Laxman’s cartoons inspired ‘Mandela’ story, says National Award winner Madonne Ashwin

Chennai, July 23┬áDirector Madonne Ashwin, whose critically acclaimed Tamil film ‘Mandela’ won two National Awards at the 68th National Film Awards that were announced on Friday, says the inspiration for writing a story like ‘Mandela’ came from the cartoons of popular cartoonist R. K. Laxman.

Talking to IANS, the winner of Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director and the National Award for Best Screenplay (Dialogue Writer) said: “We were very clear as a team as to what kind of film ‘Mandela’ was going to be. We wanted it to be a political satire but at the same time, we did not want it to pinpoint to any particular party or hurt anyone. We had this conviction that we would make a proper film that did not hurt anybody.

“R.K. Laxman sir’s cartoons were an inspiration in this regard. His cartoons would reflect the political situation without hurting anybody. It would speak of the situation from a common man’s perspective.”

Humour can be a very serious business. Writing a humourous script laced with sarcasm and wit and managing to reproduce it on screen in exactly the manner it was envisaged, must have been much more difficult.

Ask Madonne Ashwin how he learnt to write so well and he says: “I started writing only when I began participating in the ‘Nalaya Iyyakunar’ competition. I began writing for short films. But basically, we had good Tamil films to look at and learn.”

Ashwin signed off by sharing the names of the people who helped him in his creative journey: “I love director Selvaraghavan’s dialogues. I wanted to write like him. That was a big learning. Over a period of time, I wrote the dialogues for ‘Kurangu Bommai’ along with director Nithilan Swaminathan, who is a friend. He asked me to collaborate and it was a fun experience. As I began to write, I learnt the process.”

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