Interview: Gautam "Vasudev" Menon

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If Gautam Vasudev Menon is feeling the stress of working on two films at the same time – ‘Varanam Aayiram’ is in postproduction and shooting is underway for ‘Chennayil Oru Mazhaikaalam’ – it doesn’t show. Sitting behind a laptop containing his work, he could be just another journalist shooting off a last-minute story. That is, until he puts on his ten-gallon, bite-me hat and shoots straight about everything – and everyone.

JUNE 6, 2008 – After your comments about “hating” Bheema, you seem to be getting known – or perhaps the word is “notorious” – for your frank, forthright opinions.

I think so. I was built up for Bheema. The director Lingusamy, I know really well, and Vikram and I keep running into one another. And Harris (Jayaraj), who did the music, kept saying, “It’s such a brilliant film.” But when I went and watched the film, I was so disappointed that I just had to say something about it. It was disappointment more than anything else. And I also said, “Yes, they can talk about my Pachaikili Muthucharam.” I don’t mind at all. I’m open for debate. Let’s talk – because that will be a very positive approach towards films that come out.

But doesn’t this rub people the wrong way? We don’t have a Koffee with Karan culture here, or even an Om Shanti Om culture, where industry folks talk freely and also laugh at themselves.

Yeah. I think I have rubbed people the wrong way. I think Vikram hates me now and Vijay had a problem with what I said [about his giving me DVDs of his films so that I could incorporate elements from them into a script for him]. Even the guys in my team said, “You shouldn’t talk. Your words do have an effect.” But I don’t care. It’s my view. And I’m sure they can talk about my film. That’s the way it should be. I mean, if you’re going to tell me that Vikram and Vijay are not going to work with me because of this, I think it’s their loss. There are a lot of other heroes.

So you don’t think you’re cutting off avenues for yourself, in terms of working with these heroes.

I don’t think so. I’m making a film with newcomers – four boys. I don’t know how well the film will do, but at least I’m enjoying myself. These boys give me everything. If I ask them to perform 15 somersaults, they’ll do it. Even Surya has worked for me like that in Varanam Aayiram. The kind of hard work I’ve seen Kamal sir do in all these films from Satya to Virumaandi, Surya has done with this one film. I’m just saying in terms of effort, you know? I said, “At 17 [years of age], I need you to look like this, at 21, like this, and at 31, you’re a tough guy, so can we have a six-pack?” It’s only for one scene. And for four months, he went off everything. Anybody eating on the sets would feel really bad because he’d eat only boiled vegetables and chicken with no salt. We were shooting in Dehra Dun, and he’d go to a hotel and ask for chicken with no salt. They couldn’t understand what he was talking about. And he was going through all that just for a film.

So you’re saying…

I can always do a film with Surya, with Karthi – with so many youngsters. But I’m hoping the others will come around. I’m not saying we can do without big stars, but they should work on our terms. Vijay is a fantastic draw. The kind of money that he makes, nobody else does. Why can’t he do a film with Selvaraghavan or with me, on our terms? We’ve proved ourselves, you know? Why can’t he work with a good team? It’s only for the benefit of good cinema – and the producers and the distributors are going to end up happy. We need these big stars. I know how much girls like Surya, so when I knew Surya was my protagonist, I worked a little bit around his image. There are some scenes in the film which are for Surya, and which I know the girls will like.

Are you saying you’ve tweaked your screenplay to suit a star’s image?

The only time I tweaked a screenplay to suit an image was with Sharat Kumar in Pachaikili. We gave him a fight at the end, because everyone kept saying, “You can’t tie him up to a chair and have him beaten up.” Other than that, even with Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, we didn’t go with Kamal sir’s image at all. We went with what the script wanted. And in Varanam Aayiram, I’ve just used that image of Surya in the love scenes. There’s no heroism or anything like that. He doesn’t do anything outlandish that the screenplay doesn’t deserve.

That’s funny, because looking at the hype and the promos, I thought this was going to be some sort of spectacle.

I don’t know what gave you that idea. If Varanam Aayiram comes out well (and I hope it will), it will be my best film till date – because it’s straight from the heart. It’s emotional. It’s not unnecessarily commercial. But yes, the budget is 14 crores, and Oscar Ravichandran, the producer, wants to know that the film will do well, especially since Pachaikili didn’t do well for the same producer. So there are seven songs. They’ve come out really well. I’ve written a film that I hope the youngsters will like. Surya, Harris and I – we all have that kind of audience. I think anybody would identify with Surya’s story – so it is commercial in that sense.

Do you always see yourself as a director of commercially oriented films?

I don’t know about that, really. While making Varanam Aayiram, my assistant kept joking that this film is only for those who’ve done their PhDs.

Excuse me?

Oh, it’s not something like Schindler’s List, where you need to know about the Holocaust and stuff like that – but even in your blog, I’ve read comments that there’s a lot of English in my films. Well, why not? Everybody I know talks like that. There’s a line in the film where Divya looks at Surya and says, “You look like a million bucks.” Now, how do I write that in Tamil? We tried. Then I said, “Forget it.” Someone said this would be understood only by those who’ve done their PhDs. I said it’s okay if it’s understood by those who’re meant to get it. Then there was this sequence where Surya, who’s a guitarist, sees this girl and these songs come into his head. He thinks he’s playing unplugged, jamming with the likes of Eric Clapton and Ilayaraja and other guitar gods. But we couldn’t find look-alikes, so we dropped the idea. But there were moments like this…

These are the things, I guess, that have gotten you the label of an “urban” director. Would you want to make something entirely different and test yourself in the Thambi /Pazhani market?

But I don’t consciously work towards a subject. I get up in the morning and open my laptop and I begin to write. I have no idea what I’m writing about – so I’m not averse to a “rural” film. I’ve been brought up in Kerala. I know about life in small towns. I’ve studied in Keeranur, which is 25 kms from Trichy. I’ve seen, in real life, moments that were shown in Paruthi Veeran. So it’s not like I don’t know what that life is all about. What would you call Mani Ratnam? Is he an “urban” director? I would like to be compared to him at some point. I know I’m nowhere near there. When I heard that he called Selvaraghavan and said 7G Rainbow Colony was a great film… I wasn’t jealous of Selva, and he’s a good friend of mine, but I was hoping that, someday, Mani Ratnam would call me and say, “I liked your film.”

