Tollywood Star Hero Mahesh Babu and Prominent Director AR Murugadoss collaborated for new flick SPYder which will hit the screens on September 27. Ahead of the film’s release, Director Murugadoss was in conversation with The Hindu Cinema. Read the full interview here …
SPYDER is in final stages and soon to be released. How is your mindset?
Murugadoss – However confident you may be as a director, when you know you are going to face the audience, there will always be a few butterflies in stomach.
Mahesh Babu is a big star in Telugu, he will have his own style and his own characteristics set in the Telugu industry, whereas this is his debut movie in Tamil. How did u manage to balance the script? Did you pick the script in such a way that concept has more importance than the star?
Murugadoss– Yes, there is something called balancing. Commercial films in Telugu industry will be hardcore and raw. In Tamil cinemas, there are certain limitations. In the Telugu industry Mahesh Babu is a big superstar, handling him in that industry will be different, but here in Tamil industry, he is a new face and even if we try and give him the same heroism people here will suddenly get disconnected with the movie. So, everything had to be done carefully. Even the story was balanced. I gave more importance to screenplay and story. If you are looking for heroism, the movie Thuppaki had heroism in it, even though the villain showed a lot of anger to instigate the hero, he only says “I am waiting”. That was subtle yet heroism was shown. Similarly, this story also needed balancing.
As far as cinema is concerned language is not a barrier. I have met Mahesh babu sir long back. He used to speak good Tamil. He was born in Chennai, studied here in Loyala college, since he knows such good Tamil, I never felt that I was doing a movie with another language hero. I felt that I am doing this movie with a Chennai based handsome hero.
Whenever we speak of a Murugadoss movie, we always know it is a commercial, mass movie yet there will always be a concept. Is this movie also a concept based?
Murugadoss – This is a hero villain movie, that positive and negative individually exists in every human. In simple words, both MGR and Nambiar are in us. It only depends to whom I show my MGR character and whom I disclose my Nambiar character, both negative and positive exist. So, we created two characters in the name Sivan, positive and negative. One is positive to the core the other is negative to the core. The spark in this movie Spyder is the meeting of the positive and negative.
You are one of the most renowned commercial directors of this age. Do you think the concept of worshipping heroes is gone?
Murugadoss– No not like that, hero worship will remain as long as humans exist, for instance even belief in god is a type of hero worship. Superman and Spiderman are for kids, Anjaneya and Bheema are for adults. Heroes may change but hero worship will never change. This world exists with so much evil, we hope for a guy to come and change everything, as long as imagination of such characters exist, hero worship will exist.
In all your movies there is the anger towards the society which can be seen, can we see it in this movie also?
Murugadoss – Yes it will be there as far as this film is concerned. I am person who studied in a government school in a village, from a middle-class background. I am a person who learnt writing, by writing on the ground. So, I have all the suffocations, anger of the middle class, hence I try to portray them in my movies. In one movie, maybe I would pick one issue, in another I would choose another contrasting topic. I don’t try to incorporate it but if the situation arises I use it.
You are a big director now. How do you still feel that sensitivity towards such issues in the society?
Murugadoss – I was born in a family with lot of members, I have 3 brothers and 4 sisters, our house itself would be like a big group. So many relatives, studied in a govt. school, so I’ve always been in a crowd. I am very clear with one fact that no matter how high we go; our feet must always be on the ground. Even though my office has a good ambience, I want my kids to grow with the same feeling around people hence I still live in a 3 BHK flat with 200 families around like a middle-class man.
For a filmmaker, does social responsibility exist?
Murugadoss – Social responsibility exists for everyone, not just film makers, we need to be very careful when we portray it on the screen. Especially if the movies are of big heroes we need to be careful. Apart from that, the scenes of cigarette smoking sometimes cannot be avoided because of the story. For instance, if the story is based on drinking/ alcohol or smoking, these aspects cannot be avoided in that movie. If the movie is about smoking then my hero needs to be a smoker, if the movie is in the backdrop of alcohol, I cannot avoid. But it is not necessary to include without reason. Sometimes they just introduce it in the name of comedy unnecessarily.
You have done films in Telugu and in Tamil but this is your first bilingual. Is it challenging?
Murugadoss – A lot of my previous films have been dubbed or remade into other languages. Initially when I thought bilingual would be easy. But this is almost equal to doing two films. When it comes to bilingual, wide shots are kept common and only close up shots were reshot with change in language for lip sync but in this movie as far as we are concerned, we have given a very sincere attempt. For instance, in Thuppaki, I decided that all the scenes must be shot locally since it was Mumbai based, all the scenes were shot in Mumbai. In many movies, if they are shooting in a different location, they shoot all the wide angles and scenery from the other place and all scenes like, house, hospital, etc will be shot locally inside a set. But in Thuppaki we made sure each scene was shot in Mumbai not one scene was shot in Chennai. Similarly, in this movie I thought regardless of the shot being a wide shot or a silent shot, every scene was shot separately. Even small artists were changed, for example if 4 people were used in Telugu, they were called off and another 4 artists would go in for the Tamil shot. Because of this the time taken was longer than anticipated.
People nowadays mix politics with movies. They don’t watch a movie as it is and mix it with politics.
Murugadoss – Yes, nowadays it has increased a lot. There’s a group of people who exist for this sole purpose. They have two primary reasons – one is to become famous while second is to scare us and take money. You shouldn’t use this title, this refers to my sub caste, this refers to my caste, you shouldn’t say this or that, all this is very cheap. If such people want fame they should come to movies, act, direct and become famous. Why take this shortcut?
If I was scared of people with black money, I wouldn’t have shot the movie Ramana 15 years ago. A person’s bravery does not depend on the people behind him or his age or his strength. If you are aware against the British we had Gandhi who stood against them, did he have a black belt or did he wear bullet proof clothes? He never wore a shirt.
Similarly, my mental strength comes from within, your body or your size doesn’t matter. Therefore, regarding black money I am not scared. If conflict arises, even I can speak very well. On our side, we have truth and justice, we would not have made mistakes and we have so many things to speak about but I am not interested in it. If they write about me, they may get something out of it but we may never get anything back if we retaliate.
And the second thing is that there are so many things in movies nowadays. I need a producer to invest money. I need an actor who would set in with my mindset. Also, the producer should be brave enough to withstand a loss if the movie flops. But producers expect safety first, so if we find such a brave producer who is willing to withstand everything, I am ready to fight.
What is your thought about the film reviews?
Murugadoss – Everyone has the right to review a movie, but let it be with a little decency. There is no need to be vulgar about it. Because it’s the hard work of a 1000 people, no one makes a movie hoping it wouldn’t run. They are all made based on some calculations. Even at home sometimes my kids ask after the movie – don’t you play it before release. They are asking in the sense that the movie is so bad but how did you make it? The fact is that since we made it we don’t know. When we try something new, instead of saying it was so bad and other things it could be reviewed by saying this could have been better and so on. Point our mistakes, it will help us. For instance, Gajini movie which was first made in Tamil, after the reviews and mistakes pointed out I rectified a lot of things in Hindi. I had that chance. In Tamil, the double act in the climax didn’t work out, that was the minus in the movie climax is what I understood from reviews, so what I did was to change that in the Hindi version. So, such positive reviews help us. But it should be reviews that would prompt us to change and not in such a way that it would push us down and kill us.