It’s ironic that a film titled 10 Enradhukulla took over 15 years to be made. Director Vijay Milton says the film’s script, which he had pitched to a couple of actors before Vikram, was registered with the writer’s union as far back as 2000. “That’s how cinema works,” he says. “You have to keep several scripts ready at a time, because you don’t know when you’re going to get a chance to make it… especially when you want a star.”
So when his phone rang one evening early last year, after the success of Goli Soda (a script he wrote back in 2004), he assumed it was another call to appreciate the film, the second one he directed after Azhagai Irukkirai Bayamai Irukkirathu . “I picked up the call and it was Vikram sir. He asked if I had any scripts for him. It was around 11 p.m. and he asked if we could meet immediately. When Vikram says immediately, he means… in a few minutes. But I met him only the next day. I narrated the script. He liked it and agreed to do the film.”
Naturally, changes were made to the script to suit the star, whom Milton calls a ‘variety actor’. He says, “Vikram sir isn’t someone who likes to do simple things. He plays a driver and he gave me 10 different options for his get-up and his hairstyle (for which Vikram consulted a stylist from Mumbai).
He was even particular about the yellow cloth that he uses to clean cars in the film. You need to give him credit for looking so youthful that he matches Samantha.”
From the looks of it, 10 Enradhukulla comes across as a road movie — a favourite genre for cinematographers-turned-directors. But Milton insists he isn’t much of a ‘location guy’. “Why would I shoot most of Goli Soda within the Koyambedu market?” he asks. “ 10 Enradhukulla is about a journey. A journey that begins in Chennai and goes north up to Uttarakhand, with detours in Rajasthan and Sikkim. No location is repeated, as the story keeps moving from one place to another. In fact, we even shot in Nepal — at places which have been destroyed in the recent earthquake.”
Despite having shot over 20 films, Milton calls direction a ‘natural progression’. His father, Vijayaraj. S, was a director and Vijay has been an assistant director for as long as he can remember. His films as an AD include Poove Unakkaga and Suryavamsam . Cinematography became the means to an end. “But my experience as a cinematographer has helped me immensely in writing scripts,” he says. “My script isn’t a bunch of scenes divided into several pages of dialogue. I visualise it, as how it would play out on screen, with lighting notes, shot compositions and the general mood of the film. My scripts are almost 75 per cent complete during the scripting stage itself. Shooting, then, is the easy part.”