Maybe that will happen with this film. Tell us about Varanam Aayiram – without spoilers, of course.

It’s the story of a young man on the verge of life. He’s not an extraordinary human being. He’s not a superhero. The film traces his life from the time he is born, and up to a point where he realises he’s made it in life. We see the ups and downs that he goes through. We see his first love, whether he got to marry the girl he fell in love with, what his sister meant to him, what his mother meant to him, and above all, the equation he had with his father, who was an inspiration at every point in his life – including his falling in love. Now, how can a father be an inspiration for that? I’ve said that in the film. It traces parts of my life and the lives of everybody that I know.

So is it autobiographical – a sort of biopic of Gautam Menon?

It is, in a way, autobiographical. And it is, in a way, a biopic. It’s a very personal story. And if people didn’t know that 70% of this is from my life – let’s say we didn’t say that at all – what I’m hoping is that the guy next to you in the theatre will say, “Machan, this has happened to me.” Of course, there’s a little bit of fantasy. When Surya sees the girl on a train, for the first time, he can’t take his eyes off her – and he’s somebody who’s never looked at a girl like that – and the first song that comes to his mind is En iniya pon nilaave. So he pulls out his guitar and sings that song for her. That’s where a bit of fantasy, the commercial element, comes in. But I think this might happen in real life too.

Of course. Many of us define key moments in our lives through film songs and pop songs – or just pop culture in general.

Yeah. And I’m saying at the end of the film that this goes out to all the fathers out there, to all the sons and daughters and wonderful fathers. So when you get up, you remember your father. And if you are a father, you remember your son or your daughter. (My father passed away last year. About the “Vasudev,” that’s the name my father gave me. Somehow, it was connected with him, and after he passed away, I thought my name should appear as Gautam Vasudev Menon.) And I’m saying, now that your dad’s gone, you live life for your children. You shape their life. You can even rewrite their fate. Be there for your children like your father was there for you.

So is this the first time Gautam Menon has made a message movie?

Yeah, but the message is not in your face.

Let’s shift gears to Chennayil Oru Mazhaikaalam. This is the first time you’re juggling two films. Varanam Aayiram is in postproduction, and you’ve already started shooting this one.

Varanam Aayiram has been going on for some time, actually. We went into discussion almost two years ago, and I came out with a script last year. We started in April. But Surya went off and did Vel in between, for three months. I wrote this other script then. Pachaikili came out February last year, and I thought I needed two releases this year. Other factors of money were also involved. I’m producing Chennayil and we went over budget on Varanam, so there was some rotation of money that happened. I was ready with the script, so I felt, “Why not shoot?” There was no writing involved. I have a great team working on the postproduction of Varanam, and I was able to switch off.

The title “Chennayil Oru Mazhaikaalam” has been around forever…

Chennayil Oru Mazhaikaalam was what Varanam Aayiram was called earlier, but Oscar Ravichandran didn’t want that title. So we gave him Varanam Aayiram. I took Chennayil Oru Mazhaikaalam because it was my own title.

Again, without spoilers, what’s that about?

Varanam Aayiram is a very conservative film in terms of what Surya thinks about women, but this is a very in-your-face sort of today’s film, with four boys and three girls. We wanted to cast only newcomers. Then the co-producer said, “We need somebody in this film, other than Gautam and AR Rahman.” Then we pitched the idea to Trisha. She was always looking to work with us. It’s a purely business thing.

Speaking of Rahman, there’s been a lot of talk about the switch from your regular, Harris Jayaraj.

It’s not a switch, because I am doing a film with Harris in December, which stars Ajit (for Sivaji productions). We work really well together. I think we’re the only team that works really well together, because I know how he works with the other guys, and I know how I work with him. But I always wanted to work with Rahman, right from the word go, right from when Minnale happened – and Harris knows that. Yes, he said, “People will think we have a problem. Why do you want to do this now?” But I told him I need to do this because… You can always do a film with Surya but you still want to work with Kamal Hassan. It’s like that. When I pitched it to Rahman, the first thing he asked was, “You have a great record with Harris. They’ll think I’ve done something to that. I don’t want to get into the bad books of people. Are you sure it’s okay?” Secondly, he said, “There’s bound to be tremendous expectation. We need to live up to that. Do you think we will do that?” I told him. “Come on, let’s not worry about all that. What the film demands, we’ll do.” He’s pretty cool – very humble, very nice. I think we share a great rapport.

About that film with Ajit – with such a big star, will you attempt to tread a middle path between an Ajit film and a Gautam Menon film?

The only time it happened was with Vijay. I narrated bits of Varanam Aayiram to him. He said he loved it, but then he said, “Can you bring in some of my elements into the film?” I said it wouldn’t work in a film like this, and I walked away. (Surya was always on for this project, but while I was writing it, I had a love story ready, and that’s what I narrated to Vijay. This love story eventually became part of Varanam Aayiram, as the love chapter in Surya’s life.) So I don’t want to do that kind of compromise. I did that with Pachaikili and I made a mistake and I don’t want to do that again.

What exactly went wrong with Pachaikili? It had an interesting story, a good team…

Sharat was wrong for the film – which, of course, we realised only after the film was released. The first person I narrated the script to was Kamal sir, but he passed. (This was before Derailed, the Hollywood film based on the same book, had even gone into production.) The next person I spoke to was Cheran. He loved the idea, but he couldn’t give dates for three months. Jyotika was getting ready for her marriage, so we had to think of an option. I gave a narration to Madhavan. He said he didn’t want to play the father of a six-year-old. Then I met Sharat casually somewhere. He said he was looking to change what he was doing. He said he wanted to do the kind of roles that Amitabh Bachchan is doing now. I said I had an idea. He said he’d do it.

From the films that he usually does, you wouldn’t immediately think of Sharat Kumar for this part.

