In this second part of the Gautham Vasudev Menon interview, the director continues talking frankly and animatedly with our editor Pradeep Sebastian on –among many other things -why the project with Vijay didn't happen, why he thinks Ajit is special, his disappointment and outrage over Sun TV not including Vaaranam Aayaram in the best of 2008 Tamil movie countdown, the Tamil filmmaker he most admires, and his own personal favorite among all his films.

"Kaakka Kaakka got me a call from Kamal sir"

BW: What are the films you are working now?

Gautham Vasudev Menon: Two to three young and youthful films. Chennaiyil Ooru Mazhaikalam will have modern tunes as well as melodies. Some tracks are even funky. I am also working in a Telugu film with a working title Jessy. It is a feel good film which I will be making in Tamil also. It is a love story where Mahesh Babu is the hero. Rahman loved the story.

Why Telugu?

Why not? I just wanted to work with Mahesh Babu. I love his films. He enjoys a cult status in Hyderabad. We had a chance to meet through his sister Manjula to whom I had told the story and she said ‘take to Mahesh’. I said ‘it is not Mahesh kind of film’. But she insisted and Mahesh also loved it and the project was immediately decided. So I am open to any language. Tomorrow I will do a Malayalam film, then Kannada and then may be Hindi.

Why did your film with Ajith get shelved?

I think the timing was wrong. When the offer came, I was in the final leg of Vaaranam Aayiram, in the post production stage. I needed some time to complete it and then unwind because it is a very personal and emotional film for me. But the producer would never give me time and pressurized me to give the script in a day, in a week which was not possible. That is the reason the project fell apart. Not because I had problems with Ajith. I am sure we will be working together in future. I like him a lot. Ajith is a tremendous hero and his mass fan following is something remarkable. Whenever I meet a cabbie or an auto driver or a petrol bunk employee, they ask me ‘Eppa thalai padam panna porenga?’ His reach is something remarkable. It will be interesting to work with Ajith. I tried working with Vijay a couple of times but it did not work out. I am sure opportunities will certainly come in future.

"Ajith is a



On your controversial comment on Beema

I was not very mean. I just spoke my mind and Lingusamy did not take it well. I am sure they will do the same with my films too. I believe that a film is your film till it reaches the theatre. Once it reaches there, it becomes everybody’s. When I went with so much of expectations and when I did not like it, I said that. I was in the US when a journalist from Hindu called me for my comments on the films I liked and disliked in their Friday columns. And I said ‘Beema was the film I recently saw and did not like it’. He asked me if he can quote me and I said ‘yes, go ahead’.

What about Vijay?

Similarly when I met Vijay for a story discussion, he gave me a couple of DVDs and asked me to include those elements in my film. I knew I cannot do it. And Ananda Vikadan guys had quoted me with a particular word which is not at all there in my vocabulary. So Vijay had apparently called my PRO and asked why I said that. So my candidness has got me into trouble

What is your take on Dasavatharam?

I liked the different roles and Kamal sir’s efforts. I liked the Telugu speaking police officer. Kamal sir was tremendous. Only he can do such roles. But the film did not work for me. I thought some of the make-up could have been done better especially when Kamal sir is at the helm of affairs and expectations are high. And you expect it right up there. But it was not. But I liked what he did with he characters. I don’t think anybody could have done that kind of work. .

Who is the Tamil director you like?

Mani Rathnam. I like all his films. Recently I saw Subramaniapuram and I liked Sasikumar’s work. I heard that he is acting but I feel a director like him should continue to direct films.

What about Mysskin?

It is too early to talk about him. Let him give at least five films and then I can talk about him.

What are the films that you like in the recent times?

I saw Saroja and liked Venkat Prabhu’s work. It is not the usual run-of-the mill type. It is different and I liked it.

What about Poo?

I saw Poo; it did not work for me. I felt it was one dimensional and there was over acting. I liked the way the film ended with the heroine crying. She is disappointed more with the fact that her lover’s life has not gone right than for herself which will be very difficult for the normal audience to understand.

What about world cinema?

I like all of Martin Scorsese’s films especially Raging Bull. If I want to remake a film, it would be Martin’s Departed. When I made Pachaikili, I had done it from the book and I had no visual inspiration. But people accused me of remaking the film.

Apart from Martin Scorsese, I like Steven Speilberg’s films. My favorite film is Robin William’s Dead Poet’s society. My dad was moved by the film.

Would you make such a film?

