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Udhayam NH 4 is a romantic thriller

Last updated on: April 16, 2013 10:25 IST

Udhayam NH 4 is a romantic thriller

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

It is going to be an action packed week with the romantic thriller Udhayam NH4 directed by debutant Manimaran releasing along with Radhamohan's Gouravam.

Ushayam NH4 is written, scripted produced by Vetrimaran, the National award winning director of Aadukalam and Dayanidhi Azhagiri.

The lead roles are played by Siddharth, Kay Kay Menon and Ashrita Shetty.

Manimaran, who had worked as an assistant to Vetrimaran, talks about his first film as a full-fledged director.

Is it true that Vetrimaran was to direct this film first? How did it then come to you eventually?

Yes, it is true that Vetrimaran was to direct this film. That was seven years ago. He had written the story and screenplay even before Polladhavan. Somehow, the project did not take off.

Last year, when Dhayanidhi Azhagiri of Cloud Nine asked him whether he had a ready script, he said he had this script.

Cloud Nine liked the script but Vetrimaran didn't have the time to direct the film himself. He suggested my name to the producers and they were okay with the idea. That was how I got to direct Udhayam NH4.


Image: A scene from Udhayam NH 4


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'I didn't have much difficulty in making the film'

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How did you feel when you were offered the film to direct?

I felt a bit nervous. That was because the script was by Vetrimaran and I had to deliver it well and satisfy him.

I shouldn't disappoint him and others shouldn't say that I didn't do justice to Vetrimaran's script.

What gave me the courage to go ahead was that he was there for part of the project as a co-producer. I was sure that he would guide me if necessary.

As I had worked as his assistant in Aadukalam and Polladhavan,  I knew how he would make this film. Above all, I was with him when he was writing this script.

How did you try to visualise a script written by a person who has won a National award?

That was the biggest worry I had. I was worried whether I could match the way he had visualised it and whether I could achieve his shot divisions.

He would have visualised it in a way different from how I would visualise it as we are two different individuals.

Did he give you full freedom to visualise the film the way you wanted?

Yes, as a director, I had full freedom. Then, of course, as I had the full script with me, I didn't have much difficulty in making the film.


Image: A scene from Udhayam NH 4


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'The film is a simple love story told in a thrilling manner'

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Did making a film based on somebody else's script put any limitations on you as a director?

Definitely, it puts a lot of limitations. But I could overcome the limitations because of the creative freedom given to me by Vetrimaran.

Is Udhayam NH4 a thriller?

You can call it a romantic thriller. It is a simple love story told in a thrilling manner.

What is the significance of 'NH4' (the national highway) in the film?

The love between the boy and the girl gets revealed as they travel from Bangalore to Chennai on the NH4. As they travel, we get to know the story of both of them and also their love story.

Vetrimaran has done films with Dhanush. Why did you cast Siddharth in the lead role?

Siddharth's name was suggested by Cloud Nine. When we narrated the story to him, he was impressed and gave his dates immediately.


Image: A scene from Udhayam NH 4


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'Kay Kay Menon is one of the greatest actors India has today'

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You have Kay Kay Menon in a very important role in the film. How did you think of him?

Both Vetrimaran and I wanted Kay Kay Menon to do the role of the police officer.

We have seen all his major films and I feel he is one of the greatest actors India has today.

When we approached him in Mumbai, he was a bit reluctant. The first thing he told us was that he did very few films and if there was no logic in the film, he would not do it.

The moment he heard the story, he said he would do it but he had a lot of questions to ask us. We answered all of them.

He has done a wonderful job and he is going to be one of the major pluses in the film. His role is as important as Siddharth's. He plays Manoj Menon, a police officer.

As the story takes place in Bangalore, we have English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam being spoken in the film.

How tough was shooting the film on the highway?

We shot the entire film on real locations and we shot on NH4 itself. I am proud to say that we didn't erect even one set for the film.

But it was tough shooting on the highway. The moment people came to know we were shooting, a crowd gathered and that was a hindrance, not only to us but to the highway traffic too.

Sometimes, even the vehicles on the highway stopped to have a look at the shooting. There were days when the shoot we planned for a day dragged on for four days because of the crowd. The moment they see the camera, they stop and start asking who is acting, what movie etc.

So, most of the time, we used hidden cameras and shot the scenes on the highway so that nobody knew we were shooting a film. We tried our best not to be a hindrance to the vehicles moving on the highway.

I must add that Siddharth co-operated very well with us when we shot on the highway.


Image: A scene from Udhayam NH 4


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'I dont want anyone to say that I didn't do justice to Vetrimaran's script'

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How much did the experience of assisting Vetrimaran help you when making your own movie?

The greatest experience I gained from him was how to shoot a film in real locations. I don't think I would have learnt this from anybody else.

Both Aadukalam and Polladhavan were shot completely on real locations.

I also learnt how to handle the pressures and problems of real locations which helped me immensely when I made my first film.

What is in your mind as you await the release of your first film?

I dont want anyone to say that I didn't do justice to Vetrimaran's script.

I hope nobody will say, if Vetrimaran had given this script to anybody else, it would have come out better.


Image: A scene from Udhayam NH 4


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