There's evil lurking in the dark, says director Gautham Vasudev Menon about his nocturnal outing Nadunissi Naaygal. T. Krithika Reddy takes a sneak peek at this week's release
As I wait for director Gautham Vasudev Menon in the lush lawns of Amethyst, my mind replays his success story. From a romantic Minnalae in 2001 to the psycho thriller Nadunissi Naaygal in 2011, his films have covered a repertoire of themes, images and ideas. Kaakha Kaakha, Vetaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, Pachchaikili Muthucharam, Vaaranam Aayiram, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaya… they've all transcended the mundane and even with the popcorn, seldom let you escape reality. As Gautham completes a decade in cinema, he once again goes beyond stereotypes with Nadunissi Naaygal, slated for release next week.
“It's yet another experiment,” says the director, to whom filmmaking is about autonomy and not conformity. “A psycho thriller, the drama unfolds in the night. It's from a doctor's file and examines the psychopath-protagonist's mind while tracing his life from the age of eight to 20. The Naaygal (dogs) in the title is a metaphor for the dangers lurking in the dark. A hard-hitting film, there's an underlying message as well.”
Besides Sameera Reddy, the film has a clutch of new faces, including Gautham's assistant director-turned-promising actor Veera.
A distinct departure from Gautham's romance-action whirl, the film was made on a modest budget. “The ‘A' certified film is less than two hours. There are no songs and since most of the scenes were shot at night, the visual vocabulary is dark and different.”
Though Gautham works on inherently commercial material, he's not afraid to take risks. Coming after Vaaranam Aayiram which spanned generations and Vinnaithaandi Varuvaya, an out-of-the-ordinary romance, NN too is ‘not a safe project.' Says the audacious director, “It might get thrashed. I've no worries as an individual. But as a producer it gives me anxious moments. It's about the conviction of a whole team of people; I don't want their hopes dashed.”
Incidentally, as producer and co-producer too, Gautham is rewriting the rules with decisions propelled by his heart and head. “Photon Kathaas Productions has like-minded partners (Venkat Somasundaram and Reshma Ghatala besides me). It's driven by a passion for good films — the type we'd like to watch as an audience. We want to create an international platform for South Indian cinema through this company that's listed on the London Stock Exchange's AIM. All we expect from directors are out-of-the-box stories and refreshing treatments. Upcoming Thanga Meengal by Ram, for instance, is a sweet non-commercial film about a little girl and her father. Veppam by Anjana scales the gender divide. It gets into the murky world of drugs and prostitution. Women directors generally don't take up such topics. So this one is different and the lilting score by Joshua Sridhar is the icing.”
Going by Gautham's track record, his ear for good music is apparent. The director-producer also wishes to become a major player in the music market. “There's immense potential. I decided to launch the label Photon Kathaas Music when the albums of some of my early works were not marketed properly. Kandein is our first film album. But there's more coming — even in the non-film category. And then, we'd like to become content providers for the mobile phone platform as well.”
Not someone to rest on his laurels, the filmmaker is looking at creative pay-offs on the small screen as well. “I'm serious about my television debut. I will be directing and producing a crime-centric serial. Each Monday, a new story will unfold. It will be wrapped up on Friday. Parthepan will play the lead in this cop series. I want to change the way women view television,” adds Gautham, with an air of positive energy.
* There's tremendous buzz about VTV's remake in Bollywood starring Prateik Babbar and Amy Jackson
* There's a dearth of script writers. To be a director, you must have your own script. Can we change that?
* We need to have bound scripts and detailed budgets (broken down with a 10-15 per cent leeway) to start a project. Only then will things get professional.