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Raja: Velayudham is not a remake'

Last updated on: October 24, 2011 12:21 IST

Raja: Velayudham is not a remake


Shobha Warrier in Chennai

M Raja is all set to release Velayudham with 'Ilayathalapathy' Vijay as the hero after a successful Tamil debut. Keeping Vijay company are Genelia and Hansika as the heroines and Saranya Mohan as his sister.

With all his previous five films being remakes, Raja's track record as a director is enviable as all of his films have been super hits. Raja has always taken his brother Ravi in the lead and this is first time he is directing another actor.

In this interview with Shobha Warrier, he speaks about Velayudham releasing this Diwali, and explains why it is not another remake.

Your brother Ravi has been in all the films you have directed for your home banner...

Yes, of the five films I have directed, four were made by my father. When you are directing a film and your father is the producer, and your brother is the hero, you have to be involved in the money spent. As the whole family is a part of film making, I take little support from outside.

Is that the reason you prefer remakes?

Yes. People often ask me why I do remakes. There are so many people who do remakes, but how many remakes are successful? My success rate has been 100 per cent so far. I want to tell the critics that remakes require a different kind of film making where you have to concentrate on certain aspects.

Image: Raja directing Vijay


'The films I make are for simple people who want to be entertained'

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Do you find that people make fun of remakes?

Exactly. I don't give any importance to all that. Every style of film making has its own minuses and pluses. Remember, the biggest hit of this year is said to be a rip-off from some Hollywood film! This is one way of film making. Yes, you cannot expect awards for remakes. The films I make are for simple people who want to be entertained. And they are a safe bet for the distributors and all the people who are involved in the film.

What about creative satisfaction?

I agree, it's not there totally. You can't expect everything from a movie. In every kind of film making, you get something and you lose something. That is the truth. You cannot make one film that will please the multiplex, A, B and C centres. One film will not give you overall satisfaction.

I will give you some statistics. A minimum of 100 films are produced every year and only five films become super hits or make profits or break even. Whenever I do a film, I will see to it that I am in that five. I have always been in that five and all the people connected with those films got their money back. The family audiences who come to watch my films do not mind whether I make a remake or an original film.

Do you get irritated or hurt when you are described as Remake Raja?

No, not at all. When I do a job, I see to it that I do a good job. If I start getting irritated, it will affect my concentration in my work. In my journey as a film maker, this is only a part of it and not the end of it. I am very young and I have so many things to do. A director usually has only the responsibility of directing the film, but I have more responsibility as my father is the producer and my brother the hero.

Image: A still from Velayudham

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'I didn't have to change my style to suit Vijay'

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So, this time, was it relaxing for you as Velayudham is produced by somebody else?

It was a different kind of pressure this time. The responsibility of directing a big hero like Vijay is always there.

How did you get to direct Vijay?

We knew each other on a friendly note. After Santosh Subramaniam became a huge hit, I got a call from Vijay and he said, "Why, you will give hits only to your brother and not me?"

When I am going to get the best hero in Tamil, will I say no to such an offer? From that day, I started thinking about a story for him.

Vijay has such a mass following that if he is not presented in a certain way, his fans will get agitated. Is it difficult to find a story for such an actor?

The mass aspect aside, if you look at the kind of films he has acted in and the films I have made, you will see that they are almost the same. Basically, his films cater to women, to families and children. Ravi and I were also travelling on the same track. This is his fan base too. So, I didn't have to change my style to suit Vijay; I had to only add a mass touch to my style.

In Velayudham, my own style of characterisation is there but I have given the hero an image likely to appeal to the masses. So you can see the Kathalukku Maryadai Vijay and also the super-hero Vijay who fights the baddies.

Image: A still from Velayudham

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'I was inspired in a small way from Azad'

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Is Velayudham a remake of the Telugu film Azad or inspired by the film?

It is not a remake. I cannot say I was inspired by the whole film, but yes, I was inspired by a small part, a thought. I have bought the rights to the film so that there wouldn't be any problem.

I would say that I do remakes but many do "free-makes"--they copy without paying for the rights. 

The director of the original film, the late Tirupathi Swamy, is my friend. He told the story to me first and then said he was going to narrate it to Nagarjuna. From that time, the thought has been in my mind and I took only that thread to make Velayudham. The script is 100 per cent mine as I wrote it based on the thread of the idea I had. That is why I say it is not a remake.

Now that Vijay has become a political hero with a huge fan following, the story fitted him all the more. The story needed a hero who has a super hero image. He is a normal hero who does super things for society and people. He is not a super hero with supernatural powers.

How excited was Vijay when you narrated the script to him?

He was very excited. From day one he has been the only person who had total faith in me and the product. I feel it was very sweet of him to say that every hero should do a film with Raja. This film shows who a real hero is. It has its own logic and entertainment values. Vijay enjoyed acting the role.

Image: A still from Velayudham

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'I didn't find any difference directing my own brother and Vijay'

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Compared to directing your brother, how was it directing Vijay?

I never looked at Ravi as the hero, so I would take his shots last. He used to jokingly say that he shouldn't work under the home banner any more as we don't treat him as a star! Vijay was such an obedient star on the sets, coming on time for the shots etc. I saw to it that his shots were taken first.

The wonderful thing is I didn't find any difference directing my own brother and Vijay. He was like my own brother on the sets. I don't think I will ever meet a professional like him.

 It is said that a director has a tough time when there is more than one heroine in a film. You have two heroines and Saranya Mohan as Vijay's sister. Was it tough for you too?

I admit it was a little tough because all of them believed in me and said that I would do justice to their roles. Genelia is a good friend of mine and she said she had full faith in me. This film was very important to Hansika's career. Like all human beings, they have their own insecurities, but they believed in me. They were good friends when they were on the sets. If there was tension on the sets, I would not have been able to make the film peacefully.

What kind of a Diwali gift will Velayudham be for the people of Tamil Nadu?

Like the festival, this film also will spread happiness. It will be 100 per cent entertainment for the audience with lots of comedy, action and sentiments.

Vijay's comedy take with Santhanam is the highlight of the film. There are 30 comedians acting in the film. And his action sequences--there are six of them--will be a major highlight.

Image: A still from Velayudham

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