Debutant director JJ Fredrick's film Ponmagal Vandhal has premiered on Amazon Prime Video today. Ahead of the film’s release (which was not an easy one considering it was caught in the OTT vs theatre crossfire), Fredrick told us that the project was totally backed by Jyotika and Suriya, which was a huge encouragement for a debut filmmaker.
Tamil actress Jyotika plays the lead role of a lawyer in the film, while her husband Suriya has produced it.
“Once I had written the script, I went to Jyo ma’am and she accepted the role. I'm very blessed to have her in my film. She is a wonderful actress. No one could have done justice to the character the way she has. She did it brilliantly. But the film wouldn’t have happened without Suriya sir. We can write any story, but a producer has to accept it, arrange for budgets, meetings etc,” Fredrick said.
Despite having two big stars from the Tamil film industry involved in the project, Fredrick said he got full freedom to shoot it the way he liked. “I was quite shocked that they didn't interfere in the script. They give their ideas and feedback, but didn't interfere with it,” he said.
Fredrick studied visual communication at Loyola College in Chennai, and then was making short films and writing screenplays. He has also worked as an assistant director.
Ponmagal Vandhal was supposed to have a theatrical release in March but got held up due to the lockdown. It was finally decided that the film would release on a digital platform. The decision received backlash from the Tamil Nadu theatre owners association, who had called for a ban on films featuring Jyothika and Suriya.
“The film was supposed to release in theatres on March 27. But then coronavirus happened. We had to adapt to the situation. This is a good platform to release the film, it will be available in about 200 countries. We want our film to reach audiences around the world. So I am happy,” he said.
Fredrick said that with the increasing popularity of streaming services, scope of work for newcomers like him has increased. Also, not every film has to queue up for a theatrical release anymore.
“Now everybody can make movies or short films, but not everyone can secure a spot in the theatres. In web space, content is hero. So many Tamil films are being bought by OTT platforms. Nothing can happen to theatres, because watching a film in a cinema hall is like a festival in India. But digital platforms are different. They are helping clear up the queues of film waiting for a theatrical release," he said.