He made heads turn and raised eyebrows – all at once – by associating with Aamir for the Hindi version of Gajini. Aamir, impressed by his credentials, wanted Murugadoss to direct him. He is on the verge of completing the project and sounds thrilled about his maiden Bollywood venture.

This talented but unassuming director of monstrous blockbusters in Tamil and Telugu agreed to talk to us about Gajini, Aamir, his association with the Bollywood industry, and Superstar Rajinikanth. Enough fodder for a delectable chat served on an extra large platter.

 
 

“Unfortunately I can’t discuss about the project with Superstar in public.”

Your Mirattal was dropped recently?

It couldn’t take off owing to opinion differences between the film’s lead and the producers. There’s nothing much to it.

On your ambitious project Gajini in Hindi.

Gajini has shaped up very well and I’m satisfied. The movie is almost over- save for a couple of songs, the composition of which is underway. We will be able to wrap it up completely after the songs are shot.

Bollywood through your eyes and experience

My journey to Bollywood was through Tamil and Telugu. I was quite apprehensive about the venture since I don’t know the language. However, my worries eased out and my job became easier because of the project, since I’m familiar with it. The way people in Bollywood plan things amaze me. I felt like working for a corporate house. That is the huge difference I felt between Bollywood and the Tamil industry.

Was it difficult to manage without knowing Hindi?

Seriously. I felt it while developing the script, since the translator is not always available on the sets. It is more easier in Tamil since I could consult with people on how to improve it. However, with the lack of Hindi knowledge, I felt like working without a significant part of my body. I had to depend on many of my friends who can manage between Tamil and Hindi fluently. It was indeed a thrilling experience to work without knowing the language.

When you had Aamir in the lead, any specific reasons for settling for Asin?

Basically, she breathed life into the character in Tamil and I couldn’t think of anyone else donning the role. For the same reason, I didn’t have to think twice before fixing Asin.

Surya six-pack - Aamir six-pack. What’s the difference?

Well, I can’t reveal anything about Aamir’s six-pack since that forms the crux of the movie. And anyway, it’s for you to decide the difference between the two six-packs.

You are involved in Gajini almost for the past two years. You don’t see that as a roadblock to your career?

Not at all. I am quite aware of the reach and significance my project would get with the involvement of a star like Aamir Khan. Besides, I am only happy to work with and learn from a legend like Aamir Khan and two years doesn’t seem too long for the same reason.

 

Working with Aamir Khan for two years doesn’t seem long


Is the Hindi Gajini same as that of its Tamil counterpart?

I have tweaked the script a little bit to suit the taste of the Hindi speaking audience. I also made sure that the story is not tampered with fearing that the essence would be lost. However, I could see that there are a lot of improvements made basically – the 20-minute long climax the Tamil version had, has been altered a bit. Besides, we have also added another song.

Tell us something about the technicians who played a significant part in the making of the movie.

I consider myself quite lucky for having Ravi K Chandran on my crew since I’m an ardent fan of his work. He is my neighbor and my walking partner in the mornings. We discuss quite a lot of cinema during those early morning strolls and I would constantly charm him into working with me.

Luckily enough, he okay-ed the project and we hit it off. We used to make the Hindi speaking crowd go mad by discussing things in Tamil on the sets. Ravi has been immensely helpful and supportive for the project.

What are your future plans in Hindi?

Although I have no future plans drafted out for Hindi, I will continue to do projects if Gajini is successful, since Hindi films cover a vast market. And Tamil films will always remain close to my heart too.

We are curious to know more about Aamir.

Aamir called me after viewing Gajini – Tamil. As opposed to others who raise an eyebrow immediately upon meeting me for the first time, Aamir stayed composed until the end of our first meeting. He mentioned that he didn’t have much expectation before watching the movie. He also told me that he fell in love with the movie and found that the movie has soul in it. He revealed later that he had the picture of a 6 ft tall man and was shocked to see a rather short looking man.

We hit it off soon after and Aamir has become a close friend in no time who invites me home for dinners quite often. He puts his heart and soul to the work and I adore that quality in him. It’s something every professional should have within, in my opinion.

Aamir Khan is a big fan of Vijay’s dance

 

Did you happen to meet any of your Tamil crewmembers while on the Gajini shoot?

I met Vijay accidently in a lift at Ramoji Rao Studios. After initial pleasantries he asked me if he could visit the Gajini sets. I was shocked and invited him personally to the sets and introduced him to Aamir. To my surprise, Aamir immediately recognized him and said that he is a fan of Vijay and his dance. He also recollected how he and his wife would be glued to his songs on TV while in Chennai. Aamir also met Manobala during that occasion and remembered him from Gajini. Those ten days are unforgettable in my life. I also met Thotta Dharani in one of the Telugu film sets. It was like visiting a close relative’s house. The hospitality was simply remarkable.

How would you rate Asin in the Tamil and Hindi versions of Gajini?

It was little bit of a struggle for the first time in Tamil. However, she pulled it off beautifully in Hindi since there is not much difference to the character except for the dialogues. She is perfectly in tune with her Gajini character.

Is Asin being used as eye candy? Don’t Bollywood films demand it though?

Nope, I haven’t used Asin in that perspective and generally my films don’t show lead ladies in that light. I am simply not interested in that idea.

 

I haven’t used Asin in an ‘eye candy’ perspective and generally my films don’t show lead ladies in that light

It’s funny; sometimes I have Kunjaramma in mind while creating a story

 

You once said only Vijayakanth could carry off the Ramana character.

Although I don’t keep actors in mind while framing stories, I do think Ramana’s character is etched out for Vijayakanth. I did not in the wildest of my dreams think of working with Aamir while creating Gajini. Same way Dheena was supposed to have Vijay and turned out to be an Ajith film. Gajini was made for Ajith and Surya ended up starring in it. This ideology works for my Telugu movies too. It’s funny; sometimes I have Kunjaramma in mind while creating a story. That’s how things work with me.

Any plans to direct Ajith in the near future?

Not in the near future.

Is there any specific reason for working with Surya again?

Surya was available and hence I went ahead and booked him. Besides, I also share good rapport since I have worked with him earlier.

Don’t village subjects interest you?

Although I hail from a middle class family, I was not raised in a village. Films like Paruthiveeran can only happen if you have lived and experienced such circumstances. Otherwise such attempts would mean faking it. I have few ideas for stories though to be used later.

Watched any Tamil movies lately?

Yeah. Polladhavan and Subramaniapuram – both from two immensely talented directors. I enjoyed the movies a lot.

Why did the project with Superstar Rajinikanth not take off?

It’s true that I tried to work it out. However, unfortunately I am not in a position to discuss it in public.

What is Bollywood’s general opinion of Tamil film industry?

There is respect for South Indian talents in the Hindi film industry although a clear and visible divide between the South and North exists. There is also awareness about the working style of South Indian movies up North.

Your message to Behindwoods readers.

My warm wishes to Behindwoods readers.

 

I wanted the project with Superstar to be worked out. Unfortunately I can’t discuss that in public

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