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Vulgarity in Jayam? Director Raja Interview
We met the director at his office. He began talking about his father and brother.
Father had been in the cine industry for a long time. He had dubbed and distributed English films like 'Emerald Fort' and 'Rolling Fire' years ago when the concept of dubbing English films in Tamil was not even heard of. In 1987, he produced a film, 'Thottil Sabatham'. I was thirteen years old then. Our company's cashier got an offer to become producer and he quit the job. The post was vacant. I was made the cashier. I saw how a concept is born from the discussion stage and finally shapes up into a scene during editing.
In 1990, my father went to Telugu films. We made 12 films. All were very successful. My father's photograph was more than enough to make the films sell. In 1999, I completed DFT and in 2001, I directed a film with Arjun and Sneha, called 'Hanuman Junction'. Then, I'm doing this film with my younger brother, 'Jayam'.
Why did you do a Telugu remake for your first film?
Everybody wants to make a film from the director's point of view, but I tried to think it from the unit's point of view. I wanted ML Movies to be introduced to the Tamil audience on a positive note. That was my priority. Nothing else mattered.
Our desire was fulfilled. But, we weren't greedy to experience everything in this film. We wanted to get the reputation of a hero who is good enough o do anything and a banner that could make a hit film out of anything.
What kind of success did 'Jayam' had? We were told that you had problems with finding distributors.
It is already proved that the film is a hit. Other than the B and c centers, theatres owners from the mofussil areas were worried about the disappearing crowds. They were worried that they might have to close the theatres down because women and children weren't coming to the theatres. Atleast 10 theatre owners had said this to us.
We are very happy that the film did well not only in the city but also in the mofussil areas. Some films run well only in some specific circles. But, I'm very happy that 'Jayam' is the only film that has done well in all the circles. We knew this even before the film was released. Outsiders don't have to know how good a film is. They must have thought that it was a big risk. Had we made the film with 1 crore, we would have easily fond distributors too. But, we made the film in 3.5 crores. If we mad ea film with big heroes, distributors would have come forward with money even before the film is completed. But, when you make a film with newcomers, you have to have the courage to take 100% risk. My father (editor Mohan) had that in plenty.
We were not ready to brag about our film before its release. They were not in a position to hear it either. We didn't rely on the hero's good looks when we made the film. We relied solely on the film's story. It has worked.
Tell us about your brother, the hero of 'Jayam'.
He began learning Bharatnatyam at the age of eight. When he was 11, he made his stage recital and Vairamuthu presided over the function. Talent is in his blood.
After his Plus 2, he did his BSc in Visual Communication. We then got him enrolled in Namit Kapoor's acting school. That was the place where actors like Hritik Roshan and Rani Mukherjee were trained. He got a gold medal.
His performance in 'Jayam' was not natural. He is a city-bred kid, but his role is that of an innocent village lad. He didn't even speak to others during the climax shots. He was afraid that he might lose the seriousness of his role. He almost became the role.
We shot the climax alone in three schedules for three months. We used to pour blood on his head. There were flies and insects all around him. It was unbearable.
Sadha doesn't know Tamil, right?
She doesn't know even a single word. We were reluctant to use Sabitha's voice for her. We didn't want the audience to get the Simran or Jyothika feel. But, Sabitha changed her voice and gave us a very good performance. Nobody got the Simran feel when they watched the film.
The heroine was the story's backbone. The timing was prefect- my brother became old enough to play hero and we got a perfect story. There's nothing wrong in accepting this. But, we were sure that the heroine and villain too would be noticed. Only then will a film succeed.
When other heroines act classy, here is a heroine who was dressed very ordinary costumes- half saris.
We never saw an actress like Sadha, who was very involved in her role. All the shots had gone to 5-6 takes. Even if we were happy, she would beg to go for another take. Everybody was obsessed with perfection. That's why the film was perfect too.
We wanted to make sure that we could use the scenes of the first half in the second half of the film too. Her 'Poyaa po' was very useful in the climax. So were the honey extraction, romance scenes and the secret language. That's the script's beauty.
You had a tough time shooting 'Kavithaye theriyumaa'...
We used a stunt director instead of a choreographer to shoot the song. For a song like 'Singam pola' ('Dhool'), you need a stunt director, but for a love song, we used one. My brother was tied p with ropes all those nine days that we shot the song. He had bleeding wounds beneath the ropes when we completed shooting it.
We thought that there might be problems if we tied them both together for the scene in which both are lifted by ropes. So, we tied Ravi alone and he had carried Sadha on his legs. There is a scene in the end in which he falls from the rope and Sadha holds him. We had to go for 20 takes. Ravi was tied up and was used like a rag doll. But, we believed in success, so, we put up with all the pain and did the shot. He was hurt all over his body, but he had to act as if he was in love. In that one film alone, he managed to get the experience of acting in five films.
But, people said that comedy was vulgar in your film?
We gave what that mass wanted. We showed shots of Shakeela and Sharmili. But, there was nothing vulgar in it. Women who saw the film didn't feel this way. Film is a visual medium. The audience should feel that they have seen a good film. They don't feel as if they had watched a vulgar film.
The train sequence and Rathinavel's camera were the film's pluses.
Yes. We had decided that the film should be a visual treat. We had two choices- either shoot it on the Pollachi route within nine days or shoot it for 18 days on the Tamilnadu-Kerala route. Normally, producers would want to finish the shoot within eight days and save about 20 Lakhs, but they were ready to take risk because a good film always manages to earn everything back.
In the ten hours that we had, 12 trains go by that way. We can't do a thing for 30 minutes before and after the train's passage. So, we were actually shooting for only three hours a day. Rathinavel wanted to show things the way it was never shown before. We made all facilities for him. The camera had to be ready all the time. For the 18-day shoot, we had spent more than 40 Lakhs. The secret behind the visual beauty of the shot was the fact that we shot it in a very scenic location and it was on a train.
Tell us about the success of films like 'Kaadhal Kondaen' and 'Jayam' which were made on newcomers.
There were no films in the recent past to show that story was more important than star value to make a film run. But, now, we can ask 'Did films like 'Kaadhal Kondaen' and 'Jayam' not run?'. We are happy that we are responsible to for such a state of things.
What are you, your dad and brother Ravi going to do next?
Under the same ML Movies, I'm going to direct a film that will have my brother as the hero. This is not going to be a remake. Then, Ravi is going to work on a big banner film. We want to start them together.
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