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'Jeeva was always on my mind'

Last updated on: November 30, 2010 10:56 IST

'Jeeva was always on my mind'

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Tamil filmmaker Manigandan had been assisting the late cinematographer-turned-filmmaker Jeeva from his very first film. When Jeeva passed away in Russia without completing Dhaam Dhoom, it was Manigandan who finished it.

Now, Manigandan has come out with his directorial debut, Chikku Bukku starring with Arya, Shriya Saran and Amrita Rao's younger sister Preetika Rao.

Manigandan tells Shobha Warrier what to expect from the film which releases on December 3. Excerpts:

What is Chiku Buku about?

It is a romantic travelogue. It's about Arya and Shriya travelling from London to Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu. They travel by plane, bike and bus and as they travel, Arya falls in love with Shriya. The story ends in Karaikudi.

I have used three colours in the film -- silver, green and Chettinadu orange -- to mark the stages of the film.

Silver is the stage where Arya and Shriya and meet. We shot by the end of April with flowers blooming in London.

The colour changes to green when they fall in love. This part was shot in the western ghats, in places like Madikeri, Chikmugalur and Mysore.

The colour finally changes to Chettinadu orange as the film ends in Karaikudi which is the native place of both Arya and Shriya.


Image: Manigandan (in a cap) directs Arya and Shriya

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'We made the film talking and thinking about Jeeva sir all the time'

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What do these colours signify?

I used silver to show initial attraction. Green is for falling in love. Pain in love is showed through brown and grey.

Did you choose the colours first and then opted for the places?

Yes. I chose the colours of the places, costumes and tone of the film first and then looked for the right locations.

Jeeva also had this uncanny ability to connect colours and nature with the mood of the film and characters. Did you also decide on these colours because of his influence?

Of course. I worked with Jeeva sir for many years. So there was no question of me not getting influenced by him.

While we were making Chikku Bukku, not a day passed by without us talking about Jeeva sir. All my team including the cinematographer, dialogue writer and art director had worked with Jeeva sir, so for us, he was our guru.

As all of us are from his school so we could not escape being influenced by him. When we spoke about camera angles, we would say, Jeeva sir would have chosen this angle, let's go with it. So, we made the film talking and thinking about Jeeva sir all the time.


Image: A scene from Chiku Buku

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'Arya and Shriya are moulded exactly like a couple I saw on a train'

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How did the idea of two people meeting in one place and travelling together come to you?

About four-five years ago, I travelled from Bangalore to Trivandrum by train. Travelling with me was a young couple. The way they spoke, fought and made up interested me. Arya and Shriya are moulded exactly like them. They also fight, talk and love like those two. I saw the girl pulling his leg all the time and I made Shriya also do that.

Will the couple realise your film is based on them?

If they see the film, they will definitely understand. So many of the incidents are taken from what I saw that day! [Laughs]

How did you zero in on Arya and Shriya?

When I created Arjun and Anu, the two characters, I chose Arya first because I know him from his very first film. As you know he made his debut in Jeeva sir's film. When I narrated the girl's character, it was Arya who suggested Shriya's name.

What do they do in London?

Arya works in London while Shriya comes there to study. But both of them are originally from Karaikudi.


Image: A scene from Chiku Buku

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'There is a little bit of mystery about Preethika Rao's role'

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Preethika Rao makes her debut in the film. Is it a triangular love story?

Her role is that of a homely girl. There is a little bit of mystery about her role. So, I cannot say more.

What are the modes of transport your characters take?

They start off on a plane from London, then by train, bus and a bike. At the end of the film, they travel by train.

How was the experience of shooting in a plane, train, etc?

It was sheer fun. Shooting Chikku Bukku was like going on a holiday, we never felt like we were working. I am quite cool on the sets.


Image: A scene from Chiku Buku

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'I will be in theatres to see how people react to the film'

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How important is music in a romantic film like Chikku Bukku?

For any romantic film, music is an asset. It is very important. Colonial Cousins have done the music and it has come out very well. It is doing very well too.

How excited are you now that the release is only a few days away?

All of us are very excited. I will be in theatres to see how people react. I have been doing this for all of Jeeva sir's films.

Now that your first film is going to be released, did you miss your mentor, Jeeva?

Definitely. I felt I didn't have anybody to seek advice. I felt like showing him each and every shot and consulting him on them. He is my guru and I miss him a lot. Not only me, all of us connected with the film miss him.


Image: A scene from Chiku Buku

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