I don't just make safe films: Director Vijay
The filmmaker talks about his consistent work ethic, his equation with success and failure, his latest release, Watchman, and his upcoming Jayalalithaa biopic
At a time when most filmmakers struggle to get their work to the big screen, Vijay is one director who has been bringing out films in quick succession. In the last 24 months, he has released four films, with one more set to hit the screens soon -- all belonging to different genres. This consistency, he says, comes from good planning. "I don't shoot and edit. I edit as I shoot. I thoroughly plan my process and that saves a lot of time," he explains. The diversity, on the other hand, comes from the need to experiment. For example, Watchman came from the desire to make a thriller. In a chat, the Madrasapattinam director talks about his choices, his equation with success and failure, and also his next biggie, the Jayalalithaa biopic, Thalaivi, starring Kangana Ranaut.
'GV Prakash has evolved as an actor'
"For Watchman, I needed someone who'd fit a boy-next-door role. I have always wanted to work with GV Prakash. We are good friends, and have collaborated as director and composer often. I felt this subject was right for him as an actor and so I approached him. I think he has evolved as an actor with Naachiyar and Sarvam Thaala Mayam. His character in Watchman is the kind of role only he could have done."
'Thalaivi is a pan-Indian film'
"You can't restrict Jayalalithaa to one region, she was a national leader. Even in Mumbai, people know who Amma is. Kangana (Ranaut) is one of the biggest stars in India today. I think it is right that a top star plays the role of an important politician. This way, the story will also reach audiences across India. We consider this a pan-Indian film, not a regional one. There was a lot of discussion before the decision was made to cast Kangana; we met several people as well. She is extremely excited about the project and wants to portray her with utmost honesty. She will learn Tamil for the film and also be part of a one-month workshop to get into the character. We are all trying to make an honest biopic. That's all I can say at this point of time."
'With Thalaivi, I learnt more about our state's history'
"The entire research was done by myself, Ajayan Bala, and my assistants. As part of it, we found a person who has a collection of all of Jayalalithaa's interviews. We bought that entire collection from him. I read all those interviews, and in that process, I learnt a lot about our own state's history. Before Thalaivi, I wasn't aware of our political journey in depth. Today, I can tell you when she became AIADMK's propaganda secretary or when MGR or Anna came into politics. We will begin shooting in July. The scale of this film is ten times that of Madrasapattinam, so I want to do a good job and ensure that the people like it."
'Thanks to Vijayendra Prasad, film writers today are respected'
"Until now, I have written my own scripts. Vijayendra Prasad is one of the biggest writers in the country today; he's brought immense respect to writers in cinema. People respect his work as much as they do that of a director. His knowledge of cinema and his vision is extraordinary. He understands what I want to convey and whips up something accordingly. I am learning and unlearning so much. In a biopic, history needs to be presented cinematically. Vijayendra Prasad is brilliant with those cinematic flourishes. It's a beautiful collaboration and I am looking forward to more of it. In fact, it was he who brought Kangana on board. Manikarnika worked brilliantly for them and I hope that magic continues with Thalaivi."
'An idea might fail, but I don't want to fail as a filmmaker'
"Every director has their share of ups and down. I don't try to make only safe films. With each project, I try to do something that I haven't done earlier. And when you venture into newer areas, you never know if it will work or not. An idea might fail, but I don't want to fail as a filmmaker. It isn't necessary that you should like what works for me. I remember the criticism I received for Diya. But I also got a lot of respect for that film. Today, I am making that film in Hindi. Somebody liked it and hence bought the rights for it. I am glad and grateful that people still like my work."