CHENNAI: At the age of 80, there is no stopping this octogenarian with regards to his creativity. K Balachander, recipient of Padma Shri, needs no introduction, especially to audiences down south. Known for his major contributions to the Tamil film industry, this man is in many ways a star maker — having introduced actors including Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth, Prakash Raj, Vivek and the like to Tinsel Town.
The small screen hasn’t escaped his magic too — the popular ‘Balachandarin Chinnathirai’ — ‘Kai Alavu Manasu’, ‘Rayil Sneham’, ‘Kadhal Pagadai’, ‘Premi’, ‘Jannal’, ‘Anni’ and more, made waves. The veteran director is now back with ‘Shanthi Nilayam’, which airs on Jaya TV.
“Making serials is more difficult than making films, as the former involves ideating on a daily basis,” he begins.
“This time, I wanted to try a different subject, a different theme. If you think it is yet another female-oriented subject, you are mistaken. The highlight in ‘Shanthi Nilayam’ is the concept of a hospital. Everything is connected to the hospital,” says the artiste, who is known for dealing with complicated interpersonal relationships and social themes in his works.
‘Shanthi Nilayam’ may come across as an unusual name for a serial that deals with a hospital. “I was determined to fix this title for the serial. The hospital is a very sensitive place — there are emotions, hopes, prayers, life at its edge, life all set to begin and a whole bunch of feelings. There is also the gory side to it — you have surrogate mothers, kidney rackets, middlemen, and what not! The entire team wanted to portray these issues and give them a probable solution,” reveals Balachander.
In ‘Shanthi Nilayam’, the set up is that of a private hospital. A young doctor — 22 years old — by the name Rathi (incidentally also her real name), is made the managing director of the hospital. The story revolves around how she deals with the various challenges of the job, while living up to a doctor’s ethics.
“She is the fulcrum, but not the protagonist,” clarifies Balachander.
Talking about the shooting, he says, “The conceptualization took about three months, when we had about 30-40 issues charted out. And by the time we got a slot on Jaya TV, I had about 25 episodes ready. I did not shoot in the premises of a real hospital, but at a set erected in Valasarawakkam. The hospital exterior was shot at the Alpha College of Engineering.”
The idea of a soap itself gives one a picture of overt drama and sob, but KB assures that this serial won’t be anything close to that.
“There is beautiful romance, witty humour and several light moments. Nobody will weep watching it. Above all, there are new characters introduced everyday in the series, which gives it a lot of variety,” he promises.