Why should one watch Nandalala?
A very good question indeed! And I have not one but
many reasons. One should see Nandalala because there
are no kuthupaattus; because it can be viewed by people
from 4 to 80 years; because it can be seen by lovers.
A father and mother can watch it, a mother and child
can see it and so can two friends! Nandalala is a story
about us, about you, your mother, my mother, about me.
I have shown your beautiful face, your beautiful heart,
the divine child within you, in Nandalala. I will bring
in a mirror and show you how beautiful all of us are.
When you come out watching Nandalala, you will realize
the beauty of life and people and how happy we all can
be. This is the feeling I guarantee.
Genesis of Nandalala
I did not follow any method or pattern to arrive at
the story of Nandalala. I did not think about ways and
means to cheat the audience or try tricks to make them
fall for some antics. I wrote the screenplay of Nandalala
following the norms of how a good screen play should
be written and how it should reach the heart of the
viewers and achieve success in an honest way. They should
see and like my product. If Nandalala is successful,
it would be a great honor for me to have given a good
film and secondly it is would also be an honor for people
because they have appreciated a good film again.
Story of Nandalala
It is about two children - one is seven years old and
the other is within a 27-year-old man. They are on a
mission in search of their respective mothers who they
have not seen till date. On this trail, they meet many
people. They solve their problems and vice versa. The
important plot in the film is the reason about why their
mothers leave them which is the suspense element. Nandalala
is about how these two children fight back and solve
the problems of their mother and finally unite with
them and lead a happy and peaceful life. This is a kind
of a travelogue.
About the location
of the film
We have gone on the road many times but we generally
don’t look at it with keen interest or in a
serious vein. But I watched the road in various perspectives
during my 81 days of shoot. And I have shown the road
like you have never seen before. I have revealed forests
which you have never witnessed till date. I have shown
people who have never been showcased till date. I
have given Ilayaraja’s music in my film, which
has not been heard till date. When I narrated the
story to Raja sir, he did not say anything but when
I showed the film to him, he only said one thing,
“It is highly sophisticated”. I have brought
refinement, this sophistication close to you and you
have to watch this. To all movie buffs, I have this
to say, “See Nandalala and if you deem it fit,
make it successful. With immense faith in me and in
your tastes, I present before you this film”.
How come you
are acting in Nandalala?
Why not? Anybody can act. In my films, 90% of the
cast are amateurs and I pick them up from roads. I
am also from the road and I have come to act on the
road. Some actors did not accept this film. I cannot
name or blame them. My film will certainly not elevate
or boost their image. They may have realized this.
So, there was no other option and I decided to smear
the grease paint. At some point I decided to go in
for new comers and even got to train them but was
not happy. I carried this story for three years and
I knew its intricacies and nuances like nobody else
and I felt that I only can do justice to this role
and took the plunge. There is nothing wrong in it.
Would you continue
No, I will not. I am doing my next film with Suriya
and then a short film with newcomers. I came into
film world not to become an actor but to become a
good screenplay writer and then as an extension, a
good director. Acting in Nandalala just happened.
It was a happenstance.
In your opinion,
how was your acting?
the shooting of Nandalala, I never took many takes.
I used to check at the monitor and ask my assistants
if everything is fine and go by their words. I have
not viewed myself as an actor but as a character.
How was it riding
on two horses - acting and directing?
It was not easy. I did encounter problems associated
with this. If a director is working 100%, for an actor-director
it will be 200% effort. When one has to work with
a child artist, it will be 300% and the effort level
increases to 400% when you are dealing with amateur
artists. But I did not see this as a burden as I was
very deeply involved in my work.
Did anyone help
you lessen your burden?
many people. Firstly, artist Trotsky Marudu who has
worked with me in this project took half of my work.
And more importantly, I have an excellent team who
has been with me in my previous films and we all worked
in unison as a family. For all of us, we viewed this
as our life and not as a film. So the 82 days of shooting
was not an ordeal but was a pleasant journey. From
a light man to make up man, everybody was involved
in their work and their job transcended boundaries.
