Sense of a scene: MS Bhaskar's monologue of agony in 8 Thottakkal
In this week 's column, director Sri Ganesh expands on MS Bhaskar's famous emotional monologue in 8 Thottakal
‘When I began writing the script of 8 Thottakal, I only had a simple idea. A policeman's gun goes missing and 8 bullets get fired from it under various circumstances. The emotional monologue of MS Bhaskar sir happened so organically during the writing process. Only after I wrote this scene did I strongly feel that the audience will love my film.
When a writer creates a scene, it is often based on an incident from his own life or inspired by the life of those around him. The wife's story where she sacrifices her medical expenses for the welfare of her family is inspired by my grandmother, who did this for her kids. The portion where he describes the image of his wife wearing the oxygen mask is exactly how I saw my grandma at the hospital. I didn't realise that this event has impacted me so much until I wrote this scene. Similarly, I had a girlfriend when I was in college, but I had to sacrifice a life with her for my career in cinema. The portion where he says, “Ava irundhapo naan raja madhri irundhen... ipo kedandhu kashta padren", is how I felt when I got separated. Writing the scene felt like a cathartic process.
During the day of the shoot we faced many unforeseen production issues and we were not sure if the scene would happen. We had initially planned to shoot it in a hotel, but the cost proved to be than what we had; so we settled for a canteen. With great difficulty, we got permission to shoot there, but the management refused to give us cutlery. It was frustrating and funny. I told myself, "Oru plate tumbler kaaga laam shooting thalli pogudhe..." Somehow, we managed to get it for the lead actors and the shot was arranged.
I had requested Bhaskar sir not to be disturbed by all this confusion and gave him the scene paper. He had heard a short narration till then; so he got surprised and said, "Enna pa enaku ivlo periya role-a enakku?" He then asked his PA to keep his phone in silent mode. He had a through read, got into the skin of the character and asked us to shoot the scene with a single closeup shot. He is a natural actor and his memory power is stunning. He completed the monologue in a single take, just as he promised, and the entire unit cheered for him. The cinematographer Dinesh K Babu sir, however, had a long face, as the camera lost focus during the last three seconds. I decided to go ahead with the same version as I strongly felt we wouldn't be able to recreate the magic again.
When we look at mainstream films, the lead character is often an extremely good guy irrespective of situation. I grew up seeing a lot of such films. They are fun, but I feel they lack a personal connect with the audience. When I became a filmmaker, I wanted my main characters to be realistic, with flaws of their own. It is easier to make the audience fall in love with clean characters, but it isn't the same when they have shades of grey. So when I wrote Bhaskar's character, I was very particular that I not paint him in white or black. I just showed them what would happen when an innocent man releases his bottled-up rage, all at once. Whenever the audience see a relatable character like this on screen, they feel they have a purpose in life and I always believe providing this sense of validation to them as a filmmaker is important.’
(As told to Navein Darshan)