Observing the lead cast of Oh My Kadavule (OMK) — Ashok Selvan and Ritika Singh — interact with each other at The Hindu’s office, is a study in organic chemistry. It is not the factually accurate definition, but you get the idea.
And what is chemistry without its equations?
Sample this: we ask Ashok who he would prefer to have his fanboy moment with, and he says, “Ritika Singh!”, before continuing, “Because she is amazing! Ayyo, what a performer and as a person… I love her. I’m a fan.”
We look to Ritika only to find her blushing, and in her turn she says, “It is him (Ashok) only. I’m genuinely a fan of this guy. I love the way he carries himself. There are not many men like him, who are secure enough in their masculinity to not get intimidated by someone like me.”
Ashok interrupts with: “Yeah, she intimidates a lot of men… wherever she goes,” before breaking into a smile, as Ritika continues, “I’m not praising myself but I have a very strong personality. I come across as… tough, and overpowering. Many men I have known have been very insecure, and they have made me feel like I’m the wrong kind of girl. He (Ashok) is not like that. He makes you feel that you are good enough the way you are.”
Edited excerpts from an interaction with the duo:
Ritika, you said that you agreed to do OMK because you’d get to wear a Christian bridal dress… True?
Ritika Singh (RS): (laughs)… That was a joke.
Ashok Selvan (AS): Don’t lie! (laughs)
RS: No! That was also one of the big pluses. But mainly it was the fact that it is a romantic comedy. I always wanted to do a film where I get to be a little normal. (Ashok sniggers, Ritika notices and smiles back). In all my other movies, I have been been a little ‘Grr’, so this is more normal. It is a very girl-next-door kind of character, and then I head that Vijay Sethupathi was doing an integral part in the film. I was sold.
AS: Wait, so not for me? (makes a playful frown)
RS: (smiles) Ashok is… the main reason actually.
AS: Now in the next interview, she is going to say that was a joke! (laughs)
Why choose Vijay Sethupathi to play God?
AS: The role required somebody the audience would love to listen to. I mean, I’m a fan, so is she (points at Ritika) and my whole team is a big fan of Vijay Sethupathi. We like to see his interviews: his mind space is very interesting, his way of looking at things and answering questions. We wanted somebody who can project warmth. Simply put, he has that aura.
Tell us about your character, Ritika?
RS: My character’s name is Anu. She and Arjun have been best friends, but she has always had these feelings towards him ever since she was young. She has always known but he never realised, and suddenly, one day, he goes, ‘I cannot marry somebody I don’t know’. So I say, ‘You have me. You have known me all your life. Why don’t we get married?’ He doesn’t have a reason to say ‘No’ to me, and we end up getting married. I’ve always wanted to take things forward with him and….
AS: Ok, wait! (and puts his hand across)
RS: That’s just the trailer (she bats his hand away and continues)
AS: Okay, just keeping a check (smiles)
RS: Yeah, so… you have seen it (trailer) right? He doesn’t reciprocate really well, and that is where the insecurities begin. Anu is insecure and she is uncertain of what this guy is going to do…
AS: (In a hushed tone) I’m mysterious like that…
RS: Ptch! There is no mystery (Ashok laughs). He is like an idiot in the film.
AS: Only the character…
RS: Yeah, character. Not in real life. He is very mysterious I must say in real life… Quite the Scorpio!
AS: (Rolls eyes)… every conversation with her will lead to sun signs… I’m warning you now! Anything you say will lead to…
RS: (Asks the writer) When is your birthday?
AS: See, I told you (laughs).
RS: (Laughs)… like I was saying, Anu is a very normal girl and I enjoyed playing a character that is more relatable. I am sure many women would relate to her.
Tamil cinema is giving us a pure romcom (romantic comedy) after a long time. Ashok, you are aware how this industry has made it a habit to follow a trend. Are you scared that it will be similar with OMK?
AS: I’m hoping that OMK creates a trend, because I’m bored of horror and thriller films. Romcom films, right now, may look like a risky thing for producers. If OMK creates a pattern, then that (notion) gets broken, but I can only hope that more versatile films come. Maybe, the films that always work have a good script. If that becomes a trend, that will be nice and not a trend based on the film’s genre.
- A romcom film, Oh My Kadavule chronicles the life of Arjun (played by Ashok) and Anu (played by Ritika) — two best friends who choose to get married because Arjun does not want to get hitched with someone he “does not know” (read as: arranged marriage). But problems begin soon after the wedding as Arjun struggles to romance his best friend, and things are further complicated when a high school crush, Meera (played by Vani Bhojan), gatecrashes the party. Throw a God act by Vijay Sethupathi into the mix, and Oh My Kadavule promises to be a fun Valentine’s Day watch.
Ritika, you have spoken about how enjoyable it was shooting for the film. Could you share any fun moments from the set?
RS: Every day was fun. He (Ashok) is always embarassing himself…
AS: (With a confused look) …excuse me?!?
RS: Yeah, that’s true! (smiles)
AS: (Nods affirmatively) Kinda true.
RS: Honestly, so am I. (Looks at Ashok) Go on, you can say it.
AS: (Takes a deep breath) She is so calm and composed on the set. She is sooo normal (Ritika starts to laugh)… NOT! (both laugh). But she has got that energy which made a lot of difference to the movie. It was nice. All I can think about making this film is happiness.
RS: Yeah, I never once felt tired. I was never… like stressed, even after working for 24 hours. It felt like I was on a holiday, working with my favourite people every day. I actually miss shooting. I want to go back on the set and shoot again with these people. That is how much I loved it.
Long time coming
- Produced by Ashok Selvan and Abinaya Selvam for Happy High Pictures and Dilli Babu for Axess Film Factory, Oh My Kadavule is filmmaker Ashwath Marimuthu’s debut feature. Ashok and Ashwath go a long way back to when the latter was a contestant in the television programme, Naalaiya Iyakkunar. “We made short films, and one of them won the best film and best actor award on the show. That is how this whole trust came about, and we are friends basically. It was an unwritten agreement that we were going to make a film someday,” says Ashok.
Given that shooting again is not happening anytime soon… what is the feeling like?
Ashok gestures a silent “Oh no!” and shakes his head. He says in a hushed voice, “She will break down” (laughs)
RS: (Smiles) There is this thing I have in my head. I don’t want to watch the film because if I do, then OMK will be over for me. The end. Full stop. I don’t want that full stop to come. I don’t want it to end, that is the feeling I have right now.
AS: All of us have that feeling. There is a sense of ownership in all of us because we involved everybody in the script.
RS: That is the best part about him and his sister (Abinaya Selvam, who is co-producer). They kept all of us involved. They would send messages saying what was happening, like the music is being composed now etc. No one does that, and in the film’s poster also they have written my name. They (producers) never do that. It is always the actor’s name. I called Abinaya to tell her that it was very nice of her to put my name up there. I feel like this is my film, and I genuinely want it to do well.