It is a major team work.
Nandalala trailer appeared to be very intense.
Is it deliberate?
Yes, I expect my films to be intense and
powerful. When the feedback about a film
from the audience is ‘just ok’,
I consider it as the greatest shame. Two
and a half hours of viewing of my film by
itself should be an experience. It has to
be thought provoking and has to initiate
a discussion. It should disturb one’s
sleep. That’s what I expect from my
films. But at the same time, my films will
not kindle negative feelings. I use an emotional
turmoil to arrive at a solution. Nandalala
will be a strong, intense, feel good film.
Ilayaraja a conscious choice?
Yes, I had decided on Raja sir when I was
writing the story. His re-recording will
speak volumes. His music had certainly helped
I use an
at a solution
is to score
How did Ilayaraja’s music bring life to
As I had said earlier, when I had screened
the film to Ilayaraja, he said the film is
very sophisticated and he wanted three people.
I first did not comprehend what he said. He
then said that from Hungary-Budapest orchestra,
he wants a flutist, an Oboist and a violinist
as he had thought of a different style for
re-recording. Initially, when he had asked
me what kind of music I want for the film,
I had mentioned that the music should be enjoyed
and appreciated by the likes of a hunter in
an African cave. I understood that he had
kept this in mind. Music in Nandalala will
be very pleasing to every ear. The most difficult
thing is to score simple music. To play with
just three instruments is more difficult than
playing with 400 instruments. This is called
minimalized music that Raja sir has done in
Nandalala. When two people are walking on
the road, one cannot obviously have a loud
note; the music should be soothing and gentle
like a breeze which Ilayaraja achieved by
using small instruments. In his 35 years of
music career, he has crossed various milestones
but Nandalala will be his remarkable creation.
About cinematographer Mahesh Muthusamy?
In my opinion, a director or a cinematographer or
an art director should not be visible in a good film.
In the dark theatre, 24 lies run per second on the
celluloid which transports the audience to a different
world and makes him believe that it is the truth.
Once when someone says - wow, what an excellent director
or art work, it is the failure of the story; which
means that audience has missed out on the content
or the character. The work of these technicians should
seamlessly merge with the main content, which is the
story. This is what Mahesh does for my films. Whenever
I pull him to the front for any interview, he will
only ask “What have I done?” He is a very
simple man and is my complete strength. We have worked
in three films and have never had any aberration.
To cite a classic example, when I was shooting for
Anjathe, I had to take the first shot for a scene
and the first shot in any scene is very important.
I was not getting this shot and was pacing up and
down when I saw an earthworm. I called Mahesh and
said this is my first shot. He never questioned me,
completed the procedure and finally asked me the reason.
He could have asked in the first instance itself.
But he did not. I cannot do any film without Mahesh.
He is first a great man and then a technician. Instead
of saying that he has worked in my film, I am proud
to say that I have worked with him. We have all seen
many roads, natural sceneries but when you see Nandalala,
you will realize how different these mundane things
look through Mahesh’s camera. The images that
he has captured in the film are going to be immortal.
If Nandalala is successful and gets awards, the first
award will go to Ilayaraja and the second one will
be for Mahesh.
What about the
costumes in Nandalala?
Anjathe was racy and gripping. How would Nandalala
Nandalala would be as gripping and fast
paced as Anjathe. When one gets involved
with the character and wants to know what
is happening next, it is definitely gripping.
Nandalala is a profound and a beautiful
film. It is a much needed film in today’s
world that is ridden with all types of struggles
beyond human control. This is a film that
talks about humanism and tells us to forgive
mistakes. Nandalala will be therapeutic.
our journey in the film, we had no time to change
clothes because we are ridden with incessant problems.
