'Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal is not a love story'
One of the most successful and highly regarded directors of our time, Vasanth is back to mainstream cinema after a long absence. And this time he brings to us not one, but three stories about love.
Director Vasanth's latest offering Moondru Per Moondru Kadhal revolves around the love life of three couples.
The film stars Arjun, Cheran and Vemal in the lead roles, along with Muktha Bhanu and newcomers Surveen Chawla and Lasini.
Vasanth started his career as a journalist and writer and has more than 500 articles and 100 short stories to his credit. He learned the nuances of filmmaking from his mentor and guide, Padmashri Dr K Balachander, with whom he worked for nine years.
Vasanth is also known for his short films, documentaries, and ad films. He won the National Film Award for Best Short Fiction Film in 2005 for Thakkayin Methu Naanku Kangal.
He was awarded the Kalaimamani Award by the Tamil Nadu government for his contributions to Tamil cinema. He has been a Jury Member for the 2005 National Awards and also the Indian Panorama 2006.
Here he talks to S Saraswathi about his latest film, the romance in his films and the need to promote gender sensitivity.
Why this long gap? Your last movie, Satham Podathe, was in 2007.
Feature-length mainstream cinema is not the only mode of expression for a filmmaker. I have never stopped being a filmmaker in the last 25 years. What is largely visible is not the only truth.
Image: Surveen Chawla in Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal. Inset: Director Vasanth
'My film is not a love story but a story about love'
Audiences expect something different from your films, so what is special about Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal?
MPMK is not a love story but a story about love. Hence romance is incidental to the film. It's much larger in thematic scope than the instinctive infatuations of young blood that is so often portrayed in Indian mainstream cinema.
The specialty of the film is the uplifting theme rendered with pep and wit and which finally tugs at the heart.
Tamil cinema is going through a phase where comedy is no more just a slice, but the cake itself. The 'story' has become the slice instead of being the cake. I have given 'story' its due importance.
Why did you choose to have three love stories with so many characters? Does everyone play an equal role?
It's a story about love. The stories rub off on each other to illustrate and highlight the theme. Everybody has an equal role.
Of the cast in MPMK you have worked with only Arjun so far. Is it easier to work with newcomers or experienced actors?
Talent is invested both in veterans and newcomers. I enjoy working with both.
Image: A scene from Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal
'Surveen, Banu and Lasini are sizzling talents'
Tell us about newcomers Surveen Chawla and Lasini. How is it that we use heroines from the North and the North uses heroines from the South?
Surveen, Banu and Lasini are sizzling talents and a long innings awaits them.
Casting became pan-Indian long ago in the heroine and 'other characters' category. Heroes, except a few, stick to their regions.
There was speculation that you will be introducing your son as one of the three lead actors.
I had no such plan. He does a cameo in MPMK and it was a spur-of-the- moment decision. He does a lovely dance number.
Does all commercial cinema need to be based on the theme of love?
Of course not.
You made your first film Keladi Kanmani in 1990. Has the concept of love changed over the years?
I think you mean romantic love. It was a bit under the bush before. Now, in a post globalised world, it's become very visible and a birthright.
Image: The leading ladies of Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal
'I do my best not to compromise on quality'
Music and lyrics play an important part in your films. What is the music of Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal like? Does it follow any particular theme like in your earlier films?
MPMK has whopping music with an enviable range across genres. All the songs in the film have different textures but are rooted to a 'calling quality' emotion. A lingering feel.
Where did you get the idea or what inspired you to make this film?
I have wanted to make a film about 'uplifting love'. About pure emotions. About man and woman respecting each other in a lasting manner after seeing the movie.
I think it's very relevant to promote sensitivity between the genders in the prevailing atmosphere.
People have great expectations from your movies. Do expectations worry you?
Never. I do my best not to compromise on quality. I always aim for a two-way participation between the film and the viewer instead of a one-dimensional, benumbing pandering.
You are a seasoned direct do you experience any pre-release jitters?
There is a lot between being jittery and calm. I'm in one of them. Maybe it does not have a name.
Image: A scene from Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal