K V Anand
Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar & Inian | Coordination : Venkatesh | Camera : Pandian | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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Cinematographer turned director K V Anand swiveled the direction of spotlight towards him with his blockbuster Ayan. His third directorial venture Ko is ready for release which has already created quite a lot of buzz in the industry with its stylish visuals and radiant songs. K V Anand shares his thoughts on the film, its making and on his team with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar and Inian

What is the inspiration behind Ko?

I started my career as a photojournalist and have worked for India Today, Kalki and other newspapers. I have even penned a few articles for Kalki. This was my inspiration to do Ko.

Significance of the title Ko

There are many meanings to the word Ko in Tamil. It means a King or a leader. It is a beautiful Tamil word. Kavi Ko is a good example which we use quite often. I felt this word was apt for the story and hence the title Ko.

I strongly believe in good casting

Ko’s specialty?

The main specialty of Ko is its strong story line which writers SuBa and I have worked together on. A story should be fresh and at the same time should not be alien to the audience who should be able to relate to it. I wanted the premise also to be different.

The general image of a journalist in the minds of people is a pathetic, emaciated man with a faded kurta, thick rimmed spectacles, a dirty sling bag and two day old stubble who is struggling with his editor to publish his article. But this is not the case anymore.

I wanted to portray a corporate atmosphere with a salary on par with IT industry, filled with young brains working for the right cause and a very supportive editor who will stand up to his staff at all times. For this reason we researched many newspaper offices, their culture, the relationship between the editor and the assistant editor, the working of photo department, sub editors, meeting of deadlines and their working during crisis times. We have worked taking all these aspects into consideration.

I strongly believe in good casting and feel that if a face can endorse the character being played in the film, the performance of the artists will go to the next level. And Jiiva, Karthika, Piaa, Ajmal, Prakash Raj and Kota Sreenivasa Rao have all acted out their characters very well.

Cast of Ko

There is a big star cast by way of Jiiva, Karthika, Piaa, Ajmal, Prakash Raj Kota Sreenivasa Rao and Jagan. They have all done well and I am happy about it.

What will be special about cinematography in Ko?

I believe a good visual is one which conveys the emotions without dialogues and not something that shows a scenic location or a beautiful flower at close-up. Lighting and composition should simplify certain aspects and make the audience understand what is being conveyed. This is what I believe and in Ko, Richard Nathan who had worked with me as an Associate Cameraman in Sivaji and also the DoP in Angadi Theru, is the cinematographer. I liked his realistic approach and called him to wield the camera in Ko and I am satisfied with his work. He understands me well. It is being said that a director and a cameraman are like husband and wife and a cameraman should quickly understand the needs of the director even with a slightest hint and that’s how I have always worked with many directors. All the discussions would be before we reach the spot and not at the spot. Richard also worked with me like that. He brought the right kind of look in all the scenes like how I had envisioned. There were different kinds of moods in Ko but Richard’s work linked all of them and converged them to a point.

Director and cameraman are

like husband and wife

About the Phantom Flex camera used in Ko

You can shoot up to 2500 frames in HD format using Phantom Flex. It was a new model in July 2010 and the manufacturers had kept this as a demo piece. When Sterovision Harish informed me about this, I thought why not I try this here. We have shot the climax using this. Phantom Flex has not been used in any film till now except in a test run in a Hollywood film. The camera was useful in extending and enhancing the content in the climax.

Harris is a perfectionist

Harris Jeyaraj’s music

Harris is my very good friend. I have worked with him in Ayan and knew him from Chellamae days. What I like most about Harris is his complete involvement in a project. Harris is a perfectionist. I am happy that all the songs in Ko have become a hit. I took him to Harbin in Northern China for composing the song ‘Ven Paniye’ where ice festival is held every year. There are many ice constructions there. They put bricks in the river
with a thread when the river is running which later becomes ice blocks when the water freezes. Using these blocks of ice, they conduct ice festival in January. I wanted a very soft and a melodious tune for a situation. I took Harris to Harbin and we roamed the city and got back to the hotel. Immediately, he went to his keyboard and looking at the ice festival from the glass windows of the room, he composed the tune for Ven Paniye with his hands shivering from the -27 degree C outside. Harris generally hands over the tune only after he is completely satisfied and Ven Paniye was one such tune which happened very fast. The visuals have also come out very well and this is my favorite number from the film.