I am a mentally retarded person and the boy has to
look after and take care of me. At the smallest lapse,
I may commit a mistake, an error. So our travel is
full of struggles and where do you find the time to
change clothes? But when you watch the film, our dress
has become a character by itself and has merged so
well with the rest of the frame.
Trotsky Marudu is a renowned artist in Tamil Nadu
and I am a film person. As regards Nandalala, I
expected a lot of aestheticism even while composing
a particular sequence. I was not sure if he would
fit into my film but realized that I needed the
aid of an artist. I learnt a lot from him. He says
that in Chithiram Pesudadi, my frames were loose
and in Anjathe, they were tight but in Nandalala
they have become perfect. He has given a lot of
inputs for this film. That’s why I have credited
him as director of aesthetics whose name will roll
immediately after Ilayaraja’s name in the
title. He has recorded the making of Nandalala as
photographs and has plans to have an exhibition
soon. He has done tremendous amount of artistic
work in the film. You will realize them when you
see the film.
I don’t believe
which are born
have a reputation of wasting a lot of footage.
No. I don’t do such stuff. I had planned
the shooting for 91 days but wrapped it in
81 days. I don’t believe in films which
are born at the editing table. When I am writing
the script, I plan my shots and cuttings.
More than what I want in my frame, I am more
lucid about what I don’t want. What
is important is that I have taken a 60-70
hour film in the making of Nandalala. I am
planning to compile and make into a manual
and take to the audience if the film is successful.
I have taken a 12-hour film on Ilayaraja’s
Do you think cinema should be realism centric?
I firmly believe that cinema is not a medium
for realism. When you place a secret camera
in a hut adjoining Coovam, record the day’s
events, take it in the evening, edit and
release it and you will not have any takers
for it. I go to a film, look up and see
two characters and their problems which
are almost akin to mine. I have come to
watch how the character in the film faces
his problems and solves them. Of course,
it is an imagination, a fantasy, but there
is depth and refinement in it and also a
big truth. This is what I call a cinema.
When M.G R hits 100 men, there is no reality
in it, but when he bashes the baddies, I
am also with him, hitting these men, completely
engrossed in the act. So I start trusting
that a man can hit 100 men for a good cause.
So, in a similar situation in real life
I may not beat bad men but will at least
raise my voice against bad people. This
is what is cinema. Cinema is not reality
and it cannot change people; it can elevate
their thinking a little. That is how I view
cinema and my films will only reflect my
it can elevate
I have not
come here to give messages. Thiruvalluvar and Avvaiyar
have done the jobs. I am a young granny who is telling
a story, that’s all. When a child is fearful
of ghosts, I tell a story to the child that once
upon a time, there was a good ghost who helped three
children find their way back home. So I portray
the ghost as someone nice. This is what I want to
do in my films. Cinema is not a medium to transform
the society. It is a medium to tell interesting
stories. That’s all.
and child based
As regards Nandalala, I had story boarded
everything. As I am also a martial artist,
I knew how my stunt sequences should be. This
is how someone should hit and this is how
someone should receive the blows. If you are
a tall person, you can hit at two people and
after you are done with them, when a third
man attacks you with a knife, you can run.
This again, you can accomplish only if you
have done half an hour of brisk jogging in
the morning. This is realism and has credibility.
I don’t believe in standing on four
people and hitting and then delivering punch
dialogues. So I look at it this way- how many
blows can one man give at a time singularly.
If I want to hit at five people, I need to
take with me that many people. So within such
a realistic frame, I introduce my fights.
I did not look at it as choreography. Nandalala
will have realistic fights on one hand and
fantastic action sequences on the other hand.
So we have amalgamated both these varieties.
Chithiram Pesudadi and Anjathe were known
for their fights. But Nandalala has more action
sequences than these two films and it will
be talked about. Here the fights will appear
child like and child based.
About Rohini’s contribution?
She has done a wonderful job in this film.
She does the role of my mother and has delivered
a superb performance. I did not know how to thank
her. On the last day of the shoot, I called all
my team - around 250 in number - and then we all
gave a thunderous applause which lasted for 10 minutes.
