaysians of all ages is because there’s something that they can relate to in the movie.

“It tells their story in one way or another and that’s why they are so attached to it.” said Kumaresan.

It is this tremendous support that has motivated Kumaresan to bring the Malaysian Tamil movie industry to greater heights.

“Malaysians are so proud of this movie that they are recommending it to Indian film stars and I heard that (Indian movie star) Suriya had even promised to watch this movie. And the only reason why Suriya even knows about this movie is because Malaysians told him about it,” said Kumaresan.

He added: “I always knew that I could count on Malaysians to support their own, and they didn’t fail me. Not now, not ever.”

Maindhan is available on Astro First (Astro Ch 480) this month.