Prakash Raj on the making of Inidhu Inidhu, a positive story about youngsters

The enthusiasm evident in the publicity campaign of Inidhu Inidhu is on a much higher plane than what you've witnessed for Duet Movies' earlier ventures. And helming the feverish promo drive is its producer Prakash Raj. “I do take time off before the release of every Duet film. Probably this time I'm revved up even more because Inidhu … is about youngsters, and their exuberance has rubbed off on me. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” Prakash Raj punctuates the words with his typical, booming laughter.

Inidhu Inidhu, which releases on Friday, traces the lives of eight youngsters in a college through their four-year course. “A video of Manipal University, which I watched some years ago, impacted me a lot,” he says. The idea of making a campus film was sown then. And it took stronger root when on his way back from Kodaikanal after a shoot, Prakash Raj happened to listen to the audio of Happy Days.

He called up its director Shekhar Kammula straightway and told him that he would like to buy the rights of his film! Kammula was taken aback. “How can you, without even watching it,” he asked. “I know that you cannot make a bad film. That's reason enough,” argued Prakash Raj and got Happy Days.

Guhan was a natural choice for director and the cinematographer was only too happy to don another mantle. “I knew he had it in him,” says Prakash who observed the lens man while he was working for Mozhi. “He never resorted to short-cuts, his energy level was unbelievable, and his involved discussions with Radha Mohan impressed me a lot.” Though a remake, Prakash assures that Guhan's version will have several fresh inputs.

The actor is irked by the way youngsters are depicted in our films. “They are shown sitting on bikes ogling, flouting rules in college and showing no interest in academics. But in reality they are refined, well-informed, focussed and diligent. And with role models in every field they work hard towards realising their goals. They deserve to be portrayed in a positive light and Inidhu … will do just that,” he avers.

Aren't two years too long for a film with new faces? “Not at all, the edifice had to be built patiently. We did a thorough job of auditioning which went on for four months. We wanted real students to work in the film. Hence three months went in training them for the camera. And as the story goes through four years of their college life, subtle changes had to be made in styling and costuming to indicate the passage of time. Such detailing can't be done in a hurry,” he explains and adds, “It's been a rewarding two-year journey for all of us.”

Almost no actor who worked in Happy Days has been repeated in Inidhu

“Only one reprises her role — the girl who played ‘Shravs' in the original. We couldn't find a replacement for her,” says Prakash.

He isn't part of the Inidhu … cast. “I'm not desperate for work. Even in my next project, Payanam, I'm doing a small role because it is warranted. Not because I want to be in it.”

His target audience is the youth and he knows that they'll like Inidhu … He has reached out to them through the recent publicity mela which involved a whirlwind tour of the State. The warmth with which youngsters received the lively dad of Abhiyum Naanum and the heart-broken father of Kanchivaram will remain unforgettable experiences for the actor.

“My friends are my wealth. Thanks to Radha Mohan and others, the respect that Duet Movies commands is incredible. Guhan hasn't let me down either. Inidhu Inidhu will be a fresh, healthy fare for all,” he smiles.