Director Prabhu Solomon doesn’t allow you to take a wild guess about Kumki, his next film after the much talked about Mynaa, and clarifies at first that it’s a simple love story of a mahout of a kumki elephant. But looks like making the movie hasn’t been that simple.
The story is set in a village called Aadhikaadu and I imagined the village to be at the foothills, surrounded by waterfalls with yellow flowers and plants to complement it. So we waited till the monsoon season in July and August to shoot near the Jog falls, Mysore. I think only KB (K Balachander) sir has canned a few scenes for his movie Kalki near Jog falls before. And we shot the sequences with a backdrop of yellow flowers in Odisha in October, when the monsoon was at its best. I’m sure the visuals are going to stun the audience,” says Solomon. That’s why he took Sukumar, cinematographer for Mynaa, to crank the camera for Kumki as well.
Solomon, who says news reports about wild elephants entering villages inspired him to weave a story around it, has used a kumki elephant in the movie. “These elephants are trained to chase wild elephants back in to the forest. We got an elephant called Manikkam from Kerala for the flick. He is such an adorable one, and we treated him with utmost care. We even had a doctor who used to check Manikkam every day,” informs Prabhu.
The Kokki director says it was a coincidence that actor Prabhu’s son Vikram met him when he was looking for a suitable person to play the lead. “Bomman, the protagonist, has to be tall and lean because he is a mahout. So I least expected Vikram Prabhu to suit the role. But when he met me, I knew he was just perfect to play the role of Bomman,” says Solomon. Vikram Prabhu is a hard working actor. He spent about 20 days in Kerala to get himself trained as a mahout, says Solomon. “He was the one who fed Manikkam.”
While his excitement about the woods from when he was a child has made him opt for a forest backdrop in his movies, Solomon says he wants to portray nativity at its best in his films. “An Iranian movie will only talk about their culture, understanding and perspectives and that’s the case with any country. So why should we attempt to make films like others? As a Tamilian, I would like make movies about people I know and landscapes I have travelled across,” says Solomon.