Director Madhesh: I made a film on sleeper cells much before Thuppakki
The director, who has returned to filmmaking with the Trisha-starrer Mohini, talks about his comeback
With innumerable horror comedies getting churned out by the industry, director Madhesh believes that his solution is having come up with a social message blended with supernatural elements. "To be very honest, I am not fond of hardcore horror films. My forte has always been delivering films with a message. While I was scripting Mohini, I felt the inclusion of the supernatural element would make the plot more interesting and assure commercial success, as the genre has been doing quite well," he says.
Mohini, he says, was always conceived as a female-centric film. "Right from the time I began scripting the film, I wanted the protagonist to be female, as it was important for me to convey the issues from a woman's point of view," he says, adding that Trisha was his first and only choice for the role. "Whenever a creator plans to convey a strong social message, he has to make sure that his film has a star. Trisha has always stood up for women's rights and also has a great fan base. Thankfully, she was impressed with my script and came on board."
The film has been primarily shot in London. "Our film is a proper bilingual, shot separately for each language. We wanted it to have a connection with both audiences. That's when we came up with the idea of filming it in London, as it serves as a common ground." He feels London is the 'Kodambakkam of England' and states that film crews can easily acquire all the required resources there. But that doesn't mean there weren't challenges. "They are very strict about their regulations. Usually, when we shoot an action sequence in India, all we need is a rope and a safety bed. But in London, a doctor and ambulance have to be present during the shoot and all the actors should carry insurance. Initially, it was very tough for our crew to adapt to their rules. But once we made a proper plan and got all the paperwork done, things became really smooth," he says.
Madhesh cast Bollywood actor Jackky Bhagnani as Trisha's pair in the film, instead of going with a Tamil or Telugu actor. The filmmaker says, "If a well-known face was cast opposite Trisha, it would create unrealistic expectations among the audience. I didn't want that to happen. I wanted an actor who would look and act the part of an NRI, and Jackky has done a great job with the role."
The film references a scientific concept called epigenetics. "It is the future of medicine. Just like the IT wave, there is going to be an epigenetics wave in the future. I read extensively about the concept and have also mentioned the name of the scientists who researched the concept, in the credits," says Madhesh.
He feels that coining a name for the concept a film is talking about is crucial for it to work with the audience. "My film Arasangam, dealt with sleeper cells, four years before the release of Thuppakki. But, I failed to coin a name for the concept. AR Murugadoss got it right with his film and the idea became an instant hit among the audience. That's when I learned my mistake. I didn't want to repeat it with Mohini."
His last directorial in Tamil was 2012's Mirattal, but Madhesh says he didn't exactly take a break. "I worked as a creative director on Rajinikanth's Kochadaiiyaan (2014), and my role was as demanding as that of a director. It kept me busy for a long time. After that, I directed a Marathi film called Friends in 2016."
Asked about his future projects, he says, "I usually take one thing at a time. Since I was busy with Mohini, I haven't had time to think about my next. But, I can tell you that my next film will also be a commercial one as making such films comes very naturally to me."