I make films that I believe in
Radha Mohan tells City Express how storytelling and its pace make a difference to a film
Filmmaker Radha Mohan believes he's a realist. And for every film, he tries to keep emotions as real as possible. "The challenge is precisely that; including the detailing of sounds," he smiles. Whether it's Abhiyum Naanum or Mozhi -- he has given Tamil cinema something that's stood out in strong contrast to what is generally offered. He’s doing it again now with his upcoming film Brindavanam, due for release next week. The Arulnithi-starrer revolves around the relationship between a star (Vivekh who plays himself) and a fan, who can neither speak nor hear.
Is it a conscious choice to always pick different subjects like this? "There are directors who do only commercial films. Nobody asks them why they've been doing the same thing. As long as the treatment is fresh and the presentation is original, the rest is immaterial."
But does he see himself fit much better with slightly more evolved, if not offbeat cinema? “My commitment is same in all my films. I make a film because I want to tell that story, and not based genre or expectations. People are always ready to typecast you; at least you shouldn't do it to yourself.”
Was Brindavanam's script written for Vivekh in particular? “Not really,” he says and adds, “I wanted to rope in Vivekh, as he is a great performer.”
When prodded about the similarity between the protagonist of this film and Jyothika in Mozhi, the director is quick to clarify that Brindavanam has nothing to do with Mozhi. "It's a completely different story. Yes, the protagonists of both films cannot hear or speak, but while Jyothika's character was self-made and bold, Arulnithi's barber is quite the contrast to that. We've put in a lot of effort to make both the film and characters believable," he says.
The director didn't want to title the film Mozhi-2. "I was clear that I shouldn't confuse the audience. Instead, I named it Brindavanam, which roughly translates into garden of happiness. Mozhi was released in 2007 and I'm happy that the audience relate to it even today. This story is about a celebrity who helps out his fan in his romance," he tells us.
When he started out, releasing a film wasn't a huge task.
"But today, every film is tough. Making films which have independent recall value isn't a joke. I make films that I believe in. Small films can compete only if they are technically sound and tell a story well. My last film was Uppu Karuvadu, in 2015. It takes two to three years to convince producers to invest in a film," he says.
About that film he says, "Though Uppu Karuvadu had positive reviews from critics, it didn't fare well at the box-office. The Chennai floods made the situation worse. Release date plays a vital role in determining the fate of a film."
The filmmaker thinks it's important to retain the interest of the audience, and to keep them wondering about what’s coming next. "It's hard to hold the attention of the audience for a long time without them checking their phones. So the trick is to incorporate fresh elements to sustain their interest," he grins.
Speaking about Arulnithi, he says he's a director's actor. "I have only seen him in serious films. But, I always knew he could pull off something as innocent and nice as his character in Brindavanam, which can make people smile and turn emotional," he adds.
Post Brindavanam, the duo will team up again for another project. On working with the same artistes over and over, he says there's shared growth in the process. "I don’t know if this is good or bad, but artistically you grow together and there is a sense of loyalty."
Radha Mohan’s films generally have strong female characters, what about Brindavanam? "Tanya has got a great scope to perform."
Even though he has been in the industry for more than 10 years now, he hasn't worked with top stars in the industry. "I'd love to work with Dhanush and Vijay Sethupathi. I've been trying to approach Dhanush for years, but haven't heard anything from him yet."
How about another film with Jyotika? "Many ask me why I wasn't doing a sequel to Mozhi with her. But the story ended right there. I didn't have scope to develop a sequel to Mozhi. Of course, I'd love to work with her again."