Group interactions with film personalities— especially in the presence of other media houses— for lack of a better word, can get crazy. Questions range from ‘neenga arasiyalukku varuveengala’ to ‘mutha kaatchigal irukaa?’.
For the latter question, the leads of Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum (RaRa), Ramya Pandian and debutant Mithun Manickam, answered yes, and clarified that they were talking about affectionate kisses with the two bulls that are at the heart of this film.
Responding to a question about the title, the film’s director, first-time filmmaker Arisil Moorthy, shared that it reflects the anger he feels.
“If you take a bus from Madurai to Thoothukudi, you see many developed villages. However, if you turn and go further inward, there are villages whose condition remains the same, regardless of who’s in power. For those people, it doesn’t matter if their land was ruled by Ram or Raavan.”
Arisil goes on, "We harbour a lot of anger towards people, the government, the politicians and government officials. We, the people, have all the rights bestowed to us by the government, but we never put them to use. Instead, we indulge in a blame game. The film speaks of how the solutions to our problems are very much with us."
The story required that the team find a barren, arid backdrop. “People usually refer to Ramanathapuram as you can spot such land there, but we couldn’t find what we wanted. We found it near Sivagangai. I wrote a scene in the script that involves a tamarind tree in between two coconut trees, and we were able to find exactly that!” he says. The director was keen on roping in a new face for the heroine, right from the conception of this story.
“We auditioned about 50 people for it but couldn’t find the right one. I was particular that the actor speak Tamil fluently. When Ramya came in and auditioned, she seemed to fit. The same happened with Vani Bhojan too.”
After the much-appreciated Joker, Ramya has returned again to a rural subject. “Despite the backdrop being similar, there is a lot of variation in story and characterisation. Unlike Joker in which I played a naive, taciturn woman, RaRa gave me the space to speak a lot and perform a lot too,” says Ramya.
The film is about the couple and how they look for their two bulls that they almost deem to be children.
“It was a nice experience to work with the bulls; we even developed a bond. I hope that has been conveyed to the audience,” she says.
Ramya sports a deglamourised look in the film. “I had to smear turmeric all over me, and thanks to the location’s unforgiving heat, I got tanned. Cinematographer M Sukumar told me to trust him, and it was during the dubbing that I realised that he was right. Sivakumar sir sent a voice-note appreciating me and even shared a few snaps of his favourite frames from the film.”
The male lead is played by debutant Mithun Manickam, who works for 2D Entertainment. “I work for the production team and when Arisil sir was working for the direction team of Soorarai Pottru, I got acquainted with him. After that, he handed over the script to Raja anna (Rajsekar Karpoorasundarapandian) who told me to meet Arisil sir. I thought he would need a hand to set up a new office for the film,” says Mithun.
“But then, he asked what Raja anna had told me, and I said that he only asked me to pray to my family deity before I go. And then, he gave me the script, and as I hail from a place near Sivagangai, I could vividly picture the happenings. I told him that I liked how grounded the film was and he said I would be playing the role of Kunni Muthu. I got nervous, but then, he assured me that everything would work out if I listened to him. I have only been doing that since then (smiles).”
Singer Krish, known for singing tracks like En Frienda Pola (Nanban), Oru Chinna Thamarai (Vettaikaaran) and Adiyae Kolluthey (Vaaranam Aayiram), has turned music director with RaRa. The idea, the director says, came from the film’s producer, Suriya.
“After listening to the narration, he wanted the entire team to be fresh. Just like the female lead, we tried about 20 music directors, but we weren’t satisfied. Krish had sent a song to Suriya sir earlier which he really liked. When we met the former, he composed a tune immediately, and I liked it,” says Arisil. “We have seen Krish’s persona as a singer, but people don’t realise that he has a lot of knowledge in regard to music.”
Krish ends the discussion by speaking of how people don’t realise that he actually hails from a town close to Trichy.
“As my father worked in a bank, I got to stay in a lot of villages too. Many veteran music directors, be it MSV or Papanasam Sivan, have given us content for rural films and their works will always stay fresh in my mind. I can sing about 5,000 Tamil songs without ever needing help with the lyrics because of that,” says Krish.
"In city clubs too, well-dressed people, dancing to hip-hop, lose inhibition and really begin dancing when they listen to kuthu songs. This music is a part of our ancestry and I have had a chance to create it for this film."