I was surprised when I met him. He’s very different from the films he does – very suave, very good with English, very good personality. We were working on a small budget, so he readily slashed his price. I was directing him just like I wanted, breaking the image of how he was earlier presented. Then the comments started to come in from the discussion team – that a fight is needed, that something else had to be there. So we tweaked the script, and it went away. You shouldn’t do that. I should have just gone ahead and done what the script demanded. Also, the film was made when my father was dying, and I couldn’t balance this and that together. I was mentally affected. I wasn’t spending time with him. I had to shoot this. Pachaikili was released on February 16. My father passed away on the 14th. Sometimes, things just don’t go your way.

Do you think you’ve reached a stage in your career where the non-performance of a film like Pachaikili doesn’t affect you?

I thought it might affect me, but, surprisingly, it didn’t. I have a couple of confidantes, who give it to me straight. One of them said, “We made a mistake. I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this hole.” But I got Varanam Aayiram immediately and Surya was gung-ho about the project. Simran, when I gave her a narration, said, “I always wanted to work with you.” Sameera Reddy changed around dates all over to work on the film. Then, the kind of people who came up to buy the film… Gemini bought the film for six crores more than the price the producer had in mind. They’re now the Tamil Nadu distributors, and I heard they’re selling it at two crores and above, so Oscar Ravichandran wants to buy it back from them. The audio rights, which the producer sold two years ago, are going for much more now, and they’re reworking the rates. So the debacle of Pachaikili hasn’t affected me is what I’m trying to telling you.

Have you ever thought of doing films in Bollywood? You can play around with a greater variety of subjects, and the higher ticket prices mean that recovery is also that much faster…

Plus, you can get four top-line heroes to act in the same film. I have a lot of ideas like that. But I don’t want to make the mistake I made with Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein. Nobody knows me there, so I want to go with a big actor that the crowd will come for. I am pitching something with Abhishek (Bachchan) right now. Hopefully, it will come through. I’m also thinking of a remake of Vettaiyaadu with Amitabh, taking out the love angle. It’s now just about a cop on the verge of retirement, who gets into the serial killer thing that he’s not able to handle physically. I’m talking to UTV and Suresh Balaji, just to get there and meet the big guy. Maybe something will happen.

Copyright ©2008 The New Indian Express. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

95 thoughts on “Interview: Gautam "Vasudev" Menon

  1. I thought Gautam had instructed you to turn the comments off after reading the comments in your blog the last time :-) I believe I was one amongst those who ripped him for his English usage, apart from other things. I dont remember whether it was here or elsewhere. Reading this interview, I again get the impression again that the guy just thinks too much of himself, for having given just one good film so far. If I had a chance of going one-on-one with him sometime maybe I would bring him down to Earth.
    It is not the usage of “Peter” per se that is annoying but the kind of phrases that he uses, typically heard in Hollywood films, that sounds ridiculously out of sorts in his films. What about the songs in his films too? Picturized as an afterthought most of the time and they all sound the same in every album of his -thanks in part to Hair-is-Jayaraj.

    Didnt he say last time that one hero was an idiot and another leading hero’s films were stupid? We had a guessing game as to who could those heroes be. Vijay? Ajith? I was just curious because it looks like he has eventually spoken to both Vijay and Ajith about making films with them.

    BTW, Baradwaj I cannot forgive you for not posting that Rahman interview, while in the meantime you have done two interviews with Gautam freaking Menon


  2. Vijay: Yes, you were the one who made that comment about his English usage. I think it was in my Pachaikili review in the older site. BTW, the Rahman interview just got published — after NINE months! — and I’ll put it up soon.


  3. I was like “Rangan really doesnt want flamers to get in on this” until I come back to see 3 quick comments.
    I dont really believe the english has been incongruous in any of his movies. I would think he would understand the whole “peter” accusation-phenomenon having been a mechanical engineering student in TN (an experience he shares with Selvaraghavan and moi).
    I dont want to make this a discussion about Mani but his sensibility is definitely urban (urban middle class even at the risk of pigeon holing him further). I am sure I read somewhere that for one of his movies he did use Suhasini’s help to recreate the feel of rural TN. And I think there is no harm in being that way, there are plenty of stories to be told in every milieu. So I wonder why Gautam wont own up to that.
    He does, on the whole though, seem fairly honest and candid. I mean how many people would freely admit to wanting hear congratulatory words from another film maker. Amid general sycophantism and interviews that seem like they were stolen from a publicists archive, this is at least slightly refreshing.


  4. Deepauk M: Yes, that candidness is nice. Otherwise, It’s usually a chore to talk to people from the industry…

    S.Ganesh Kumar: The earlier interview is here.


  5. Vivek: Just bringing over your comment to the correct post: “Just wanted to say that the “En inniya pon nilave” thing struck a chord. So hoping that the movie will do well.”


  6. Fantastic interview .

    This something that i love in gautham ., he speaks out frankly .

    Actually , this interview has doubled my expectations of Varanam aayiram , i get a feeling that it will be a quality movie with no silly heroism , which we dont see much in tamil these days


  7. “I dont really believe the english has been incongruous in any of his movies.”

    Huh, do you really believe a Police inspector somewhere in rural TN would be shouting “Freeze!” when busting open a door and going after a local rowdy like in Kaakka Kaakka. Or do you think a middle class housewife will be telling Sarath Kumar ” Make love to me” in a puke worthy manner. Not to mention Kamal Hassan’s phrases in vetaiyaadu Vilayaadu. But then Kamal has been notorious for that ever since his Ullaasa paRavaigal days. So working with Gautam Menon in America would have only made it easier to get off with his fake put-on accent and ridiculous one-liners like “back home they call it the Raghavan instinct” and so on. There are soooo many more such examples from Menon’s films.

    “I would think he would understand the whole “peter” accusation-phenomenon having been a mechanical engineering student in TN (an experience he shares with Selvaraghavan and moi).”

    He clearly doesnt. Even after his assistants pointed it out to him, that is. And Menon himself mentions that.And like I said it is not the “peter” per se which is the problem. It is the framing of those phrases that is the problem.

    He badly needs a screenwriter. Much like how Mani Rathnam needed one in the late 80s. But atleast Mani Rathnam, despite being an “urban” filmmaker, didnt have to rip typical Hollywood/americanized phrases in order to make his characters look urban and slick. Menon looks desperate doing that.

