Interviewer : Inian | Camera : Hemananth.B | Text : Jyothsna
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Director Mysskin, who has earned a name for himself in the industry as the thinker-director, is on his hat trick mission with Nandalala after delivering consecutive hits with Chithiram Pesudadi and Anjathe. This time round the talented director will also be revealing his acting prowess in Nandalala besides directing. Meet Mysskin, one of the brilliant new breed of directors who discusses with Behindwoods about Nandalala, Ilayaraja, his passion for books and many more interesting topics.

Why should one watch Nandalala?

A very good question indeed! And I have not one but many reasons. One should see Nandalala because there are no kuthupaattus; because it can be viewed by people from 4 to 80 years; because it can be seen by lovers. A father and mother can watch it, a mother and child can see it and so can two friends! Nandalala is a story about us, about you, your mother, my mother, about me. I have shown your beautiful face, your beautiful heart, the divine child within you, in Nandalala. I will bring in a mirror and show you how beautiful all of us are. When you come out watching Nandalala, you will realize the beauty of life and people and how happy we all can be. This is the feeling I guarantee.

Genesis of Nandalala

I did not follow any method or pattern to arrive at the story of Nandalala. I did not think about ways and means to cheat the audience or try tricks to make them fall for some antics. I wrote the screenplay of Nandalala following the norms of how a good screen play should be written and how it should reach the heart of the viewers and achieve success in an honest way. They should see and like my product. If Nandalala is successful, it would be a great honor for me to have given a good film and secondly it is would also be an honor for people because they have appreciated a good film again.

Story of Nandalala

It is about two children - one is seven years old and the other is within a 27-year-old man. They are on a mission in search of their respective mothers who they have not seen till date. On this trail, they meet many people. They solve their problems and vice versa. The important plot in the film is the reason about why their mothers leave them which is the suspense element. Nandalala is about how these two children fight back and solve the problems of their mother and finally unite with them and lead a happy and peaceful life. This is a kind of a travelogue.

About the location of the film

We have gone on the road many times but we generally don’t look at it with keen interest or in a serious vein. But I watched the road in various perspectives during my 81 days of shoot. And I have shown the road like you have never seen before. I have revealed forests which you have never witnessed till date. I have shown people who have never been showcased till date. I have given Ilayaraja’s music in my film, which has not been heard till date. When I narrated the story to Raja sir, he did not say anything but when I showed the film to him, he only said one thing, “It is highly sophisticated”. I have brought refinement, this sophistication close to you and you have to watch this. To all movie buffs, I have this to say, “See Nandalala and if you deem it fit, make it successful. With immense faith in me and in your tastes, I present before you this film”.

How come you are acting in Nandalala?

Why not? Anybody can act. In my films, 90% of the cast are amateurs and I pick them up from roads. I am also from the road and I have come to act on the road. Some actors did not accept this film. I cannot name or blame them. My film will certainly not elevate or boost their image. They may have realized this. So, there was no other option and I decided to smear the grease paint. At some point I decided to go in for new comers and even got to train them but was not happy. I carried this story for three years and I knew its intricacies and nuances like nobody else and I felt that I only can do justice to this role and took the plunge. There is nothing wrong in it.

Would you continue to act?

No, I will not. I am doing my next film with Suriya and then a short film with newcomers. I came into film world not to become an actor but to become a good screenplay writer and then as an extension, a good director. Acting in Nandalala just happened. It was a happenstance.

In your opinion, how was your acting?

During the shooting of Nandalala, I never took many takes. I used to check at the monitor and ask my assistants if everything is fine and go by their words. I have not viewed myself as an actor but as a character.

How was it riding on two horses - acting and directing?

It was not easy. I did encounter problems associated with this. If a director is working 100%, for an actor-director it will be 200% effort. When one has to work with a child artist, it will be 300% and the effort level increases to 400% when you are dealing with amateur artists. But I did not see this as a burden as I was very deeply involved in my work.

Did anyone help you lessen your burden?

