'No one else could have pulled off Karthik sir's role'
... says director Thiru, who believes that the bond he has forged with the veteran actor’s son, Gautham Karthik, could result in them collaborating again after this Friday's release, Mr Chandramouli
It's been three years since the release of director Thiru's last film, Naan Sigappu Manithan. In between, he started a film with Jai and Taapsee, “and we even finished a schedule, but for some reasons, we couldn't continue.” He also announced a film with Vikram titled Garuda but “a week before shoot, we had to postpone it for various reasons.” In all, Thiru has lost two years because of these projects. “It was a break, yes, but definitely not an intentional one.”
And now, the director is back with Mr Chandramouli, a film about a ‘father-son relationship’. “It’s also about call taxi-related crimes," he says. Contrary to rumours, the film wasn't really written for Karthik and Gautham Karthik, he says. "I was planning to do a film with Gautham for a while. When I wrote this script and realised it had a strong father character, I asked Gautham if we could approach Karthik sir. He told me that many had wanted to cast them together but had failed to convince his father. But when Karthik listened to the story, he immediately agreed," says Thiru, who believes that no other actor could have pulled off Karthik’s role. The title itself is borrowed from a dialogue by Karthik in the 1986 classic, Mouna Ragam. "It was director Suseenthiran's idea,” he says.
The film stars Regina Cassandra in the lead. "The story has a lot of emotional drama, and I needed a strong actor who could connect emotionally to the audience," he says. One of the film’s songs, Yedhedho Aanene, shows Regina’s glamorous side for the first time. "She wasn't happy with the idea at first, but I assured her that it won't be shot in a demeaning way. She eventually agreed and even lost weight to look the part."
While on working hard, Gautham, who plays a boxer in the film, apparently spent a lot of time sweating it out to prepare for the role. "Boxers have a never-give-up attitude. Even if they are knocked down, they get up. This is a quality I needed his character to have,” Thiru says. “Gautham went to Thailand to train, and also met with a lot of boxers.” The promo videos so far haven’t really given away Varalaxmi Sarathkumar’s role in the film. "That's intentional (smiles). Her role is meant to be a huge surprise. We've seen her in loud and bold roles but in this film, she'll play a soft, calm character."
The film also features veteran directors Mahendran and Agathiyan (Thiru's father-in-law). "Mahendran sir plays a call taxi company's chairman. I had him in mind while penning the script. His look felt perfect for the character. Agathiyan sir plays Karthik sir's friend and wasn't even the first choice. Karthik sir and I were discussing Gokulathil Seethai (which was directed by Agathiyan). That's when I got the idea." The young director says he has learned much from the veterans. "Mahendran sir makes it seem like he's new to the industry (laughs). He’d ask me permission for small improvisations. He'd say, 'Directors buthisaali ah irrukanum, nadikkaravanga konjam muttal ah irrukanum. Appo thaan padam nalla odum.' Working with such legends was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me."
The songs have come to great reception, and one of them has marked the debut of Brindha, sister of actors Suriya and Karthi, as a singer. "Producer Dhanjayan sir had seen her sing at an event, and roped her in," says Thiru, who cites the importance given to the background score of the film as the reason for his choosing Sam CS as the composer. "Vikram Vedha's score reverberated in me well after I walked out of the theatres."
All of Thiru's first three films were with Vishal. "Even now, he wants to do a film with me,” says the director, laughing, “We're great friends and share great rapport. Gautham and I too have bonded on this film, and were talking about collaborating once again." The director already has a script ready. "After the release of this film, I'll zero in on the cast and crew of that one. Varun Manian (the producer of the Jai project) wanted to continue that film, but Taapsee has become busy in Bollywood. It's been two years since we shot the first schedule, and so the scenes too will look too old. I have to see if the script can be tweaked for today's sensibilities. I'm also in talks with Vikram too; so maybe Garuda could happen too." Perhaps the last couple of years spent in vain, may not be in vain at all for Thiru.