Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan on tackling a queer romance in ‘Kaadhal Enbadhu Podhuudamai’: If two people are in love it’s their choice

While his previous film ‘Thalaikoothal’ may not have achieved massive box office success, it captivated audiences on Netflix. However, in contrast to ‘Thalaikoothal’ where love played a secondary role, filmmaker Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan’s upcoming film ‘Kaadhal Enbadhu Podhuudamai’ thrusts love to the forefront, this time encapsulating a queer romance, and its familial ramifications.

The concept for ‘Kaadhal Enbadhu Podhuudamai’ (‘love is universal’) was seeded in Jayaprakash’s mind soon after his first directorial venture, ‘Lens,’ made its debut in 2016. During a trip to Bengaluru to discuss a Kannada project, he narrated an idea about a lesbian dancer to a doctor friend seeking inspiration for a music video. This topic unexpectedly struck a chord of discomfort, highlighting the societal stigma against queer themes.

This initial turbulence did not deter Jayaprakash. His journey took a turn when ‘The Mosquito Philosophy’ launched on MUBI, capturing the attention of director Jeo Baby, renowned for ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’ and ‘Kaathal – The Core.’ As a result, Jayaprakash found himself a candidate to steer a new Tamil film, thanks to investors who gravitated towards Jeo Baby following his acclaimed release.

Delving into the film’s essence, Jayaprakash reveals a twofold objective: to instill hope and shed light on the LGBTQIA+ community, thereby fostering pertinent conversations. Actor Lijomol Jose, appearing as one of the leads alongside Anusha Prabhu, resonates with this sentiment, affirming the film’s potential societal impact. Vineeth, Rohini, Kalesh Ramanand, and Deepa round out the noteworthy cast.

For Jayaprakash, the subject of a queer relationship is fundamental and intrinsic to humanity. “If two people are in love, it’s their choice,” he states, voicing a message of acceptance and respect for individual freedom in matters of the heart.

His directorial approach relies on presenting multifaceted conflicts through a tapestry of characters and situations. He emphasizes that while his films may tackle contentious social issues like senicide in ‘Thalaikoothal,’ they do not assert solutions, but rather offer human perspective-driven narratives.

Love, as an undercurrent in his previous film and as the central theme in ‘Kaadhal Enbadhu Podhuudamai,’ is to Jayaprakash an omnipresent element, surpassing material pursuits, and is destined to influence his future works as well.

One of the compelling differentiators of ‘Kaadhal Enbadhu Podhuudamai’ is its focus on the internal dynamics of a family grappling with a queer relationship, a dimension often overlooked in conventional queer cinema. Anusha Prabhu, who plays the female lead, highlighted the significance of portraying family acceptance and empathetic storytelling to resonate with a broader audience.

Nevertheless, Jayaprakash expresses concern over the delineation between commercial cinema and parallel cinema, particularly in Tamil film circles. He notes that despite greater acceptance for content-driven narratives in Malayalam movies, Tamil cinema still heavily favors mainstream features, leaving less room for experimental narratives on popular streaming platforms.

Reflecting on his own filmmaking journey, Jayaprakash shares anecdotes hinting at the industry’s resistance to innovation and an undervaluation of his directorial experience. However, he is hopeful, waiting for the right opportunity to possibly venture into more commercial cinema.

‘Kaadhal Enbadhu Podhuudamai’ premiered at the International Film Festival of India and screened at the Pune International Film Festival. Its festival circulation continues as audiences eagerly anticipate its theatrical release, promising an enlightening portrayal of love’s manifold expressions.

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