Interviewer: Inian & Annadurai | Camera: P. Ganesh Babu & Hemananth.B | Text: Jyothsna
Director Suresh Krissna is a seasoned film maker. Having worked with the stalwarts of south Indian film industry as well as Bollywood, he is currently busy with his next project Arumugam with Bharath and Priya Mani. He opens his heart to and shares his valuable experience with us.

BW: When is Arumugam slated for release?

Suresh Krissna: Shooting, re-recording and dubbing are completed. Arumugam is in the post production stage now. It is due for release perhaps in September. It is an important film as it has many pluses associated with it. After Padayappa, Ramya Krishnan is doing a powerful role in the film which has Bharath, the current craze of youth and Priya Mani, the national award winner. It is a hard core entertainer and a mass film.

What is special about Arumugam?

Every film is important for a director. It is his baby. As I had earlier said, besides a talented star cast, I have Deva sir tuning in the music. I have worked with him in many films like Annamalai, Baasha, Aaha and he has done a wonderful job in Arumugam too. The film has my brand stamped all over it. It is a good emotional drama. All my films will not only have action elements but also a human touch to it. I am happy to see Bharath maturing into a fine actor. It is a good family and mass entertainer. I have a good script written by my friend Rashid Premji. All in all, it is a good combination film.

How did you choose Bharath?

Bharath approached me and expressed his desire to feature in my film. He was doing love and family based themes. He wanted to try his hand in masala commercial films. I took some time to come up with a suitable theme for his age, style and image. Rashid and I sat together and conjured up a script but we also felt there must be a powerful opposing force to counter Bharath and felt that Ramya Krishna would be a perfect foil. We told Bharath that the script will have all features of a mass cinema sans unnecessary features like punch dialogues or any such thing to boost him. It will be a character, a small time idli man clashing with the ego of a strong lady! Finally when Bharath saw the film, he was very happy with the end product and said ‘PERFECT’.

Ramya Krishnan continues to feature in most of your Telugu films. Any specific reason?

Every actor chooses their films in their career. It is not that Ramya Krishna would not have had offers from other languages but she preferred Telugu as she enjoys a tremendous fan following there. There was a period when all her films were blockbuster hits and top heroes used to wait for her call sheet. I had worked with her in a Telugu film with Venkatesh and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I repeated her in my films. Ramya Krishnan is a very cooperative, professional and a fantastic actor.

" Ramya Krishnan is

very cooperative,

professional and

a fantastic actor"

You have directed ‘big’ stars. How was your experience directing an upcoming star like Bharath?

There is basically a difference in approach while directing top actors and upcoming artists. When you are directing mass heroes, there is always their image which plays a dominating role in your mind. We need to remember this and maneuver around the script accordingly. We know the plus points of the particular actor, may be his dancing skills or action sequences, and we need to cash in on that. We have to focus on these elements. The demands of the image become very prominent in a script then.

On the other hand, when I am dealing with an upcoming artist like Bharath, there are certain advantages as I don’t have to worry about the image aspect. My basic work with such an artist is to tap his talent. And the outcome of such a tapping becomes his image in the years to come. The flip side is that he carries the new image with the cloud of uncertainty hovering over acceptance. Very testing indeed!

There is always a gap between your films but you have managed to give hits. How is that?

If you visit my website you will realize that I have hardly given any gap. However I keep shuttling between the states doing films in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Hindi. This traveling from state to state gives a gap in a particular language. I like the challenges which vary from language to language. The audiences are different; the scripts are different, the artists are different and so on. That has kept me going and I am on my toes always. I have never been quiet and by God’s grace I have always been doing two films a year. I was never behind woods, touch wood!

Share your experience of working with top artists of the industry

" I am not an

egotistic director "

With all humility, I would like to state that there would not be many directors who have worked with tops stars of the film industry in India. In Tamil I have worked with Rajini, Kamal, Vijaykanth, Sathyaraj, Prabhu and the younger artists like Dhanush and now Bharath. In Telugu I have done films for Chiranjeevi, Mohan Babu, Venkatesh, and Nagarjuna. I have directed Vishnuvardhan, Mohanlal. What can I say? Perhaps it is

to do with my friendly nature. I enjoy good comfort levels with these artists and vibe well with them. They also understand I am not an egotistic director. Recently I had a wonderful opportunity to work with the legends of legends- director Dasari Narayana Rao whom I have assisted earlier. It is not an easy joke working with such a legend and it was an exhilarating experience. I have not had any problems with any star till now. I have always been very friendly and they all like me.

What are the qualities you like in Rajinikanth?

