did you enter films?
When I was in 3rd standard, I watched Ram Gopal Varma’s
debut film, Siva. At that age, normally one would
not like that kind of films but prefer more commercial
films; it was a very mature film and a revolution
in the Telugu industry. It was released in Tamil as
Udayam. I liked it very much and in that way was very
different from friends my age. My friends used to
encourage my thoughts as they felt I was creative.
When I was in + 1, I realized that it was time for
me to enter the film industry as I was a writer and
a cinematographer. I spoke to my parents and decided
to equip myself by enrolling in a film institute and
researched film institutes. I opted for a course in
Thailand as I loved Thai action movies as there is
a lot of emotion in the action sequences. I specialized
in direction, cinematography and editing.
What kind of
training did you undergo?
It is like DFT, a 2 year crash course. Technically,
Thailand is more advanced then India. We had good
faculty and technically I learnt a lot and that’s
why I could make a different film. I specialized in
direction, cinematography and editing, that’s
why its special compared to other institutions. For
a director, the camera has to be his friend. Like
a pen is a friend to a writer.
did you choose to make your debut with direction?
The director is the king
of cinema. He is the captain of the ship. He
is the reason for the success of the movie and
responsible. Everyone dreams of becoming a director.
The director is the
king of cinema.
If you have creative sense,
you can learn things,
directors enter the industry with formal training
while others learn the ropes on the job. Do
you think formal training is essential?
There is no compulsion that one has to undergo
formal training to become a director or even assist
someone. Anyone in the 24 departments can become
the director, the leader, once he’s in thorough
with these. If you have creative sense, visual
sense, you can learn things, know the tricks of
film making, you can start with short films and
become a director. There are no rules, it was
proved by RGV who never underwent film training
or assisted anyone and is still a legend in Indian
Is RGV the director
who has inspired you the most?
Definitely, I am Ekalavya sishya of him. I like
him very much. I love all his films, some may
have flopped but still I love them, you can
see his touch in every frame. He may have worked
with many technicians, several teams but still
his input is there. If you just watch a single
shot, you know it’s his. He has such an
identity because of his consistency in film
making and is an inspiration not just for me
but the younger generation. Earlier there were
rules like one had to work 30 or 40 years in
the industry before turning director but RGV
broke all those rules.
RGV broke all
What was your
inspiration for Porkkalam? Was it based on a real incident
or was it your imagination?
My intention was to become a director; I did not work
as an associate with anyone. However, technically I
am thorough and wanted to narrate an exciting story.
Porkkalam is planned not from my heart but to prove
myself as a good technician. I wanted to make a mysterious
film to excite people. Whoever I narrated the story
to, even big stars in Tollywood and Kollywood, they
liked it, but I had visual differences and came out.
When I narrated the story to producers in 20 minutes,
I did so in a different way. I narrated the first half
in a normal way; they thought it’s a normal commercial
film. I then asked them what they expected post-interval.
They came up with the regular trend - like he falls
in love with the girl in the photo or some flashback.
When I told them, the hero was blind, everyone was shocked
then I explained. It excited them. That was a plus.
I worked on the script for 4 years as I wanted to make
a mark. It’s a delicate script, you can’t
do in 78 days; it needed thorough pre-production which
I did. The result is that the film has a look that is
double the budget we used.
You have used
a lot of high contrast lighting. Is it justified?
the technical process
The whole film is shot in high contrast lighting.
The lenses were mostly wide and extreme lensing
like extreme wides and no medium lenses. We mostly
shot in high speed and overcame 48 frames, 72
frames and so on. For the flashback, I under cranked,
6 frames, 4 frames... Everything has specific
reason as a lot of detailing was necessary. If
I had only done it for the hero, the audience
would catch the suspense. Many intelligent people,
critics and others who saw the film never expected
this kind of suspense; that is the plus point
in the film. It would have looked awkward if I
had done it the regular way and would have been
unbelievable, the technical process made Porkkalam
believable. There is a mysterious feel right from
the beginning. Another reason for using high contrast
is budget constraints. If I need to establish
a room for instance, I need all properties but
if you see my film, you will see the hero in dining
table where only the dining table and TV and small
properties are lit. The frame does not look compromised
and gets a Hollywood look.
In Kollywood, people
like well-lit interiors and bright colors, however you
have taken a risk by desaturating and almost bringing
it to B/W. Were you not scared of the risk?
I love risks.
