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Vikram: Lokesh Kanagaraj and I wanted to do a different Kamal Haasan film, says Rathna Kumar

Rathna Kumar had co-written the story and dialogues of Kamal Haasan-Lokesh Kanagaraj's Vikram.

  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 08.04 AM, Jun 14, 2022

Vikram: Lokesh Kanagaraj and I wanted to do a different Kamal Haasan film, says Rathna Kumar
Kamal Haasan, Rathna Kumar, Lokesh Kanagaraj

Rathna Kumar, the co-writer of Vikram, is overjoyed with the response to the Kamal Haasan-starrer, which hit the screens on June 3. “The feedback has been tremendous thus far. And, I can see why,” he smiles. “I knew Vikram was going to be a special film, ever since we started shooting. Lokesh and I are best friends. He was dreaming and preparing for this project for a very long time and I wondered what I could contribute to it. That's how it all started,” recalls Rathna Kumar, adding how Kamal Haasan approved of the script that the former had written during the lockdown.

“Lokesh was sure that Kamal sir had done it all. He wanted to bring out the action hero that Kamal sir (once) was. So, we wanted to remain loyal to the genre we decided to dabble with. Lokesh and I wanted to do a different Kamal Haasan film. It wasn't easy, but Lokesh's conviction made it possible. I'm glad the audience accepted the film the way it was envisioned.”

What Rathna Kumar enjoyed the most was how they made Kamal Haasan underplay in Vikram. “Nobody would have expected a Kamal sir film to begin this way. That's why I am happy about the reception the first half has received. Lokesh excels at the action. Making Kamal sir speak our lines was a dream-come-true moment for myself and Lokesh.”

Normally, we get carried away by the visuals or lead actors, when we watch a movie. Hence, it's unusual that a dialogue writer gets noticed for his work. Rathna Kumar concurs. “It is easy to write dialogues, but what's more challenging is writing scripts. It is mandatory that a dialogue writer has to put himself in the shoes of every character he writes for the film to create an impact!”

How was it to work with Kamal Haasan? Despite Kamal sir's initial idea, the Vikram character still needed to be developed from the ground up, says Rathna Kumar. There were times when a brief idea would be stretched to make it more powerful, he notes, citing the example of Amar's character, played by Fahadh Faasil. “Lokesh imagined Fahadh playing the role, while we wrote his character. To put everything into words was a little challenging. For instance, one day, we experienced writer’s block. We didn’t know what to do next. We quickly made a trip to Pondy. We thought everything could wait until then,” laughs Rathna Kumar.

How did Vijay Sethupathi come on board? Rathna Kumar reveals, “Lawrence sir was initially approached for the same role. However, as the character developed, Vijay Sethupathi sir was chosen!”

Rathna Kumar knew Lokesh liked certain attributes of him as a writer, whether it was Master or Kaithi. When Rathna Kumar writes a character, he treats them as if they were real. “However, it is sometimes difficult to incorporate our favourite lines into the story. I used to frown on the Master sets whenever my writing was tweaked. But it was Pon Parthiban who reminded me that my job was already over,” he laughs.

He talks of the changes in the audience’s taste and perception in the past few years. "Kamal sir has never done a larger-than-life hero subject in recent days. Gone are those days when the filmmakers would make films of their choice; now they've given in to the audience’s demand. But I was delighted to see Lokesh improvise a scene in Vikram based on Kamal sir's mannerisms. He is intelligent that way; Lokesh does not second guess his creative decisions,” Rathna Kumar notes.

There is a pressure, of course, on writers to come out with a good story point; which is why Lokesh didn't do cliched cinema, says Rathna Kumar. "It is unhealthy to bind our story within set parameters. We should break rules with conviction. And, that trust has paid off with Vikram," he concludes.