A.Ganesh Nadar in Chennai
Aadukalam starring Dhanush and newcomer Tapasee, is a Pongal release that is running successfully in theatres all across Tamil Nadu.
Director Vetrimaran had earlier made the successful Polladhavan with Dhanush. The director spoke to A Ganesh Nadar about the Tamil film. Excerpts:
Could you tell us something about yourself before you came into movies?
I did my graduation and post graduation in English Literature from Loyola college, Chennai. Then I worked under director Balu Mahendra for ten years. My first film was in 2007.
How long have you been in the field of direction?
I have been in this field since 1997.
Is it true that you opened an office in Madurai and did extensive research on the city before coming out with a story line of Aadukalam?
Actually we were there from September 2008 to May 2010. The script was written and finalised there after a lot of research. I had to learn the culture, habits, attitude, way of speaking of the people there. We were there till the end of the shoot.
'You don't find many Tamil speaking girls acting as heroines in Tamil movies'
How different was directing Pollathavan from Aadukalam?
Directing Pollathavan was easy. I knew everything about the people of North Chennai where the story was based. But Aadukalam was a little tougher as I had to learn everything about Madurai culture. Everyday was a new learning experience for me and I brought all of that into my picture.
How was Dhanush in Pollathavan as compared to Aadukulam?
In Pollathavan he already knew the Chennai style. For Aadukalam, he faced the same problem like us. He is from the Theni district but didn't know the place or people. In fact, he re-discovered his roots in Aadukulam. He has become an adult with this movie. This is one of his best performances till date.
Why did you choose a heroine who doesn't know the language?
You don't find many Tamil speaking girls acting as heroines in Tamil movies [laughs]. There is a song in the movie about a very fair girl. We had recorded that song earlier. I wanted a girl who looked fresh, fair and vulnerable. She had all these qualities and so I chose her. She plays an Anglo-Indian in the film.
'We improvised a lot'
How much do you stick to the script and how much do you improvise while shooting?
We improvised a lot. It was due to the lack of understanding at the grass root level. We go to a spot with a scene in mind. After going there, we find that people behave differently there. So we adjust but we also make sure that we do not lose the soul of the script. Usually it is 20% improvisation. We stick to the script 80% of the time. But in the case of Aadukalam, it was 50/50.
How difficult was it to shoot the rooster fights?
It was very difficult as we had to make the artists pretend that two roosters were fighting. There were no actual fights. That was done with graphics as nobody is allowed to shoot rooster fights. There is a law that forbids us from doing it.
The rooster fight scenes in the movie lasted 29 minutes but it took us 24 days to shoot them. And, everyday, we were shooting with a thousand people.
Do you like making movies with rural or urban themes?
I do not believe in rural or urban themes. We are used to watching black or white characters but I like to show grey shades in my movies. I like grey shades compared to black and white.
'Dhanush and I will plan another movie'
What is your next venture?
I am going to work for Cloud 9 pictures, a production house owned by Dayanidhi Alagiri. The script has been finalised. The crew will be the same but we have not decided on the cast as yet.
Are you planning another movie with Dhanush?
Not the next one but in future we will plan another movie. We are discussing scripts.
Who is it easier to work with: established stars or new faces?
Both have their pros and cons. With new faces, you can shoot anywhere but with stars, there are fans crowding the sets. So you have to be prepared for that eventuality.
Also, you need to only guide the stars but you have to carry the newcomers on your shoulders. But it all depends on the script.
Is it true that Aadukalam will be sent to Film festival circuits without songs?
It will not be without songs. It will be a different version. Actually that is the first version!