journey in the film industry?
I started my work assisting Selvaraghavan a few years
back. Selva had then completed a script called Kaadalagi
which later got changed into Kaadal Kondein. He had
narrated the script to many actors who evinced keen
interest in it. He started work with a puja with actor
Murali. That’s when I joined him. However for
some unexpected reasons, the project was getting delayed
and Kasthuri Raja commenced Thulluvado Ilamai. Selvaraghavan
wrote the story and screen play for the film. I worked
with Kasthuri Raja for the film for three schedules.
Barring the first schedule, the rest of the film was
written and directed by Selvaraghavan. That’s
how my journey in films began.
are the films that you have worked with Gautham Menon?
I have worked with Gautham in Kaakka Kaakka and Vettaiyaadu
Vilayaadu. I joined as an assistant in Kaakka Kaakka
and was promoted to Chief Associate. And now it is Mun
working with Gautham Menon
Working with Gautham was such a sweet experience. It
is a known fact that he is a talented director but more
than that Gautham Menon is a wonderful human being.
People who have worked with him would vouch on this
humane aspect of him. Basically working with Gautham
was big fun and also a big learning process for me.
I learnt so much from him – writing and implementing
the script, transforming the script to a film, conducting
oneself with every kind of technicians and getting the
work done from them, handling of artists- the gamut
is wide and I learnt all of it from Gautham. It was
a fantastic journey and work experience.
Menon and Selvaraghavan
Gautham and Selva are two
extremes. It is my good fortune to have worked
with these two talented directors. Selvaraghavan
is absolutely brilliant just like Gautham but
in his own way. Selva has clear cut ideas about
various aspects of film making. He has lucid
thoughts about the manner in which the story
to be made into a screen play and then into
film, the lighting aspects, camera angles, the
position of the artists, their body language,
voice modulations, type of costumes etc. On
the other hand, Gautham discusses with everyone.
I am not saying Selva does not discuss. Selva
has a vision whereas Gautham’s vision
will methodically evolve after repeated discussions
with his technical crew. One cannot say which
is right and which is wrong. Their film which
is the outcome of their hard work will be top
class and therein lies the success of their
" Gautham and Selva are two
Do you recall
any of your ideas getting implemented in Gautham’s
As regards Gautham, he is always open to discussions
with his entire team starting from assistants to cameramen
to art directors to editors. So I don’t much remember
what I told in particular and what got translated. My
contributions may have been insignificant. But this
is a process resulting out of teamwork which always
happens in any of Gautham’s works. In my opinion,
in the process of film making, there may arise numerous
inputs from various sources. The moment a director accepts
our input and incorporates it, it ceases to be ours
and becomes his. He may not take it as such but would
transform that to suit his vision. In Hollywood, directors
don’t write screenplays; the second it reaches
from the script writer’s hands to the director,
it does not belong to the script writer’s anymore.
Hence all of Gautham’s films are the product of
his hard work irrespective of the directions of inputs
which evolve along with his perspective.
did you impress the producers 7th Channel for Mun Dinam
By narrating the story of course! (chuckles). I first
told the story to Ms Mala of 7th Channel who liked it
and then Mr. Mahesh of 7th channel read my script and
he too liked it. That’s how it started. After
Manickam sir gained confidence, he decided to launch
the project. When the question of casting came, I suggested
new faces and he decided to go along with it. As the
film was shaping up and when the first schedule was
being completed, his confidence levels in me soared
which resulted in him taking us to England and Italy.
Mun Dinam Parthene
is a colorful, youthful
and a pleasant film "
In the current scenario,
I am a first time director, I still don’t
have a clout to pull crowds and my name is not
marketable. Besides that, my artists are first
timers and the project does not boast of heavy
weights in its crew. However our strength is
our producer who never flinched even a little
to the abovementioned features. Generally people
would be hesitant to even start such a project
as there are certain logics and limitations
which govern such projects in terms of economic
returns due to business dynamics and financial
viability. But Manickam Narayanan sir not only
commenced the project but also spent more for
this project. When you will see the film, you
will realize its worth. Mun Dinam Parthene is
a colorful, youthful and a pleasant film. Narayanan
sir is wholly responsible for the films’
sweet splendor. And also the trust he had on
my script. I owe him a lot and so does my team.
the songs shot overseas.
MDP is a Chennai based story.
Although the premise is Chennai, it could be
relatable to any city dweller be it from Mumbai
or Ahmadabad or any metropolis. I did not think
about this script beyond Chennai be it the storyline
or the songs. At this juncture, I need to thank
my music director Thaman. MDP is a breezy light
hearted entertainer. And when I say this, music
plays a significant role in the film. We had
already decided that this story will only be
told through music. I wanted the music to be
youthful, fresh and peppy to suit the mood of
the film and Thaman has exceeded my expectations
in this department. And only after listening
to the music, Narayanan sir was keen and confident
that we go abroad to shoot the sequences. I
owe it to Thaman and Narayanan sir for giving
us some fantastic locales.