Yes, many people. Firstly, artist Trotsky Marudu who has worked with me in this project took half of my work. And more importantly, I have an excellent team who has been with me in my previous films and we all worked in unison as a family. For all of us, we viewed this as our life and not as a film. So the 82 days of shooting was not an ordeal but was a pleasant journey. From a light man to make up man, everybody was involved in their work and their job transcended boundaries. It is a major team work.

Nandalala trailer appeared to be very intense. Is it deliberate?

Yes, I expect my films to be intense and powerful. When the feedback about a film from the audience is ‘just ok’, I consider it as the greatest shame. Two and a half hours of viewing of my film by itself should be an experience. It has to be thought provoking and has to initiate a discussion. It should disturb one’s sleep. That’s what I expect from my films. But at the same time, my films will not kindle negative feelings. I use an emotional turmoil to arrive at a solution. Nandalala will be a strong, intense, feel good film.

Was Ilayaraja a conscious choice?

Yes, I had decided on Raja sir when I was writing the story. His re-recording will speak volumes. His music had certainly helped the film.

I use an

emotional turmoil

to arrive

at a solution

The most

difficult thing

is to score

simple music

How did Ilayaraja’s music bring life to your film?

As I had said earlier, when I had screened the film to Ilayaraja, he said the film is very sophisticated and he wanted three people. I first did not comprehend what he said. He then said that from Hungary-Budapest orchestra, he wants a flutist, an Oboist and a violinist as he had thought of a different style for re-recording. Initially, when he had asked me what kind of music I want for the film, I had mentioned that the music should be enjoyed and appreciated by the likes of a hunter in an African cave. I understood that he had kept this in mind. Music in Nandalala will be very pleasing to every ear. The most difficult thing is to score simple music. To play with just three instruments is more difficult than playing with 400 instruments. This is called minimalized music that Raja sir has done in Nandalala. When two people are walking on the road, one cannot obviously have a loud note; the music should be soothing and gentle like a breeze which Ilayaraja achieved by using small instruments. In his 35 years of music career, he has crossed various milestones but Nandalala will be his remarkable creation.

About cinematographer Mahesh Muthusamy?

In my opinion, a director or a cinematographer or an art director should not be visible in a good film. In the dark theatre, 24 lies run per second on the celluloid which transports the audience to a different world and makes him believe that it is the truth. Once when someone says - wow, what an excellent director or art work, it is the failure of the story; which means that audience has missed out on the content or the character. The work of these technicians should seamlessly merge with the main content, which is the story. This is what Mahesh does for my films. Whenever I pull him to the front for any interview, he will only ask “What have I done?” He is a very simple man and is my complete strength. We have worked in three films and have never had any aberration. To cite a classic example, when I was shooting for Anjathe, I had to take the first shot for a scene and the first shot in any scene is very important. I was not getting this shot and was pacing up and down when I saw an earthworm. I called Mahesh and said this is my first shot. He never questioned me, completed the procedure and finally asked me the reason. He could have asked in the first instance itself. But he did not. I cannot do any film without Mahesh. He is first a great man and then a technician. Instead of saying that he has worked in my film, I am proud to say that I have worked with him. We have all seen many roads, natural sceneries but when you see Nandalala, you will realize how different these mundane things look through Mahesh’s camera. The images that he has captured in the film are going to be immortal. If Nandalala is successful and gets awards, the first award will go to Ilayaraja and the second one will be for Mahesh.

Anjathe was racy and gripping. How would Nandalala be?

Nandalala would be as gripping and fast paced as Anjathe. When one gets involved with the character and wants to know what is happening next, it is definitely gripping. Nandalala is a profound and a beautiful film. It is a much needed film in today’s world that is ridden with all types of struggles beyond human control. This is a film that talks about humanism and tells us to forgive mistakes. Nandalala will be therapeutic.


will be


What about the costumes in Nandalala?

