‘I discovered myself with Varanam Aayiram’
By Anusha Parthasarathy
It’s not everyday that you get to have a cup of coffee with Gautham Vasudev Menon. But when you do, his answers are straightforward and as crisp as the light blue shirt he is wearing, says Anusha Parthasarathy. She caught up with the ace director last week just a day before he left for New York.
What led to the recent rift between you and Harris Jayaraj?
Just like the media got an email from him, I got one too, one which was formatted differently. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to discuss it but the reasons he has stated are not the real ones. I have no issues with him. Of course, music has always been the strength of my films.
You did not see it coming?
Nope, none at all. I had no idea all this was brewing until I got the email. If he wants to disclose the reasons, let him. I have nothing more to comment.
Is this the reason why two of your upcoming movies have A.R Rahman behind the music?
Not at all. I have always wanted to work with Rahman. I signed him up last year for Chennayil oru Mazhai Kalam. So, it has nothing to do with Harris and me splitting. If Harris has an issue with this, then I can’t help it. It’s not as though he doesn’t work for any other director but me. Music is an area I can afford to explore. And I want to explore in every avenue possible.
Varanam Aayiram has received mixed reactions from the public. Do you feel it is justified?
From what I know, eighty percent of the audience liked the movie. The response has been extraordinary. Of course, there are always exceptions. I never make movies for the critics. I do take criticism but I make movies that I want to make. It’s not targeted at any audience. If I feel that people would like to watch a certain kind of film, then I do it. Especially this one was a tribute to my father and is very close to my heart. I would say I discovered myself with Varanam Aayiram.
Considering that the average movie goer may lack English knowledge, what do you think about the general feeling that there was an overdose of English in the movie?
I didn’t write the script in English, on purpose. I went with the flow, that’s all. The movie is for a mature audience and it was differently handled. Even if there is a lot of English, I don’t see why it is a problem. And people from U.S.A and others who do not know Tamil were able to understand the movie because parts of it were in English.
Your comments about Suriya’s performance in the movie.
He was tremendous. He transported everyone into another world. And that’s the point of any movie. He’s the most versatile actor I’ve seen since Kamal Hassan. He gave his everything and he certainly looked the part whether it was a 17-year-old or a 60-year-old.
Suriya was portrayed as an NSG commando in VA. In the light of recent developments, how do you view the co-incidence?
I think it was tremendous. I’ve always had a fascination for the armed forces. It was only after the Mumbai attacks that people started noticing the Army and NSG. But I think the highest point in a person’s life is when he serves the country. I believe every Indian should go through 2 years of compulsory military training in their life to be equipped to face consequences.
What is ‘Chennayil Oru Mazhai Kaalam’ about?
It’s a story about a group of guys and girls who have fun. They’re fresh out of college and looking out to get settled in life. There are three girls and four guys. It’s about how they meet each other, fall in love –there’s a love triangle there – and if they get what they want, in the end. Trisha, in the lead role, happens to work in an IT firm. It’s a colourful, yuppie, feel-good movie.
Other future projects?
Apart from Chennayil Oru Mazhai Kaalam, I will be doing a Telugu film with Mahesh Babu in the lead. It will begin in April. I’ve also signed up for a film with Soundarya Rajinikanth and Warner Bros. We’ve approached Amitabh Bachchan to play the lead and he has shown interest. I’m also going to start on another script in a couple of days. It’s a surprise, though.
How do you work on your scripts?
After every movie, I need an unwinding period, which I spend with my family. After this, I pack my bags and travel. I need to travel to write a script. As soon as I fasten my seat belt and open my laptop, I’m off, writing at a stretch, until the entire script is over in a week.
Finally, would you like to remake Varanam Aayiram in Hindi?
I would love to. I think it’s the kind of film they would love to watch. If I get the right kind of actors, I’m game.