Late Tamil filmmaker KV Anand was known to opt for names with a deep literary meaning

Film titles have always been a window into a storyline’s essence. And Tamil filmmaker KV Anand, who passed away on Friday morning, is well known for putting in a lot of thought into his titles.

He might have been a filmmaker who followed a lot of international cinema, but Anand was also a voracious reader of Tamil classical and contemporary works. With the exception of his debut directorial (Kana Kanden), all his six films are one-word titles. They all bring back Tamil words that have largely gone missing in the contemporary context.

“He (Anand) had a knack of picking titles with a deep literary meaning. A lot of filmmakers do not do that, thinking that common audiences might not understand it. But he would go in search of such words,” recalls lyricist Madhan Karky.

One of Karky’s favourite anecdotes is what unfolded during the song composition of their superhit track ‘Ennamo Edho’ from Ko. “I wrote the phrase, ‘Kuviyamilla Katchi Pezhai…’, but was hesitant about it, as most directors might reject it, in the fear that people might not understand it. But he (Anand) went ahead and chose it, and in fact, congratulated me for writing the line, which means out of focus [the protagonist plays a photographer],” recalls Karky.

Madhan Karky | Photo Credit: SRINIVASAN L

If Anand’s superhit Suriya-starrer was titled Ayan, which means God/creator, Anand decided to christen his 2011 youthful political action thriller, Ko. Ko means ‘King’ and goes with the power struggle theme in the film. Commonly used Tamil words like ‘Kottai’ and ‘Kovil’ too are said to have its origins from this root word.

Later, when he worked with Suriya again, he opted for strong Tamil words such as Maattrraan and Kaappan. For his Dhanush-starrer, he went for Anegan, which means a man with many shadows.

“He looked for hero-oriented titles but was willing to experiment with words not in vogue,” explains lyricist Viveka, who worked with the filmmaker on the ‘Amali Thumali’ (Ko) and ‘Nani Koni’ (Maattraan) tracks, both composed by Harris Jayaraj. “When such old Tamil words are used by a modern filmmaker, they bring a lot of audience interest in finding out more, and it leads to more learning.”

As KV Anand was also an accomplished cinematographer and travelled widely for shoots, he would look into the meaning of every line in a song keeping in mind the visuals that would go with it. Explains Viveka, “For a track in Ko, I first wrote: ‘Amali Thumali, Kulu Manali….’ Both Harris and I loved it, but Anand was unhappy. As a cameraman, he knew that he was going to film that song in scenic foreign locales and thought that the word ‘Kulu Manali’ might not be apt in that context. Much later, when he brought back photos from the shoot, I saw a lot of valleys in the place, and so we went with ‘Amali Thumali, Nelizhum Valley.’”

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