Kolamaavu Kokila director Nelson on signing Nayanthara: ‘I knew she could pull off the titular role with ease’

Nayanthara-starrer Kolamaavu Kokila, bankrolled by Lyca Productions, is one of the superbly promoted and marketed Tamil films in recent times. Instead of trying to grab the attention of moviegoers with contests and campaigns on social media platforms, the makers relied on the film’s content and started dropping innovative promotional videos featuring Nayanthara, Yogi Babu and music composer Anirudh Ravichander.

One of the masterminds behind the idea is director Nelson Dilipkumar, whose debut feature Vettai Mannan, starring Simbu, got shelved eight years ago. In this exclusive chat with Firstpost, Nelson talks about his television stint with Vijay TV, working with Lady Superstar Nayanthara, and how Kolamaavu Kokila, which hit screens worldwide on Friday, happened.

“I started my career as an assistant scriptwriter on a television channel. It was quite a travel from then to now. But I can’t do a cinema just for the sake of making it; it should be commercially viable with good content. Also, it should make the audience want to come to theatres to watch it. I invested in a lot of time before I zeroed in on Kolamaavu Kokila and developed it,” Nelson told Firstpost.

Nelson revealed that he first narrated the script of Kolamaavu Kokila to Sivakarthikeyan. “Because our friendship dates back to our television days and he is a person who never thinks twice to give his honest opinion. After I received extremely positive feedback from Siva, I approached Nayanthara. Instead of taking a few days time, she immediately offered her consent to be a part of the film. It came as a massive surprise to me. That’s how Kolamaavu Kokila happened,” said Nelson. “After I developed Kokila’s character, it was Nayanthara ma’am I had in mind. She was always my first choice for the role. I knew she could easily pull off this character which does things way out of our imagination but still is innocent by nature. And, as I expected, she performed with sheer ease and brought the Kokila I imagined alive on screen. Also, given her stardom, her presence makes a film commercially workable,” he added.

After watching the insanely viral ‘Kalyaana Vayasu’, track featuring Nayanthara and Yogi Babu, film buffs were of the opinion that the film is going to be a quirky comedy. However, Nelson says he would not categorise the film under any particular genre. “I’m not sure if you can confine Kolamaavu Kokila as a dark comedy film, because the characters are nothing less of reality. There are no forced comical tracks in the film; I had a picture of every character’s mood in my mind, so their reactions to any situation will be organic and with no intent to induce humor. I wanted to balance both commercial and critical aspects. Not just the lead, but there’s a character arc for everyone,” said Nelson.

Talking about the idea behind using Gautham Menon for the voice-over in the song ‘Edhuvaraiyo,’ Nelson says, “My original plan was to use a rap portion in the song, but Anirudh felt it’s quite typical. He wanted to use a voice-over, and he suggested Gautham Menon. Ani knows music better than me, and I wanted him to follow his guts. Then we approached Gautham sir, and he agreed without any hesitation. We just conveyed him the mood of the song and Gautham sir himself wrote the dialogue. The recording was done in a matter of thirty minutes.”

Kolamaavu Kokila has been one of the well-received albums of Ravichander. Almost all the songs from the album have become chartbusters. On his collaboration with the ‘Kolaveri Di’ composer, Nelson said, “Anirudh and I share a great rapport, and he was ready to compose the music for my first film even before things were finalised for the movie. After it materialised and Nayanthara came on board, it was pretty easy and comfortable for him. All I conveyed him was the overall mood of the film and my expectation for a unique album in his style. It was easy for me to tell him my expectations considering his zero-ego nature and he was ready to accept my opinion. Also, he never hesitated to defend his decision if he feels it might work better.”

Nelson also revealed that it was Anirudh, who had set up the meeting with Lyca Productions after hearing the premise of Kolamaavu Kokila, which also stars Saranya Ponvannan, Motta Rajendran, Aranthangi Nisha and Jacqueline in pivotal roles.

On a concluding note, Nelson said, “We managed to complete the project in a stipulated period. My television experience is the reason I could wrap the shoot on time. I was well-equipped to plan things in advance and execute it. We intended for a 50-day schedule and completed the shoot in 45 days. If something drifts from the plan, I already have in mind; it makes me jittery.”