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Interview Team : Sudharshan

He made a very memorable entry into the film industry with his much acclaimed Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi. Director Balaji Mohan was one of the first ones to come from a short film background and as we recall, one of the ‘new wave’ directors said Balaji’s success was the biggest boost for the (then) aspiring directors from a similar background to break into the industry. So, It is definitely not an over exaggeration to say that director Balaji Mohan marked the bloom of what we now proudly call ‘The New Wave of Tamil Cinema’.

The young director is now ready with his second film, Vaayai Moodi Pesavum and he takes time to chat with our correspondent, Sudharshan Giridhar about his passion for cinema, the adventurous journey towards his dream and of course, his new film!



Engineering Vs. Cinema…

I grew up in Trichy. I did my education there. I was quiet active in extra-curricular activities. And at the same time, I was also good at studies. But towards the end of my schooling I understood that I was more attracted to extra-curricular. I participated in every cultural activity, including dance and drama. I can also play keyboard.

When I realized that I knew all these in bits and pieces, I figured out that the best place where I can put to use all my talents was cinema.

Me being in Trichy was anything but helpful in chasing my dreams. And unfortunately, I scored very well in my 12th and had to take up engineering. I was admitted in SSN, Chennai. I sustained for 3 semesters and after that I couldn’t hold myself.

I decided that no matter what happens, I’m going to go after my passion.

I decided that no matter what happens, I’m going to go after my passion.


A student of cinema…

After discontinuing college, I had absolutely no idea what to do. So I started to make short films. I sent one of my shorts to a competition that luckily had Balu Mahendra sir as the judge. Here I won the special jury award.

Balu sir found the content very interesting and he was the first one to recognize me. I took it as a good sign to start a career in cinema and I sent my films to all the directors. Balaji Sakthivel was the only one who replied back appreciating me. Though it was badly made, he also felt the films had good content and asked me to learn cinema before venturing into it.

I started watching a lot of movies from all over the world. Later, I joined LV Prasad Institute. I wanted to do a course in direction. But, since I didn’t have a degree, I had to settle with editing and sound design. It was a one year course and I made use of the institute to the fullest. I went in search of knowledge and learnt every possible thing I could from the institute.

Balu sir found the content very interesting and he was the first one to recognize me.


How difficult was it to break into the industry?

After my time at Prasad institute, I continued to make short films. That’s when I got a chance to participate in Gateway to Hollywood. I was the youngest one there to be competing and I got a lot of exposure there (Balaji emerged as one of the six finalists in the competition).

Following that I joined as an assistant to Sudha K Prasad in her film, Drohi. Right at the end of the film, I entered Nalaya Iyakkunar. Everyone pretty well knows what followed.

I dropped out of college when I was 19 and I made my debut as a director at the age of 24. Those 5 years in between were my learning curve.


How appreciative was the industry, when you came up with Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi?

When I started making Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi into a feature, I exactly knew how it was going to turn out. That was because I had invested a lot of time on the planning.

While scripting I kept in mind the difference and the entertainment elements I wanted to bring into the film. I made Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi with a proper blend of experimentation and entertainment.

Industry reacted exactly the way I expected them to. They noticed the difference in the narrative and at the same time they had fun watching it. Same was the case with the audiences. 

Industry reacted exactly the way I expected them to. 


What took you so long to come up with your second project?

I wonder why everyone asks me this question. Not a single filmmaker who debuted with me in the same year has released their second project yet. Anyway, I had only one script in hand when I ventured into cinema and that one too got made. So I had to start from scratch again.

Having created a name in the first film, I had a responsibility towards the people to come up with a better project. Vaayai Moodi Pesavum demanded the time it took. Not just the scripting, the dates, planning and other essential factors have to come into places. 

I had a responsibility towards the people to come up with a better project.


You seem to put a lot of thoughts to your titles….

To be frank, we didn’t put as much thoughts into the title for both the films. They were spontaneous and that is why they fit the film well.

We knew the title was going to be Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi, even before we started working on the film. But, Vaayai Moodi Pesavum struck me during the process of scripting and I couldn’t have thought of a better one.

Vaayai Moodu and Pesavum, as you all know are opposites. Our lives have all kind of extremes and that is what makes it beautiful. At the end of the film, you’ll realize the oxymoron in the title actually makes sense. 

Vaayai Moodi Pesavum struck me during the process of scripting


Vaayai Moodi Pesavum…

Maybe it’s the image that Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi has painted, but people think VMP is a romcom. It is not. The film has elements of science fiction, comedy, romance, satire and a lot of other genres too.

The film deals about the communication problems that persist today. But that said it will not be preachy. Whatever I have wanted to say I have made it as light hearted and humorous as possible.

At the same time, people would be able to relate to the characters. I believe a film must have the right proportion of realism and cinematic elements for it to click among the audiences. This film has been made on that formula.

On the whole, VMP will be a complete fun ride for the entire family.

People think VMP is a RomCom


Dulquer Salman…

We weren’t scouting for a huge star for the lead role. Dulquer Salman was also looking to venture into Tamil cinema at that time and we decided to give him a shot. We met and I gave him an outline of the story. He was kicked about the project. I wanted an actor, who could carry a boy-next-door kind of role and Dulquer fitted the bill perfectly. 



