Two National Award winning filmmakers — Bala and Bharathiraja — are at loggerheads now, over the issue of filming Kuttra Parambarai, which is about the survival of a fading tribe of people in pre-independent India. Two writers — ace writer-director Rathnakumar, a regular in Bharathiraja’s films, and writer-turned-actor Vela Ramamoorthy claim that Kuttra Parambarai is their story, and they had written the screenplay a while ago.
‘Kutra Parambarai’ is the name of a tribal community of professional thieves that the British had deemed to be among the ‘de-notified communities’ of Tamil Nadu. The books have also been written against that historical backdrop.
Vela Ramamoorthy had reportedly said that only director Bala could bring life to this subject, and that he was the right person to film it. He added that they would start shooting soon.
Irked by Vela’s claim, Rathnakumar tells DC that it is his story, and that only his longtime associate Bharathiraja, who has deep knowledge about the community, should direct it. “ I have written the story and dialogues for Bharathiraja sir’s Kizhakku Semmayile, Karuthamma and Kadal Pookal among others and directed Thirumagn, Sengatthu Bhoomiyile etc. I had registered my story and the title with the Tamil Writers Association in 1977, and Bharathiraja sir and I have been working on the script from then to bring it to a film format.
We even approached Sivaji Ganesan to play the father, and Sarath Kumar for the son’s role. In fact, we discussed the story in sessions where we were joined by director Mani Ratnam, Sivaji sir, Vairamuthu and Sarath. Sometimes, Vela Ramamoorthy was also a part of the discussion. It should be noted that even Maestro Ilayarajaa composed a song for the project. But, unfortunately, Sivaji sir fell ill and the project was put on hold. Just because Vela attended some discussions doesn’t mean that it is his story,” says Rathnakumar.
He fears that his story has been stolen. But why wait for three long decades before bringing it up, we ask. He explains, “It’s a project with a mammoth budget. Filmmaking processes have changed. It’s a dream project for Bharathiraja sir. We are just waiting for the right time.”
He further adds that his efforts to talk to Bala have so far proved futile. “I spoke to Bala a few times and also sent several text messages. But, there was no response from him.” The writer concludes by saying, “Bala is betraying Bharathiraja. If Bala directs Kuttra Parambarai, I will definitely file a legal suit against him.”