Home > Interviews


Interview Team : Jyothsna

Pa Ranjith made his impressive directorial debut with Attakathi. He has now completed his second film Madras with Karthi produced by Studio Green and the film is all set to hit the screens on the 26th September 2014. Talking to Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar, Ranjith discusses about Madras, Santhosh Narayanan, Venkat Prabhu’s working style and many more. 


Directors generally say that the story of their second film was the one written first. Would Madras also fall into that category?

No! I had completed Attakathi in January, Studio Green bought it in February and the film was released in August 2012. I did two scripts in the interim.


To do these scripts, I was scouting in Vyasarpadi area and saw a lot of wall paintings and advertisements. I am from College of Fine Arts and also a sign board artist myself and hence these paintings attracted me and made me script a story based on the lives of signboard artists. That’s how my two scripts- Saarpattah Parambarai and Madras emerged.


I told these two stories to Studio Green and they liked both. I narrated Saarpattah Parambarai for Karthi but his dates were not available for it and so the production suggested that we do the other story before that and we were trying for different artists.


However, one day, Karthi accidentally read the script of Madras, liked its concept and characters and said why not we do it now. And that’s how Madras happened with Karthi. 


Do you write your scripts keeping heroes in mind?


No, I don’t do that. I write my scripts without keeping anyone in mind and when asked if it would suit a particular artist, I would opine on it. 


The original title of the film was Kaali. How did it change to Madras?


Yes, it was originally titled Kaali but when we were completing the film, the title Madras occurred to us. The film is completely shot in north Madras. When I had stayed there for so long, this word (Madras) connected to me beyond the storyline and that’s how it got the title. 

The word Madras connected to me beyond the storyline 


How is Madras going to be different from Attakathi?


Attakathi was a light hearted film that dealt about young boys, their love life and carefree existence which was narrated in an interesting fashion.


Madras will be different from Attakathi as it is slightly more serious. 


Tell us more about Madras


The story of Madras starts in 90s and ends in the current period.  It is an action drama within which you would see ‘life’. The film would also delve into relationships.


In Chennai, although North Chennai people have contributed to the growth and development of the city, their growth per se is very minimal. And also in Tamil films they have been portrayed as criminals and anti social elements. Even their lingo remains a botched up version.


In Madras I have said that we can’t paint everyone with the same brush and that such instances could just be a few and there are people who lead a normal and law abiding life there. I have also talked about the culture, traditions and customs of the people of Chennai and the life of current youngsters in the capital of Tamil Nadu.  


The film would also be about the politicking of walls in Chennai which the parties (political) reserve for painting. The problems that arise due to this and its consequences are what I have dealt with in Madras. For an outsider, fighting for a wall would seem very trivial but this issue is really serious for the people involved. I have got into the life of these people and have showcased a different world.  I have created an ambience (in Madras) where you would experience a life that all along you had witnessed as an outsider.  

In Madras you would experience a life that all along you had witnessed as an outsider




In Madras, but for Karthi, rest of the cast is newcomers. He is an established artist but I did not want that ‘established’ness to surface anywhere. I wanted him to blend with the environs of the area and told him he does not have to ‘act’.


I always believe in creating a space for the artists and don’t act out because that will result in them aping me which is not what I seek. I tell them about the scene, dialogues and what is expected. But I will be the one to decide on what to retain. Karthi completely understood me and satisfied my expectations. The film is full of Chennai slang and it was easy for him to speak the tongue.

The film is full of Chennai slang and it was easy for Karthi to speak the tongue


Catherine Tresa


Since Karthi has a market in Telugu too, we went for a heroine who is popular in Andhra. I saw many pictures of Catherine, from which I liked the one in which she looked very normal and ordinary and matched the production demand and my requirement also. Then she underwent rehearsals along with other cast members including Karthi. Rehearsals were much useful to her as she had many dialogues in the film. 


Supporting cast


Most of them are new. Aadhi, Vinod, Nandakumar from theatre groups play important roles. Kalaiarasan plays hero’s friend in a pivotal role. Ritwika of Paradesi fame is paired with Kalaiarasan. Rama from Bharathi Raja’s Ennuir Thozhan is Karthi’s mom in the film. Jaya Rao plays dad’s role. We have given importance to casting as I want the audience to connect with the characters instantly. 

