Director Prabu Solomon who made waves with Mynaa is back with Kumki, the launch vehicle of Vikram Prabhu, grandson of the legendary Sivaji Ganesan and son of Prabhu. In conversation with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar, Prabu Solomon talks about Kumki, why he chose Vikram Prabhu, the locations, Imman’s scintillating music and his experience making the film.

How has Kumki shaped up?

After Myna, I expected Kumki to be in a particular manner. It has shaped up exceeding my expectations.

Has Kumki satisfied your expectations?

To put it strongly, Kumki is set in a fresh backdrop. It is going to be a chronicler of something that has not been done before and after this if someone attempts on such lines, there would definitely be a remark that it has already featured in Kumki. And Kumki can never be slotted in any specific format. I have seen the films innumerable times at the edit desk but don’t feel the tedium at all. It is in fact getting more interesting I should say.

Also, Kumki is going to be a musical film and is going to be shaped up with music. I have done the screen play through music after a long time. Within ten minutes of commencement of the film, the musical mood will absolve you and the travel will be a gliding one till the end credits roll. We are going for a live orchestration; it is long since we used brass and horns as everything has become electronic these days. We have broken all that and are going wider for music in this film. We are not hurrying at all and post production would take its own course.

Kumki is going to be a musical film

When was Kumki conceived?

I had the gist of Kumki when Myna’s post-production was going on and it was residing in me for a long period and it was a tough job to get it out of my system. And when I discussed about this, people dissuaded me from venturing in this and suggested that I should go for a leisure project that can be completed in 6 months. That made it all the more challenging and I definitely wanted to plunge into this. Elephant’s entry into villages is a usual subject that we read in papers every day.  I had kept this as the backdrop and have narrated a love story.

Myna has brought in big name to you. Was it stressful when you started Kumki?

It is not like that. Even in my previous films like Kokki or Lee, I had put in the same amount of work that I did in Myna. Hence there is no difference towards my work or approach towards this (Kumki). In my previous films, I had some monetary issues which are not there now. That’s all. As justification, I waited for seasons to shoot. In Jog falls, there will be water only in August and yellow flowers will bloom in Arakku Valley only in October. And hence to shoot songs in these locales, I waited for the season to happen. Time starts to eat this way but the results are fantabulous. When the audience watches the film, it is going to be a visual treat. They need to be exhilarated and the songs should make them come to the theatres again and again. That’s what I want, and hence waited and shot.

Why Vikram Prabhu and Lakshmi Menon?

It is only because of the script. When I was thinking of someone standing near an elephant, I envisioned a tall and thin guy and one fine day Vikram Prabhu comes with his stills. With the very first sight, I decided this was my Bomman. I did not conduct auditions for him. Same thing goes for Lakshmi Menon too. How I wanted my Alli to be, she fitted in all aspects. When they were seen together, they were exactly like my Bomman and Alli.

How was it to work with the elephant?

It took three months to fix this elephant Manikkam. I scouted more than 50 elephants and each one had its own facial features. I wanted my Manikkam to be young and found him in Thiruvalla. This apart, I never had any tension in shoots. Manikkam was a good and friendly elephant. Travelling was indeed a huge task for me.

Thambi Ramaiah

Thambi Ramaiah is joining me after Myna. He plays Vikram Prabhu’s maternal uncle in the film. What I like in him is, once I convey my expectations of his character, he is an actor who understands and delivers it perfectly.

Music director Imman

The strongest back bone of Kumki will be Imman’s music. He has a huge task on hand. When you watch some films without music, it will just stand as plain visuals and music is the element which breathes life into the visuals. This holds good even for Hollywood films. Even in Titanic, when you watch it without music, it would just appear as plain life-less ship. When you open the music, the ship takes life.

In Kumki, the travel is possible only with the help of Imman’s music. For Imman it is going to be a challenging task to string the story in a cohesive beautiful manner. Of course, he has delivered the songs excellently in 8 months. For Onnum Puriyalai song, there were 3 voices and I did not like them, dismissed them and as the fourth voice, I liked Imman’s which satisfied all our expectations.

For the Aiyyayyo number, I made payment for two big singers and finished the recording in Mumbai but yet was not satisfied. I wanted the feel and the expression of the mahout in the voice which should scream of jubilation and there should be no digress from this feel. Haricharan was brought in and he received the narration of the story for an entire day and he almost transformed into a mahout. And Yugabharathy’s lyrics also added the necessary spunk. Imman is going to rock again.

The strongest back bone of Kumki will be Imman’s music

Cinematographer Sukumar

Again Sukumar is from my Myna team. When I told him about the destination of my story and wanted only natural lighting which is either early morning or towards evening. We never shot the film in top light. Love is the mood of the film. So I wanted all the frames to be like a greeting card. That’s when music will work out. Sukumar has come into my groove and will do what I ask as he understands me. He can do wonders and can work in any kind of film.

Now Sukumar can work in any kind of film

Vikram Prabhu

Vikram Prabhu completed his studies in US and wanted to act in films here. Kumki will be a big lesson for him. From training with the elephant to ‘becoming’ a mahout to completely change the language of communication (he was used to speaking in English), it was a tough job. What I like in him is that he is very adaptable and there will not be any second thought to abide by the instructions. He was much forthcoming to everything however painful they were. I am sure he is going to emerge successful.

Kumki will be a big lesson for Vikram Prabhu


Location plays a big part in Kumki and is the actual hero of the film be it the songs or the backdrop or the village. For the Sollittaale song which was shot in Jog falls, we waited for six months. To reach the camera to the spot in the rain was a tough task. My co-directors and film fraternity told me about the difficulties. But I took it as a challenge.  We did not want to do a superficial job. We took the equipments to 1700 feet down and recorded. To reach the spot, it used to take two and a half hours and there were times when we had taken the equipments in dark. But today when I see the product in big screen, all the troubles have vanished and I am excited about the result. Ayyayyo Anandame song was shot in Kerala and Orissa border. For Onnum Puriyalai song, we covered all the yellow flowers. The detailing of the song took time to zero in on the locations. The village will appear green during the opening sequence, then it slowly turns dusty brown and during climax, the field will be ready for harvesting. So we had to wait for such seasonal change. Hence waiting for the location took its own time.

Locations play a big part in Kumki

Producer Lingusamy

For every director it is important that he gets a good producer. I just told Lingusamy the one line as the narration happens only in travel. He never asked me any questions and has not even asked me when I am going to complete the film. He would only check if everything is shaping up well. He is a very nice gentleman. I pray that everyone gets such a producer.

Lingusamy is a very nice gentleman

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