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Updated: July 28, 2011 19:30 IST

Journey of the mind

Liza George
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Award winning director Vetrimaaran
Photo: G. Moorthy
The Hindu Award winning director Vetrimaaran Photo: G. Moorthy

Director Vetrimaaran talks about his movie ‘Aadukalam,' which won six National awards, and more.

Director Vetrimaaran is on a high. His debut film ‘Polladhavan' was a box office hit and his second movie ‘Aadukalam,' has struck gold with six National Awards, including awards for Best Director and Best Actor (Dhanush).

‘Aadukalam,' which was inspired by Alex Haley's novel ‘Roots' and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Mexican movie ‘Amores Perros,' revolves around characters who are involved in rooster fighting. Says Vetrimaaran: “While watching ‘Amores…,' I thought to myself, if a movie can be made on dog fights, why not rooster fights? Besides, as a child, I was involved in rooster fights, so I knew the ins and outs of the whole process.”

The script, written by the director, which also won him the best scriptwriter award, is also a journey into the human mind as it unravels on screen the professional jealousy of a mentor towards his protégé.

“Professional jealously is a universal feeling and is easier to relate to than the cock fight. A script writer usually manipulates his characters in accordance to the script. For this movie, I let the characters be, especially that of the mentor, Pettaikaaran. I was curious to see how he would develop.” And, as a result, the movie had a character whose dark side came to light in the latter half of the movie.

Poet V.I.S. Jayabalan played the role of Pettaikaaran in the movie. “It was a risk casting Jayabalan in a lead role but I was convinced he was tailor made for it. And my faith in him paid off as he won a jury award for his role in the movie despite being a debut actor. Like Dhanush fitting into the role of the protégée. If you get the right cast, half your work is done,” says Vetrimaaran, who after a Visual Communications degree from Loyola College, Chennai, went on to work under veteran film maker Balu Mahendra.

Movies, according to Vetrimaaran, were always on top of his list while growing up. He recalls how he once cycled from his hometown, Ranipet, to Vellore, in Tamil Nadu, to watch a movie in spite of being down with jaundice.

“Despite strict instructions from my mother not to step out of the house, I cycled all the way to Vellore to watch ‘Thevar Magan.' In fact, I grew up watching classic films such as ‘Naayakan,' ‘Thaalapathi' and ‘En Bommukutty Ammavukku.' I had a circle of friends who were also movie buffs; we would watch the same movie 15 to 20 times. Later, we would discuss the movie and I guess those discussions sowed a seed in me.”

On Malayalam cinema

Vetrimaaran is also a fan of Malayalam movies. However, the director mourns the loss of films that were made by yesteryear directors like Bharatan, for instance.

“The directors these days make movies for a multi-cultural audience. I feel you lose your audience when you make movies for others and not for yourself or your people,” says Vetrimaaran.

He is now busy directing a movie for Cloud Nine Productions. He is also working on a script, which he wishes to keep under wraps for the moment.

So, does the director get insights for his scripts from his mother, Megala Chitravel, a noted author? “No. She just encourages me and never interferes. In fact, for ‘Aadukalam,' I told her the beginning of the movie and told her to watch the movie if she wanted to know what became of the characters,” he grins.

The director was in Thiruvanananthapuram for a function organised by Filmmakers Forum for Better Film to felicitate National and State award winning film personalities.

Keywords: Vetrimaaran

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