Gautham Menon is one skilled filmmaker who ensures that he has the best crew in place before rolling. But he is also someone who doesn’t believe in a magic formula for his films.
Then what is making his Yennai Arindhaal, the final installment in his cop trilogy, a hit in theatres even during the off-season? “Perhaps the telling presence of superstar Ajith,” winks the National Award-winning director.
“On a serious note, the script undoubtedly is the soul of a film, but the actor is the driver who steers it towards success. I was lucky to have Ajith on board, working with whom has been a long cherished desire,” he says.
So keen was Menon to work with the superstar that he stopped shooting his film with Simbu midway to start working on Yennai Arindhaal lest there are clashes in dates with Ajith. “He has a stupendous screen presence. Everyone knows it and loves it. And I believe we have been able to capture some of his charisma in the film,” says the director.
The first film in the trilogy was Kaakha Kaakha with Suriya and the second Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu with Kamal Haasan. But Menon reasons that Ajith’s role as the cop falls in a different space compared to that of his predecessors.
“I couldn’t have named the character Anbuchelvan (played by Suriya) or Raghavan (Haasan) as they have already been essayed by different actors. So, I named him Satyadev, who is an extension of the earlier characters. I did not want to portray great differences, but also wanted to hint that Anbalchelvan at 28 could be Satyadev at 38. So, where Kaakha Kaakha ends, begins the journey of Satyadev,” Menon adds.
As the film maps the journey of Satyadev along with his daughter, it was also shot across varied locations, including deserts, which required the crew to travel frequently and do a lot of night shoots.
Recalling the experience as a memorable one, Menon calls Yennai Arindhal as a journey by itself and is all praise for his cinematographer for making shooting easier for him. “He is a magician! Normally, nights shoots are harrowing and difficult to capture, but Dan, a very compatible and good-humoured man to work with, made it look beautiful without much fuss and minimal help at hand,” recalls the director.
Another person he attributes the film’s success to is music director Harris Jayraj, with whom he has worked before. “His compositions are outstanding. The tunes just blended perfectly in the film. There was one sequence where we had to capture the time span of four years between Ajith and Trisha, and thanks to Mazhai Vara Pogudhae, which was just the song we required to encapsulate the romance without stretching the scenes, we were able to do just that,” Menon says, adding, “But the man has also an amazing commercial sense and it grows with every passing day.”
The filmmaker, however, had to delete a song to cut the film short by six minutes as it overran the three-hour mark.
He is set to resume shooting his next film with Simbu, the script encompassing the genres of romance, action and thriller.
As far as future projects are concerned, Menon seems brave enough to venture out of his comfort zone, the first ones on his wish list being a comedy and an out-and-out thriller.
Bollywood is also a realm he would like to take a tour of before he retires. “It is a completely different ball game. You just need to wait for the right moment. But, yes, I would love to make a Bollywood film, maybe a remake of Yennai Arindhaal itself,” he adds.