How does one know for sure that their partner is the right one? “It’s okay to take time in love. Not to find the right one, but to realise that there is no ‘right one’,” says writer-director Pradeep Ranganathan, quoting something he came across online.
Pradeep, who shot to fame for his debut film, the Jayam Ravi-starrer Comali, has been vocal about love and all its shades. In Love Today, his sophomore film that is set to release this week, he aims to tell a story about love through a couple (played by Ivana and Pradeep himself), who exchange their mobile phones to better understand each other.
Pradeep is confident that this will be a ‘good love story’ that talks about modern-day love. But, given the evolving nature of both love and cinema, what truly makes a love story good? “ Easy ah kedaikardhu manasula nikkadhu (What comes easily will not stay in the heart). A story that shows two people sorting all differences and fighting all obstacles for love is a good love story,” says Pradeep, adding that it is the struggle that makes any quest beautiful.
Though love evolves, the core of it always remains the same no matter the generation, says Pradeep. Perhaps that’s also why he is agreeably abhorrent towards this modern social media-driven behaviour of putting down anything old-school as cringe and anyone sensitive and emotive as an ‘emoboi’. “ Paasam and nesam are considered cringe-y these days. So is the case when I show a mother feeding food to her child with a melodious track playing in the background. How is that cringe? People are expecting us to emote only to a certain extent. But love is emotional, and emotions will remain the same. I believe that people will start calling this ‘cringe culture’ cringe,” points out Pradeep.
Though Love Today is a take on modern-day romance, the title is a tribute to the nostalgia of old-school romance, given that it is also the title of Vijay’s 1997 romantic drama. “It suits the story, yes, but it is also because it’s the title of a hit film. A film like this without many familiar faces needs such publicity,” says Pradeep. It’s not just the title. Despite this being just his second film, Pradeep seems clear about what the film is going to be and to whom he is catering. He confidently insists that his film will attract families to the theatres after the initial days. “My calculations are such because I am a very normal individual. I am not part of the elite crowd of audiences, who I believe account for just 1 per cent. I observe what people around me — who account for that 99 per cent — like to watch, and I am doing everything to cater to them,” he says.
Choosing Yuvan Shankar Raja to score music also comes from this self-awareness that Pradeep has. Having been a fan of Yuvan’s flair to bring out deep emotions, Pradeep vowed to bring back the ‘vintage Yuvan’. “But it’s also important to see what this particular script demands. Yuvan can bring out the purity of love and the pain that comes from it.” Hence, to tailor-make it to his needs, Pradeep had to be clear about what he wanted. “I would l tell him the situation with a few ideas; he would then choose one, and begin a back-and-forth. What surprised me was how open he was to changes. “
On Friday, when this film hits screens, Pradeep will also make his silver-screen debut as a hero. “Throughout my life, people have passed demeaning comments on my appearance,” shares Pradeep. “I feel numb and they don’t affect me much anymore. I believe in the person I am and that audiences will like who they see,” he says. With respect to acting, his confidence also comes from all the practice he has had. “Whenever I narrate my script, I act out all the characters and narrate the script to literally everyone. It has become a practice and I also get to see their reactions,” he says.
Despite having made a rom-com and a comedy, the filmmaker in Pradeep isn’t satisfied yet. “I don’t want to be typecast as a comedy director. In fact, after Comali, I wanted to do a sci-fi actioner, but circumstances led me to Love Today,” he says, adding that his next film, which has a leading star attached to it, will be a genre-shift for him.