Atlee may be influenced by his mentor Shankar but his film has a stamp of his own style
He is young; maybe in his 20s but has directed one of the biggest blockbusters of 2013. Atlee had already worked with director Shankar for five years before pitching his script to Murgadoss and Fox Studios. Actor Arya says, “If he didn’t have the chops, Shankar wouldn’t have taken him. Don’t go by appearances, he is a talented man.”
Atlee had studied visual communications and cites Thalapathi as the main inspiration to consider cinema as a career. The Madurai-born director had spent all his growing years in Chennai. He says, “I was in second standard when I saw Thalapathi. I didn’t know what cinema was at that time but was awed by it. But only after I did two or three short films that fetched me many awards, did I join Shankar’s team. I was with Endhiran from pre to post-production; in the three-and-a-half-years journey, I learnt a lot… about the plus and minus of execution and how to handle things.”
How did the idea of Raja Rani germinate? Raja Rani alludes to a husband and wife as one usually says that somebody is living a life of a Raja or Rani. More importantly he wanted his first film to connect with people with a universal concept. “At my age I thought I should give a nice love story; we hear many love stories so I thought mine should be unique and came up with a husband and wife story. Since the best onscreen pair in Tamil at present is Arya and Nayantara, I narrated it to them.” The movie is truly a multi-starrer he says, “It has Santanam, Jai, Nazriya Nazeem, Satyaraj etc. Many people have told me that the ‘Ode Ode’ number (shot on Arya and Nazriya) , is like Shankar’s visualisation. The song has my style but the influence of Shankar is definitely visible.
The romantic comedy Raja Rani in Tamil released in Chennai on September 27 to a positive response. Murugadoss apparently saw the film and predicted it would be a blockbuster and Shankar termed it as an all-class movie and advised Atlee to make films for all segments in future also. Atlee avers, “Raja Rani will bring tears of happiness, just as watching Munna Bhai and Three Idiots did.” There is a nice structure and flow to the story and at the same time it is racy and entertaining. One year was spent on pre-production alone — on the colours, style and appearance. When one watches it, the refreshing feel and positive energy is evident.”
He adds, “The film has to be very sharp, so we focused on content and didn’t spare much time for Nazriya. I don’t think I will do a complete love story. In my next film, love will be just one part of the whole. Here, Santanam’s comedy did not go overboard; he knows where to draw the line. He would ask if he needs to tone it down.”