Interviewer: Daya Kingston & Inian | Camera: Hemananth.B & P.Ganesh Babu | Text: Jyothsna
Director Jayam Raja is one of the most successful directors in Kollywood. He has just four Tamil films to his credit but all have been big hits. Each of these films from M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi to Santosh Subramanian has featured his brother Jayam Ravi who has turned out to be his lucky mascot. There is a buzz that he will be doing Vijay’s 50th film. Will this film bring Vijay luck? As the excitement heats up we catch up with the handsome, young director for his take on his filmi family, movies, Vijay and more.


BW:
What do you feel about Behindwoods and our style of reviewing?

Jayam Raja: Behindwoods.com is a familiar site for me and I have been following this site for the past four years. I think it was during the time of release of Jayam and M Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi and the films needed publicity. Many sites had done our interviews. However, behindwoods.com did not come across as one among the heap but stood high and tall among its counterparts. The site made an indelible impression on me. I am not saying this to sound politically correct. From then onwards, I have become a great fan of behindwoods.com. Your reviews are truthful and dignified. Not only the reviews, but I also read visitor’s comments which are very sincere. I once again state that I like behindwoods.com for its candidness and forthrightness. Keep the good work going!

What is your take on remake films?

Remake is one kind of film making. I don’t know why it receives so much of attention. A beautiful film happens in our neighboring state but is not successful or a good plot which has emerged successful- why cannot we flavor it with our nativity here? On one side, we have directors writing their own stories. Remake is the other side of a coin. I have made four remake films in four years. In these four years, my films have occupied the first three spots. Through these good films, many people have been benefited; many fans have gone home satisfactorily; good messages have been given. These factors are important and to deliver good films with diligence is more important. In case I try out something new and different from the original thinking that it might work here and in the process don’t pay much attention to

details, the result would be disastrous. To be more specific, remake is like raising an adopted son about whom we may not have much knowledge. The original story should be treated perfectly. We should know when it will cooperate with us and when it will hinder. We should completely imbibe the contents and the expressions will manifest in a perfect fashion. Otherwise, there will not be soul in the film. I believe in the adage ‘whatever you do, do it perfectly’. For the remake films that I have worked till date, I have got appreciations from the original directors, producers and artists. I consider remaking to be very challenging which requires high levels of maturity. I am anxious to perform well. So remake is not something that is easy or ordinary. And I am doing it properly now. I will also do my own stories. My purpose is not to disappoint my fans but give them good and wholesome entertainers.

" Remake

is like

raising an

adopted son "


In your career, how have you evolved from your first film?

There is certainly an improvement from film to film but it is not like I have committed an error and later rectified it. I think I am consistently executing what I have learnt from my father Editor Mohan. My main objectives have been to reach to the mass and to deliver a clean family entertainer sans vulgarity and obscenity right from my first film Jayam. My growth can be considered as the increase of audience base for my films and their satisfaction in my products. Secondly, my films have been improving in technology factor also. Personally I feel I have matured more as a director from my Jayam days and I am also satisfied that I have showcased Ravi in varied shades of his acting. On the collection front, M Kumaran has set the standards which I am not able to surpass till now and hence I want to do a film to break that record.

Till now, you have managed to give hit films without glamour. In future, would you resort to glamour for some reasons?

No. I have set a pattern for my films. In Jayam, there was Shakila, in M Kumaran, there was romance combined with glamour and in Enakkum Unakkum, there was a good love story. Undoubtedly, my films will have the necessary ingredients for the story. Personally, I am not sure if I can deliver a pure film like Santosh Subramanian again. I am indeed proud to have delivered such a film. I can assure you that my films will never have any forced element in it.

" There are

no

big flashbacks "


Who was your inspiration to enter this industry?

Undoubtedly, it is my father, editor Mohan who was one of the very few who had a special room in Vauhini Studios- Room number 12 to be more precise. Only top editors were given this privilege. I have spent my holidays in his room playing with films. So it was just a natural and voluntary transition for me and there are no big flashbacks in it. Of course I am at the first rung and there are miles to traverse before I accomplish something and I am working hard at it.


What kind of role did your father play in your career?

Well, there is a lot one can say about him- his commitment, his hard work and so on. But what tops the list is his taste for creating good things which would earn appreciation. There are many things I have learnt from him. At home, he watches many kinds of films but when I make a film, he would ask whether it would reach the audience. When complacency sets in, growth stops. He has always taught us this. Though my dad is 67, his thinking is in tune with the times and is not outdated. He tells us to constantly learn.

Are you formally trained in editing or film making?

It is necessary to have a theoretical and practical training in film making. Hence I did a three year diploma in film making at Adyar Film institute where I did a short film which fetched me good reviews.

Do you think your film background has helped in your success?

I don’t know how things would have been if I had not been in a film family but yet there may have been a chance for success. My father has given me and my brother a strong platform which has helped us with a smooth opening. By God’s grace, we have not learnt things the hard way and it has been a smooth ride till now. On the other hand, it is also an uphill task to rise up to the expectations and sustain the goodwill. In current times in the industry, you are as good as your last film and a flop could turn everything topsy turvy. It is mandatory to prove oneself with every film and record success and the task is even more difficult when there is such stiff competition in the industry.

How has your brother Jayam Ravi grown as an actor?

Now, I see him acting effortlessly. He is spontaneous and able to bring out nuanced performance which was very evident in Santosh Subramanian. As a director I took care in other departments in the film but neglected Ravi totally but he is maturing into a fine actor. From the first day of shooting in Santosh Subramanian, he has understood his responsibilities and delivered his best. I am confident he will go places. I can see his high commitment levels.