    He comes off as an immature kid who has been spoiled by watching one too many B-grade Hollywood DVDs.


  8. “There’s a line in the film where Divya looks at Surya and says, “You look like a million bucks.” Now, how do I write that in Tamil? We tried. Then I said, “Forget it.””

    See, this is his problem. why does he want to write THAT line in Tamil? Cant he think of a totally different line in Tamil that conveys the same? Stop watching Hollywood DVDs, you kid. If you cant communicate or think in Tamil, get a screenwriter like Mani Rathnam did.


  9. Adding to the above , a simple “You look great” in that scene would probably be effective enough. why should he look “like a million bucks”? Yeah, Just so that audience will remember that Menon is making a movie that meets Hollywood standards. LOL


  10. Are you buddy-buddy with Gautham Menon, now?
    Why is to so thrilling to read some few quips from anybody behind the screen?

    Uff.. so much of debate on few englipish words, atleast they don’t appear forced in his movie.
    “You look like a million bucks.” definitely more effective than a bland “You look great”.


  11. “Uff.. so much of debate on few englipish words, atleast they don’t appear forced in his movie.“You look like a million bucks.” definitely more effective than a bland “You look great”.

    effective? Unrealistic and pretentious, unless Menon is making a movie for Hollywood


  12. Baradwaj, I have the same question as Anonymous. why 2 interviews with Menon within a relatively short span of time? There are a lot more successful masala directors around to talk to. Is it because he is urban and talks to you in English? :-) Or is it because he provides the dirt on the industry and makes it interesting, which others dont.


  13. aravind: Thanks.

    Anonymous: Buddy-buddy? Not really. The last time I met him was for that interview before Pachaikili. I didn’t quite get that bit about “Why is to so thrilling to read some few quips from anybody behind the screen?”

    Vijay: I don’t know how it is in your line of work, but when the editor tells you to do a story, you pretty much *do* that story. I don’t go around fixing these interviews, whether it’s this one, or the one about parallel cinema :-)


  14. Baradwaj, OK. I thought you might have some say in coming up with stories/interviews for your column.


  15. Very good interview, Baradwaj. Regardless of what I think of Gautham’s films, I’ve always liked the way he opens up in his interviews, and his candour in general. And, with a perceptive interviewer like you, it only gets better. Let’s wait and see how “Vaaranam Aayiram” turns out to be.


  16. Vijay,
    Mani Ratnam didn’t get himself a screenwriter. He *is* the screenwriter of most of his films (except the odd ‘Thiruda Thiruda’ or ‘Idhaya Kovil’). What he got for his films is someone to write the dialogue. That’s something he uses sparingly — and very well — in his films. I mean, the writing in Mani’s films are much more than just the dialogue. (But, yes, Suhasini is credited for helping in writing the “rural” scenes of ‘Guru’.)
    Not trying to nitpick here. I’m often quite flustered at write-ups that show scant regard to the distinction between screenwriting as a whole and dialogue-writing specifically, often referring to Sujatha’s “scripts” for Mani’s films or Crazy Mohan’s “scripts” for Kamal’s films. So, just felt the urge to correct a harmless statement that Mani Ratnam (who’s actually one of the best screenwriters we’ve, IMO) badly needs/needed a screenwriter!


  17. Vijay: A lot of the current urban middle class has not met a Hollywood action movie they did not like. Rambo , Terminator, Die Hard the list goes on and you would be surprised how many of them include the repartee’s in regular conversation. I had a buddy who spoke exclusively in Austin Powers lingo when the movie came out.

    I could rationalize thus- A cop who lived entirely in the city and then moved to Rural TN might shout “freeze” in the heat of the moment oblivious to the fact that the local rowdy has no comprehension of what it means – but it would seem like I am making excuses. What I meant about being incongruous was that it didnt take me out of the moment in the movie. I will give you the “Raghavan instinct” was disconcerting because for an understated Raghavan that seemed like chest thumping, not because of the english- or the phrasing. It was exposition in its worst form.
    About the “million bucks” dialog I think its an instinctive response. The only possible issue I could have with that line is if it was something Gautham would say as opposed to something Divya’s character would say (a separation of self issue a lot of screenwriters- Dialog ought to be included in screenwriting I think- run into) . I havent seen or heard anything about her character in the movie but I already get the feeling that she is more aggressive (sexually speaking) than your average girl. That is the difference between the “million bucks” and “you look great”. Of course there is the chance that I’ll have to eat my million bucks when the movie comes out.
    And with regard to the “make love to me” statement – was it only pukeworthy when Andrea’s character said it or did it not work for you when Maya said it in Kaaka Kaaka? Should women on screen hide behind come hither looks and innuendos just because:
    1) Some people think real women dont use/know words or express themselves in that manner (after all not all of us know what goes on in everyone’s bedrooms)?
    2) It makes the male audience a little uncomfortable?
    3) It has reached the point that there is nearly no way to say “make love to me” matter-of-factly in colloquial tamil without sounding incredibly profane or insufferably ostentatious?
    Personally if and when I do get a wife (and thats a pretty big IF), I hope she is comfortable enough to ask me to make love to her and I hope I am comfortable enough with it to not have to rush to a sink to puke :) .


  18. vijay, this is me, gautham. You wanted one- on-one. What do you mean by that? You mean you want to take me on is it? You could have said that instead of one-on-one. You used that because it came to your mind in usage first right? I write like that too. I write what comes to my mind. And it’s not inspired by hollywood b-grade films. It’s the english i was taught in school and college and it’s the english i talk. The cop saying freeze in KK was approved by many cops with whom we discussed the screenplay. And we really thought ‘raghavan instinct’ was a cool line, not at all inspired by any film mind you. We laughed all the way to the bank with that film. And what, nobody has said ‘ make love to me ‘ to you? Only upper middle class women use that term or what? I guess you haven’t met any good women then in your life. It’s ok vijay, ten out of hundred need not like my films. I make films for myself and the other ninety. Your loss that you are in the other ten. And you want to bring me down to earth, sure…Or do you want to write my screenplays? If you think you are better,then i invite you to write a screenplay for a film with the correct language and take it to an actor and narrate and make it into a film. What say vijay? And if the film should only have tamil words, then i shouldn’t be using non tamil actors too right? So your logic about english in my films sucks. Or maybe you should watch only films made by seeman. It’s ok to comment vijay but how do you know i watch b-grade hollywood films? Have you been to my house? Oh yes, you have, the last film i borrowed from you was called ‘ i give a damn about you’..

