'Mercury is a thriller about a big company exploiting a small town.'
'Audiences will come for entertainment and they will be entertained.'
Karthik Subbaraj is excited about Mercury, which releases on April 13.
The Tamil director is just 34 years old, has made films like Pizza, Jigarthanda, Iraivi, and has just created his most ambitious project yet.
A silent film!
Mercury stars Prabhu Deva in a role that doesn't require him to dance.
Karthik, who will direct Rajnikanth next, tells Rediff.com's Patcy N the challenges he faces with Mercury.
Why did you think of making a silent film?
Since there is no language in this film, we are trying to take it all over India. The concept is universal, it can happen anywhere.
I made a lot of short films before making a feature film. Actually, I learnt film-making by making short films.
I did a 10-minute film a few years ago with just two dialogues.
At that time, I felt it would be interesting and challenging to make a full fledged film like this, but at that time, I did not have any concept.
When I was writing this thriller, I felt it could be made into a silent film.
So I started writing it, keeping in mind that there should not be any dialogue.
After reading the script, I was satisfied and that's how it started.
Usually, when you write a script, you have some reference. But for this character, I did not have any.
Why Prabhu Deva?
While writing this character, I could not imagine which actor should play the role.
After I finished the script, I started looking for an actor who had never done such a role.
Prabhu Deva's name came to mind. He has not done a role like this, there was no dancing in this film.
Plus, it is an antagonist. So I decided to ask him.
When I narrated the concept to him, he was on board in 15 minutes.
How difficult is it to write a film without any dialogue?
For me, the challenge was to finish the script. After that, the challenge shifted to (casting) actors, who had to perform without dialogue.
The technicians had their own challenges.
For a cinematographer, every frame has to be important. It was a good challenge for everyone who was part of it.
For any actor, voice is his strength.
Like, if Amitabh sir acts in a film, people will relate to him once he says the dialogue, through his modulation and style.
This film does not have that scope. So it was tough for the actors.
Did you have workshops before you started shooting?
Apart from Prabhu Deva sir, there are young boys like Sananth Reddy, Deepak Paramesh and Anish Padman.
They are doing such big roles for the first time.
Without dialogue, it was very tough for them.
So we had acting training for a month for them, but not for Prabhu Deva sir.
How did you come up with the title?
Mercury is about a big company exploiting a small town.
There is a place in Tamil Nadu called Kodaikanal. It had a thermometer factory which would dump the mercury into the river. This affected a lot of people.
This incident is the inspiration for this film. That's why we named it Mercury.
The incident is just a layer of the film. Predominantly, it is a fictional story.
There is no scope for humour in this film. It is a very crisp film.
Was any scene tough for Prabhu Deva?
There is one scene which is very important. It is an emotional scene, so I insisted that he rehearse it with the other actors.
But he asked me to give him some time and let him prepare, but no rehearsals.
He wanted it to look spontaneous.
When you see the film, you will see what an extraordinary job he has done. He did it in one take; that was unique.
Are Indian audiences ready for a film like this? Will they watch a Prabhu Deva film where he does not dance?
I think audiences will come to the theatres to watch this film like any other film.
They will come for entertainment and they will be entertained.
It is a commercial thriller.
Audiences are open for anything new these days.
Your film Jigarthanda will be remade in Hindi.
I have heard they will make it with Sanjay Dutt.
Are you planning to make a Bollywood film?
I would love to do it soon.