'I am really inspired by Hitchcock'
Rajan Madhav, son of well known music composer, the late Raveendran, debuts as a film director with the much anticipated Muran (Contradiction). The film starring Cheran and Prasanna is co-produced by UTV.
As Muran gets ready to release this Friday, Rajan talks to Shobha Warrier about his debut film and the reports that it is inspired by the Hitchcock film Strangers on a Train.
You are the son of a very well known music director, Raveendran. How did you get interested in filmmaking and not music?
Being a musician's son, I was forced to learn Carnatic music at a very young age. Two of my brothers chose music as their career; Navin Madhav is a singer in Tamil and Telugu and my twin bother Sajjan Madhav was a keyboard player for my father and is now a music composer. He has composed the music for Muran. With so much competition at home, I decided not to pursue music as my career. (laughs) Also, I didn't find myself doing anything interesting in music.
Were you interested in filmmaking when you were young?
I was so interested in films that as a young boy I watched movies all the time. This has been my passion for the last 20-23 years. Because my father worked in the Malayalam film industry, he helped me join Shaji Kailas as an assistant.
Though I am a Malayali, I am more comfortable in Tamil than Malayalam because I was born and brought up in Chennai. Shaji Kailas was shocked that I couldn't speak or read Malayalam. After four or five years, I came back to Chennai to work in the Tamil film industry.
Image: A still from Muran. Inset: Director Rajan Madhav
'I wanted to make my film my way and no other way'
Did you join Mysskin then?
I met him soon after his first film Chithiram Pesuthedi.The moment we started talking, we knew we vibed very well. Both of us loved films and were passionate about films. And, we had common ideas about film making and music. Then I joined him as an assistant in Anjathe.
Did you ask to be his assistant?
No, he made me the offer. I was trying to make a film of my own then. But when he asked me, I knew I could learn a lot from a passionate film maker like him. I was his assistant director for ten long years. What I gained the most from him was clarity in thought and confidence in ideas.
You said when you went to meet Mysskin, you were planning to make your own film. Why did it take ten years?
It took four years for this film to happen; one year to make and three years to get a producer. When you are a first time film maker, everyone wants you to make compromises, which I was not ready to do. It was not that there were no opportunities, but I wanted to make my film my way and no other way.
Image: A still from Muran
'Cheran liked the story but wanted me to show him the full script'
Did you meet Cheran to make him act in your film or to produce your film?
I met him because I wanted him to act in my film. I wanted two actors who could play the two lead characters in the film. I had decided that Prasanna would play the young guy. To play the senior guy, the only image that came to my mind was Cheran Sir and I went to him and narrated the story.
Did he ask for the script?
He said he liked the story but wanted me to show him the full script. So, I met him again with the script. He loved the script and agreed to be a part of it. When I had difficulty in getting the right producer, Cheran Sir stepped in and said he would produce the film. That showed how much he believed in me and my script.
These days we see many Tamil films copying Hollywood films but no one admits it. Is it true that Muran is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train?
I have been watching films for more than two decades, and I am really inspired by Hitchcock. I am a crazy fan of Hitchcock. Yes, his filmshave inspired me but mine is a different film. I am not remaking Strangers on a Train. For every story, the inspiration has to come from somewhere.
Image: A still from Muran
'You cannot make just a thriller in Tamil films'
Under which genre does Muran come?
It is a thriller but you cannot make just a thriller in Tamil. You have to have other ingredients too. So, Muran will have action, comedy, romance... everything.
Where do the two characters played by Cheran and Prasanna come from?
They are very different and they meet on a road journey. One is a mature musician and the other is a young millionaire, a carefree guy. There is a clash of ideology on life between the two. They argue about everything in life. Their conversations are a little emotional, a little comical, and a little philosophical. Action starts later.
Will these two characters remind us of Anbe Sivam (which had an elderly Kamal Haasan and a young Madhavan)?
No, they don't. Only in their age, they remind you of Anbe Sivam. Otherwise, my film and my characters are totally different from Anbe Sivam.
Image: A still from Muran
'I will only be making films'
How was it directing a National Award winning director like Cheran? Were you nervous?
I was not nervous at all. The first time I met him, he gave me good feedback on my script and dialogues. He is not only an actor but a writer and a director too. Many people asked me, are you going to direct Cheran? He is a very dominating actor. I went and told Cheran Sir that this was what people were telling me and that I didn't want him to dominate me.
He laughed and said, you have a bound script with you, why should anyone dominate you? He also told me that if he saw something going wrong, he would tell me and it was for me to decide whether to accept his suggestions or not. He also told me that I might be very clear about everything but there was something called experience, and that he had. But he never dominated me.
Was it because Prasanna was your friend that you booked him for the young guy's role?
No. I keep professional and personal feelings separate. I feel Prasanna is an actor with immense potential and his talent has not been exploited fully till now.
Muran is UTV's first Tamil production. How did they step in as producers?
It was all because of UTV's South Head, Dhananjayan. He had seen the script when he was in charge of Moserbaer. After he joined UTV, we told him that the movie was shaping up well. He and the people from UTV Mumbai saw whatever we had shot without sound and were impressed with what we had done. That was how UTV decided to produce the film. Once they came into the picture, the movie became really big.
What is your frame of mind now that the release date is nearing?
I feel the audience will like the film. I don't know anything other than film making. If the movie succeeds, I will get to direct another film in no time. Or else, it may take time. Whatever it is, I will only be making films! And I have already decided what I will be making next.
Image: Movie poster of Muran