I would love to do it. But here one needs to make some 15 films and establish themselves in such a way that audience would come to watch a director’s film unmindful of the cast. When so much of money is involved, there are many constraints. But right now, I am into production and I am free to experiment what I want.

"I want to

work with


What is your dream project?

I don’t have any particular dream project. I have read a novel by Clive Cussler which can be set in Madras in the 1910. It will be a period film. It is a chase between a bank robber and a police officer. The chase is spread across many places on a rail road car. It would be interesting. It is not a dream project but it would be something big for me to handle.

Who is the star you most want to work with?

I want to work with Amitabh. That would be dream come true. I would like to make another film for Kamal sir. These dreams are big ones for me because I have grown seeing their films. Meeting Kamal sir, talking to him and getting a script across is very difficult. It would be a tremendous move for me if I were to work with Kamal sir again.

Did you see the Hindi Ghajini?

Yes, I did and I liked the Tamil version of Ghajini better. I thought Surya was better especially in the love portions. I expected them to cover the loopholes of Tamil in the Hindi version but they did not though they had changed the climax. I am happy that the film is doing well. I am happy for Murugadoss, Peter Hein, Ravi K Chandran, Antony, Asin and all the south Indian technicians who have made it big there. I am happy for them.

Among your films, which is your favorite?

Vaaranam Aayiram definitely. It is more of a personal film. Then of course Minnale and Kaakka Kaakka which gave me an identity and a call from Kamal sir. But Vaaranam Aayiram

"Suriya was

better than


"Kaakka Kaakka

got me a call

from Kamal sir"

is something that is very close to my heart. I discovered myself with Vaaranam Aayiram. This happens with any film maker. Some films are special. When I lost my dad I was very upset and I wanted to do something to him. It is my way of saying good bye to him. That’s when I wrote the story of Vaaranam Aayiram. Of course it was not easy doing that. People said different things and I realized I cannot satisfy everyone. If in a one hundred seating capacity theatre, 50 people like my film, I am happy. With Vaaranam Aayiram, 80 people liked it and I am very happy.

How much of your father did you bring to Suriya’s role?

A lot actually- the walk, the talk everything is my father. Of course, I never did drugs but that was needed for the film. In the movie when Surya goes through that phase, his dad tells him to go to some place and come back through Simran which only indicates the trust and confidence the parents have on their child. That space is needed by every one and is very essential in relationships.

My dad let me live my life on my terms and conditions which I feel is very important. One needs a father like mine. Otherwise you get struck and you don’t know what to do. I feel we all need to let go at some point. I know I am going to be like that with my son. I learnt a lot from my dad. He was not a big shot in town or anything like that. But to me he remains a hero which is want I have shown in the film.

As a film maker, how do you see your future films?

I am trying to do films firstly to satisfy myself. Ten or fifteen years down the line, if you see my repertoire my each film should be different. If I do my next film just like Vaaranam Aayiram I am finished. Though Vettaiyadu Vilayadu and Kaakka kaakka are same cop stories, they were different in their own way. In VV, there is a mature cop who knows it all and there is also a widower and divorcee angle which has not been done in recent times. Every film of mine is an attempt to do something different from my previous work. Basically if audience comes to the theatre without expectations, they would like my films.

Anything you’d like fans to know?

I would like to say that the media was little too harsh on Vaaranam Aayiram because of the English usage. My attempt was to reach out to a larger section of the audience. I don’t want to be struck to a select group. I know a lot of expats who do not know a word of Tamil have come to me and said that they loved the film. Other day, a Sardarji who do not understand English comes to me and says he was moved by the film. The idea of making a film is many people should see it. That way I feel Vaaranam Aayiram has reached out to a wider audience. But the media did not like and even said that the audio was not good. Personally I feel the audio of Vaaranam Aayiram was the best. But when I watch Sun TV’s count down for best films of the year Vaaranam Aayiram does not even feature in the list not because it was not good but it is being distributed by Azhagiri group. This is sad and not right because Sun network is widely watched all over the world and this kind of rating is not based upon the merit of the film but something else. I think they have to be a bit more considerate because today the television channels make their money mostly through films. So it would be nice if they are not partial and not unfair.

Interviewer: Pradeep

Camera & Lighting: Hemananth.B & P. Ganesh Babu

Text: Jyothsna

Gautham Vasudev Menon Arya Pooja Dhananjeyan Vijaya T. Rajendar Vijay Antony
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