While dubbing for Pathil Piraku Varum, one of the five stories in the film Aynthu Unarvugal (Five feelings), based on a short story by late writer R. Chudamani, was in progress, sound engineer Arul Mano was stunned when the heroine bluntly said, “I may remain unmarried, but I am not a virgin.”
“The reaction of the sound engineer made me realise the power of the lines,” said award-winning director Gnana Rajasekaran, who has made five stories written by Chudamani into a film.
While it is like an anthology, all stories in Aynthu Unarvugal are connected by threads represented by the personalities of five different women, of different ages. “Chudamani has delved deep into the minds of her characters and has created a devastating effect through them. She was far ahead of her time in capturing the aspirations of a modern woman, and they are unconventional,” said Mr. Rajasekaran, who has earlier directed Mogamul, Bharathi, Periyar and Ramanujan.
The other stories in the film are Kalangam Illai, Amma Pidivathakari, Thanimai Thalir and Irandin Idayil.
Though originally planned for release on an over-the-top (OTT) platform, the opinions of a distributor, a theatre owner and an agent for satellite channels, after watching the film, convinced Mr. Rajasekaran to release it in theatres.
“They were actually in tears after watching Thanimai Thalir, the story of a child who refuses to leave her grandparents to join her parents. Pathil Piraku Varum also had a huge impact on them, and they asked me to release the film in theatres,” Mr. Rajasekaran said.
For a director whose earlier films were met with cold reactions during first-copy stages, the reaction from those who watched Aynthu Unarvugal was encouraging. “When I completed Mogamul, many said I could try to get an award. No one said anything positively about Bharathi and it received approval only after being screened in theatres,” he said.
Mr. Rajasekaran agreed that it was a challenge to convert a short story into a film, as a short story had its own openings and endings. “The ending of suspense is the first sentence of the story Amma Pidivathakari. The canvas, a novel created for a film, will not be available in short stories. I have to remove a character in one story and create a character in another who finds only a reference in the story to make the film realistic,” he said.
Justice Prabha Sridevan (retd.), who has translated some stories of Chudamani into English and who has watched the film, was happy with the way the stories were converted into film. “When you translate a story from one medium to another, it is not possible to fully achieve the effect of the original. A trace of Mr. Rajasekaran is inevitable. Similarly, an element of myself will be there in the English translations,” she said.
Mr. Rajasekaran also explained the challenges of creating subtle, fine and ordinary feelings between characters, just as they were portrayed in the films of late director Bhim Singh. “While such feelings are retained in Malayalam films, they are overstressed or exaggerated in Tamil movies. It is my strong conviction that the content of the film should decide its length,” Mr. Rajasekaran said.
Ms. Sridevan said that at a time when people did not have the patience to read stories, the film would kindle interest in Chudamani, who has effectively conveyed the idea of compassion in her works. “She dealt with current issues and modern ideas long ago. Her characters reject the role the society has assigned to women,” Ms. Sridevan said.