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The Rediff Interview / Radhamohan
Meet the creator of Abhiyum Naanum
December 16, 2008
Director Radhamohan created history with his second film Mozhi, a path-breaking Tamil film. Now, he is back with Abhiyum Naanum, a tale of a father and daughter starring Prakashraj and Trisha [Images].
The film, which was first scheduled for a Diwali release, will now be out on December 18. In an exclusive interview, the director tells Shobha Warrier more.
In an age when films are marketted as a Rajnikanth [Images], Kamal Haasan [Images] or Ajith film, you're making a film on a father-daughter relationship. Your last film Mozhi was about a deaf and dumb girl. Do you need courage to move away from the beaten path?
It is not courage. I am just doing what I like to do. My stories happen to be about a deaf and dumb girl, or about a father and daughter. There is no conscious effort to be different. I have a producer who believes in me, my scripts and my stories. So I am able to make such films.
It is not that I will not make films with big stars. Tomorrow, I may have a subject which needs a big hero. But one thing I can assure you: I will not write scripts with actors in mind. I will take actors according to the demands of the story. I am not ready to make any adjustments in the script for any actor.
Why do you think films with big stars are marketted more aggressively?
I think the trend is changing with the success of smaller films. Films like Saroja and Subramaniyapuram that don't have big heroes have done very well. They are not only commercial successes but critically acclaimed too. I think that gives the ultimate satisfaction to a filmmaker. I am happy that the audience is ready to accept new ideas and stories.
If it were not for a producer like Prakashraj, do you think it would have been difficult for you to make films like Azhagiya Theeye, Mozhi and Abhiyum Naanim?
Absolutely. I believe that a good film will not happen without a good producer. In my case, Prakash and I have been friends for the last decade or so. So our ideas about films are very similar.
You had asked me earlier whether you need courage. Yes, a producer needs a lot of courage to produce offbeat films. It has been a struggle. I have been lucky to have a producer like Prakashraj.
Tell us about Abhiyum Naanum.
The film is about the relationship between a father and a daughter.
When a child is born, a father is also born. The father is as old as the child, and they grow up together. They learn things from each other. Children teach us a lot of things.
This film starts from the day a daughter is born, and it ends when she goes away after marriage. Ultimately, it is their life, and they have every right to lead it the way they want. We have to understand our children and only then will we understand ourselves.
Where did you get the inspiration from?
There is no one source. I had this idea with me for quite some time. I had told Prakash about this more than a decade ago but we could make the film only now. After Mozhi, when we sat down to discuss our next project, this story came back to us.
But whenever I have narrated the idea, everybody had a story to tell me. So I knew this story would touch people. It was very easy writing this script.
Did the success of Mozhi make you write this?
No, I am not making an art film. This is a simple story which everybody can relate to. That's the USP of the film.
Were you sure that Prakashraj would be the father in the film?
He loved the script. Frankly, I can't think of any other actor doing this role. I would also say it's an actor's dream to enact a role like this because it requires a lot of acting. But it doesn't require hard work. Prakash is the father of two girls. When we went shooting, he asked me what I wanted from him, as an actor. I told him not to prepare. I wanted the father in him to come out.
After the first scene, he agreed that it all came naturally to him.
Aishwarya [Images] also asked me the same thing. I told her not to do anything, just act and the mother in you will come out. She agreed with me as well.
Was Trisha your first choice?
Yes. I wanted a heroine, who would look like a student as well as a woman ready to get married. Trisha fit the role perfectly. She looked amazingly cute.
Many actresses like Trisha prefer big commercial films though they are just ornamental pieces in those...
It is very important for them to do big films to stay in the limelight. But once in a while, they also like to do roles like this.
Did you have to coax her to do the film?
No. She told me she loved Mozhi. In a couple of interviews, she said that she would like to do roles like that. So we approached her and she said yes immediately.
Did any of the scenes between the father and daughter move you when you watched them behind the camera?
There were a lot of moments. One such is the father's reaction when the child first goes to school. You must have noticed the scene in front of such a class. You see the parents crying as well as the kids. Some parents reacted as if someone is going away from them. It is true in a way because when the child first goes to school, she is going away from you.
When I wrote the scene, I remembered how I felt when my son first went to school, how I stood outside the school gates watching him enter a classroom. It was a touching moment for me.
Newcomer Ganesh Venkataraman plays Trisha's boyfriend.
Ganesh [Images] Venkataraman is from Mumbai. He is the surprise element of the film. I didn't want any known face for the role. Just like he is new to the family, he had to be new to the audience too.
Do you want to convey anything through this story?
I am just telling a story. Yes, there are things to be conveyed but that is done subtly. You can't take your children for granted. They also have a life, you should let them live. You have to accept them as individuals. Everybody needs space.
Mozhi taught me a lot. I haven't preached that this is the way you should treat a physically challenged person. But the message went through. I was amazed by the way it touched people.
One incident I can never forget happened as I was walking along the crowded LB road in Chennai. Suddenly a gentleman came and grabbed my hands. I was a bit scared first. With tears in his eyes, he said that my film changed him. Then, he went away. I do not know who he was and why he was thanking me.
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