I fell at her feet and sought her blessings. An
extremely down-to-earth person and a highly talented
artist! Her contribution is phenomenal to the film.
He has given a remarkable performance. First of
all, it is not easy to make a child perform before
the camera. It is difficult to speak to them on
an intellectual platform and expect them to understand.
There must be an inherent spark. In that way, Ashwath
Ram is a child prodigy. He listens and imbibes very
fast. He will be seen in every frame with me in
this film. The most difficult scenes, he had completed
in just one or two takes and that too an emotional
performance. As a child there are lot of limitations
like tiredness, mood swings etc. But Ashwath has
risen above all and has given a splendid performance
in the film.
What is the
language of the song that was shown in trailer?
For the pre-climax sequence I wanted gypsies and
when I went to meet them, I heard one old woman
singing which was extraordinary. I somehow wanted
to incorporate this song. There is a war preparation
sequence associated with children in the climax.
So for this sequence, I brought in the lady to the
dubbing theatre and made her sing but the first
time around, it was not good. When I enquired she
said that she needs a glass of brandy or any drink
and when I gave her that, she completed in just
one take. This song is an important one in the film
in the climax. It is about God, bravery and life
which is sure to stand out.
What is the
meaning of the song?
It is to God which seems to say - I offer you so
much and give me the boons that I ask you. It is
a mix of Marathi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Words
like karuvadu and gulab jamun feature in the song.
It has been
said that the climax scene was shot with many cameras?
The climax scene will be like a war scene. Without
dialogues, we have captured the song just in re-recording.
That is new in this film.
Yes, she has done an important and a significant
character called Anjalai. In a particular sequence
she has to speak for four minutes continuously.
She did this in one single shot. Her role and performance
also will be talked about. She is an extremely dedicated
and a cooperative artist. All along she was known
for her dancing skills but post-Nandalala, she also
will be known for her acting talents.
Is Nandalala inspired from a Japanese film?
Now, I cannot answer this question and
convince anyone. When my film is released,
you can take the DVD of the Japanese film
and then compare and say. Of course, I am
an ardent fan of Takeshi Kitano. In fact,
you can call him my guru. In a way his Kikujiro
stimulated me to take Nandalala but Nandalala
is not Kikujiro. You can tell me this after
you see the film.
Anjathe lifted from Mystic Rivers?
There is no way you can say if I am saying
the truth or not. Only my conscience knows.
When I wrote Anjathe, I was inside my room
for 37 days and only I know the struggle.
I don’t believe in the paucity of stories.
I can write many stories. My friends have
seen Mystic Rivers. I have not seen the film
whether you want to believe or not. I can,
with pride, say that I have been inspired
by Kurosawa’s shots and I follow them.
I am not ashamed of it. He is a legend. I
have not stolen Anjathe from Mystic Rivers.
I am not a thief. If I have stolen some thing,
I would very honestly admit the same.
education help in cinema?
Yes, without the basic education, it is difficult.
Can you make
a film without songs?
Of course, yes, and I am progressing towards it
and I will definitely do it.
voracious reading habits?
I am crazy about reading. Books are a part of my
life or more aptly, they are my life. I cannot imagine
life without books. Of course, reading helps me
a lot while writing screenplays. When I started
reading books, I realized how ignorant I was. To
write a script of 250 pages, I needed to write 15000
pages, then tear it, trim and bring to 250 pages.
To write 15000 pages, I should at least read 1500000
pages. Books give me happiness and when I am depressed
it lifts my spirits. And when I read about a Russian
author, I am able to understand his culture and
lifestyle of people there. World is in my fist when
I read books. Gifting books is an excellent and
beautiful thing. I cannot live without books.
write a book?
I don’t think I have the required knowledge
right now. But I will definitely do in future and
it will be on cinema.
No, no body like that. My grandma was my inspiration
in my childhood.