I have worked in four films with Rajini starting from Annamalai, Veera, Baasha and Baba. It is not easy to put in the ‘Rajini’ experience in words. He is a fantastic human being, a great spiritual person. More than anything, Rajinikanth is unbelievably a simple person. He will just be talking jovially before the shot and the moment camera starts rolling, the power that he exudes is highly remarkable. I have had great times with him. Baasha, even after 16 years, is considered a classic. I am proud to have been associated with him. Like a typical Rajini sir fan, I am also eagerly awaiting his next release.

" It is not easy

to put in the

‘Rajini’ experience

in words "

What are the methods to be followed to become a successful star?

Every star will have his way of looking at things. There is no specific success route. The important aspect is the success of the film and the acceptance of the artist by the audience. The career graph of Rajini sir and Kamal sir is the best example. Kamal sir is continuously striving to achieve excellence in various levels of performance whereas Rajini sir’s films are almost on the same lines. There is comedy, action and all entertainment elements in his films. However audience like films of both the actors. Every actor will have a particular route which will be his zone. Vijay may try to follow Rajini sir’s career graph while Suriya may follow Kamal sirs. But finally they are all working towards one thing. They all want to win the hearts of the audience. And it is not an easy thing.

If Sivaji’s Deiva Magan is to be remade, who would be your choice of actors?

There are talks and speculations on such topics. Sivaji Ganesan had always performed very well and he was seen to excel in all kinds of roles- be it historical or mythological or social. Today, the scene has changed and there is more focus on realism now. There would be a change in this scenario also and when that happens, whoever is keen to do such a theme would go for it. When Sivaji acted in Deiva Magan, he must have been in his mid 30s. The current heroes are still young and let us wait for another 10 years and we would know.

" Classics are

always classics "

On remixes?

There are positive and negative sides to the remakes and remixes. While some people prefer only melodies and old songs, some others like the fast beats. But classics are always classics and nobody can do anything to them. When we go to a music store, we have both the varieties and we can choose whatever

we like. But personally I feel old is gold and it can never come to an end. In a way, the new remix songs trigger the interest in young minds to find out about the original. I sincerely wish the radio stations would broadcast more of old songs and popularize it further among the current generation. They should mention the name of the music director, the film, lyricist and the singer. It is very important. If you want music to survive, you should do this. The music companies and the radio stations should try to protect tradition. Tradition is a part of growth and our old music is tradition.

About remakes

Remake is like a season. There was a time when Hindi films were made into Tamil and vice versa. Similarly Tamil films were remade into Telugu. Now it appears like the influx is from Telugu to Tamil. This does not mean there is dearth of subjects. Remake has one greatest advantage. One can see the completed film

" Remake is

like a season "

beforehand. This helps to find the plus and minus points in it. Producer knows the areas where he has to invest money. It is a total package and it becomes easy. On the screen play front, there should be more new writers. I am sure there must be hundreds of writers but they are not getting the correct platform. There should be a forum in which they can submit their work, have a useful interaction and hone their skills, some kind of a format which will encourage new talents. In Hyderabad, in earlier times, there were no musicians. Now there is a full team of violinists, flautists and so on. How did this happen? They started encouraging musicians. Now Telugu film industry is self sufficient and does not need an external support. Similarly writers need to be encouraged. If this aspect is taken care of, remakes season may slowly vanish and there would be more original scripts.

Successful yester year film makers are not able to give hits now. What are the reasons?

" A successful director

will give hit films

even after ten years "

Nobody can predict hits and failures. Even the most successful film maker like Raj Kapoor or Man Mohan Desai, at the peak of their career had given flops. But it is part and parcel of the film industry. When Raj Kapoor gave a hit Sangam, he followed it up with Mera Nam Joker, a flop but he again got back with Bobby. When a director fails, we cannot say he has lost his touch. The next time around, he would attempt something different- different strategies, different subjects. When there is a process of experimentation and the director wants to give a subject a thought, a message may not work sometimes. But there are successful directors like Mani Rathnam sir who has been there from the 70s. He is still a force to reckon with. Like wise, K S Ravikumar and P Vasu who have given many hits.

I don’t agree to the statement that the entry of new directors means the end of old ones. NO. What actually happens is the moment the new generation directors make their entry, most of the actors are afraid to work with the seniors. They think that they cannot gel well with the seniors, there might be communication issues etc. That is why the senior directors are getting sidelined. Given an opportunity, a successful director will give hit films even after ten years. The director in him will not die. In any successful film, the prime factor is the subject. If the story and the screen play are good, the film will run despite bad film making. An experienced director will not make mistakes. Success and failure are part of any director’s journey.

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