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Director's CUT

Director Vasanth gives his take on students, film appreciation and future plans

Pics: K. Ananthan

LOOKING LIKE one of the many students sitting in a workshop on creative writing, director Vasanth has an "I'm ordinary" look stamped all over him. And, when he takes the mike and speaks in a language Generation X understands, you are all ears. His desi lingo charms students no end. Sample this: Uchu uchu scene and Uvvakatti problem. The former refers to a scene that involves the audience completely and the latter is a phrase he has coined for teaser problems.

Metro Plus caught up with him after an invigorating morning session, during which he addressed students of communication of the PSG College of Arts and Science on the process of filmmaking.

Vasanth, after directing a clutch of movies for the silver screen, has now made a foray into short films. He has wrapped up "Thakkai Meethu Naangu Kangal," based on a short story by S. Kandaswamy. "Doordarshan has commissioned 10 films each in 14 regional languages based on classics. Those directing films in Tamil include Revathy, Suhasini, Balu Mahendra and I," the director says.

And three more films are in the offing this year. "There is one with Surya and two others - Thanneer, based on a novel by Asoka Mitran, and Ezhukottai Veedu, drawn from Jayamohan's."

He introduced Surya in Naerukku Naer. How does he rate the growth of the shy actor? "I am very happy with Surya's growth. There are loads of good qualities in him," the ace director opines.


Ask him about the experience at the workshop and Vasanth says: "This is all very new. It is the first time I am holding a four-day workshop and the response has been excellent."

"When addressing more than one person, it is gratifying even if one understands. At times, someone can understand better than the creator," he adds.

Students at the workshop were struck by his ability to blend with the audience. Was that intentional? "I have been trying to do away with any inhibition they might have and make them feel I am one among them. More like a friend who shares views than a serious-looking lecturer," he explains.

"I am happy that I have educated these students on how to view films. They would have hopefully learnt film appreciation during the workshop. I have showed them movies like Raja Paarvai and Iruvar and my films Nee Paadhi Naan Paadhi and Rhythm and taught them the difference between a good film and a bad film, not a hit film and a flop film."

Though Vasanth hit bull's eye with his very first movie, Keladi Kanmani, his recent films have not fared all that well, though they won critical acclaim. Does he have an explanation? "Movies do reach people, but we don't receive feedback. The criterion for judging a film has to change. Minority opinion also matters. They have to find a voice. Rhythm fared quite well abroad, running for more than four weeks in the United States. Its DVDs are still in demand," he points out.

What went wrong with the much-hyped Yai Nee Romba Azhaga Irukey, which bit the dust? The climax, especially, came in for harsh criticism. "I thought the climax would be considered cute, but the public thought otherwise," he concedes.

Vasanth says that he has accepted that the public has given him an image, which they want him to keep. "In a bid to capture newer audiences, I will not offend my regulars. I have a serious image which is difficult to break."

Does he follow the same method of filmmaking as his mentor, K. Balachander? "No. I prefer to remain in the background and let my characters talk."

With failure, expectation falls, he says. "In a sense, it brings relief. After the release of a movie, be it a hit or a flop, I fix a date and forget all about it," he states.

The director does not stick to industry norms. Does that land him in trouble? "I don't mind walking my way to a place. I am different, don't react and people seem to respect that. They let me be."

Talk about his mentor and he says: "I have always adored KB. SPB (the singer) too. Somehow, I have always moved with people who have their feet firmly rooted to the ground."

Ultimately, direction is just another job. "The extra popularity comes in because of the field I am in. Whatever happens, it is important to handle success well," he concludes.

SUBHA J RAO

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