    Liked by 1 person

  19. When I checked that old blog comments section, to see what I had posted back then, I just found that Menon had indeed responded to some of the criticisms.

    I missed it :-) He didnt get my point though. He thought I was asking him to be like Seeman, a director who recently became notorious for making sure there isnt a single word in English anywhere in his script. (He directed some Madhavan movie recently, I forget the name. Apparently he talks in unadulterated Tamil too in real life is what I heard) But no, thats not what I meant.


  20. correct me if I am wrong but Gautam Menon’s interviews come across as refined-sophisticated versions of Farah-Sajid Khan dan interviews where as someone has said a lot of juicy quips are in for grabs. This I fear are almost or totally absent in others’ interviews from the industry which reek of standard one liners and which as BR claims might seem like a chore! Almost all Rahman, Aishwarya Rai, AB senior interviews seem the same barring a twist here and there, and these people may be restrict their linen to their laundries. I must add that Rahman has been forthcoming a lot of late though!

    As for urban feel, and the usage of phrases it is subjective. It is like having sensory tentacles; you know when “something” works or not… maniratnam can pull off an “MBA with behavioral sciences” (Mounaraagam), “opthalmology, Princeton” (Alaipayuthey), “cryptologist” (Roja), “proof reader” (Bombay) or the use of countries like Yugoslavia in a casual romantic dialog (A’payuthey) Bosnia, Chechnya (KM) which the B and C centres might have never heard of, Menon’s “IIT Madras and stiff cotton sarees” of Kaakka Kaakka (for the sake of urbane) seem a little put on and resemble a Horlicks/Bru advert on a tamil channel. You can never tell what works but you definitely know when it works. You should know when to rein in yourself, and it is this BALANCE I guess that puts a Meera Nair (particularly Monsoon Wedding or The Namesake) or a Maniratnam in a different league.


  21. Vijay,

    Gautam Menon does have a valid explanation for the English usage, when he says that most of us talk that way. Most of us do talk that way and probably in TN metro the kids nowadays talk like that even more. I see no harm in that.

    Considering the amount of posts you have made since this got posted it feels like you have got something against him. Maybe it is his criticisms of your favorite heroes or maybe you think he is being hypocritical. I agree to some extent about the latter. But I would take VV, Minnale, KK or PKM over kuruvi or Bheema anyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. If I remember correctly Gautham said in his last interview with you as vettaiyaadu is what he wanted in first half and what producer+kamal wanted in second half. Now he says pachhaikili is first time he tweaked a script :)
    well the title and earlier stills made me to think that vaaranam is a action film. lets see whts in lot ..
    intrestingly for me his tamil dialogues look not so realistic and his english one’s firt well into the charachter and story


  23. vijay ,”If I had a chance of going one-on-one with him sometime maybe I would bring him down to Earth.

    And gautam menon is the only guy full of himself? :-)


  24. vijay ,”If I had a chance of going one-on-one with him sometime maybe I would bring him down to Earth.

    no offesnse pa but after reading this, I get the question gautam menon is the only guy full of himself in this page? :-)


  25. Thanks for a wonderfully honest interview. I don’t see why some of us have a problem with the usage of a line or two of English. How does that in any way change a film’s worth? How do we know yet if ‘Divya’ in the film isn’t a citybred woman who uses all sorts of so called typically ‘hollywood’ terms in life?? I know I do, without being conscious about it. So do millions. Whats the harm in dialogues being as natural as possible? If the story is good, the performance exceptional, the music unforgettable, and the treatment different, I say it’s a sure fire thing. Go for it Gautham. It takes guts to be different. Hope you continue being just that.


  26. A very good interview Baradwaj. Gautam certainly speaks clearly whats on his mind. I find he is still much to do to get a pat from Mani. He doesn’t come out with too original movies (Selva got the pat for Pudhupettai which followed 7G and Kadhal konden – all 3 original to most extent). Minnale, Kaaka Kaaka, VV, Pachaikili still doesn’t stamp Gautam’s ingenuinity except for his sleekness and urban film making style, KK being the pick sofar. Hope he breaks new ground with Varanam and continues.. Somehow, the synopsis of Chennayil doesn’t give a good feel about that movie.. Might be another run-of-the-mill or over indulgent (kind of “boys”) movie??
    Anyhow, to be straight, given their current cinebiographs, I certainly look forward to Selva’s “Aayirathil Oruvan” more than “Varanam Aayiram” (inspite of selva’s script in Yaaradi nee being a dampner).


  27. Refreshing level of candor – quite a good read.

    I remember in Kaakka Kaakka, when Jyothika tells Surya what she expects, and while she speaks predominantly in Tamil, there’s a moment when she lapses into English and says “I want to make love to you.” For a moment, I wondered why the change in language, then I realized that a character like that would probably find it easiest to say it in English. I don’t see why he has to try and translate it either. Maybe that’s what happened with looking like a million bucks.

    One of the things that occurred to me when I saw his movies was: the man doesn’t write with many voices. He writes more or less with one voice, then tweaks. It’s like, he writes each line of dialogue as he imagines he would say it. And when it comes to characters who are way different, it becomes a bit of a problem. For instance, when you look at Jeevan’s dialogues in Kaakka Kaakka, or that of the other sidekicks, it sounds a bit stilted. Or even Daniel Balaji’s in VV. His villains are cold-blooded for sure, but their actions speak truer than their words. He might want to fix that.



  28. “You wanted one- on-one. What do you mean by that? You mean you want to take me on is it? You could have said that instead of one-on-one. You used that because it came to your mind in usage first right? I write like that too. I write what comes to my mind. And it’s not inspired by hollywood b-grade films. It’s the english i was taught in school and college and it’s the english i talk.”

    There you go Gautam,missing my point again. It is fine if you have been taught English that way. But when you write, you write for your characters, not for yourself. You might have had an advanced degree in literature for all I know, and might converse in Americanized English all the time at home, but your characters dont have to necessarily speak the same way.