" Thaman has exceeded my
It was Narayanan sir who said after listening to music
– let us go to some lush, green and grand locations
to shoot. We shot in London, Dover, Italy, Venice and
Cortina. These locations were chosen by Narayanan sir
who decided on this after a vigorous scouting of picturesque
locales. He travelled the entire Eastern Europe and
gave me extensive choice of places. The mindboggling
list included places like Hungary, Germany, Czechoslovakia,
London, Egypt, Italy, Romania and Poland. Such locations
were impressive but were not needed for the script.
So we chose London, nearby Dover and Cortina and Venice
in Italy. I think MDP is the first Tamil film shot overseas
involving newcomers. The entire credit goes to Narayanan
Why many new faces in MDP?
The main reason is the script
wherein the hero is an ordinary boy next door.
I needed an artist sans image baggage and trappings.
I was keen that the audience should see only
the character and not a hero. That’s the
main reason I got Sanjay, Ektha, Lizna and Pooja
and all of them have justified my selection
and have performed well.
" I needed an artist sans image
baggage and trappings "
MDP is not a classic
triangular love story "
MDP about love triangle?
No, it is not. There is a particular formula
for commercial films. I will not say I have
flouted that formula in MDP and as it is my
first film, I cannot take such risks. However
I have brought in a few novelties here and there
working within the framework of commercial prescription.
I am confident that those little few things
would certainly appeal to the audience. MDP
is not a classic triangular love story.
Is the title Mun Dinam Parthene a thanksgiving of sorts
to Gautham Menon?
Yes, it is! Firstly MDP is my homage to Gautham,
some kind of offering to him. I have told in
many occasions that Gautham Menon has been a
great source of influence not only in my professional
front but also in my personal life. I had a
desire to pay obeisance to him and that’s
one of the main reasons to have chosen the said
title. Secondly as regards the film, there is
a small relevance associated with its title.
After we christened the film when we asked people
what kind of emotional waves it churns, they
said that it is poetic, nice and beautiful and
felt it indicates a love story. And that is
what we wanted. If life is a journey, all of
us have crossed many milestones and I wanted
the title to be reminiscent of those journeys
undertaken. In that vein, Mun Dinam Parthene
is an apt title.
" MDP is my homage to
Hero is Sanjay and he is a Chennai boy. He has done
an acting course from Mumbai. I am very happy with the
way he has performed. Sanjay was very natural. I did
not want any kind of melodrama in my film and he fitted
into the character very smoothly. Pooja, Ektha and Lizna,
the lady leads are from Mumbai. Right from the beginning
we wanted the women to have south Indian looks and scouted
for almost six months but in vain. As the time was flying,
we had no other option other than to go to Mumbai though
I was not keen to cast a non-south Indian face. We auditioned
around 200 girls and finally zeroed in on these girls.
Although the heroines are from north India, we were
anxious that they understand the dialogues that they
speak. Hence we organized workshops and taught them
Tamil to a certain extent. They have also delivered
well and I am sure our efforts will certainly show on
screen. In addition, Thaman’s music is the major
pillar to MDP. And then there is a group of young girls
and boys as my supporting cast who has done extremely
well. I cannot much speak about them as it will be like
revealing too much. You will understand when you see
Vincent who apprenticed with P C Sreeram is the cinematographer
for MDP. He has done many films and I am sure he will
be recognized for his talent in MDP. I am so proud and
happy about his fantastic work.
Kollywood, there are directors who excel in their very
1st film but fade into oblivion afterwards. What is
your take on this?
I don’t think there could be a general answer
and feel it is case specific. I am not able to pinpoint
any reason. Some of them would be living with a story,
keep honing it and travelling with it. Once they do
justice to the story and execute it, a vacuum of sorts
may have set in. I don’t know. The recent crop
of directors in Kollywood who have given a trailblazing
and trendsetting victory in their very first film are
in for a long innings. I feel they have the potential
to take the Tamil film industry to a higher level. It
is a good question but there are no general answers.
there is a general Madurai fad in Kollywood today, is
your Chennai premise in MDP a deliberate one?
I am an admirer of films with the ugly boys and Madurai
background which are shrieking of realism all over.
According to me it is a healthy trend in Tamil cinema.
Such films are an eye opener which has transported the
premise of story telling from Chennai to Madurai in
a realistic manner. These films have shown that life
does exist elsewhere too and a story can be narrated
with such characters and with such a background. However
I have not made any deliberate attempt to deviate from
this course. It just happened that the story of MDP
is about middle class and upper middle class urban characters.
I am one of those who vote for realism in both city
based as well as rural milieu subjects
is the role of an assistant director in a film?
Assistant directors are very important to a film. It
is difficult to do a film without assistant directors.
That is the truth. An assistant director is as important
as a cinematographer or an editor or an art director.
An assistant director is someone who travels along with
the director and offers him the right kind of views.
My assistant directors are also like that and are like
a guide and friend to me.