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Balaji Mohan: Rajinikanth is like Superman to us

Last updated on: April 25, 2014 11:32 IST

Balaji Mohan: Rajinikanth is like Superman to us

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Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com

Filmmaker Balaji Mohan discusses his second film that marks the Tamil debut of Malayalam actor Dulquer, and just why everyone wants to work with superstar Rajinikanth.
After dropping out of his engineering course, 27-year-old Balaji Mohan made a smashing debut as a filmmaker with the bilingual Kadhalil Soddhappavudhu Eppadi (Love Failure in Telugu) with Sidharth and Amala Paul.

His second film, another bilingual (this time, Tamil and Malayalam) VaayaiMoodi Pesavum starring Dulquer Sulman and Nazriya Nazim is releasing today, April 25.

The young director discusses his new film with Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.

What is the meaning of the title of your film; Shut up or you talk less?

You can translate it as Shut Up And Talk Less.

The real meaning behind the title is, one should talk only at the right time and if/when needed.

It is like saying life is full of contradictions. The title is an oxymoron.

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Image: Balaji Mohan


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'The film is a tongue-in-cheek symbolism of our communication problems today'

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The Malayalam version is titled Samsaram Arogyathinu Haanikaram, which means Talking Is Injurious To Health? This is different from the Tamil title.

Yes, the Malayalam title is different as we couldn’t get the exact translation.

Then, we thought of fashioning the title after those 'Cigarette smoking is injurious to health,' warnings and that it would be fun to have a tongue-and cheek title like that!  

But Vaayai Moodi Pesavum is a more apt and curiosity-inducing title.

Is anyone who spoke a lot inspired you to write a story like this?

Not really. A lot of things you see, a lot of people you meet inspire you. You may not be able to pinpoint any particular incident or person.

I feel a lot of today's social and personal problems are due to lack of communication or wrong communication.

Many people say wrong things at the wrong time. Sometimes, we talk too much. I thought it would be a good idea to explore this in today's scenario.

It also gave me a chance to treat the idea in an interesting way.

I have created an imaginary disease called Dumb Flu breaking out in an imaginary hill town called Panimalai.

If you get it, you suddenly lose your voice. It is a tongue-in-cheek symbolism of our communication problems today.


Image: A scene from Vaayai Moodi Pesavum


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'I would like to break into new frontiers and make different kinds of films'

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Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com

Is it a black comedy?

It is not just a black comedy, this premise gave me a chance to explore different kinds of humour, and new dimensions of satire in the film.

There is a bit of black comedy, political and social satire, slapstick, situational comedy in the film.

I would say the idea gave me a huge canvas to experiment with various forms of comedy.

Is romantic comedy your forte? Your first film also had comedy and romance.

Yes, my first film was an out-and-out romantic comedy.

But this is more of a comedy than a romantic comedy.

Romance is only a small part of the film. This is totally different from my first film.

I would like to break into new frontiers and make different kinds of films.


Image: A scene from Vaayai Moodi Pesavum

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'Most people will relate to this film'

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Is romance not a significant element in the film?

Romance plays a part in the film unlike my directorial debut where it was the central theme.

In Vaayai Moodi Pesavum, many important elements are woven around the main lead's love story.

There are many characters in the film, and the film is about how communication problem affects each of them differently. There is also a social aspect to the problem which is told in a funny and satirical manner.

I am sure most people will be able to relate to this as they might have faced the same problem at some time or the other in their lives.

Between the two lead characters, who talks more and who has to shut his or her mouth?

Arvind, the character played by Dulquer is the talkative one and he loves to talk. If he sees a problem or someone in trouble, he goes out of his way to fix it. That is why he is the Mr Fix- it.

What does he do in the film?

He is a door-to-door salesman who sells an adhesive product that is called Mr Fix it! It symbolises his character.

And, Nazriya?

Nazriya plays a doctor. Her character is the complete opposite of Arvind and prefers to keep quiet. She is more of an introvert who has a very gaurded approach to things, and always keeps to herself.


Image: A scene from Vaayai Moodi Pesavum


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'I prefer actors who are willing to be a part of my film over the ones I have to convince'

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You said the story takes place in a small hill town. Where did you shoot the film?

We shot the entire film in Munnar.

When we finalised the location, we felt it was as if the story was written with that place in mind.

Munnar was apt for the story and also a beautiful place to watch onscreen.

How did you choose Dulquer? He has not acted in any Tamil film so far...

There were a lot of actors in the reckoning and Dulquer was also in the list as we came to know that he was looking for a good role to make his Tamil debut.

We wanted someone who is likeable and we found that he suited the character very well.

I had seen him in Ustad Hotel and had liked him very much.

When we pitched the idea to him, he was happy and excited. I prefer actors who are willing to be a part of my film over the ones I have to convince.

Also, the script without any change could be adapted for the Malayalam audience as well.


Image: A scene from Vaayai Moodi Pesavum


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'We chose Nazriya because we wanted an actress who could speak both Tamil and Malayalam well'

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Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com

Your first film was made in Telugu and Tamil. Did you want your second film to be a bilingual too? 

I didn't write the script with that in mind.

When we chose Dulquer for the lead role, we thought it would a good idea to make it in Malayalam too to reach a wider audience.

Dulquer was the first to be cast in the lead role.

We chose Nazriya because we wanted an actress who could speak both Tamil and Malayalam well like Dulquer.  

Did you dub in Malayalam or were you shooting in both the languages?

We were shooting in Tamil and Malayalam simultaneously.



Image: A scene from Vaayai Moodi Pesavum


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'I got bored of studies and was more interested in cultural activities'

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Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com

You dropped out of your engineering course to be a filmmaker. What made you take such a decision?

I was not happy studying engineering. I wanted to be in films ever since I started standard 11.
 
Any particular film or actor who inspired  you to join this profession?

I was a Rajinikanth fan right from my childhood.

I used to watch only Rajini films. When I was in the 10th or the 11th, I got bored of studies and was more interested in cultural activities.

But I got good marks and got into a good engineering college.

That was the time a lot of good films like Pithamahan, Kadhal Kondein, Ayutha Ezhuthu were released.

I was also fascinated by the big commercial films like Gilli, Dhool, etc.

But Kadhal Kondein was a big inspiration.

So, I decided to discontinue my education and learn filmmaking. I watched a lot of films and joined the Prasad Academy. Then, I made a lot of short films, and that was how I learnt the workings of cinema.




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'My dream is to make a film with Rajinikanth'

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Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com

You participated in Gateway to Hollywood and were a finalist. How much did it help you?

I was in the final six.

That was the first time I was exposed to such standards of competition. I was the youngest contender at 20 and the others were some ten years older than me.

I had to handle a big crew of 50 people and the production values were really high. It helped me a lot to prepare myself to make films.

Then, I worked as an assistant in Sudha K Prasad's Drohi. I also made short films for a competition on a TV channel.

I was learning constantly.

From a Rajini fan to a filmmaker, how did that happen?

I am still a major Rajini fan.

I have scripts with him in mind, and my dream is to make a film with him.

What is it about Rajinikanth that makes everyone want to work with him?

That is something one cannot explain.

In other countries, children grow up reading or watching Spiderman and Superman, we grew up on Rajini films. 

He is like Superman to us.


Image: A scene Vaayai Moodi Pesavum


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