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Exclusive! Payanigal Gavanikkavum, not a frame-to-frame copy of the original: SP Shakthivel

An adaptation of the Malayalam film, Vikruthi, Payanigal Gavanikkavum, streams on aha Tamil

  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 07.18 AM, May 04, 2022

Exclusive! Payanigal Gavanikkavum, not a frame-to-frame copy of the original: SP Shakthivel
Payanigal Gavanikkavum poster

Contrary to the popular belief that remakes are easy to helm, director SP Shakthivel, who rose to fame with Bobby Simha-starrer Urumeen, thinks that the task is more challenging than making a direct film. Talking about his latest release, Payanigal Gavanikkavum (streaming on aha Tamil), an adaptation of the Malayalam film, Vikruthi (2019), he says, "The central plot of the Malayalam version (based on incidents that took place at the Kochi metro) appealed to the team so much. I reworked the script, according to the sensibilities of the Tamil audience. I'm glad that Payanigal Gavanikkavum has opened to good reviews."

Shakthivel believes remakes are tricky and feels that's what makes the whole exercise challenging. "Films are being remade because the original has been tested and proven. Just because I remake a film; it doesn't mean there's less focus on creativity. Some stories can be told and re-told. It's important that, as a director, I had to rediscover it all over again. Actors had to understand my vision, and it's not easy to achieve that balance."

Though remakes are prone to comparison, Shakthivel is cool as long as his approach to filmmaking remains honest. "I don't subscribe to the idea of copying or imitating something from the original while working on a remake. Payanigal Gavanikkavum, for instance, is not a frame-to-frame copy of the original. A lot of changes have been made to the script. It's a heartwarming film that would instantly connect with today's middle-class crowd. In the Malayalam version, there were too many characters; whereas in the Tamil version, there are a bunch of characters, who help the story move forward. Actors changed; and as does the cultural milieu."

Shakthivel shot Payanigal Gavanikkavum in 24 days. "We couldn't shoot those train sequences in Chennai, owing to the Covid-19 restrictions. We shot them on the Jaipur metro, in three days. As for the actors, Vidharth and Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli were trained in sign language. They had a 15-day workshop. Also, on the sets, we had instructor Ramakrishnan, who helped us out. I'm grateful to him at this point!"

Shakthivel was into film editing before he called it quits. "I specialised in non-linear editing. But I lost interest in it. I wanted to tell stories, and write. Before making Urumeen, I worked on three films," he notes.

He caught Vikruthi only once but translated the whole script from Malayalam into Tamil; dialogue-wise. "The original writer was happy seeing the output. Telugu films are easier to remake, but when it comes to Malayalam, it is different. Only Drishyam achieved that kind of an impact. It was because of the screenplay, which was fantastic," observes Shakthivel, who, in fact, liked Maara, the Tamil remake of Charlie. After a pause, he adds, "Had Dhruv Vikram featured in it, instead of Madhavan, Maara would have been a sure shot hit!"

After the 2015 fantasy, Urumeen, Shakthivel wanted to do something different, and that’s when the idea of doing a film about dogs struck him. "It was quite an ambitious film. But, fortunately, we had to shelve it, owing to the budget constraints. My idea was to focus on the relationship between a dog and humans in the forest space. The lives of dogs can be as dramatic as ours," he smiles.

Shakthivel got stuck in this untitled project; subsequently, the Coronavirus happened. "Vidharth is my good friend. Usually, we discuss ideas and scripts. Both of us have been wanting to do a film for quite some time, and that's when we thought of remaking Vikruthi. Once aha Tamil came on board, everything fell into place. Vidharth is a fan of good cinema and has a knack for choosing good scripts. Nalla padam yaaraavadhu panninaa, thedi poi appreciate pannuvaaru. I like that quality in him," he signs off.