Interview Template 2
After four hit films in a row starting with 'Gentleman', 'Kathalan', 'Indian' and 'Jeans', Shankar has the rare distinction of being the only director in recent times to create a fan following for his films. His next film 'Mudhalvan' due for release on November 7th all over Tamilnadu and Andhra has raised expectations in the public and skeptics are wondering if he will be able to repeat his success a fifth time with Arjun who is going through a lean patch.Taking time off from a busy schedule Shankar spoke about his film and his outlook on cinema:

Q: As usual you have not revealed the storyline but can you say something about the story?
A: (Smiles) All I can say is that it is a story of a youth who comes to the top most position in his chosen field.

Q: Has 'Mudhalvan' got any social message for the masses like there was in 'Gentleman' or 'Indian'. Is there anything political in it?
A: Yes politics is also present in the story but not to a great extent and in this film I do tell a strong story about a problem that any youth would face.

Q: The criticism faced by the film 'Jeans' was that it did not have a story line and was only meant for fun viewing?
A: Each one is free to have his or her own view of the film but for me, as a director, I don't want to be typecast or branded. The public should not come with a preconceived notion when seeing a film of mine. If I get branded as a director who always gives some messages, the public will find me boring. Variety is the spice of life and it is always better to have variety in films or else I will myself get bored if I keep seeing the same pattern.

Q: You have cast Arjun as your hero for 'Muthalvan' while you could have got any superstar to act for you. Was it a deliberate choice?
A: I don't have any obstinate stance that I will not cast any big hero. It's just that I found that Arjun was the apt person for the role and he has done a wonderful job.There is a great actor inside him and it is a pity that nobody has exploited this potential uptil now.

Q: Was it by taking a look at the Hindi market that you went in for Manisha as the female lead?
A: No. And again I have nothing against casting girls from the South but it so happened that I had Madhoo in my first film and later Naghma('Kathalan'), Manisha and Urmila in 'Indian', Aishwarya Rai in 'Jeans' and now Manisha again. Actually I wanted to cast Meena but then she is acting with Arjun in 'Rhythm' and so the freshness of the pair would be lost.

Q: How do you like AR Rahman's music? He says that you and Manirathinam are the two directors who bring out the best in him?
A: What I like in Rahman is his fighting spirit and 'never say die attitude'. For example I wanted a song with the theme "smile" and the lyrics were written and the composing done but somehow I was not feeling very comfortable with the end product.
Something was lacking and Rahman too felt the same. Then I got the idea of a song with the theme "no" and this excited me so much that I was very satisfied with what was created finally. Rahman has given a lot of folk music for this film. We have seen to it that the music caters to people of all ages and tastes.

Q: Will 'Mudhalvan' also get dubbed into Hindi like your earlier films?
A: I have no idea at present of dubbing it into Hindi because 'Mudhalvan' has got a lot of men in dhoti's keeping in mind the nativity aspect of the story. It is a story for Tamilnadu and Andhra. When 'Gentleman' was remade by someone else in Hindi it flopped, but sometimes Hindi films remade here are hits and no one can predict the outcome of a dubbed film.
'Kathalan' and 'Indian' ran well in Hindi but 'Jeans' flopped. Now I feel I should not dub this film into Hindi. Let's see after the release. If it runs well here, then maybe I will direct it with a fresh look in Hindi.

Q: Now that you are also a producer of the film, do you find it advantageous being both?
A: I keep the producer aspect of myself away from the director and to me it's advantageous because if for example I were working for an outside producer and I wanted a blue sky and it is dull on that particular day then I would compromise because a packup would mean loss of manpower and money but now I can easily say "packup" because I am the producer.

Q: 'Muthalvan' took a long time in the making because of your constant wavering on the sets with the storyline and script say inside sources?
A: No way. Once the script is ready and shooting starts then I don't change anything except for maybe dropping a scene here or extending a shot.

Q: Normally are you satisfied with the end product?
A: Yes because I see my film as an average moviegoer and the process of self criticism takes place. It is from this criticism that I keep improving my product. I always have a battle adapting the story to the modern day techniques.
The battle is not between reality and fantasy but in my films most fantasies are very flighted. Even in the field of music I have a difference of opinion. I feel that we are using songs unnecessarily and should dispense with it totally but then commercial compulsions demand it. Such battles take place always. To me a complete film is the able combination of 24 crafts.

Q: After Shankar's style of movies have arrived, the costs involved in film making have mounted and competitors are forced to put in atleast half of your budget to live upto expectations in the public eye? What do you feel about this?
A: I do not think it is only the money involved that makes or breaks a film. There is more to it. Budgets are not at all relevant for the success of a film. Many think good song picturisation is enough for a film to run but it does not work like that. If the song does not merge with the situation then it is a total waste.
To create an entertainer like 'Jeans' was for me the most toughest job when compared to all my earlier films.

Q: Despite all your earlier films being hits you seem tensed on the eve of 'Mudhalvan's release?
A: Yes, I am tense. With each passing film of mine the expectation for me to do better has been rising inch by inch and today it is a foot long and my task has become even more challenging. I hope I can live upto the expectations of the movie-goers and critics.