Controversies have hounded Aami from day one. Unsurprising since Aami is the biopic of Kerala's legendary wordsmith Madhavikutty, who herself wasn't alien to controversies. Debates may rage, discourses may spark further rows, but director Kamal is unruffled. This may be the most scrutinised project in his oeuvre, but Aami was nothing but an exciting journey for him. As Aami finally hits the screens on Friday, Kamal opens up about his work, challenges he faced and how excited he is.
‘Aami’ must be the most challenging of your works. Did you expect the controversies?
The controversies surrounding Aami are natural and I had always anticipated it. But, the whole process was very exciting for me. I was very excited when I scripted it, the same excitement was there when I shot for it too. Now, I am excited about the release as well. That said, there were challenges too. All the controversies about casting and questions like whether a biopic was necessary, were raised. For me, this was like any other film, minus the controversies. Never once did I have second thoughts about doing it.
Are you apprehensive about the post-release reactions, since it isn't easy to make a Madhavikutty biopic that pleases all?
I don't really worry about people's reactions. As a writer, I work only if a subject convinces me and Aami did that. Whether the audience would love it in all its totality is another thing. Madhavikutty is a person who led a life with many variations and complications. And her life makes for a wonderful cinematic material. I have 100 percent trust in Aami.
That said, everybody perceives Madhavikutty and her works differently. Aami is my version of Madhavikutty and I have been faithful to it.
How much of her life is reflected in ‘Aami’?
It is a biopic and not a documentary, hence there will be a lot of fictional elements. Nobody can make a 100 per cent truthful account of anybody's life. Either you depend on somebody else's account or take from the person's account of his/her life. For Aami, I collected materials from people close to her, including her children and sister. While there are fictional elements that connect the sequences in the screenplay, I have tried to make Aami as close to reality as possible. People close to her have seen the screenplay and are convinced.
Even for Manju Warrier, playing Madhavikutty must have been a tough experience
Of course, it wasn't easy, considering that the character had many variations. However, all the
controversies notwithstanding, I think Manju is perfect for the role. She has done a great job and I can't think of a better actor to play Aami. Not just Manju, every other actor did their part well. I knew Murali Gopi was my Madhava Das right when I was scripting Aami. But, the point to note here is that it is not just the physical resemblance that makes an actor fit to star in a biopic. See how well Priyanka Chopra played Mary Kom in the biopic, despite sharing no resemblance. Cinema is all about make-believe and when an actor sinks his/her teeth into a character, we no longer see the actor, but only the character. In Aami, everybody has done a great job.
How did you react to all the controversies surrounding ‘Aami’?
It's sad that we live in a time of intolerance. Unlike the 1970s and 80s, there is a lot of opportunities for people to voice their opinions, thanks to social media. But, it is unfortunate that many people who criticise cinema don't see it in the depth it demands. Many times, cinema isn't treated like a real art form. Then, it is not possible to make a movie, thinking how the social media would react to it. As for me, I am least bothered about the negativity churned out in social media platforms.