'I believe in scripts, not stars'
Suseenthiran on why he's edited out substantial footage from last week's release, Nenjil Thunivirundhal
Suseenthiran thinks of himself as being more an audience member than a filmmaker. This, he says, helps him be objective about his projects. It's why he has now edited out 20 minutes of footage from his recently-released Nenjil Thunivirundhal. Almost all the portions involving the film's heroine, Mehreen Pirzada, have been cut, in order to make the film feel racier. "It was, naturally, a bit awkward for me to inform Mehreen that her portions were getting removed. But I think she took it sportingly. She messaged, "Okay, cool, sir!" he says.
"I never thought that the first half was too lengthy, but now that people have pointed it out -- mainly in social media -- we have re-edited the film. I attribute this mistake in judgment to this being my first bilingual. I am still learning," he says, adding that the Telugu version, C/o Surya, however, remains untouched.
Even before releasing the film, Suseenthiran had two edited versions in Tamil. One with commercial elements like the songs, and the other without. I point out that even his previous venture, Maaveeran Kittu, was re-edited after its the release. But he denies it. "I don't remember talking to you about it," he laughs.
Nenjil Thunivirundhal, the director says, is close to his heart, as its story, about two friends, is drawn from his life. "Almost all my stories are inspired by real-life incidents. That's how they seem very interesting. I make films about stories that I believe in. Only when the script is real, will the audience -- be it in the city or villages -- accept it," he says.
Suseenthiran thinks that many filmmakers miss a trick by not thinking about what the people want to watch. "They fail to visualise what people really need," he adds. He's also a big believer in finding a good balance between commercial elements and through their use, sending out a social message. "Take films like Indian, Dhool and Gentleman. They were all commercially viable, and each of them had a relevant social message!"
People still tell the director that Naan Mahaan Alla is his best film yet. "I wanted to do something along those lines. I found a revenge angle to the story, and developed it for this film," he tells us. "It all started with figuring out an extension of Karthi’s character from that film. I then created parallel stories around the protagonist. The story is about friendship, but there's a social angle too," he says.
Suseenthiran is next working on a campus story, Angelina, that features many newcomers. "Hit films don't always need to be done with popular heroes. The mark of a good director is in identifying new talent and shaping them. Angelina will be an important film in my career," he smiles. He also has a 'fantastic script' for Vijay. "I am yet to hear from him about it."
Perhaps this difficulty in reaching out to stars is why he doesn't really do films with popular actors? He laughs. "Vishal and Vikram are stars too, you know. But on a serious note, I believe more in scripts than stars," he signs off.