Gautham Vasudev Menon loves to play to the gallery. Not necessarily in the kind of films that he makes but the kind of quotes he belts out to the media. He has made gems like Minnale, Kaakha Kaakha and the recent Varanam Aayiram. Sridevi Sreedhar delves into the mind of a sensitive filmmaker as his romantic musical Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya gets ready for release. Excerpts from a free wheeling conversation, as he celebrates his birthday today.
Many Many Happy returns of the day. What’s your plan for the day?
Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya is all set for release on Friday (Feb 26) worldwide. As usual, I am facing pre-release jitters and last evening I came home after despatching the overseas prints. The first copy of the Telugu version, which is also having a simultaneous release, was given three days back to the producers. I plan to spend my birthday with my family and in the evening I am holding a special show for my close friends, cast and crew of the film. I am too tensed to have a party (smiles). And the best birthday gift that I am getting, is to hear that the film has taken an awesome opening at the advance booking counters all over Tamilnadu.
What is the genre of the film?
It is a realistic take on love and works on the theory that what happens on screen need not happen in real life. It is an out and out love story, a genre which I am doing after Minnale. All my last few releases were action films with romance in the backdrop and my friends asked me to make a straight romantic musical. So I decided to make a simple love story which slowly became an intense love story. I realised it only when people in the censor board gave the film an UA certificate. They thought that the subject is so intense that they were forced to give it an UA certification.
Today Gautham Menon is a brand and people come to the theatres to watch your films. Please comment.
I am happy to hear that. But all I have to say is that please come to the theatres without any expectations and enjoy some good songs. It is a love story of two people Karthik and Jessy over a period of almost three years. The film is conversation driven and everybody will identify with my lead pair. I have not made them act and most of the time I asked Simbu and Trisha to be natural and it was more like capturing them on candid camera.
The music of AR Rahman has not appealed to all section of people. They say, it’s too classy and western?
I beg to differ on this as going by sales according to Sony Music, the audio is a super hit. And even when I had discussions with Rahman in the beginning, I told him that I didn’t want the usual kind of songs. It’s not like a Tamil commercial album as the songs do not have a pallavi or charanam. And trust me; everybody is going to love the songs more after watching the film.
Like all your films, is Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya aimed at Multiplex A class audiences?
I have never written a film aiming at A, B or C class audiences. It is critics and trade who differentiate the audiences. I think that a man in Theni, Chennai or New York can relate to a good movie. All my films have a universal subject which will appeal to everybody.
You have been often in the news for the kind of quotes you give out to the media, be it on Bheema, or films made by other directors. Please comment?
I think, I’ve been misquoted a few times. A far as Bheema goes, yes I had said that it was not a good film. But recently a Tamil magazine misquoted me when they wrote about my comments on director Sasikumar. I have great regards for Sasi and like the films that he has made and in fact I had asked him to direct one of the films that I will be producing shortly. I had called Sasi and apologised for what had happened. Regarding Ameer, I still stand with my comment that he should have never acted in Yogi and should stick to direction which he is very good at. I think media always like fall guys like me and hence they target me. I never vehemently criticize other directors and recently I liked Selva’s Aayirathil Oruvan, which I thought was a brilliant effort.
Recently you had a tiff with Manjula the producer of the Telugu version of Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya?
Yes, she agreed to pay me my salary plus fifty percent of the profits of the film. I finished the film in 55 days but she could not sell the film and later demanded my salary back and filed a complaint against me in the producer’s council. I gave her back the 1. 6 Crores and now she is releasing the film herself. I regret doing a film with people who have no passion or knowledge of good cinema. But it was an eye-opener and will not do the film that we were supposed to do with Mahesh Babu in the lead.
How was it working with Silambarasan and Trisha?
There is a fine actor inside Simbu and he has done a brilliant job in my film. He used to get his emotions correct in a single take and his dancing is superb. Given a chance, I would love to work with him again. Trisha is a sweetheart and a wonderful actor to work with. They have done a brilliant job and the chemistry is intact. Most of the time they were natural and did not know that I was capturing them; it was like a candid camera.
But you had said that they fell in love during the making or was it a publicity stunt by the director himself?
(Laughs) I am a director, not a pimp!