To denote that we are all the same but keep looking for opportunities to establish superiority. The jaadhi sandai maidhanam is just a metaphor. You could replace caste with aspects like language and religion, and it would still feel the same.
This is why, during his introductory speech, Pulikesi says, “You need not fight on the streets and cause damage to public properties. If this is successful, we will introduce fights based on religion in the future.”
I added many contemporary elements to make the audience have a personal connect with the scene. Whenever I see cricket matches, I see spectators carrying banners with strange text. Namba aalunga Tendulkar ke advice pannuvanga. I found this to be hilarious and used an exaggerated version of this with people holding signs like, “Sirumoolaiyai pithuvidu”.
I went a step ahead and mentioned that the tournament is sponsored by Akkamala and Kapsi, which are rehashed names of famous soft drink brands. A good satire should make the person being caricatured on screen to laugh along with the audience. That’s a lesson I learned from watching Chaplin and NS Krishnan. I always ensure that this balance is maintained. This is why my films haven’t faced backlash, despite the many references to real issues and people.
It also helps to have someone like Vadivelu sir who adds something special to the script and elevates the scene. As he has a theatre background, the role was a cakewalk for him. In fact, I wrote the script with him in mind. Traditionally, period films feature kings as alpha males, with a muscular physique. However, evidence from museums shows that they were, in fact, very normal-looking, with some even having a pot belly. I don’t think any other actor could have played this role as Vadivelu did. The downside of working with such a brilliant comedian is that the other actors keep bursting into laughter during the shoot, and the number of retakes keeps increasing.
I was a political cartoonist with a famous Tamil magazine before I became a filmmaker. During my time there, I learnt that people will celebrate any art form that addresses current issues in an interesting manner. My films talk about relatable issues that are intertwined with our daily life. I don’t place these elements in my films expecting them to create sensation and be the talk of the town. I just want these to be reminders of problems we conveniently forget in our busy lives. If my films somehow helps people find a solution to these issues, there’s nothing more I can ask for”