Gautham was very cool and rock
was it work with Gautham Menon?
Menon is the calmest and the most unruffled
kind of a person. Disaster can be happening
around him but he would not react at all.
That’s what struck me the most in him
as a person and also while I was working with
him. This quality extended to his role as
a producer too.
Most of the times (at shoots), things don’t
go as planned. This was a film which was supposed
to be tight on budget and we wanted to complete it
very efficiently in ad film style within a set duration
and of course we did that. However along the line,
there were many hurdles like rain. Every time when
we wanted to shoot a song, it would rain and we had
no other option but to cancel shoots. And there were
many such instances. But Gautham was very cool and
rock solid. He would just say- go for it and do whatever
needs to be done.
The kind of creative freedom he gave us was something
unbelievable. I think being a film maker himself,
he knows the value of space and difference in the
quality of output when someone is given complete freedom
as against someone who is not. Gautham is experienced
enough and is smart enough to understand this. It
was an amazing experience working with Gautham as
a producer for my first film. I hope I am as lucky
in future with rest of my producers also.
is Veppam all about?
is a very difficult question to answer. Firstly
Veppam is an ordinary story about very ordinary,
nondescript bunch of people who live in slums.
The film follows multiple tracks and is about
three friends- 2 boys and a girl- and what
happens in their life. Certain things occur
in their life which makes them take specific
decisions and Veppam deals with the consequence
of such decisions. The story moves about these
multiple tracks which criss-cross each other
at various points and the people who are connected
to each other and ultimately the conclusion.
It is difficult for me to condense into a
single story line because it is hard to pick
out one person as the hero or the principle
protagonist of Veppam. All the characters
take the story forward in huge ways, in their
Veppam is about ordinary,
nondescript people who live in
Veppam is a realistic film
influenced you to cast Karthik, Naani, Bindu
Madhavi and Nithya Menon?
is a realistic film. We have tried very hard
to make it as real as possible. We shot the
film in real live locations and went into
all kinds of unimaginable places. We shot
where there was no physical space and where
there was hardly any intervention in terms
of lights or equipments or from art director.
put the camera in places as we wanted to capture things
as they were and just rolled. An extension of this
effort was what influenced the casting to a great
extent. I did feel that if we had known faces doing
various roles, there would be a plus point in terms
of performance and the marketability of the film.
The minus would be the audience would look at these
people as actors themselves and there would be a pre-conceived
baggage through which they would be filtering them.
On the other hand, if you have people who you have
not seen before, you would not have anything to relate
them to. You would see them as the characters in the
film rather than as actors. I felt this would add
to the grittiness and rawness of the film.
Besides that, the actors who worked with me are extremely
talented, highly energetic. There was so much of positive
spirit, optimism and energy which were brought on
to the table.
was the film shot?
is set in Chennai and hence it was shot in
and around Chennai in all the common places
like the slums, market places, beach, private
streets, and Mahabalipuram. One song and a
couple of scenes were shot in Pondicherry.
Another song was shot in Kodaikanal because
that song involved a little bit of fantasy
and imagination, mixed with memory and longing.
We wanted a slightly different look and tone
to it. If you would see any snippets or footage
of the film, you would agree with me that
the familiar places and landmarks of Chennai
have been captured by Om Prakash in an interesting
manner. This was evident in the way he set
the frames and rolled. He was extremely dynamic
and added a huge value to the film.
Veppam is set in Chennai
Joshua Sridhar is a prolific
knows how central music is to our films. Veppam
does not fall under the category of typical
love story wherein music will elevate emotions
and make you feel all those emotions that
the lovers are supposed to go through. Although
Veppam can be slotted in an action genre,
there is also space in it for feelings like
love, longing, separation and certain basic
human sentiments and that’s where Joshua’s
music has come into play. Joshua Sridhar has done
something remarkable for the film and his music is
very fresh to listen to, very different from what
you hear in our usual Tamil films. I am very happy
about it as I wanted everything associated with the
film to be different. Joshua Sridhar is a prolific
composer. I would ask him for a tune for a particular
situation and he would give me four. I would listen
to the four tunes and think that two would work. But
by the time I could tell this, he would send me six
more tunes and by the time I could listen to those
6 tunes, he would send me 10 more tunes resulting
in 25-30 tunes to pick from for a single song. Joshua
is certainly one of a kind.
sir is incredible. He would listen to the
situation and we also would have the scratch
playing. The entire song would be ready on
paper in 30 minutes. He will sync it with
the meter and we would listen to the tune
while he will be syncing it and that’s
it, the song would be ready. There was very
little that I could say. Perhaps, in a couple
of rare occasions I had requested an alternate
word or something like that. Muthukumar’s
wavelength is incredible and his speed of
turn-around is fabulous. The hallmark of Na
Muthukumar’s lyrics is its simplicity.
His lyrics are very easy to understand but
at the same time, there is a rhythm to it
which gives it the poetry. All the same his
lyrics are not devoid of symbolism which is
one of the beautiful ways of communicating
without actually saying something.
The hallmark of Na
Muthukumar’s lyrics is its
Om Prakash is the hero of
many ways, Om Prakash is the hero of Veppam
because no matter what the director sits and
thinks of in terms of characterization or
scenes or dialogues or songs, ultimately it
is the cameraman’s vision which marks
your film. Unless the cameraman understands
to such an extent what is there in your mind,
and unless he has that kind of drive and motivation,
it is very difficult to put your film anywhere
beyond just an average film.
Om Prakash has done some incredible stuff with his
camera. As I said earlier we only shot in and around
Chennai and there was nothing to aid him in aesthetic
appeal because all places we shot were not exotic
locales. We were shooting in slums of Chennai. It
is not easy to capture the raw feel and to make it
look real, gritty and at the same time to make it
look interesting, dynamic and stunning also. But he
made it look easy.
Om Prakash is a crazy guy. He is a perfectionist.
We will be shooting at 2 in the morning and all of
us would be ready to drop dead where we are; we would
be ready to complete and get it over and done with
and call it a day and he will be nitpicking for the
smallest of detail as every frame has to be meticulously
planned for him and there would be absolutely no compromise
from his side.
His sense of color and composition is amazing. Although
I have worked with many cameramen, I have not come
across someone like Om Prakash. He will not settle
for anything other than the best. If you try and make
him compromise, he will nag you and finally you will
go his way.
At the end of the day, his efforts and motivation
have made Veppam look remarkable. We have got positive
feedbacks from people who have seen the trailers and
the two songs that were screened during the audio
Om Prakash’s cinematography is the first thing
that hits you when you watch the film because it is
something very unusual. As Veppam follows multiple
tracks, we also wanted a visual separation between
the characters because each one’s personality
is different but at the same time we wanted the film
to be consistent in terms of look and tone. All this
was possible, thanks to Om Prakash being there by
The plus and minus of being a woman director
I don’t think it really matters. I have been
directing my ad films for 13-14 years and I don’t
think it is gender-specific at all. If you have talent
and knowledge, you can command respect from your cast
and crew irrespective of the gender. I did not have
any problems at all.