Once Dulquer came on board, the producers decided to make the project in both Tamil and Malayalam, considering his market in Kerala. Now we needed a heroine who could speak both the languages and the obvious choice was Nazriya. She could speak both languages and at the same time, she is superiorly talented.


Madhoo Bala…

Madhoo Bala is playing is a solid role and a perfect one to mark her comeback. It is also a major decision from her side to take up a strong character role, considering she ruled the industry during her active years. Having someone as spectacular as her on board adds value to the project.

She was also excited about her role when I narrated the story, but was a bit skeptical about her part in Malayalam. We convinced her to do it and as usual she nailed it. She is like this student who pretends to be nervous but cracks every exam with top marks.

Having someone as spectacular as Madhoo Bala on board adds value to the project.


Dumb flu…

Dumb flu symbolizes the problems that are caused by improper communication. (According to the story) You’ll lose your voice if you are affected by the flu.

The whole story happens at Pani Malai, an imaginary hill town and the flu spreads only in that town. 

You’ll lose your voice if you are affected by Dumb Flu


Character descriptions…

Dulquer plays Aravind, a door to door sales man, who sells Dr. Fix It. He loves to talk and has the power to convince people. The tag ‘Dr. Fix It’ also suits the character so well because when he sees someone, who’s so in trouble, he genuinely and desperately would want to sort it out for them.

Nazriya plays Anjana, a doctor, who unlike Aravind doesn’t prefer to talk. She keeps everything to herself and believes silence is the best way to solve problems.”

Madhoo Bala plays Vidhya, a writer and Nazriya’s step mom. She represents the present day creative woman, who is made to put her dreams aside to take care of her family. She faces situations where she cannot discuss her problems with others.”

Pandiarajan is Sunderalingam, a politician. He is the health minister and it is his duty to handle the dumb flu issue in Pani Malai. His character is such that, he always gets the media attention by saying something he shouldn’t.

Robo Shankar plays the chief of Tamil Nadu Kudikaarargal Sangam and John Vijay plays nuclear star Boomesh. There’s a social satire sequence involving the fans of Boomesh and the members of Tamil Nadu Kudikaarargal Sangam.

‘Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi’ fame Arjun’s character is such that, his mind and tongue don’t work in sync. He thinks one thing and when he mouths it, it comes out wrong.

Vinu Chakravarthy will always be angry. He plays a man who doesn’t exercise the term ‘let go’. His problem is that he always remembers the past and is angry about it all the time.



All these characters are not completely imaginary. My characters are inspired from the people I’ve met and the knowledge we are all exposed to. But you cannot add every character that you like. You must know the knack of including just the characters that would go with your content well.

You’ll not find the characters in the film strange. You can easily relate to all of them.

I’m also part of the society and to an extent, I have an idea what kind of content and characters can entertain people. I could have taken myself too seriously and come up with most whacky concepts that are absolutely strange. But I believe that we enjoy a movie when we have instances we can relate to. 

You must know the knack of including just the characters that would go with your content well


How are things between you and Anirudh?

There’s not much of an issue there. He was supposed to do the movie. But he was too busy with other projects.

We couldn’t wait for too long. So we had to move on. It is as simple as it sounds. There’s definitely no hard feeling between Anirudh and myself. He in fact called me and said he liked the trailer.


There’s definitely no hard feeling between Anirudh and myself


Sean Roldan…

Sean was no fresher to music. His independent album is pretty popular among the music lovers. I myself am a fan of him. I saw him perform at an indie-music festival and fell in love with his music. Later, I went home, surfed and found one of his compositions on the net titled, Mayakkura Poo Vaasam. That song was an inspiration for me while writing the script of Vaayai Moodi Pesavum. I was also thinking of using that song in the film.

Like they say, what goes around comes around. Sean was also one of the composers we had in mind when we were discussing the project. When I started to work with him I realized that he was much more capable than what we had demanded from him. 

When I started to work with Sean Roldan I realized that he was much more capable than what we had demanded from him.


What can we expect from your upcoming Dhanush project?

I’m not at a liberty to talk much about it. But one thing I can tell you is that, it will be nothing like Vaayai Moodi Pesavum or Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi.

It will again be a mix of genres and I’m still on the verge of completing the script. So all I can say now is that, Dhanush and Kajal Aggarwal have signed up for the project.

It will be nothing like Vaayai Moodi Pesavum or Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi


Acting plans…

You’ll never and ever catch me saying I was forced to act in a certain project. No one can force me into acting. I’ll volunteer myself. I love and enjoy acting and as I told you I’ve been a fan of the art since my school days. In fact I wanted to be an actor.

I’ve also done an eccentric news reader’s role in VMP. The moment you see me on screen, you’ll realize I do not take myself seriously. That’s exactly me both as a director and an actor

The moment you see me on screen, you’ll realize I do not take myself seriously


Your relationship with your counterparts…


Nalan, Karthik (Subbaraj) and me participated in the same season of Naalaya Iyakkunar and ventured into cinema around the same time. We discuss a lot about films when we meet and appreciate each other’s works. 


Policies as a film maker

At one point, I used to say to myself that I mustn’t do certain things in my films. But now I’m kind of keeping myself open, without any restrictions. I have come to a mindset that if I cannot do something in one industry, I can always try it at a different one. 


Good Luck Balaji, for Vaayai Moodi Pesavum and all your upcoming projects!



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