Director Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi calls herself an impulsive person. She believes in taking life one day at a time, and you can see this philosophy playing out in her OTT debut series, Paper Rocket, in which a bunch of support group members go on an impromptu road trip of self-discovery. Kiruthiga believes that the series is very personal to her and was inspired by an episode from her own life. “I remember my childhood through the trips my father took me in his car. We loved travelling together as a family. Journeys have magic to them that changes your perception of life. I have tried to show this in Paper Rocket.”
Initially, she struggled to box Paper Rocket into a format. “I came up with the idea way before web series became a thing. I kept the script aside, seeing that the script couldn’t fit into a feature film format. However, a call from ZEE5 gave me the much-needed push to adapt this story into a web series.”
Kaali, which was released four years ago, was the last directorial of Kiruthiga. “I kept writing a lot of scripts and pitching them to producers. I never took a break; I just didn’t find the right banners to bankroll my projects.” She feels that the support of her family enables her to do whatever she wants. “Cinema is a demanding field for women, and without an understanding family like mine, my journey couldn’t have been this easy. Being a part of a political family has never come in the way of my creativity and experimental side,” she says.
Though she hasn’t trained under any director, she considers Mysskin as her main support among contemporary filmmakers. “He has no biases based on gender. He sees me as an equal, contemporary director and keeps pushing me to go the extra mile in cinema.” She adds that her next project will be a step in that direction. “I strongly believe all social rules are meant to be broken and my next film is about a person who operates with this idea in their mind. I have signed the film, but I am yet to finalise the actors. Hopefully, you can hear an official announcement soon.”
Kiruthiga spent a couple of days with 30 transgender people before she made Sadhayai Meeri (2017), a support video for the community. Her Paper Rocket too deals with serious issues like sexual harassment, in a sensitive way. She hopes that male filmmakers will show such sensitivity too when they write women characters. “Many of our films still show women being sexy lamps, while the men get strong, interesting roles. Such errant portrayal creates flawed expectations among our boys when it comes to relationships.
Having a woman writer in the team will help address this, but all I wish for is a little effort, for starters.”
Writing relatable love tracks for today’s youngsters might be tricky business, but that’s where Kiruthiga’s experience as a mother of teenage children comes in handy. “My kids don’t see me as a boomer. They are more my friends, and we even listen to the same music. I don’t quite feel my age and am a kid at heart. I guess that makes my views align with this generation of youngsters.”
Asked about the road ahead, she shares that ‘the plan is not to have a plan’. “I don’t even have insurance coverage. That’s how much I don’t believe in having long-term plans. I will continue to trust my instincts and do whatever excites me.”