Vijay and Ajith are inevitable: SA Chandrasekhar
The director-actor, whose recent directorial Capmaari hit the screens last week, talks about keeping up with the times, actors Vijay and Ajith, and more
Being in the film industry for forty years hasn't fatigued SA Chandrasekar one bit. The septuagenarian was actively working for the release of Capmaari when I met him a week ago at the time of this interview. Known for his vigilante and political commentary films, SAC first surprised the audience when he made Mutham, an adult slasher flick in 2002. Almost 17 years later, his recent Jai-starrer has also got an 'A' certification and curiously, this was promoted as one of the USPs of the film. "A film has to connect with the audience at some point. I've been observing the lifestyle of the youngster for quite some time and I felt this was the right time to make a film for them."
Excerpts from the conversation:
Adapting to the modern mindset would have been a difficult task. How did you prepare yourself for it?
I believe observing and appreciating differences is the first step to get updated. Generally, people of my generation underestimate youngsters, but I made an effort to admire them. Back in those days, when a boy and girl went to watch a film together, it was considered taboo and a sin. But this generation has a better understanding of boundaries, and people of all genders are treated equally, without any differences. There are some who misuse liberties, but most of them are progressive.
You had previously mentioned that the audience no longer enjoys message films unless they are commercial entertainers featuring top stars. Why do you feel this is?
When a generation changes, the creators have to reinvent themselves. They can't make the same films and expect the audience to like it. I made hit films carrying heavy social messages for almost three decades, but if I make the same now, I am sure it wouldn't be received well. So, I thought of moulding myself according to this generation and make a film that is close to their world, and not mine.
You seem to have studied the present-day romance well. Typically, it is said by the elderly that the value for love has reduced now. Do you think this too?
Not at all. Only the perspective of love has changed. They don't think a lot before proposing. To be more specific, most relationships bloom from friendship. They become friends first and hang out together for a few years and they don't even realise that they have fallen for each other. The downside of taking love so light-heartedly is, it breaks easily too. I really wish they took the emotions involved in love a bit more seriously. Ellame vilayattu illaila?
One film of yours you would love to have remade? Rajanadai
Who do you wish directs it? AR Murugadoss
Who do you wish played the lead? Vijay
One film of yours that deserves a sequel? Saatchi
You have spoken about the importance of the voice of women on screen. What do you make of films that treat the female lead as a mere prop?
Whenever a hero-based film is made, the heroine's role gets reduced to a condiment. Script-eh apdi maaridum. The inverse happens to heroes in female-centric films. Telugu and Tamil audiences love hero worship and writers are compelled to pen a script keeping in mind the image of a hero. For instance, Bigil was more of a Vijay film than a women empowerment film. Every event in the story is propelled by him. Though the film has a team of girls and a heroine, the focus remained on him.
For almost a decade, wherever you go, you are being bombarded with questions about Vijay. Does it irk?
To a certain extent, yes. Vijay is not a kid growing under my supervision, for me to talk about his likes and dislikes, and share his progress. My child is a 40-year-old individual now and I think questions about him are unnecessary. When he made his debut in Naalaya Theerpu, I was a 50-film-old director, so I guided him with my experience and helped him choose production houses and directors. Initially, Vijay ventured into cinema, just because he wasn't into studies but after a decade, the experience he gained transformed him into a professional. He is headstrong and has been making independent choices for the last five years.
The names of Vijay and Ajith are being overused nowadays by almost everyone to gain fame. What's your take on it?
I guess this has become a necessity now. Though there are many actors in the industry, every era finds its own favourite duo. This is inevitable. I personally avoid taking about Vijay. But I can't ask others to stay silent. As a director, I feel happy not only when they praise Vijay, but also whenever they praise other actors I introduced like Vijayakanth and Rahman. But we can't do much about those who talk ill about them and backstab. I just hope that, at some point, they will learn their lessons.