After 60 years in film industry and 70 films as a director, S.P. Muthuraman shares a few movie-making tips

Superstar Rajinikanth is meignani and Kamal Haasan is vignani declares S.P. Muthuraman. “They are like my pair of eyes,” says the veteran film maker who has directed Rajinikanth in 25 films including super hits such as Murattu Kaalai, Guru Sishyan, Nallavanukku Nallavan, Aarilirunthu Arubadhu Varai, and Shri Raghavendra. He has done over 10 films with Kamal Haasan too including his all-time hits such as Sakalakala Vallavan and Per Sollum Pillai.

Working with superstars

Muthuraman was in Coimbatore immediately after the audio launch of Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan. “Kochadaiiyaan is a big leap for Tamil film industry. It has set new benchmark in visual effects and animation,” he says proudly. “We experimented with animation way back in the 80s for a song ‘Raja Chinna Rojavoda’ for the film Raja Chinna Roja starring Rajnikanth. It became a huge hit. Also in Kamal Hassan’s film Thoongaadhey Thambi Thoongaadhey, one of the songs ‘Vaanam Keeley Vandhaal Enna’ was shot with innovative camera angles to make it look like an animated song.”

Muthuraman started as an editing apprentice with AVM Studios. “My first film as an assistant director is Kalathur Kannamma. It marked the debut of actor Kamal Haasan as the child actor. Those were the days when producers like AVM Meiyappa Chettiar and S.S. Vasan knew everything right from production cost, marketing, and distribution. They called the shots and knew how films would fare in the market. Film makers were familiar with all departments of cinema and made films that entertained the audience.”

He says now film makers are drawn by the glamour of cinema without understating the nuances of the industry. “Learning and getting acquainted with the various departments of cinema gives you the aalumai to make successful films. My contemporaries such as K. Balachander made over 100 films, I made 70, director Ramanarayanan made over 150 films and we sustained. The new age film makers tend to put all their creative talent into one single production. And usually, turn out to be one-film wonders.”

Listen and learn

Convince pannanum, convince aaganum is the dictum he followed in his career. “I discuss and argue with actors and producers, but give in and accept suggestions as long as it helps to make a film successful. This is my advice to all new film makers. There are 23 departments in film making and as the captain of the ship, the director should have a fair idea of everything. Some of the new film makers such as Lingusamy, Samuthirakani, Sasikumar, and Janardhanan still function as a unit and make quality films.”

He tells film makers to give aatam, paatam, kondaatam, kavarchi… but with a good story.

“Even my films have had songs such as ‘Nila Kaayudhu’ and ‘Nethu Rathiri’ but we kept those item numbers only for entertainment. Now, heroines take on these roles. The changes have become necessary to suit the changing tastes of movie going audience, who are predominantly in the age group of 18 and 30. All they want is entertainment. And, films such as Varuthappadatha Vaalibar Sangam and Raja Rani.”

Director S.P. Muthuraman was in Coimbatore to conduct a filmmaking workshop at Dr. GRD College of Science.