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Gautham was apprehensive about father, Karthik coming on board for Mr. Chandramouli, reveals Thiru

Director Thiru talks to Padma Iyer about his film Mr. Chandramouli, in which he brings together on screen the father-son duo of Karthik and Gautham Karthik, for the first time. 

How did Mr. Chandramouli come about?

After I completed Naan Sigappu Manithan, I was thinking about what to do next. I had met Gautham through common friends. We had been talking for a year and a half about doing a film together. During this time, I had actually announced Garuda with Vikram, but that did not materialise. It was during the same time that Dhanajayan sir also approached me and said that Gautham’s dates were available and we could do a film together. I had a story in mind which I narrated to Gautham and he liked it. Dhananjayan sir also came on board and Mr. Chandramouli took off.

Did you always plan for the film to be called Mr. Chandramouli?

No. I had something else in mind. But before we went for the shoot, director Suseenthiran, who is a close friend, heard the story. He called me up and suggested that I call it Mr. Chandramouli. It was then I realised that it was the perfect title. The film brings back the vintage Karthik. In recent times, the roles he has done are very different, but this film will bring to mind the Karthik of yesteryears.

Getting Sr Karthik on board must have been a challenge. How did you convince him?

Actually, it was Dhananjayan sir who was keen that Karthik sir be a part of this film, especially because it is a father-son story.  Also, the role is at par with Gautham’s role in the film. I mentioned this to Gautham, saying that if his dad played his reel father, it would be nice. Gautham too felt the same, but he was apprehensive. He said that several projects had come up for his father and him to work together, but his dad had always rejected them. I insisted that he just let me meet Karthik sir. And when I told him the story, he immediately said yes and we found our Mr. Chandramouli.

This is your fourth film. Your previous three movies had Vishal as the leading man. How was it working with a different hero?

Of course, there was a certain comfort level while working with Vishal. We are good friends but working with him in back-to-back films was not a planned move. It just happened. I didn’t feel any difference working with Gautham. At the end of the day, each film is different.

What makes Mr. Chandramouli different from your earlier films?

Each and every film of mine has had a different concept. Theeradha Vilayattu Pillai was a romantic comedy, Samar was about a human gamble and Naan Sigappu Manithan told the story of a young man who suffered from narcolepsy. This film is based on the father-son sentiment. It has the most real, most natural and most sensitive story compared to my earlier films.

Also, the casting of Karthik sir and Gautham in the film makes it extra special. When a real-life father and son play a reel-life father and son, the scenes, especially the emotional ones, have greater impact. During the shooting, there were instances when I wondered how the two would react if they were faced with similar experiences in their personal lives. I was mesmerised by what I saw and I want the audience to also feel the same. Actually, after Gautham saw the film, he hugged me; he was so happy with how it had turned out. When I asked him if he could imagine anyone else as his on-screen father, he had no response and I knew we had done well.

The song Yedhedho aanene has been discussed a lot. The way it has been picturised, the feel, everything has been compared to Karthik sir’s song Vaa vaa anbe anbe from Agni Natchathiram. Was it always the thought? How did Karthik sir react to it?

Well, what can I say, just that I like beach songs. It was never planned as a copy of Karthik sir’s song. The film needed a song like this and I think it is a beautiful song. Regina (Cassandra) is a gorgeous actress and extremely fit. I wanted to showcase that aspect of her. I thought she would look really beautiful in a swimsuit and not at all vulgar. At first, she did not agree, so I was really very happy when she did. I am happy with the way it turned out. Full credit goes to Brindha master for choreographing it and Richard (M Nathan) for his camera work. Of course, Karthik sir was very pleased. He was full of praise for Gautham and how he looked in the song.

You have Sam CS on board for the music. How did he fit into the scheme of things?

I was actually keen to work with Sam for the background score. After seeing his work in Vikram Vedha, I knew he would do full justice my film, especially because the second half needs it. There are not many lines and the background music would be needed to take the narrative forward. But when I met him, I realised that he had so much more to offer. He is someone who is not scared to disturb the grammar of music and do something new. I liked that. It was an unforgettable experience. He was so involved in the entire process. There is a song, Kallooliye, which was not initially part of the film. But when he saw the film, he knew it was needed. He wrote the lyrics, composed it and has also sung it. That is how dedicated and driven he is.

How was it working with G Dhananjayan? How is he as a producer?

It has been a fantastic experience working with him. I had already worked with him when I did Naan Sigappu Manithan for Disney-UTV. So I know him personally. But this was the first time for him as a full-time producer. He understands cinema well. He is always willing to help, always approachable. He is a very hands-on producer. He likes to know everything that is happening. In the initial stages, I was a bit apprehensive but over time I realised it was working in my favour. I became relaxed as he was there to handle all the issues and problems.

This being a father-son drama, how important are the heroines’ characters in the film?

Regina is not in the film just as Gautham’s love interest. She was cast as this is a very performance-oriented role. There are a lot of emotional scenes, especially in the second half and I wanted someone who could carry it off. And then there is Varalaxmi (Sarathkumar). All her roles till now have been bold and loud. But, in this film, her character is very soft-spoken. Actually, the basic premise of the story revolves around her character.

What are the future projects after this?

As of now I have not planned anything. All my focus is on this film. It has been a wonderful experience and I want the audience to enjoy this it as much as I enjoyed making it. I want the audience to connect with the film. That is all that is on my mind now.

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