'I never thought I was making Mynaa any differently'
Prabhu Solomon had made a couple of films before he struck gold with Tamil film Mynaa. It was not only critically acclaimed but was a success at the box office too. Thambi Ramiah, who did a role in the film, went on to win a National Award. The rights of Mynaa have been sold to other languages, including Hindi, and Prabhu Solomon is considered one of the really bright filmmakers in Tamil.
Naturally, his next yet-to-be-titled film on the relationship between an elephant and its mahout is eagerly awaited. As he gets ready to start shooting the film this month, he gives Shobha Warrier a quick preview.
You have made films before Mynaa, but the success of Mynaa changed the way the industry and critics look at you. Is there any difference in the way you made Mynaa and the earlier films of yours?
The truth is, I have always been passionate about films and I made all my films sincerely and with a lot of effort. I put in the same kind of effort and energy into all my films.
While making Mynaa, I never thought I was making it any differently. The only thought I had was that it had to be in a different genre.
Image: A still from Mynaa. Inset: Prabhu Solomon
'There was no artificial flavour in Mynaa'
Did you expect the kind of reception Mynaa got?
Yes, I did. I have not used any artificial light in the film. I would say there was no artificial flavour in Mynaa; everything was natural and genuine. All of us knew that it would be a trendsetting film, or rather we had hopes that it would be.
Expectations about your next film are high; does that put more pressure on you?
As I said, I put in the same kind of effort in all my films and will do so hereafter too. My passion and sincerity have nothing to do with the warm reception Mynaa received. In fact, the kind of effort I put into Laadam, the film I made before Mynaa, was much, much more.
Yes, expectations are high after Mynaa. I will keep that in mind and will make a good commercial film. But this will be made on a bigger scale.
When you say bigger scale, is it the film or the idea that is bigger?
Everything. Idea, locale, budget, everything.
Image: A still from Myna
'The elephant will be a character in the film'
It was reported that your next film is about elephants. Was it while shooting Mynaa in the jungles that you got this idea?
No. Every day, you read in the papers that elephants enter villages. Recently there was a news item about how three elephants ran amok in Mysore. It set me thinking: why do they leave their homes and enter man's territory? It is only because man has encroached into their home. Their routes are destroyed by deforestation. We are actually a problem to the animals and not vice versa.
This is also the year of the elephant. So, my film is a tribute to the animal. There were 4,000 elephants in the Basavangudi, Ooty, Mudumalai area, and it has come down by 50 per cent. Somebody has to do something about this.
Will this message be in the film?
Yes, it will be there in the film. If I say it without a story, it will be like a documentary. So, I am telling a love story with this message embedded in it.
The elephant will be a character in the film. You will see friendship between the elephant and its mahout and also a love story between the mahout and a girl.
Image: A still from Mynaa
'I searched for my hero for almost six months'
Last time we spoke, you said one couldn't tell much from reading the script of Mynaa because it is a visual film. Is this film also like that?
Yes, if you read this script also, you will feel there is nothing in it. It is more about visual images and journeys and feelings that you cannot write in a script. The landscape itself is very large as we have to show elephants moving.
We are going to shoot in a place called Araku Valley 140 kilometres from Vizag near the Orissa border. We also will shoot in Thailand where there are more elephants. We are also going to shoot at the bottom of the Jog Falls which nobody has done before.
You are going to introduce Pabhu's son Vikram in this film. How did you choose him?
I searched for my hero for almost six months. I happened to see his photo unexpectedly and I just knew he is my hero.
Image: Vikram Prabhu
'I am a travel freak'
Your hero is a mahout in a village and Vikram Prabhu is a city guy. You had no hesitation in choosing him?
Yes, he is a village boy in the film but when I saw his photo, I felt he fit my role perfectly. He will have to grow a beard and learn gymnastics etc. He is going to Ottappalam to be trained to be the mahout. He will learn to be with an elephant.
Nature plays a major role in your films. Are you a lover of nature?
Yes, very much. I am a travel freak. I travel all the time.
We will start shooting on July 20 at Jog Falls. Our plan is to ready the film by December.
Image: A still from Mynaa