    And regarding your point about me expecting you to be like Seeman- you are wrong. In the very next post after yours, I have quoted the very same Seeman, and I have clearly said thats NOT what I expect. I didnt read your post before posting that but I predicted correctly that you would assume that I am asking you to be like Seeman. I have clearly stated that using English in dialogues per se is not the problem, the phrases or the style is. And believe me, it is not just me who has talked about it on the net.


  29. Wow….influx of activity is truly something we need more of especially debating tamil cinema. First off, thanks rangan for the interview since its few and far between we see such candor displayed and its great. Now to Gautham, am keenly looking forward to the films in his kitty as there are few filmmakers like himslef and we definitely need more to at least prevent the submersion of tamil cinema. Now for the debate and the juicy part – Is the Menonization in Tamil Cinema something to frown upon? Definitely NOT — Every filmmaker has choices to make and disdain is inevitable in popular culture, that being said we are witnessing an interpretation on the screen and possess the right to interpret it differently – I felt that the Englishness was apt since Gautham’s films are catering to a certain cohort and he has not made that clear at times as well, the usage of English is becoming more common in colloquial sense in our everyday lives, we need to hold tamil cinema to a better standard and not expect everything to be in sanitized or chastised tamil as it definitely doesn’t reflect the populace out there.
    And Rangan….I hope at least after this we need review of Vaaranam from you, its been so long without a tamil one for you, lets hope ur not gonna be rusty on this one ! And did he mention anything about when the movie will face the wrath of the public ??

    A message for Gautham: Be true to yourself and your movies and given your past am sure the future is much much brighter – Keep going mate!


  30. Raj, you do remember your outburst on Big B and his false humility recently? :-) In comparison, I am just frying a small fish here.My comments are no more an expression of frustration than yours were.


  31. I dont get this argument from vijay.

    You mean to say that we can only have paruthiveerans and katradu tamils ? Cmon , grow up .

    Most of us are educated these days , and most of us use a lot of english in our life . Is there any tea shops in tamil nadu where a tea is not called as ‘TEA’ ??

    Now lets enjoy these films from gautham , where we have something else to see and think about other than the silly old ‘flying in air’ stuff and punch dialogues


  32. “Not trying to nitpick here. I’m often quite flustered at write-ups that show scant regard to the distinction between screenwriting as a whole and dialogue-writing specifically”

    Zero, thanks. But just to clarify, screenwriting I believe is used synonymously with dialogue-writing or sometimes used to include script-writing as well.I have seen that in a lot of places. In Tamil films there is still a strong distinction but I didnt bother to make one here, not that I am unaware of it


  33. “I could rationalize thus- A cop who lived entirely in the city and then moved to Rural TN might shout “freeze” in the heat of the moment oblivious to the fact that the local rowdy has no comprehension of what it means – but it would seem like I am making excuses.”

    Deepauk, even as an excuse it doesnt work for me. “Freeze!” is simply a Hollywood/American usage. I dont think even in urban circles anyone talks like that. Like you have rightly mentioned in your post it is the issue with Gautam not being able to separate himself from his characters when it comes to writing.And unwittingly, in his rapid-fire defense here in this blog, he has confessed to it.
    I also didnt care much for the blunt Seven rip-off towards the end of Kaakka Kaakka(with the head delivered in a box and all that) although it is not related to dialogue-writing. If it was meant to be a tribute, it came off as awkward


  34. I jus wonder what yardstick Mr. Gautam Menon uses to think that the movies he has taken so far are better than the kind of masalas he disses, the likes of ‘Pokkiri’, jus curious to know what’s his yardstick to measure the worthiness of a movie, for classifying it as ‘crap’ or praising it as a ‘great piece’.

    For me, the kind of movies he makes and the kind of movies he seems to hate belong to the same category, they are made for entertainment … they differ only in their packaging and the targeted audience.

    I guess in Menon’s book, if you make movies for the consumption of pop-cultured urban mass ,that’s called as ‘class’, but if movies are made catering to the taste of the not-so-educated masses that automatically qualifies as crap. I jus wonder in what way the former is superior than the latter?


  35. “One of the things that occurred to me when I saw his movies was: the man doesn’t write with many voices. He writes more or less with one voice, then tweaks. It’s like, he writes each line of dialogue as he imagines he would say it. And when it comes to characters who are way different, it becomes a bit of a problem. For instance, when you look at Jeevan’s dialogues in Kaakka Kaakka, or that of the other sidekicks, it sounds a bit stilted.”

    Ramsu, exactly.


  36. after reading all these comments (accusations and laurels), I only remember a dialogue from GURU.. If somebody’s talking bad abt you, it means you are making good progress..

    I feel Gautam Menon will be one of the directors who’ll take Indian Cinema to the bigger league. But unfortunately most of TN audience like all melodrama and action stuff… Look at Kollywood…Hari, Selvaraghavan and Perarasu still exist.


  37. I just loved this interview..!! Baradwaj anna – you should have been in TV ( atleast as a scipt writer for Interviews) . The way these college kids ask questions in Tamizh channels ( SUn music etc ) is plain stupid, dumb ass stuff!

    I feel Gautam is an excellent film maker who will go places( yeah ,geographically too) given sufficent freedom. I haven’t seen a better 80 minutes than the 10-90 minute of pachaikili movie..

    And about the use of english language – i think its silly to make comments that the usage of english language is unwaranted in Gautam’s movies . We have to see the characters, their background and the situation.

    But having said that – i did feel a bit odd during ‘Freeze’ , ‘ make love’ words – thats because probably i grew up not listening to those words in those situations…but the director has full liberty of how he sees the character behaving or speaking using his own judgements – that should be fine …

    And finally , the reply/comment from gautam appears equally silly ! I don’t think he needs to take on Vijay in a ring ! Vijay has his own judgements ,from his own ‘well’ – thats best ignored.


  38. First they removed all English names from titles of Tamil movies (higher taxes for english titled Tamil movies) and now you want that there should be no English words too! I remember reading that Seeman for Vaazhtugal used to say all Tamil words instead of saying “CUT”. It sounds downright silly, can you get more fanatical about a language than that? Come on, grow up! Even in our daily conversations we do use some English words, whats wrong with that? When films can show all weird unrealistic stuff why cant this reality be shown?