I love risks. I needed to build a unique image
for me. Whatever the result of Porkkalam was,
people identify me and I have some fans, this
is thanks to my making style. I am happy, that’s
because I did not come to the industry for money
but for passion. So I don’t think it’s
a risk and in future also it will be my style,
almost similar. Maybe it will change a bit according
Is the violence in your film justified?
I am an action buff, I love violence. I did
not show it in an irritating way, I did not
show blood or commercial elements, and I showed
violence in an exciting way. Critics say the
action was very well made; you can’t see
that kind of action in any film. For instance
in the first half, there was a street fight
in a market set-up but shot differently. I got
a call from Manager in Karaikudi where I shot
for 20 days. He said he could not find Karaikudi
in the film; he was mesmerized with the vision
of Porkkalam. I am very happy also for that.
I love violence.
Your film has no softer emotions, only harsh emotions
and energy. Have you avoided softer emotions for a reason?
I am a rough and tough guy by nature. I don’t
watch romantic films, I watch action with emotion, and
it is my genre, my feeling, my taste. Nothing intentional.
In future also you can’t expect softer emotional
films from me.
How was it working
with Kishore? Was there any challenging scene you did?
He is a committed artiste and possesses very good body
language. The first film I saw in Tamilnadu was Polladhavan
and I loved Kishore’s role. Without him the role
would not have the impact. I liked his body language
and wanted to cast him in my film. Working with him
I found him very nice, punctual and down-to-earth. Even
after the film, both of us and another friend went to
all theaters to check the pulse of the audience. He
is very passionate about films and our wavelength matches.
Our psychology is the same, so it’s easy to work
I recall a shot in the flashback where I improvised.
We were at a construction site with the sea below. I
jokingly told him, hold the 2 rods and jump into the
sea. He said ok and took off his shirt. I then told
him you don’t even know how deep or shallow the
sea will be. I was worried what would happen but he
jumped into the sea and swam to the shore. I asked him
how deep it was, he said 6 to 7 feet but there were
rocks. I asked him why he had taken such a big risk
but he said you wanted it and I must do it.
Is it possible
for a blind person to do what you have shown or is it
questioning the audience’s intelligence?
It’s a fantasy script; it’s not a believable
script. I wanted to make it believable; I showed him
in a natural way. When you see the film, you will see
how I made it believable with the technical aspects
and style. It is not testing the public’s intelligence,
see Jurassic park or Avataar, its not possible but they
made it believable. In the same way I wanted to tell
it convincingly and I succeeded.
are more mature
did you make your debut in Tamil and not in
your mother tongue Telugu?
Tamil audiences are more mature and experimental
films have been successful here. Porkkalam is
an experimental script and I felt that Tamil
people would receive it better. I am also a
fan of Tamil films, especially the young directors.
Directors here have audiences and fans, recent
films like Aayirathil Oruvan received big openings
because of the director, as a director I wanted
to get that name.
Tell us about your
She did not have much importance. I am an MCP and work
only for my heroes and the heroine is only for the commercial
aspect. For a war to be waged there must be a strong
reason and nowadays its love. Without that you can’t
have such a big fight. If not for that I would have
done without a heroine!
What kind of feedback
have you received for the film?
Lot of common people appreciated me and even critics.
They expected something different from me. I am happy.
Maybe there are some reasons for the film not being
the big success at box office. 10% of cinema fans saw
the film which lasted few weeks as there was little
publicity and it was spread by word of mouth only. Whoever
saw it is satisfied. They saw the director in every
Is the film to
be dubbed in Telugu?
Plans for this are on.
What are you currently
I am working on a never touched concept, a film full
of action, a hard hitting film that will be definitely
be applauded by Tamil people. I debuted in Tamil and
Tamil audiences have received me. I want to release
the film within this year.
What genre do you
I prefer only action and some mystery that should excite
people scene by scene.
I love the vision of a leader and I believe in a good
concept backed by good technical values and hope to
increase standards by bringing in something different.
What is your dream?
I don’t want to have the generation gap
in my films and stay with the generation of
the day. Films made by successful directors
of the 80’s or 90’s won’t
run today because of the generation gap. The
audience’s interest must match yours.
RGV is very good at catching the pulse of the
audience. If the Pentium 6 computer comes in
for instance, one must learn and upgrade ourselves
to the next generation.
RGV is very good at
catching the pulse
of the audience.
What do you like
I usually watch because it’s a frank and bold
website like me. I love such people. I read the film
news on the site and have found that the writers write
very boldly and not under any pressure. News published
is confirmed before publishing and I trust behindwoods
for updates in the industry.