Director Badri Venkatesh is only one feature film old—Baana Kaathadi, way back in 2010. He’s back now for this week’s Atharvaa-starrer Semma Botha Aagathey. “Way back in 1996, I got a National Award for Vidiyalai Nokki—the only Tamil short fiction film to win this accolade till date. Now Tamil cinema has got a short film culture but even back then, the film got screened in about 30 film festivals. Just because it started so early for me, I didn’t get too attracted to it,” says Badri, who has also been busy with his work on the small screen with almost 5,000 episodes of TV serial writing to his credit.
“I also directed the First Tamil comedy show King Queen Jack and the first Tamil reality show, Nalaya Natchathiram. From there on, I’ve done hundreds of reality show, stage shows, and award functions.”
The director calls Semma Botha Aagathey a ‘happy youngster film’. “We are not trying to break the rules of commercial films or get into the annals of Tamil cinema. We just wanted to make an entertaining film. If you’ve got some amount of youth in you, even if you’re more than 50, you’ll enjoy this film,” says
Badri who believes that films should serve to ease the stress of the audience. “For a Rs 150 ticket, I make sure the guy who takes two friends along with him for the film won’t get abused by them (laughs). You can forget the film after you come out of the theatre,” says Badri, who believes that there’s only one similarity between this film and his first, Baana Kaathadi. “Both the lead characters are called Ramesh.”
He explains what the film is about. “Drinking is bad, but what could make it worse? Taking a decision when you’re drunk. In six hours, the high vanishes but not the decisions taken. That’s why the film is titled as Semma Botha Aagathey,” says Badri who considers himself as “a slightly socially conscious director”. “There are lesser number of drinking scenes than in an average film. There are no smoking scenes either.”
Incidentally, Atharvaa and Badri were supposed to start a film immediately after Baana Kaathadi. “It was to be shot completely abroad. Now it’s easy but seven years back, it wasn’t. That’s when Bala sir called Atharvaa for Paradesi and I also got busy with shows.”
Semma Botha Aagathey also marks Atharvaa’s debut as a producer. “It was supposed to be for another producer but as it was getting delayed, Atharvaa wanted to produce the film himself. Apart from being an actor, he’s a movie buff who keeps seeing films every day,” adds Badri.
Mishti is making her Tamil debut with Semma Botha Aagathey, while Baana Kathadi was Samantha’s first film to hit the screens (though she had acted in two films which released later). “I can’t take credit for introducing Atharvaa and Samantha. They are so talented that they would have made it to the industry. Similarly, Mishti has done more than half a dozen film and was launched with veteran Subhash Ghai’s Kaanchi: The Unbreakable. Her Bengali film Porichoi was directed by my close friend’s wife—so that’s the connection. Though her screen space is limited, she has done a splendid job.”
The film also brings back the trio of Badri, Atharvaa and Yuvan again. “When Atharvaa and I got together, we just had to go for Yuvan. I know people will talk about Yuvan when walking out of the theatre. His background score is brilliant,” says Badri.
When asked why he had to wait eight years for his second film, he jokingly says, “When working on TV content, I don’t even think about film and vice versa. As a professional, I know they are both strong avenues. Much money is involved in both industries. Sometimes, TV shows are more expensive than small-budget films. Even an award show which happens for just a day costs about Rs 4 crore.”
He assures his next film will come sooner. “I’m planning a big masala film for which the script is ready. There’s also a horror thriller which is a favourite of mine. The first advance I got for a feature film was for this horror film but it didn’t take off for various reasons. I’m considering writing for web series too,” signs off Badri.