Simple narrative style gets "Autograph" a National Award



Susan Muthalaly

CHENNAI: Cheran's "Autograph" will now be called National Award Winner among other things. The Tamil film won in the "Most Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment" category along with Yash Chopra's "Veer Zaara."

This comes on the heels of "Autograph" winning four awards at the recently announced Filmfare Awards of the southern region. In a phone conversation with The Hindu, the director can't hide the joy in his voice. "I am so happy," he laughs. He was in the editing room working on his new film "Thavamai Thavamerunthu" when the call came at 4 p.m. informing him that his film had just won a National Award. "I put on the TV. It's only when I saw a jury member announce the names of the winners that I realised I had won."

Although he is plenty pleased for winning best director and best film at Filmfare, he admits the National Awards are special. "I have no problem sharing the award with "Veer Zaara." It is a very big film by a very big person, Yash Chopra. I have not watched it yet but I am very proud."

"Autograph" also won Filmfare awards for best supporting actress (Mallika) and best music director (Bharadwaj). It was one of the most talked about films of 2004 with its straightforward narration and simple style. It marked Cheran's debut as an actor too. The story was about Cheran's character and the women who were part of his life.

"Autograph" is the only South Indian film to win at the National Awards this year. When asked if he thought other South Indian films deserved to be on the winners list, the director apologetically but firmly says, "I only think about my film." Cheran has watched "Autograph" over 100 times and says, "Sometimes I think of ways I could have done it better." But most of the time he loves it. The people of Chennai too loved as it ran for 175 days.

"Autograph" was also screened at the Montreal and Goa film festivals and "the response was surprisingly pleasant," says the director. Although he will be acting in his next film to be released in September, he says he doesn't particularly care for acting. "Only if the role is right. But I'm a director first. Always a director." As for the story of his next film, let's just say that it's as closely guarded as the story of "Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince."

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