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Exclusive! Kurangu Pedal captures a generation's emotional connection with a bicycle: Kamalakannan Subramanian

Kamalakannan Subramanian's Kurangu Pedal is all set to be screened at the Indian Panorama section of the 53rd International Film Festival of India, Goa, later this month

Exclusive! Kurangu Pedal captures a generation's emotional connection with a bicycle: Kamalakannan Subramanian
Director Kamalakannan; (right) A still from Kurangu Pedal
  • P Sangeetha

Last Updated: 01.28 PM, Nov 19, 2022

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Director Kamalakannan Subramanian's latest outing Kurangu Pedal is all set to be screened at the Indian Panorama section of the 53rd International Film Festival of India, Goa, on November 23. The film, helmed by the director, who had earlier made Madhubaanakadai and Vattam, revolves around a boy's journey of learning to ride a bicycle. The star cast includes Kaali Venkat, Prasanna Balachander, Jenson Diwakar to name a few. OTTplay caught up with the director for a quick chat. Excerpts from the conversation...

Did you expect the film to make it to the Indian Panorama section?
Not really! The plot is based on a short story penned by Raasi Azhagappan. When I read the story many years ago, I instantly felt a personal connection with it and I thought that people of my generation would be able to relate to it. In fact, Kurangu Pedal was supposed to be my very first film and we had even done a test shoot for three days. But, I later realised that making a children's film at the outset of your career is no cakewalk. But during the recent lockdown, I felt that I should have made Kurangu Pedal first.

As for the recognition at IFFI, it comes as a helpful byproduct. Otherwise no one would really care about the film as it's not star-driven. After the screening at the Indian Panorama, the film will compete for the coveted Golden Peacock at the Goa International Film Festival competition section. Only three films have been selected from India out of 15 films and Kurangu Pedal is the only Tamil film.

A still from Kurangu Pedal
A still from Kurangu Pedal

What were the challenges adapting a short story into a feature film?
First of all, the short story is set in Kanchipuram. I, on the other hand, grew up in Erode and Salem. So, I had to adapt the story to the Kongu region. We shot the portions on the bank of river Kaveri, right from Komarapalayam to Edappadi. The short story was only a premise for the film and we had to add many more characters and layers to turn it into a two-hour long story. The biggest challenge, however, was zeroing in on the child artistes.

It took us almost 8 months to finalise them. We were looking for children who were not very old and not too young. Plus, their characters required them to have  good stamina. They also needed to know how to ride a bicycle but act as if they didn't know. We did a recce of entire Tamil Nadu and shortlisted children from Tiruvannamalai, Coimbatore and Erode. We finally zeroed in on the children from Erode. They were trained silambam artists and hence, were perfect fit for the characters.

How did you train them?
The rehearsal and training went on for 3-4 months. The kids had no idea how filmmaking worked. I had to assign an assistant director whose only job was to make sure that the kids woke up and went to bed on time and did not fight with each other. They were so well-trained in martial arts that if we intervened during a fight, we would get hurt (laughs).  Right from how to look at a camera, to adapting to retakes and maintaining the continuity of the emotions of the story, we had to train them thoroughly. It was quite an interesting experience.

Kaali Venkat plays a crucial role in the children's film
Kaali Venkat plays a crucial role in the children's film

Now that you have made a film on children, are you satisfied?
A creator is never satisfied with his work as there is always scope for improvement. But I am glad that people liked the film. Many stated that it took them on a nostalgic trip to their childhood.

Did you weave in your personal experiences as well?
Of course! See, I was born in the early '80s. Getting to ride a cycle in those days was like a dream come true. We had to gingerly escape the eyes of our parents and neighbours, get hold of a bicycle and then ride it. I remember there was a steep road near my college and we would walk along with our cycle for almost an hour to just climb up and down the road four-five times.

What would you call the highlight of the film?
The cycle, of course! You don't see cycles with 'kurangu pedal' anymore. The film captures a generation's emotional experience of learning to ride a cycle. Those born in the '80s and grew up in the '90s would be able to connect with the scenes instantly. For us, it was like coming of age. I have also incorporated a dialogue to capture the emotion. 

Kurangu Pedal also features an emotional bond between a father who is unable to teach his child how to ride a cycle and his son, who desperately wants to learn to pedal away. The story happens during the summer vacation. The technical team comprises cinematographer Sumee Baskaran, music composer Ghibran Vaibodha, editor Shivanandeeswaran and sound designer Antony BJ Ruban.

And what about its release?

It's too early to talk about that but I am planning to release it in theatres next summer. I want the film to do many more rounds at the festival circuit and gauge the responses of the audience.


The film has been bankrolled by Savitha Shanmugam and Sumee Baskaran of Montage Pictures and co-produced by Sanjay Jayakumar of SRJ Productions.

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