Gautham Menon:Simbu should forget his issues and move on
Gautham Menon is busy wrapping up his next film starring Simbu and Manjima Mohan, but he takes out time for a chat with MEDIA about things that matter the most to him…
Your film Achcham Yenbathu Madamaiyadaa — almost done, is it?
Yes, the film is nearing completion, with just 10 days of work left. As it is a bilingual, it is taking a little more time. We have two sets of shots every day, and though for everyone it’s one word, ‘bilingual’, for me, it’s like two separate films, with two big stars. So, I have to put in the same effort for a scene that I shoot with Simbu, as I did with Naga Chaitanya. We are working towards a January release.
Music is by AR Rahman, who has been shuttling between Chennai and LA lately. When do you get time to discuss the songs?
Even when I was making Vinnaithandi Varuvaya, Aaromale was recorded in LA. We travelled all the way to LA for that song. I have never pushed Rahman for songs and as it is a purely creative endeavour, we cannot give deadlines for the compositions. Once the discussions are over, I never ask him about the songs. I feel that we have to give him time. Nowadays, we discuss our meetings via emails, but we ensure that we meet in person and discuss the songs before recording it. Only one song, with Madan Karky, did we discuss via Skype. Whenever he comes to Chennai, we talk about the songs. This album has come out really well. There is Avalum Naanum, the one that appeared in the trailer, Rasaali — a throwback to Rahman’s melodious numbers of the 90s. Then there is a song Rap Boys, which is about bikes and girls… then Idhu Naal Varaiyil…
Some filmmakers claim Simbu doesn’t turn up for shoot on time. How has he been with you?
Simbu and I have a great rapport. Even at a recent function, I had mentioned this thing about him walking in late for shooting. I am not saying it is OK to walk in late, what I am trying to say is that we have an understanding. Sometimes if he calls me and says, ‘Bro, I am really unwell and I won’t be able to come, I understand that the next day he would finish 10 hours’ work in just a couple of hours. That mutual understanding is there. He is a very spontaneous guy. Considering that he had a lot of issues going on, and he was under a lot of pressure, he has done well in this film. At time, when he wouldn’t turn up for the shoot, I’d keep thinking that he should have come, that he’s young, with a lot of potential. I want that he should make an effort to forget his issues and move on. He is a fine actor. He should be right at the top in this industry. I don’t want him to be a No. 2 or No. 4, I want him to be the No. 1 hero in this industry, and I know he is capable of that. But these small niggling issues surrounding him are bogging him down, delaying his success. He is a brilliant actor, and he has to work doubly hard and do three to four films a year. I want to tell Simbu that there are many youngsters out there who are striving very hard to get a break in films. He is lucky to have got that, so he should take advantage of it.
You’d already released a teaser starring Pallavi and Simbu, and then you replaced Pallavi with Manjima. Why?
We worked with Pallavi for 10 days — and that is quite a lot of work. We had to reshoot the entire portion with Manjima. Pallavi got really busy when we approached her to restart work on this film after I completed Yennai Arindhaal. I needed bulk dates, so we had no other choice but to opt for a new heroine and reshoot all the portions. Manjima, the new girl, is here to stay and she is very good.
You are acting in Vineeth Sreenivasan’s Malayalam film with Nivin Pauly…
I like Vineeth’s work. So, when he told me that he has a small character for me, I couldn’t say no. I agreed to work on this film just because I wanted to be in that environment of working with Vineeth. I like some people, and I also like being in their working atmosphere. Like, I want to work with Mani Ratnam sir as his assistant director even now. And when I tried to get this wish across to him somehow, I was told that I was not alone in wishing this, that there are many like me, but then, we are all established directors, and therefore, where is the need to work as his assistant? Therefore, working with Vineeth does not mean that I am going to turn into an actor now. I have taken up this character which needs just three to four days of work. Like this, if any interesting roles come up, I don’t mind doing them.
Buzz is that you will be directing a multilingual film with four top actors from all the four south film industries…
That idea is on. We have got three people on board. Simbu, Naga Chaitanya and Puneeth Rajkumar, and one actor in Malayalam is yet to be finalized. Except for these three actors being finalized, all talks regarding this film are in the initial stages. In a couple of weeks, we will make an official announcement about the
These days, it’s easy for anyone and everyone to critique a film within a few hours of its release. As a filmmaker, how do you see this trend?
Online reviews are a challenge these days for filmmakers and producers. Back in those days, when I did Minnale, the challenges were different. I remember one particular night screening, there was just one seat vacant in a theatre, and the producer called me and said, ‘One seat is vacant’. Even that one seat was considered precious back then. Nowadays, people just trash a film online without thinking about it, and I feel it’s in bad taste. It is not a healthy trend at all. But at the same time, these are just a small percentage of the audience that we are talking about. I have also seen that if the film is good, despite such reviews, word of mouth publicity ensures it does well.