'Dhanush surpassed my expectations in Mariyaan'
After several postponements, Bharat Bala's much awaited Tamil film Mariyaan with Dhanush and Parvathy Menon in the lead is releasing this Friday.
The director speaks about the long wait he had to see Mariyaan in the theatres.
It must have been a long wait for you....
Unfortunately, it was. It should have come two months earlier but Dhanush had another film. It was difficult to have a Raanjhanaa, Ambikapathy and Mariyaan at the same time. Somebody would get affected in spite of our best efforts.
So, our producer decided to wait as Mariyaan was a film that needed time and space. We are not in a race. You should be open to watch this film, not pressurised.
How were these two months for you?
I used this time to chisel and make the film more perfect. I showed the film to a test audience of different age groups, and it was interesting to see how people reacted.
Image: Dhanush in Mariyan
'It is difficult to get a rational or objective view on the creative product'
Why did you decide to show it to a test audience before the release?
It is a standard practice worldwide but it is not yet followed here. It is important to present the film to an audience, understand and evaluate it because you are so immersed in it that you miss some things.
I had some very interesting feedback and I got an opportunity to look at the film again in a very objective way.
One common observation of all the people from the age group 18-60 was about the power of the love story. It was gratifying as that was the object of the film.
Where did they not agree with the film?
About the length of the movie. When you watch it again and again, you don't realise the lags, and only a third person can tell you that.
Do all film-makers become oblivious of certain flaws as they are the creators?
With experience, you should know the flaws but despite experience, when you are so immersed in it, it is difficult to get a rational or objective view on the creative product.
In my view, finally you are going to present the product to the audience; then, you jolly well do it early and test it out.
Image: Bharat Bala and Dhanush in Mariyan
'I am possessive about the film and the characters but I am not adamant'
Are you possessive about your film and your characters?
Yes, I am possessive about the film and the characters but I am not adamant. I am possessive about the story and emotions but I am in control of them.
After listening to the comments from the test audience, did you see the film differently?
It was a good learning experience. It was like seeing certain things which you had missed earlier. When somebody points it out, you see it.
When you watch the film again now, do you relive certain emotions and scenes that you had experienced from behind the camera?
I have to shamelessly say this: there are some 10-12 scenes that are my favourites. I feel strongly about the characters, the story and the emotions every time I watch them.
I must have watched those scenes a thousand times, yet I am not tired! I still feel the same excitement as when I watched them for the first time.
Image: Parvathy and Dhanush in Mariyan
'Dhanush lived and breathed as Mariyaan'
Everybody knows that both Dhanush and Parvathy are good actors but did they surprise you at any point?
I didn't take it for granted that they were good actors. I am not building a scene to make people say, wow! Dhanush did a wonderful scene. That would be a big disappointment for a film maker.
What Dhanush did was, he lived and breathed Mariyaan. I didn't see Dhanush at all; I saw only Mariyaan from beginning to end. That is why he is such a great actor.
You said last time that you chose Dhanush after seeing Aadukalam. Did he surpass your expectations in Mariyaan?
No doubt about it. Even someone who doesn't know Tamil would say Dhanush lived as Mariyaan.
I haven't watched any film of his other than Aadukalam. He just zapped me with his one look in that film. I knew he was my Mariyaan.
Similarly, I saw Parvathy as my Panimalar, and after that, I spoke to them as Mariyaan and Panimalar only.
Parvathy would go and sing choir with the students at the church because Panimalar did so. She also sat with the ladies and learnt to clean fish effortlessly while talking. She did so because the character did that in the film.
Image: Bharat Bala
'Dhanush is an actor who doesn't try to prove a point'
Dhanush is one actor who is not scared to come out of his comfort zone. Do you agree?
Yes, I would say he is one actor who doesn't try to prove a point. Many actors do that but Dhanush only tried to deliver the emotions of the character.
I didn't look for stars who can’t give me dates; I was looking for actors who can be my characters.
Both Dhanush and Parvathy gave their time and energy to understand the characters, and they were consumed by the characters.
How do you feel as the release is just a few days away?
I am relaxed and not overly tense. We have given our best. Each and every one of us associated with Mariyaan made itwith passion, pride and love. So, we feel the audience will feel the same emotions.
Image: Parvathy and Bharat Bala in Mariyan