Nagaraj opens up about life, his nine-year break from direction and his upcoming Mathapoo
It takes courage and a mature mind to not only own up one’s mistakes but also correct them. Director Nagaraj, who shot to fame with the Murali-starrer Thinanthorum, has both. But what sets him apart is his generosity to give credit where it is due.
“I am what I am today because of my friends. The love they have for me and the pain they experienced for my sake is what has made me come back after a long hiatus with this film titled Mathapoo,” he begins in all earnestness.
Listening to what he said one can’t help thinking why the director who managed to deliver a hit nine years ago suddenly disappeared from the film scene. Guessing what’s going on in my mind, Nagaraj begins with a smile, “After Thinanthorum’s success, I felt elated. I took to consuming alcohol. What began as social drinking soon became a habit. Many of my friends went out of their way to help me, but in vain. I continued in the same fashion for the next four years,” he says, elaborating how he finally managed to kick the habit. “It’s not out of my willpower but their sheer concern that I should do well in life that I’ve turned over a new leaf.”
The transformation happened one night five years ago. And that too, at a bar! “I had been chided by my friends who were pained that I was wasting away my life. Pondering about it, I went to a bar on the outskirts of the city to get a drink when I was approached by two strangers. One asked me if I was Nagaraj. Ashamed to admit it, I said ‘no’. Visibly relieved, he told his friend, ‘Didn’t I tell you, it couldn’t be him?’ Then, turning to me, he said, ‘This man thought you were director Nagaraj and I told him that a gifted person like him wouldn’t be wasting his time in a bar like this.’ I realised I had been throwing away the gift God had given me. That’s when I decided to give up drinking. It took a while for people to realise that I was back in action, but once they did, there has been no looking back,” he says.
Theme of the film
Now that Mathapoo is ready for release, Nagaraj is on cloud nine. He intends to release the audio of the film early December. The movie is also expected to hit the screens in December. About the storyline, Nagaraj says, “Mathapoo is a love story — how love blossoms between two individuals who are poles apart. The girl is simple and has no big ambitions in life. On the other hand, the boy wants everything life has to offer. It took me 60 days to finish the film, but eight to nine months to prepare the cast and the crew.”
The protagonist’s role has been played by newcomer Jeyan, and Gayathri, who has acted in a few movies including Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, plays his love interest. Cinematographer C. R. Maravarman has shot the film.
Despite all that has happened, Nagaraj doesn’t hold any grudge against anyone and is at peace with himself. “Cinema has loved me and will always continue to do so,” says Nagaraj smiling.