I want the audience to connect with the characters instantly




Murali from Film Institute, Pune has cranked the camera for Madras. He has won a National Award for his short film and has also done Andala Rakshasi in Telugu. The planning was done before we went for the shoot. Murali is someone who is very happy to strain himself for art. He was like an extra hand to me and rendered so much of positive energy on the sets.

DoP Murali was like an extra hand to me 


Santhosh Narayanan’s music


I am teaming with Santhosh Narayanan once again after Attakathi. The advantage with Santhosh is I write what I want in terms of music and give it to him. I also explain everything from the mood to the visuals to my scene progression. He understands it perfectly and tunes in sync with it. We have never got issues with tunes. He delivers accurately what I expect and we share a perfect rapport.


I am glad that music of Madras has reached a very big level, thanks to Santhosh. He has good musical sense and knows the art of producing sound.  


One very nice aspect about Santhosh Narayanan is that he would not vacate the words. He has the talent to bring together the voices and the individual features of sounds in his compositions. With the right amount of dexterity, he reaches to the listeners, the sound as well as the words.


If you note, Pizza and Jigarthanda’s songs are totally different from each other. It was kind of a completely uncontrolled product in Jigarthanda. But at the same time, when you hear Cuckoo’s songs, it would firmly adhere to our tradition. Santhosh is proving his mettle with every film of his and as regards Tamil film music industry, he is surely an important force to reckon with. 

Santhosh Narayanan does not vacate the words for music's sake


Aasai Oor Pulveli song in Attakathi


When I met Santhosh Narayanan for Attakathi, I wanted a feel of reading a poetry for Aasai Oor Pulveli song. I like to read poetries and it gives me immense happiness. Hence, in a beautiful poetry, when music joins, it creates a different impact and evolves bigger giving a special feel. That’s how Pulveli song emerged. If you notice, there would not be any pallavi, anupallavi or charanam in that number but the song will glide smoothly. 

There is no pallavi, anupallavi or charanam in Aasai Oor Pulveli number



Lyricists in Madras


Nee Naan, the song that won everyone’s appreciation is written by Ku Umadevi. This is her first song for the film industry. She is known in literary circles and is the author of a brilliant poetry compilation called Dhisaigalai Parugiyaval. Her words for the song perfectly blend with the music and have created a magic.


In Aagayam Theepidithal written by Kabilan, he has brought out the pain and anguish of love in simple words. We had slightly altered the marana gaana of Chennai in Irandhidavaa Nee Pirandhai, sung by Gaana Bala. Kaagitha Kappal is another version of Gana Bala’s voice. Enga Ooru Madras is a kind of anthem for Chennai. 





Gnanavel Raja has produced the film for Studio Green who was much supportive to my venture and has given whatever I needed for the film. And now the production house is much happy with the product and is keen about the movie reaching the audience in the right form and is going all out to do that.



You have worked under Venkat Prabhu but your style seems to be different from him. How is that?


In my opinion, one’s work and emotions are totally different. Venkat Prabhu’s style is different as it is based on his lifestyle and background. My lifestyle is different. I have worked with him in three films and what I like in his work, is that he would make fun of ‘hero’ and over the top projection of a character. His films would talk about normal boys and the happenings in everyday life. His dialogues also would be casual like how we all speak in our daily life. Those aspects are very inspiring to me. I follow this when I write dialogues for my film.


As regards my style, my thought process largely depends on my life and its allied experiences. I want to recount what happens in life and that’s what I have done in my two films. My expression would be a manifestation of the search of my inner mind. To bring this out, I need a working experience which I learnt from Venkat Prabhu. And I have incorporated that in my films. 

My working style is different from that of Venkat Prabhu



Where have you shot Madras?


I have shot the film completely in Madras and that too North Madras and mostly in live locations. 


Madras is changed to Chennai. But still, you call it Madras instead of Chennai?


Yes, it is true that Madras is changed to Chennai. When I was shooting in North Chennai, people there are using the word Madras in a very emotional manner. Of course for all practical and legal purpose, we have started calling Madras as Chennai and we are identifying ourselves as people from Chennai. But when we look at how people use the word Chennai and their relationship with that word, we found that it appears a forced entry but Madras has become an extremely integral part in their life and it has a powerful emotional connect. 


Here is wishing Pa.Ranjith and the team of Madras all the very best!




Madras has powerful emotional connect



This page hosts exclusive interviews with actors, actresses, film technicians and related celebrities. The interviews are generally personal views of the guest about their projects and film related matters. People looking for information about actors, actresses, directors, music directors, cameramen and other technicians will find this page useful.