CHENNAI: Philanthropy in filmdom is usually about good publicity. But the sums in question are usually a few lakhs or even less, no matter how big the cause. Taking it to a whole new level, Muni and Kanchana director Raghava Lawrence donated the advance received for his next project Naga — a sizeable `1 crore — back to his fans. “All of you know where I have come from and how much I have been through to reach this level. A while ago, when Kanchana released, I was thinking long and hard about where all this money was coming from and I realised that it wasn’t from the pockets of the producer. It was from the folds of every poor woman’s sari when she gathers note after note to pay for a black ticket to watch my film, so that her son stops crying. The audience is my master and they are the reason that I have gone from a Yamaha bike to driving an Audi car. So, I wanted to give something back,” he said.
Starting as a choreographer, Lawrence finally got his break in acting with K Balachander’s Paarthaale Paravasam. He jumped on to the horror bandwagon and he acted and directed Muni. He went on to make a successful trilogy out of it. Kanchana 2, which released earlier this year, has been the biggest grosser in Tamil.
Handing out the advance on his next film — another horror comedy which will deal with snakes this time — appealed to him. “This money will be divided and given to a hundred youngsters whom I will select, to either help children study or to plant trees and make this State greener. I was thinking about what to call this project and asked my mother whether I could name it after her. She said no and we both thought for a while before we decided to do it in Abdul Kalam’s name,” said the actor-director. The project Kalamin Kalchuvadil (In Kalam’s Footsteps) will be guided by IAS officer Iraianbu, along with other socially conscious people.
Giving up such a large sum of money was tough, he admitted. Especially when he needed to convince his mother and wife about it, “When I told my mother she was shocked and said ‘one crore’ and asked if I was joking. I convinced her by telling her all about how I wanted to do something for the people from the money they were giving me. She finally agreed,” he said.
The two new titles that were unveiled - Motta Siva Ketta Siva and Naga - are both directed by Lawrence. Produced by Vendhar Movies, the films will look to cement Lawrence’s authority in the horror comedy realm of Tamil cinema.