  39. gautham…just one thing for u,
    common man dont thing that u r a genius..
    you have to mind ur words when u point on others..first of all u think of ur movies dude,you do u want to mess with all.
    you r a brilliant guy..but all ur movies has been heaviely inspired from english movies.
    common mr.indian.think ur own story and try to imply it.and about harris….he is ditto you….your combination which u think it as highly urbanized is a mesh of western movies…he blindly lifts the tune from west… plz donot tell the same thing,thet they r inspired from ur are yet to grow..dont spoil ur carrier..i dont think so the above gautham is menon…if it is..
    iam a big fan of good movies no matter urban or rural….when u make some good movies then a fan of you to…..


  40. Your tendency to wanting to slot Gautom when you’re talking to him is… confounding, to say the least. Do you feel you need to do this because you’re talking to a tamizh film director, that we first need to peg someone down and only then listen to what they have to say? What purpose, pray, do questions like these serve:

    “So is this the first time Gautam Menon has made a message movie?”

    “Do you always see yourself as a director of commercially oriented films? ”

    “So is it autobiographical – a sort of biopic of Gautam Menon?”

    I’m quite sure — not that I know you personally or anything, just read your work — that there are better more nuanced questions in there that you want to ask… it’s like you’re dumbing down your questions by providing these pegs… I’m sure Gautom isn’t the kind of director who needs dumbing down (and surely you’re not the kind of journalist who does? ). Even if you feel there are segments of your readers that need dumbing down (!!), there are better ways to do it? Like making sure that that factor doesn’t take away from the way the interview goes and what answers it elicits?



  41. To some of the people above like Prakash, MR who seem to have comprehension problems, let me explain one more time. No, banning English or not using English at all in dialogues is not my point. It is the way or the style Gautam uses it, that is the problem. The style that he writes with looks highly artificial(clearly Westernized) to the point of being unrealistic at times. This is not about Thamizh pattru or fanaticism. And in my books Seeman is a weirdo. I am not asking Gautham to be like Seeman.


  42. Vijay, you write extremely well and you make your points very well indeed and having read the things you say here and on other posts, you could go ‘annonymous’ and most of the readers would still know its you. Thats what a signature style is all about. Is it possible for anyone to write something and not be a part of it? Unless you are true to your own script, how can your film be anything but lack lustre and half hearted? Is that the kind of work any of us want to see?

    At the end of the day, a good film is a good film and all of us are here to be entertained. Forget getting into every excruciating technicality and try and support someone who at the very least, has a lot of imagination, passion and talent.

    Gautham, while a ‘one on one’ sure has many of us gleefully reaching for first row seats, it is beneath you. Please just let your work speak for itself.


  43. I didn’t mean to go annonymous! Gautham, don’t rise to the bait. Do better things with your time…like make more films that work for you. Then it will surely work for the larger masses.


  44. Mickie/Anonymous, thats just one issue with his films that I had a problem with. And it is not just merely a technicality like you say. As for whom I should support or not, I suppose I do have a choice with that.


  45. @Vijay: “To some of the people above like Prakash, MR who seem to have comprehension problems, let me explain one more time. No, banning English or not using English at all in dialogues is not my point. It is the way or the style Gautam uses it, that is the problem. The style that he writes with looks highly artificial(clearly Westernized) to the point of being unrealistic at times. ”

    –> You might have a point if this came up in a movie in a ‘rural’ setting.. Gautam’s movies are set in urban madras, where we DO speak like this (whether you think these urban madrasis are aping television and trying to be ‘western’ is moot, and another matter altogether).. my girlfriend DOES say ‘make love’, me and my friends DO speak like this (I’ve never heard/said ‘Freeze’ but I’ve never held/seen a gun, so excuse me on that one :))… the problem here is that for ages English has been used in our society as a show of superiority (and for a long time that’s probably all it was), that crept into our movies too when characters of authority would throw out an English word piecemeal to show this supposed superiority… your defensiveness is a remnant of that… but the point is, things have changed now, now there IS a significant mass of urban youngsters (now in their 20s, 30s) who DO speak like this, think in english, talk in english, and naturally too… Gautam uses English in his movies in keeping with that in my opinion… I don’t see why it’s a problem.


  46. Ganesh, it is not just the urban youngster in his films who speak that way, rather quite a few of his characters (from a Police inspector, to a middle-aged guy/wife to a psycho killer). And that is my problem. To me it reeks of artificiality and that’s my instinctual reponse. Good for you if you dont have a problem with it.


  47. Yes Vijay, you absolutely do. As do I and the rest. I support good work. I see that Gautham Menon, as a film maker has grown and evolved since ‘Minnale’ and is still continuing to do so. I find that fascinating and is one of the reasons I am looking forward to Vaaranam. He seems to be constantly experimenting with different subjects and themes and moods in every film and striving for that ‘something’ that will work all around. All that without losing the ‘Gautham’ touch. When he comes out with a new film, one is not sure what to expect..a love story? a thriller..a cop story..a bit of everything? Sure, it may take a while to reach absolute perfection, but I am willing to bet he will get there and hopefully with Vaaranam.


  48. And I do get that its the ‘Gautham’ style that you have a problem with. You think its artificial. Fair enough. I don’t. Going by the success of his films, neither do most of the cinema going crowd. Everyone has a certain way of saying/writing/making something thats all his own. You are unrestricted and thorough with your words. So is Rangan, but his style is different and can sometimes leave the rest of us in the lurch, clutching at straws and ready to tear one’s hair out just trying to catch up.. :-) I have been accused of being too civilised and controlled in what I write. For eg, I would never say what does this @#$% jerk have against Gautham. Even if I was thinking it. The point is, just because someone comes off as being diff doesn’t mean artificiality. And different is a good thing in the world of Cinema. But then again, you are entitled to your opinions..


