Saturday, June 28, 2008

‘Varanam Aayiram is a conservative film’

AFTER your comments about hating Bheema, you seem to be getting notorious for your frank opinions.

There was such build-up for Bheema! Director Lingusamy, Vikram and I keep running into one another. And Harris Jayraj, who did the music, kept saying, ‘It’s such a brilliant film.’ But when I went and watched it, I was so disappointed that I just had to say something about it.
But doesn’t this rub people the wrong way?

Yeah. I think Vikram hates me now and Vijay had a problem with what I said (about his giving me DVDs of his films so that I could incorporate elements from them into a script for him). But I don’t care. They can talk about my film too. That’s the way it should be. If Vikram and Vijay are not going to work with me because of this, I think it’s their loss.

So you don’t think you’re cutting off avenues?

I don’t think so. I’m making a film with newcomers - four boys. I don’t know how well the film will do, but at least I’m enjoying myself. These boys give me everything. Even Surya worked for me like that in Varanam Aayiram. I said, ‘At 17, I need you to look like this, at 21, like this and at 31, you’re a tough guy; so can we have a six-pack?’ It’s only for one scene. And for four months, he went off everything! He’d eat only boiled vegetables and chicken with no salt. And he was going through all that just for a film. I can always do a film with Surya, Karthi and with so many youngsters. But I’m hoping others will come around.

Tell us about Varanam Aayiram.

It’s the story of a young man on the verge of life. The film traces his life from the time he is born up to a point where he realises he’s made it in life. We see his first love, whether he gets to marry the girl he fell in love with and the equation he had with his father - an inspiration at every point in his life. It traces parts of my life and the lives of everybody I know.
So is it a sort of biopic of Gautam Menon?

It’s a very personal story. But what I’m hoping is that the guy next to you in the theatre will say, ‘Hey this has happened to me!’ Of course, there’s a little bit of fantasy.
Let’s shift gears to Chennayil Oru Mazhaikaalam.

Varanam Aayiram is a very conservative film in terms of what Surya thinks about women; but this is a very in-your-face sort of film with four boys and three girls. We wanted to cast only newcomers. Then the co-producer said, ‘We need somebody in this film other than Gautam and AR Rahman.’ So we pitched the idea to Trisha. She was looking forward to working with us.

There’s been a lot of talk about the switch from your regular - Harris Jayaraj.

I am doing a film with Harris in December which stars Ajit. I always wanted to work with Rahman right from when Minnale happened. Harris knows that too. Even Rahman was saying ‘You have a great record with Harris. They’ll think I’ve done something to that!’

With Ajit, will you attempt to tread a middle path between an Ajit film and a Gautam Menon film?

The only time that happened was with Vijay. I narrated bits of Varanam Aayiram to him. He said he loved it but then he said, ‘Can you bring some of my elements into the film?’ I said it wouldn’t work in a film like this. I don’t want to do that kind of compromise. I did that with Pachaikili Muthucharam. That was a mistake; and I don’t want to do that again.

Ever thought of doing films in Bollywood?

I don’t want to make the mistake I made with Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein. Nobody knows me there; so I want to go with a big actor that the crowd will come for. I am pitching something with Abhishek (Bachchan) right now. I’m also thinking of a remake of Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu with Amitabh, taking out the love angle.


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