DHANUSH FELT THE STORY OF NIL BATTEY SANNATA NEEDED TO BE TOLD IN THE SOUTH TOO – Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
by Rinku Gupta
Dhanush has not only carved a niche for himself as a consummate actor and singer, but his Wunderbar Films has also made his name synonymous with quality films. His productions like Kaaka Muttai and Visaaranai have been critically acclaimed internationally. Next from his stable in Tamil is Amma Kanakku, directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, a debuting Mumbai-based filmmaker. The film is a remake of Nil Battay Sannata starring Swara Bhasker as the mom of a 13-year old.
It may be recalled that Anand L Rai who is the producer of the Hindi version, had directed Dhanush in his Hindi debut Raanjhana and the two share a good rapport. Giving us a peek into how the Tamil remake idea came about,director Ashwiny says, “Nil Battay Sannata was made in 2015 in Hindi. When Dhanush visited my producer Anand Rai, and happened to see a rough trailer, he was totally hooked. Dhanush felt that this was a story that needed to be told in the South and should be remade in Tamil and offered to co-produce the Tamil version.” It was then decided that both language films would release simultaneously in 2016.
The Tamil version called Amma Kanakku went on the floors in January 2016 and is now going into post production. The Hindi version has already premiered at the Silk Route International Film Festival in China where it won heroine Swara Bhasker the Best Actress award. So, expectations are already high. Moreover, Dhanush has given the Tamil version another shot in the arm by approaching the legendary music director Ilayaraja for the music. Obviously, debutant Ashwini Iyer is excited, “It was completely Dhanush’s idea. He wanted to share the film with Ilayaraja sir. When the maestro saw the Hindi version, he took a day to think it over and then told us he liked it and was very happy to be part of the project.” The camerawork for both the films is by Jigarthanda fame Gavemic U Ary.
Ashwini Iyer, who is the wife of Bollywood director Nitesh Tiwari, (of Bhootnath Returns and the upcoming Aamir Khan starrer Dangal) has had a rich innings in the ad world as Creative head of advertising giant Leo Burnett. She later branched out to make her own ad films, after which the idea of directing a feature film hit her. Recalling how it happened, she says, “Amma Kanakku is the story of a 13-year-old girl and her mother. It’s a woman- oriented film based on education and about something faced by women in all parts of the country. It’s an issue that I always wanted to talk about. It was my experience in advertising that pushed me to do this film. There we say a message in 40 seconds. Films are a bigger platform with a bigger reach so I wanted to give it a try. The film is an entertainer but the viewer will take home a message.”
So while Nil Battey Sannata (roughly translated into Good For Nothing) is based in Agra, Amma Kanakku, starring Amala Paul as the young mom, Revathi and Samudrakani, is based in Chennai. Ashwiny, a Keralite born and raised in Mumbai, is familiar with the Chennai milieu due to her frequent work related trips to the South in the past. However, she fine-tuned her script to add the local flavours. She is all praise for her producer as she recounts, “The best part of Dhanush as a producer is that he gives full space to a director to work. His forte as a producer is, despite being a busy star, he is fully involved in the film in all dimensions. Right from giving me inputs for the local flavours to fine- tuning the script and marketing the film, he gave us full support.”
Close on the heels of Sudha Kongara, who made a successful bilingual like Irudhi Suttru (Saala Khadoos) recently, Ashwiny Iyer is yet another woman director, to enter Kollywood in recent times. So does the success of these films spell good times for woman directors? “It is a good time for directors across the country. It’s not about whether it’s a man or a woman directing but about what kind of stories they are telling. I believe that at the end of the day, it’s the stories that count,” concludes Ashwiny.
Amma Kanakku will release on April 22nd along with its Hindi version.