Lokesh Kanagaraj on why he admires Kamal Haasan — the writer

The ‘Kaithi’ filmmaker lists the four films that influenced him growing up, and the Ulaganayagan features twice on it

October 25, 2019 04:15 pm | Updated October 26, 2019 03:50 pm IST

Lokesh Kanagaraj

Lokesh Kanagaraj

Following his stint as a short filmmaker, Lokesh Kanagaraj made his directorial debut in 2017 with Maanagaram — a movie that opened to rave reviews, and emerged a money-spinner at the box office. Lokesh’s second film, Kaithi , hit the screens recently, and he is busy filming his next with actor Vijay. These are four movies that made Lokesh Kanagaraj what he is today.

Sathya (1988)

Growing up, this was a film that had a major impact on me.

Kamal Haasan and Amala in ‘Sathya’

Kamal Haasan and Amala in ‘Sathya’

In fact, I modelled myself after Kamal sir and started wearing a kada . It has been several years, and I still haven’t removed it. What struck a chord with me was the obvious angry young man template. Apart from that, the fight sequences left me in awe. Until Sathya , we have had movies where the heroes would send the stuntmen to outer orbit. But the action scenes in this film was real, and the hero took a punch — probably for the first time in a long, long time.

Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino are few of my all-time favourite filmmakers.

Robert De Niro (second from left) in ‘Goodfellas’

Robert De Niro (second from left) in ‘Goodfellas’

I follow them for their filmmaking style. My instant reaction when I watched Goodfellas was: ‘How did they even achieve this?’ both in terms of timing and spontaneity. Of all the films Scorsese has made, I like Goodfellas more. Remember the scene where Joe Pesci asks ‘How am I funny?’ I used to have a Samsung mobile during my college days. I edited that particular sequence, and used to watch it frequently when I was trying to make inroads into Tamil cinema.

Virumaandi (2004)

I am a big fan of Kamal sir and if you ask me, I would suggest all of his movies.

Kamal Haasan in ‘Virumaandi’

Kamal Haasan in ‘Virumaandi’

But Virumaandi is one film that keeps inspiring me even today. It could be due to the performance or technical brilliance — it was the first Tamil movie to use live-sync sound. More than the actor, I admire Kamal — the writer. Look at the characters he had written in Virumaandi . They are so authentic and rooted in reality. But there is one scene which blew me away completely. It is where Kamal sir wears Nasser’s uniform and salutes him. That scene gave me goosebumps.

The Departed (2006)

I’m sure you are aware of the general criticism a movie faces when it gets remade in other languages.

Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon in ‘The Departed’

Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon in ‘The Departed’

Filmmakers are usually looked down upon for helming remakes. But here is a filmmaker who won four Oscars for a remake. Martin Scorsese silenced his critics with The Departed , which was a remake of the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs . It is not easy to remake an already superhit movie, and still retain your filmmaking standards — be it the music or the way he staged scenes. I am eagerly looking forward his next film, The Irishman .

(As told to Srivatsan S)

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