Climax of Santosh Subramanian

Ravi agreed to do this film only because of its climax scene. We all talk of many climax sequences but in Santosh Subramanian, it was more pivotal and significant than any other films. I took extra care to have the climax dialogues not repeat in any of the earlier scenes. If Ravi were to ask any of those questions earlier, the film would have ended then and there. But the pain emanated from love makes him question his father. It has, in a way, elevated the character of Santosh to beautiful heights and Ravi was just waiting for this scene. It was wrapped up in a single take. Thirteen pages of dialogues which went on for four minutes which Ravi spoke non-stop with the right expression. The shot began with a subdued expression of Ravi with dry eyes which slowly unfolded and reached an emotional crescendo. When the shot got over, Prakash Raj simply hugged Ravi whose eyes were watering. There were no applauses and the set was intensely silent. We could not have asked for more. Ravi’s hard work and his absorption of Santosh were remarkable. Then came everyone’s favorite dialogue when Prakash Raj was still holding Ravi’s hand. I can only say it was simply magical. Ravi appeared as though he was in a trance and we just did not disturb him. It is this dedication which has helped the film and I am sure Santosh Subramanian will be a fine example when someone talks about dad-son relationships in films. I am not saying this because it is my film. All the artists associated with the film have given in their best.

Your films create a mood which brings a lump in the throat. Is it deliberate?


If it’s a weepy film, youngsters will not watch it and if it’s very romantic, the older generation will not watch it. I want my films to be a bridge. I believe that just not bringing in obscenity or vulgarity will not draw family crowds to the theater. The film must be liked by everyone from a small child to a youngster to a grandmother. This is no easy task and I have been lucky that the elements I have chosen have worked well. In the current scenario, to fill up the theatre, one needs to satisfy all segments of the audience. Hence when I am on such a mission, I cannot make people cry all the time or take it easy always. According to me Samsaram Adhu Minsaram and Kaadhalukku Mariyathai are classics and I would like to make such films. This is my path and fortunately I have no serious contenders in this but I should retain my success.

Do you attribute your success to luck?

" Samsaram Adhu

Minsaram and

Kaadhalukku

Mariyathai

are classics "

" Asin

was considered

unlucky "

No. To me, to discuss the presence of luck in itself is a waste of time. One needs to work hard and give in their 100%. At the day of release, when I see my film and when I am completely satisfied with my work, I get the maximum results. With God’s grace and my parent’s blessings, none of my films have failed till now. All my projects have proceeded on expected lines. I am fortunate that way. Luck may play in various ways like on the day of my film’s release, some other film may have hit the screens which may or may not be good and its performance may affect my film. For example, during the making of M Kumaran, my producer dissuaded me from shooting in Malaysia as it was considered unlucky. But I insisted that it is needed for the film and went ahead. Asin was considered unlucky during those times but I did not pay much attention to this either. Similarly,

industry insiders told me not to have boxing in the film as it was ominous then. But I did what was needed for the story and the results were there for everyone to see. Today, only five out of 100-130 films released in a year witnesses box office success. This is the standard ratio. Many people do remakes but not all of them have emerged victorious. Hence I don’t believe in luck but only in hard work.

What about your film with Vijay?

I have met Vijay on a couple of occasions and we have exchanged our feelings to work together. I am not sure if it is his 50th or 51st film. But we will be teaming up. We are currently working on the subject. We have a mutual respect on each other’s work. I am just waiting to make a good film for Vijay and it will happen soon.

Till now, you have been giving only family entertainers. Will you be trying fantasy or any other genre?


Yes. I do want to try different genres. I am basically a front bencher who would watch all kinds of films in all languages. Badsha is my all time favorite. I started off with family entertainers with Ravi as my hero which has set up a specific path. However I am also keen to do a film in each genre and record my stamp in every type of film. Only time will answer when it will happen.

" Badsha is my

all time favorite "


What do you think of films based on realism?

When a realistic film succeeds, there would be a bunch following the same track. But not all of them will make its mark. Same thing holds good with commercial entertainers. Now it is a healthy indication that realistic films are being successful which also suggests that the industry is growing. It is natural that any genre of films will have its flip side. But one should not be discouraged by them. These kinds of films bring forth quality artists. Realistic films are a good sign to take cinema to the next plane in world arena. I have done such films during my film institute days which were very slow paced but intense. But that was needed there. I may also do such films in future. I am game for it. Lets see.

What’s your opinion on the current breed of directors?

The trend is very healthy and good now. If I list out promising directors, the number reaches almost to fifteen. The only factor which requires improvement in them is that they should do their second film also like their first. In short they should sustain their energy levels always. Each one has their own distinctive style. Their films not only speak about their intellect but also their heart, their feelings. The stage has come where story and the content has become the hero. Awareness about doing films of diverse kinds has set in. There is high level of confidence on sincerity and hard work winning the day.

How are the preparations coming along for brother’s wedding?

Wedding reception is scheduled to be held on the 7th of June at Mayor Ramanathan Chettiar Hall. This is a big event in our family. Preparation is in full swing for the past three months to make the three hours memorable for everyone. Invitations have been designed with utmost care. There is going to be a violin concert of Lalitha and Nandini sisters. Food will be taken care of by caterers from Vijayawada. We extend our invitation to all our well-wishers. We are eagerly waiting for the D day.

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