Director Mysskin is a happy man. His Vishal-starrer, Thupparivalan, released to positive reviews yesterday, and he cannot seem to stop smiling. He has plans to spin this film’s success into a detective franchise, and tells CE about adapting Sherlock Holmes for Tamil audiences
CHENNAI: Mysskin is a dreamer… literally. He’s scribbled all his dreams into a journal, along with their respective Jungian interpretations. “Everybody can recall their dreams, if they tried, especially if they didn’t wake up looking at their cellphones,” he says, his eyebrows rising from under his trademark shades in disapproval.
It was a dream that helped him negotiate a writer’s block — he calls it an impasse — after the release of Nandhalala in 2010. “I dreamt about this old, middle-class woman being sentenced to life imprisonment in a court,” he says, spelling out each word carefully, as though he were in the middle of that dream now. “I wondered if she was standing there perhaps because her daughter had been raped and murdered, and she had dealt with the perpetrators.”
That, of course, would become the story of his next, Yuddham Sei. During the making of Thupparivalan, again, he had a dream about a haunting song. He met the film’s composer Arrol Corelli the following morning and sang the tune to him. And now, the song, Ivan Thupparivalan, is part of the album, and sung by Mysskin himself. “I have to be aware of every moment, sound, and fragrance. I am constrained only by the limited hours of a day.
I have two eyes, but 100 cameras are constantly recording everything,” he says. “When a person likes someone, it’s because they harbour a part of that person in them somewhere. Much like Kaniyan (the protagonist in Thupparivaalan), my mind too is constantly registering information around me. The way a person laughs, the number of times a shirt sleeve is folded…”
Naturally, Arthur Conan Doyle, the inventor of Sherlock Holmes, was a big influence in Mysskin’s life. “That’s why I have a dedication card for the author and the detective at the beginning of Thupparivaalan,” he says, and quickly clarifies that the story is original. “Sherlock Holmes and Watson are archetypes, and I’ve tried to adapt various facets of their characters including the homo-erotic undertones of their relationship, and also Holmes’ evident misogyny.”
When adapting such international characters, regional directors usually talk about rewriting them to suit ‘local sensibilities’. Mysskin dismisses the ‘idiotic expression’, and says, “Tamils are primordial people, and among the greatest listeners of a story.” He cites the appreciation meted out to his previous film, Pisaasu, as a pointer of Tamil audiences’ understanding of deep themes. “Jesus Christ asks you to turn the other cheek. But I took the story of Pisaasu one step further. What if a dead woman isn’t just forgiving of her killer, but actually ends up in love with him? Does she then not become greater than Christ himself?” he points out.
He is, however, careful to point out that Thupparivaalan is not a typical Mysskin film. “It won’t be a problem for my audiences. They will still realise that this is a product of my madness,” he smiles.
Mysskin then drops a revelation. “I have not seen a single film of Vishal’s so far,” he laughs. “He keeps urging me to, but I guess my lack of exposure has helped me shape him into exactly what the film needs. His fans will be pleasantly surprised. Of all the Tamil heroes, I’ve found Vishal the most peculiar and fascinating. He’s tall, dark, and there’s something aggressive about his appearance. I really could not have pitched the idea of Holmes to any other actor.”
There’s been much speculation over the roles of the other members of the cast, including Bhagyaraj, Vinay and Andrea. “Andrea plays a femme fatale. Bhagyaraj plays an evil old man. Vinay is the villain,” reveals Mysskin candidly. “I don’t even mind sharing the full script with you. The film is more about the ‘how’ than the ‘what’.” Should the film be received well, Mysskin plans to turn this into a detective franchise. But knowing him, it could all well hinge on the next dream he has.