Ashwath Marimuthu asserts that ‘Ori Devuda’, the Telugu adaptation of ‘Oh My Kadavule’ will be bigger and better and that the film cannot be dismissed as a remake

Ashwath Marimuthu asserts that ‘Ori Devuda’, the Telugu adaptation of ‘Oh My Kadavule’ will be bigger and better and that the film cannot be dismissed as a remake

Director Ashwath Marimuthu remembers the feedback he received for his debut film Oh My Kadavule (Tamil, 2020) from his then Telugu girlfriend. “She said I had made a film that would be received very well in Telugu,” he recalls. Two years later, Ashwath is gearing up for the release of Ori Devuda, the Telugu adaptation of Oh My Kadavule. He asserts with confidence that the film cannot be dismissed as a remake. “Two years of work has gone into making this film, with an understanding of the people of the Telugu States,” says Ashwath, speaking on phone from Chennai, where he is overseeing the final post-production of the film.

The comedy-drama Oh My Kadavule starring Ashok Selvan and Rithika Singh followed the journey of two best friends who get married, only to apply for divorce a year later. The Telugu adaptation starring Vishwak Sen and Mithila Parkar follows a similar storyline, with a setting that is rooted in Hyderabad. Venkatesh Daggubati steps in for a cameo as God, in place of Vijay Sethupathi in Tamil.

Vishwak Sen and Mithila Palkar

Vishwak Sen and Mithila Palkar
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Oh My Kadavule was Ashwath’s debut feature film. He laughs when asked if his or his close friends’ experiences have been used in the story, “In college, one of my best friends was a girl who was my junior. She was dating someone else. Later, at some point, we began dating. When best friends enter a relationship, there are questions of whether one is being taken for granted. Of course, I did not want to narrate a very personal story since it would be boring.”

Ashwath is an engineer who then pursued a diploma in filmmaking at the New York Film Academy since his girlfriend had taken up the course. His interest in cinema led him to make short films, which became his passport to the Tamil reality show Naalaya Iyakkunar (Tomorrow’s Director). “There was an element of fantasy in some of my short films. I like to pose the question ‘what if?’ in stories.”

He chanced upon a news article about the high rates of divorces in Tamil Nadu and wondered why couples end up seeking divorces in family courts if marriages are made in heaven. “I wondered if God wrote it all wrong, and what if God had to deal with these divorce cases in the court.”

For Ashwath, the biggest challenge was to adapt a film that was appreciated in theatres and digital platforms and make it relevant and fresh for a new language. “People told me it is tough to recreate the magic of the original. I took it as a challenge. I think it is possible to recreate the magic if you understand your audiences and put all your heart into making the film, rather than treating it as a remake.”

Ashwath Marimuthu with actors Venkatesh Kakumanu, Vishwak Sen and Mithila Palkar on the sets of ‘Ori Devuda’

Ashwath Marimuthu with actors Venkatesh Kakumanu, Vishwak Sen and Mithila Palkar on the sets of ‘Ori Devuda’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

PVP Cinema had purchased the adaptation rights and was keen to have Vishwak Sen as the male lead. Ashwath spent a few months in Hyderabad, which he describes as a microcosm of the two Telugu States, and observed people and their lifestyles. “The staging and pacing are different from the Tamil film. Here, Vishwak plays the more boisterous character, drawing from his personality, while Mithila is the innocent and calmer of the two. Leon James has composed a completely new album for Telugu. I am happy with the reception for the Telugu trailer.” 

One of Ashwath’s big wins was to get Mithila Palkar to debut in Telugu. It came with its share of false starts. Ashwath recounts how a few middlemen — managers — claimed that Mithila did not like the story and had declined to be a part of it. Ashwath wasn’t convinced with that answer since the female lead’s role is the film’s backbone. Finally, he got through to Mithila who liked the original story and his vision for the remake. “A few middlemen use such tactics, stating that an actor does not like the story so that they can push their own talent into a project,” says Ashwath.

It took him and the team six months to get actor Venkatesh onboard, Ashwath felt it was, pardon the pun, godsent: “We vibed so well and Venkatesh sir made the portion a lot of fun. Vishwak is also one of my closest friends now. This film has given me new friends in Hyderabad.”

Rahul Ramakrishna, Venkatesh Daggubati and Vishwak Sen on the sets of ‘Ori Devuda’

Rahul Ramakrishna, Venkatesh Daggubati and Vishwak Sen on the sets of ‘Ori Devuda’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ashwath is a huge fan of filmmaker Gautham Menon, who makes a guest appearance in the original; the hero going in search of anecdotes to Kerala is also a hat-tip to the filmmaker. Remember Ye Maya Chesave (Vinnaithandi Varuvaya in Tamil)? “Gautham sir is a formidable force for filmmakers in my generation. I am a big fan of how he writes his female characters — dignified, with strong emotional arcs.”

The Telugu film will have Puri Jagannadh in a cameo and the hero’s journey will be to Goa, in tune with the more ‘massy’ vibe of Puri’s films.

Ori Devuda hits theatres on October 21 and Ashwath is keen to gauge the response, “ Ori Devuda is bigger and better than Oh My Kadavule. In fact, the budget is five times the original.”

He plans to adapt this film in Hindi, but before that, there will be a Tamil-Telugu bilingual project.



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By Dipak

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