In our journey in the film, we had no time to change clothes because we are ridden with incessant problems. I am a mentally retarded person and the boy has to look after and take care of me. At the smallest lapse, I may commit a mistake, an error. So our travel is full of struggles and where do you find the time to change clothes? But when you watch the film, our dress has become a character by itself and has merged so well with the rest of the frame.

About Trotsky Marudu’s contribution?

Trotsky Marudu is a renowned artist in Tamil Nadu and I am a film person. As regards Nandalala, I expected a lot of aestheticism even while composing a particular sequence. I was not sure if he would fit into my film but realized that I needed the aid of an artist. I learnt a lot from him. He says that in Chithiram Pesudadi, my frames were loose and in Anjathe, they were tight but in Nandalala they have become perfect. He has given a lot of inputs for this film. That’s why I have credited him as director of aesthetics whose name will roll immediately after Ilayaraja’s name in the title. He has recorded the making of Nandalala as photographs and has plans to have an exhibition soon. He has done tremendous amount of artistic work in the film. You will realize them when you see the film.

I don’t believe

in films

which are born

at the

editing tablel

You have a reputation of wasting a lot of footage. Your comment?

No. I don’t do such stuff. I had planned the shooting for 91 days but wrapped it in 81 days. I don’t believe in films which are born at the editing table. When I am writing the script, I plan my shots and cuttings. More than what I want in my frame, I am more lucid about what I don’t want. What is important is that I have taken a 60-70 hour film in the making of Nandalala. I am planning to compile and make into a manual and take to the audience if the film is successful. I have taken a 12-hour film on Ilayaraja’s re-recording alone.

Do you think cinema should be realism centric?

I firmly believe that cinema is not a medium for realism. When you place a secret camera in a hut adjoining Coovam, record the day’s events, take it in the evening, edit and release it and you will not have any takers for it. I go to a film, look up and see two characters and their problems which are almost akin to mine. I have come to watch how the character in the film faces his problems and solves them. Of course, it is an imagination, a fantasy, but there is depth and refinement in it and also a big truth. This is what I call a cinema.

When M.G R hits 100 men, there is no reality in it, but when he bashes the baddies, I am also with him, hitting these men, completely engrossed in the act. So I start trusting that a man can hit 100 men for a good cause. So, in a similar situation in real life I may not beat bad men but will at least raise my voice against bad people. This is what is cinema. Cinema is not reality and it cannot change people; it can elevate their thinking a little. That is how I view cinema and my films will only reflect my thinking.



change people;

it can elevate

their thinking

a little

I have not come here to give messages. Thiruvalluvar and Avvaiyar have done the jobs. I am a young granny who is telling a story, that’s all. When a child is fearful of ghosts, I tell a story to the child that once upon a time, there was a good ghost who helped three children find their way back home. So I portray the ghost as someone nice. This is what I want to do in my films. Cinema is not a medium to transform the society. It is a medium to tell interesting stories. That’s all.

The fights

will appear

child like

and child based

About stunt choreography

As regards Nandalala, I had story boarded everything. As I am also a martial artist, I knew how my stunt sequences should be. This is how someone should hit and this is how someone should receive the blows. If you are a tall person, you can hit at two people and after you are done with them, when a third man attacks you with a knife, you can run. This again, you can accomplish only if you have done half an hour of brisk jogging in the morning. This is realism and has credibility. I don’t believe in standing on four people and hitting and then delivering punch dialogues. So I look at it this way- how many blows can one man give at a time singularly. If I want to hit at five people, I need to take with me that many people. So within such a realistic frame, I introduce my fights. I did not look at it as choreography. Nandalala will have realistic fights on one hand and fantastic action sequences on the other hand. So we have amalgamated both these varieties. Chithiram Pesudadi and Anjathe were known for their fights. But Nandalala has more action sequences than these two films and it will be talked about. Here the fights will appear child like and child based.

About Rohini’s contribution?

