Bakkiyaraj Kannan, the director of Remo, starring Sivakarthikeyan and Keerthy Suresh in the lead, is confident that his decision to make the Maan Karate actor play a nurse will pay off handsomely.
Having assisted Atlee in Raja Rani (2013) and Sundar C in Kalakalappu (2012), he tells CE, “People like the idea of a man playing a woman. They don’t get bored of watching such characters onscreen. I can’t say why, but I think men being sloppily dressed as women and their funny mannerisms appeals to everyone. For example, Kamal Haasan in Avvai Shanmughi (1996), Prashanth in Aan Azhagan (1995) and Vivekh in Guru En Aalu (2009)...audiences still remember these films because of the lady get-ups.”
He is debuting with this film as a director. Is he not nervous as October 7 will have Rekka and Devi (l) releasing alongside? “Absolutely not! You cannot categorise Remo under a particular genre. As a team, we are sure of the film’s success because of Sivakarthikeyan. The trailer had clocked over a million views in less than 24 hours of its launch. His fan base is such. Also, his last release Rajini Murugan was a sensational hit especially in the B and C centres. In fact, he’s a saleable mass hero, who has immense support from the family audiences. As long as you’re giving variety to the audience within that commercial framework, it will work. We were particular that nobody should feel that Siva is in disguise,” he smiles.
However, Bakkiyaraj quickly adds he did feel the pressure because of the big-budget. “Veterans like cinematographer PC Sreeram, sound engineer Resul Pookutty and Hollywood make-up artist Sean Foot supported me. We spent a lot of time in pre-production and we knew what we were doing. There was a lot of positive energy around.”
It was Atlee who introduced the director to Sivakarthikeyan. “When I told Atlee about the idea of Siva playing a female character, he liked it and put me on to him. Though initially, Siva was apprehensive if he could take this decision at the growing stage of his career, he was eventually convinced by the script. Everyone, including music director Anirudh wanted him to give it a shot as it would be different from what all the roles he had essayed before,”
While Sivakarthikeyan plays a nurse and a drama artiste (guy-next-door), Keerthy Suresh is a doctor. “Actually, we wanted to have some other heroine because we thought repeating Keerthy in Remo after Rajini Murugan wasn’t a good idea. Then, PC Sreeram suggested that we have her. Moreover, the team wanted someone who could be well-versed in Tamil,” he says.
The filmmaker could not stop gushing about Siva’s professionalism. “No actor could have done Remo except Siva. For more than 60% of the film, he is seen as a nurse. We had test shoots, and 15 different make-up and styling for that role. We zeroed in on the one you see in the movie.”
The make-up was so thorough that even traffic cops did not recognise the actor! “One night, we asked him to walk up to a traffic constable to ask for directions. The cop told him that ‘women aren’t supposed to go out late’. He didn’t recognise Siva! When we were shooting in Vizag, a passer-by asked who this new heroine was (looking at Siva) we told him that she was Anushka Shetty’s sister. He believed it,” he laughs.