KLANG: When award-winning movie director Karthik Shaamalan was a student at Universiti Selangor (Unisel), one of his seniors, who was a close friend, died in an accident.
The deceased was very popular and his death came as a big shock to many, especially his family members who were terribly devastated.
“His family’s screaming at the funeral haunted me for a very long time and made me wonder about life’s intricacies.
“It made me realise how fragile life was, as well as question why there were many who did not appreciate it,” said Karthik, 36, when talking to The Star.
Realising that society needed to look at life more positively, he was spurred and deeply motivated to envision an emotionally-charged storyline that delivered a message of hope.
This culminated in the movie Adai Mazhai Kaalam, which is now playing in cinemas.
“I told the story in an engaging way which everyone can relate to,” he added.
The movie revolves around the untimely death of a 22-year-old man in a road accident due to the eagerness of a newly-appointed Grim Reaper.
To help the Grim Reaper cover up the blunder, a retired Cupid offers the departed man’s soul two chances to live again in another dimension and to strive for whatever he did not get to do while still alive on Earth.
“Adai Mazhai Kaalam (AMK) is a romantic fantasy drama that discusses the purpose of life and the importance of living it well before the inevitable happens.
“It is not a typical love story, but it’s a film that will question the audience about how much they actually value their life,” said Karthik.
Shooting had been a long process as he had wanted the cast to be comprised entirely of industry newcomers, hence there was some training required, he said.
The main lead, Loga Varman, was put through two months’ acting training and since the movie comes in two different time frames, it had to be shot depicting different phases of the characters’ lives.
“The cast had to put on 15kg for the shooting of segments covering them 34 years after the beginning of the movie.
“They then were given three months time to shed the 15kg, to look different for scenes depicting an earlier time frame of 20 years prior,” said Karthik.
As the movie was completed just before the movement control order in 2020, there was also a long waiting period for the final touches and sound mixing to be done before it was finally released.
Besides Loga, the other lead character is played by Thia Lakshana and the supporting actors are Jaya Kishen, Evarani, Vicky Rao, Ruvela and KS Maniam.
AMK also offers an added treat with its soundtrack featuring superstar Indian playback singers Hariharan and Benny Dayal as well as Malaysia’s very own Mugen Rao who has made a name for himself in the international circuit with his immense talent.
“I hope Malaysian movie buffs will go and watch Adai Mazhai Kaalam and tell us what they think about it,” said Karthik.
Karthik and his movies have won an array of awards globally, including Best Emerging Director at the Toronto Tamil Film Festival, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actress at the Norway Tamil Film Festival, and Best International Feature Film at both the DBIF Bombay Festival and Tamizhagam Awards Chennai.
He also garnered an honorable mention for Best Indie Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival recently, while his movies have seen nominations for Best International Feature Film and Best Actress at the prestigious Alternative Film Festival New York.