Please don't call me with acting offers: Mysskin
Mysskin shares his intention to focus on direction, with films like Psycho and Thupparivaalan 2 lined up
It is impossible not to notice framed photographs that adorn the walls of Mysskin's house--ranging from those of veteran actors and filmmakers to seemingly random ones of Ambassador cars. There's one of the old Gold Spot drink, and one of a woman drawing a kolam. "Every one of them has been my inspiration, at different points in my life. Even the strange objects you see mean something for me," says Mysskin, as we settle down in his private library to discuss his latest film as an actor -- Suttu Pidikka Utharavu (SPU).
The evolution from Nandalala
"Becoming an actor was not planned. Nandalala can be referred to as a sweet fate, as other actors said no to the role--even though Anjathey turned out to be a hit. That film was a mix of inspirations from a Japanese film and my own life. A mentally unstable brother of mine, influenced my character in the film. Though it did not do well financially, it shocked the audience and is considered today as being among my best films. It was my first film with Ilaiyaraaja and Trotsky Marudu (contemporary artist); they were some of my life's best days. Appo manasu suthama irunthuchu and romba nallavana irrunthen."
From directing cop roles to playing one
"The story of Suttu Pidikka Utharavu is about an operation that happens in two days; I'm in mufti throughout. Director (Ramprakash Rayappa) had much clarity, so I was able to pull this off. Strong characters will walk actors throughout the film. For SPU, the director's enthusiasm in narrating the story got me interested and I could not say no. I say no to a lot of acting offers, especially after Super Deluxe."
Lure of a good script
"I have said no to many films. I said no to a script narrated by Chezhiyan, a dear friend of mine. I think he might have even been angry with me, but he scrapped that script and worked on a new one. That ended up being Tolet which has now secured worldwide recognition. I am also a trained writer and read a lot, so I can tell if a story has issues with its structure. I get three calls a week with acting offers from directors who say they cannot see it being played by someone else. That's when I know they are lying. Naan seththu poita, padam pannamaatiya-nu keppen. I already have films to work on as a director and more importantly, I like being lazy. Reading throughout the night and getting up at 3 pm is how my day are. If I become an actor, I cannot afford that. Moreover, Thiagarajan Kumararaja got the most out of me with Super Deluxe. That fatigue of shooting for those 10 days will take me two years to get out of (smiles). I enjoyed it but find it to be tiresome. If a director is reading this, I request you not to call me for acting."
Sherlock to Hitchcock
"Despite working on Thupparivaalan 2, I don't want to call it a franchise. The 56 short stories and four novels of Sherlock focussed on his adventures. Solving a case as it comes to him is the Sherlockian archetype. Kaniyan Poongundran (Vishal's character) also does the same, and in the sequel, he faces a larger problem. The film happens in the UK.
I am inspired by the works of Robert Bresson, Akira Kurosawa and Alfred Hitchcock, so Psycho is a straight homage and tribute to Hitchcock. It is a story of a psychopath, and hence the name psycho, but the story is different. Padam paaka bayam ah irruku. I know it will be certified A as it has everything from shock to gore. Beneath all that though, the film has love. Ilaiyaraaja's best love songs of the decade will be in this album. Udhayanidhi Stalin and Aditi Rao Hydari have given terrific performances. Nithya Menen meratti eduthuta. The film speaks about a woman's problem and is very layered. There is a Buddhist tale in it and even a bit of Ramayanam."
Music is Ilaiyaraaja
"It is either Ilaiyaraaja for me or a new kid whom I would torture by explaining my inspirations (laughs). Of course, K and Corelli are talented and strong craftsmen. When writing a film, I realise it can only be done by Ilaiyaraaja. Psycho is a strong film and needed Ilaiyaraaja to make the wheels turn."
"I read a lot and get ideas for my films but I see them as a different medium. If a novel has visual possibilities and can be translated to the big screen, then it can be done. I feel that I am learning a lot from films and I have only done a handful of films; so there is a lot of time. I feel more confident in writing my own scripts. When adapting a famous novel, one must do justice to it. When Hitchcock was asked why he did not do a film on Crime and Punishment (by Fyodor Dostoevsky), he said it already achieved its pinnacle and that he didn't want to drag it to his medium. My well is not dry yet; I have about six scripts with me."
For the love of action
"The first film I watched was Enter The Dragon. If that's not enough, I have practised kung-fu for seven years. 99 per cent of the action sequences in my films will have my intervention. I clearly inform my stunt choreographer on how I want my character to be, where he will stand and even in what position his hands will be. I exercise my craft strongly with action sequences. A film is a bunch of rhythms. To quote Kurosawa, a film is a distance between two shots. So action scenes, for me, are like kovil prasadham on a hungry evening."
Life always finds a way
"Life always comes up with its own solutions when issues arise. With censorship becoming a problem, the OTP platforms have come as a boon. A ball cannot be forced to stay underwater forever. It will find its way out and that is how I see this phenomenon. If a good idea comes by, I would like to do it. I am keen that I should not do it just for the sake of it. I am held up with my film commitments now though. I even have ideas for Psycho 2. I have also written a love story and a horror film. If you are a producer reading this, you are welcome to approach me."