She has done a wonderful job in this film. She does the role of my mother and has delivered a superb performance. I did not know how to thank her. On the last day of the shoot, I called all my team - around 250 in number - and then we all gave a thunderous applause which lasted for 10 minutes. I fell at her feet and sought her blessings. An extremely down-to-earth person and a highly talented artist! Her contribution is phenomenal to the film.

About Ashwath Ram

He has given a remarkable performance. First of all, it is not easy to make a child perform before the camera. It is difficult to speak to them on an intellectual platform and expect them to understand. There must be an inherent spark. In that way, Ashwath Ram is a child prodigy. He listens and imbibes very fast. He will be seen in every frame with me in this film. The most difficult scenes, he had completed in just one or two takes and that too an emotional performance. As a child there are lot of limitations like tiredness, mood swings etc. But Ashwath has risen above all and has given a splendid performance in the film.

What is the language of the song that was shown in trailer?

For the pre-climax sequence I wanted gypsies and when I went to meet them, I heard one old woman singing which was extraordinary. I somehow wanted to incorporate this song. There is a war preparation sequence associated with children in the climax. So for this sequence, I brought in the lady to the dubbing theatre and made her sing but the first time around, it was not good. When I enquired she said that she needs a glass of brandy or any drink and when I gave her that, she completed in just one take. This song is an important one in the film in the climax. It is about God, bravery and life which is sure to stand out.

What is the meaning of the song?

It is to God which seems to say - I offer you so much and give me the boons that I ask you. It is a mix of Marathi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Words like karuvadu and gulab jamun feature in the song.

It has been said that the climax scene was shot with many cameras?

The climax scene will be like a war scene. Without dialogues, we have captured the song just in re-recording. That is new in this film.

About Snigda?

Yes, she has done an important and a significant character called Anjalai. In a particular sequence she has to speak for four minutes continuously. She did this in one single shot. Her role and performance also will be talked about. She is an extremely dedicated and a cooperative artist. All along she was known for her dancing skills but post-Nandalala, she also will be known for her acting talents.

Is Nandalala inspired from a Japanese film?

Now, I cannot answer this question and convince anyone. When my film is released, you can take the DVD of the Japanese film and then compare and say. Of course, I am an ardent fan of Takeshi Kitano. In fact, you can call him my guru. In a way his Kikujiro stimulated me to take Nandalala but Nandalala is not Kikujiro. You can tell me this after you see the film.


is not


I have

not stolen



Mystic Rivers

Is Anjathe lifted from Mystic Rivers?

There is no way you can say if I am saying the truth or not. Only my conscience knows. When I wrote Anjathe, I was inside my room for 37 days and only I know the struggle. I don’t believe in the paucity of stories. I can write many stories. My friends have seen Mystic Rivers. I have not seen the film whether you want to believe or not. I can, with pride, say that I have been inspired by Kurosawa’s shots and I follow them. I am not ashamed of it. He is a legend. I have not stolen Anjathe from Mystic Rivers. I am not a thief. If I have stolen some thing, I would very honestly admit the same.

Does formal education help in cinema?

Yes, without the basic education, it is difficult.

Can you make a film without songs?

Of course, yes, and I am progressing towards it and I will definitely do it.

About your voracious reading habits?

I am crazy about reading. Books are a part of my life or more aptly, they are my life. I cannot imagine life without books. Of course, reading helps me a lot while writing screenplays. When I started reading books, I realized how ignorant I was. To write a script of 250 pages, I needed to write 15000 pages, then tear it, trim and bring to 250 pages. To write 15000 pages, I should at least read 1500000 pages. Books give me happiness and when I am depressed it lifts my spirits. And when I read about a Russian author, I am able to understand his culture and lifestyle of people there. World is in my fist when I read books. Gifting books is an excellent and beautiful thing. I cannot live without books.

Would you write a book?

I don’t think I have the required knowledge right now. But I will definitely do in future and it will be on cinema.

Any inspiration

No, no body like that. My grandma was my inspiration in my childhood.

Tags : Nandalala, Mysskin , Aswath Ram, Ilayaraja
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