Your quest about unseen locales

It is easier to shoot in foreign locales these days and there would come a time when audiences would be familiar with every street in Switzerland, Malaysia and Australia. I don’t want this to happen in my films. When I feel something new in a particular place, I would like to present that to the audience. That’s why I went to Africa for Ayan and now I have shot in Norway and China for Ko.

About the song that features many stars

A get together party at the newspaper office with VIP guests as invitees had to be filmed in Ko and I called my friends for the Aganaga number and they also obliged.

When actually did the direction bug bite you?

I have worked in 13 films as a cinematographer under established directors like P C Sreeram, Priyadarshan, Shankar, Mansoor Khan, Rajkumar Santoshi, Vasanth, Chellame Gandhi Krishna and Susi Ganesan. The thread that connects all these directors is they all work for the script and not for the heroes. The films I worked for them had bound script with which we went to the shooting spot. Shankar starts his schedule only after he completes the script.

Shankar starts his schedule only

after he completes the script

A director’s first assistant is the


A director’s first assistant is the cameraman and he works only for a limited period with technicians like music director or art director or script writer but works for an extended period of time only with the cinematographer. My association with these directors is almost like an assistant director and I have learnt a lot in this process and also understood what not to do. Having gained such experience I readied the script of Kana Kandein with SuBa. To cut a long story short, it is all fate. That’s about it

On SuBa (Suresh-Bala)

My association with SuBa (Suresh and Bala) goes a long way from 1986 during Kalki days when I was a photographer and they were reporters. When they were working on crime novels, I had photographed cover designs for them. Later when I went to cinematography, they used to appreciate my work and also point out my mistakes. I like the fast pace in their novels.

Ko is closer to my heart

When I started my direction stint (Kana Kandein), I approached them for the story. I suggested the theme for Ayan, sat together and conceived the screen play. We talked to immigration personnel and understood various aspects of smuggling and fine-tuned the script. As regards Ko, they have worked as reporters and I have worked as a photographer and this helped us much. And so Ko is closer to my heart than my other films.

Ko is a better script than Ayan

Did the success of Ayan pressurize you when you started Ko?

No, I did not have such pressure. Firstly our work should satisfy us. I enjoy my discussion times and the thrill and suspense factor in the film to such an extent that I dream about them in my sleep. I will be pressured that things should shape up well but not pressured due to the success of Ayan. According to me Ko is a better script than Ayan and it has given me more satisfaction than Ayan, not only to me but also to my producer, editor Anthony, cameraman Richard, music director Harris Jeyaraj and to everyone involved. Whoever saw the film, they only have this to say- Ko is a better film than Ayan.

About Maatraan?

I had told the one line to Suriya immediately after Ayan and we were to start that project then. As Suriya was doing Murugadoss’s project, I started work on Ko as its script was also ready then. Maatraan is at a very nascent stage and I have nothing to say about it now.

Personally what kind of films do you like to watch?

I like all types of films and can enjoy them. When we see a film, I believe we should try to see what the director and the team have to say and not put our views into it. I can appreciate Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s work and also Mrinal Sen’s films. I am very fond of Kannathil Muthamittal. I also like Naataamai and I enjoy Shankar’s films.

My favorite director is Krzysztof Kieslowski and Three Colors Blue is my all time favorite film. Cinematography wise, I like Citizen Kane in which Gregg Toland had done an excellent work just with available light 70 years back.

Films you liked in the recent times

I liked Yudham Sei and Easan and the content affected me very strongly. I went with my family and enjoyed Boss Engira Bhaskaran. I can enjoy all types of films.

Would you again work as a cinematographer for a director?

Surely! Since I had the script of Maatraan ready, I will be into direction again. However whenever I get free time, I will surely do camerawork and I have no preferences for any particular director. If the script is good and if I am convinced that the director can execute the project, I will certainly work as a cinematographer.

How should a film like Nadunisi Naaygal be viewed?

An artist presents his work or idea and he or she has every right to present it. As an audience, we also have every right to accept or reject it. The director is responsible for the plus and the minus in the film.

Why Silambarasan opted out of Ko?

It is normal to approach many actors to star in a film. Likewise I had approached actors like Ajith, Karthi and Silambarasan. News comes out when we are at the discussion stage itself. When, for some reasons, an actor is unable to work in a project, that also becomes a news.

I had approached Ajith for Ko

Jiiva is 100% correct choice for


I strongly feel that no one but Jiiva could have done this role in Ko. Jiiva is 100% correct choice for this role and I even wondered why I did not go to him in the first place. Piaa Bajpai has done a superb work and you will simply love her. Ajmal as an energetic young man always surrounded by people has done a sacrificing character in Ko. And of course for villainy, there is Prakash Raj and Kota Sreenivasa Rao. While working with Prakash Raj I realized how even a simple dialogue could be brought alive by him due to his versatility and experience.

Ko is rich in strong premise, interesting events and twists. These things should be presented in an understanding, interesting way and also at a particular pace. People who have seen the film felt it was very fast paced and that the interval came too quick which meant that it was thoroughly engaging. I should thank editor Anthony for this as he has the required maturity to retain certain things and delete a few which made the viewing very exciting. Richard’s camerawork, Harris’s music and SuBa’s dialogues have all come out very well. A new costume designer Swetha has done a good job in Ko. Harris’s re-recording is simply brilliant. In a slow moving romantic film with few dialogues, RR work is easy but in a film like Ko which has dialogues but at the same time RR also should run on a parallel track, Harris simply excelled. Art director Kiran has done a good job in recreating a Press Office and in the song sequences. When I completed the film, I had a satisfying feel.

Ko is rich in strong premise,

interesting events and twists

Climax action sequence will be

the highlight of Ko

Action sequences in Ko

Peter Hein has choreographed the action sequences in Ko. It is easy to get unnatural fight sequences like jumping across walls or such stuff in a CG era. But it is difficult to do realistic and thrilling action sequences. Peter Hein thinks a lot and his hard work is perceivable in the film. The climax action sequence with commandoes will be the highlight of Ko. This will give a very realistic feel and a good thrill too. Peter Hein has done a good job.

Lyricists in Ko

Paa Vijay despite his busy schedule in acting, spent an entire day and gave us ‘aganaga’ lyrics. Kabilan’s galagala will be remembered for its lyrical content. Madhan Karky has combined scientific aspect into Tamil in Kuviyamila song which is being appreciated widely. Viveka has written Amali Thumli. What is striking in Viveka is he gives corrections so quickly and immediately.

Dance choreographers in Ko

Dinesh has done three songs in Ko. Dinesh and I like to travel a lot. For Amali Thumali number, we walked 5 kms up the mountains to shoot. If at such an instance, a dance master discouragingly says that it can be done indoors in studio, it would be dampening the spirits. But Dinesh is not like that and he has worked with me in Ayan too and I know him from when he was assisting Raju Sundaram master. Brinda a committed dance master has done Aganaga song. Gayathri Raghuram has done the Ven Paniye number and it is extremely difficult to choreograph a dance number at -27 degree C and she really excelled.

Teamwork in Ko

When we shot in Norway, we had to climb the mountains carrying with us equipments weighing about 250 kg and everyone helped us in this. Jiiva never behaved like hero and took almost 12 kg heavy equipments with him and Karthika also carried the jimmy jib. When you look at it, you would not realize who the hero is and who the worker is. Ko is a result of team work. I consider myself lucky because all the technicians in the film have worked hard in the film and the film has also come out well.

Jiiva never behaved like hero

Producers of Ko

Kumar and Jayaram of R S Infotainment have produced Ko and they are new to cinema. Their first film was Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya. They are very keen to give quality film. I narrated the story from 1st scene to last till the climax and they were impressed with it. They did not look at the business prospect and gave me complete freedom to do what I wanted. I am not sure whether I will get a chance like this again to work with such talented technicians and supportive producers. I enjoyed working in Ko.

Journalists releasing Ko audio

As you know, Ko is about a photo journalist and on the day of audio release, they did not know that they are going to be invited on to the stage. Most of them who had assembled there were my friends with whom I had worked shoulder to shoulder and have covered many events. I recall an instance where I helped a photographer with my photos as his camera had conked during an event. In another instance, I had faced threats when I photographed an event in a village and the mob was chasing me. I had intelligently replaced the original film with something else and the crowd pulled the wrong film from me. Those pictures were published in Kalki. I have incorporated such events in the film too. Hence Ko is the result of numerous such experiences.

Tags : Ayan, Ko, K V Anand, Maatraan
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