  49. @Gautham Menon (Long Shot?): I don’t know if this is the right place to pose a question to Gautham but then he said in the interview that he reads this blog so I hope he’s reading this: Have you thought about taking a Nagesh Kukunoor route? In these first few movies of his Kukunoor seems to have done his own thing, he took on the ‘risk’ of a smaller budget and the risk of being labelled ‘independent’, but in return he bought a freedom to make his movies outside the mainstream format. I’m not saying his movies have been great end-products each time — there were times I wished the poor guy had a little more money to spend on sets and such :) — but he never has to say, like you did, “So we put seven songs in the movie.” Or write a script and approach an actor only to have him bring you a cd of his clips and say “I need to have these elements as well in this movie.”

    And if you are reading, let me also say that I really enjoy your movies — lots of my friends do too — we think that you’re a breath of fresh air in our cinema, we talk about your movies and say “maybe there’s hope”, that there is somebody in today’s kollywood who has the sensibility to portray young urban tamizh people without automatically showing them to be morally corrupt or as spoilt rich kids (not to mention as the types who callously refuse to speak the local language to bus conductors and petti kadai kaaranga). And, yes, that a young woman in a tamizh movie can say “make love to me” and not automatically be Westernised (a.k.a. loose). That she can be open-minded and can say a sentence in tamizh and in english with the same sincerity of expression, and can still wear a saree and be dressed traditionally. Right now you’re the only such voice in our cinema — it’s an important job, because it is important to show that you can be young and open-minded and still be tamizh, and that a woman can speak to a man as an equal and a man treats a woman as an equal … it is important that someone shows these things in our cinema, I am glad that you’re attempting to.

    Look forward to whatever you choose to make.



  50. brangan: So after my Sarkar fiasco the other day — and all because I didn’t read the comments first — I resolved to stick to two things: 1) The comments section would be the first thing I read and 2) I will NOT come here salivating for *new* posts prior to Friday. But nooo…you HAD to blindside me. First, the comments section seemed unavailable when I came to it earlier yesterday (the rest of my day was such a blur I might as well be declared blind!). Next, it turns out this masterpiece of an interview is in fact a NEW piece. So much for your “Ah, mind games. Naan indha vilayaattukku varala pa.” :-)

    Anyway, after (finally) gaining access to the comments, I’m somewhat speechless…such heavy-dutiness (and to think that chunk of a tuber took me all of two weeks to chomp on…just kidding!). I read thru the first few, then decided I’ll have to go read ALL of them another day. Resolve or not, I refuse to let the icing keep me from the cake itself, what with having already stolen glimpses of the interview as I scrolled down and simply LOVING the bits that snagged my glance…For instance, how Menon’s life and mine briefly intersected last year — thanks to our respective personal tragedies — how I watched his Pachchaikili Muthuchcharam en route to my father’s funeral, how Vaaranam Aayiram touches upon a father “inspiring” one’s falling in love…you know, those small things in the grand scheme that continually reaffirm one’s belief that life is rife with cosmic coincidences.

    Now, back to terra firma…to that oh-so-tedious discussion on English vs. Tamil that reared its head even as I was was skimming thru the first 10 comments or so. I’m trying hard to not get into that murky water, but let me just say this one thing. To me, your utterance in Tamil (that I refer to in para 1 above) sounds about as normal as that middle-class housewife telling Sarath Kumar “Make love to me” (or Jothika’s middle-class teacher saying to Surya, “I want to make love to you”). Nothing about any of this sounds off to me because, having been a middle-class housewife (before becoming a middle-class working wife) I can’t conceive of replicating those words in Tamil (despite growing up in Chennai, porikkifying in just about every corner and being completely at ease with every lingo there is). And because I don’t think we make *conscious* language choices when we spontaneously communicate a strongly felt emotion (and you’ve said that a number of times too, of the way you write, in a related context of “word” choices and how whatever “style” there is stems from the subconscious — as opposed to some mental social-style-guide). I’ve always thought (in truth, it’s something I’ve never given a serious thought to prior to reading some comments in this space over several months, where people tend to take askance at such intuitive language switches — I mean, seriously!) one went with what flowed freely, what felt most natural when we said such things under said circumstances. And it’s in a bid to mirror such thoughts and sentiments and ways they are expressed in real life (if only by a specific cross-section of society) — and way more commonly than some of us like to think — that Gautham, IMO, writes the lines he does for his movies. I’ve never felt a disstate for any of his “English” lines, and nor have I found them contrived. And certainly not “puke worthy” – can one get more judgmental than that about middle-class housewives? (And I’ll let the police officers speak for themselves.) I thought KayKay made a good point about the sort of mindset that drives this type of thinking, in your Kuruvi post — “…that the heroine has to be shown her rightful place in the male universe” -Spot On! Chalk this attitude as a key factor keeping Tamil Movies warmly coccooned in the Dark Ages.” Maybe some folks would be much happier if Sarath Kumar’s wife had simply channeled Vijayashanti and handed a stainless steel tiffin carrier to him (the morning after, of course) and smiled shyly and said “padukkayilum mannan.” To some people, it possibly seems sacrilegious that we even allude to middle-class house-wife types initiating love-making (“oh but that’s sacrosanct male domain”) in our movies (“oh they watch too much daytime soaps or Hollywood sops”). And feminine verbal foreplay — what the heck is that? Whatever it is, let’s frown it right off the faces of our Kollywood movie screens before it f****** festers like a sore and runs right into the gaping holes in our collective social consciousness! Phew..let’s reserve our harsh judgments, people. We desperately need the kinds of movies the likes of Gautham are capable of making. We can’t afford to let this juggernaut of judgmentalism jettison their originality right off the Kollywood cruiseship…(unless of course the plan is to turn it into a paperboat that’s flies off into nothingness, like Kuruvi). OK, will get off my soapbox now. (And, for the record, like Mickie, I too am (under normal circumstances) far too civilised and controlled in what I write. This is certainly an “inspired” rant.)

    And what do you mean “when the editor tells you to do a story, you pretty much *do* that story” — Are you kidding me? Perhaps you meant to say “when the editor tells me to do a story, I pretty much *do* that story, then proceed to breathe life beneath the ribs of bare facts, just before pushing it under the final-deadline wire.” Now that, to some of us, would sound a tad more believable…


  51. hello gautham,what ur thinking about vijay and vikram they are been in the film industrie over 15 years and u hve done only 5 or 6 movies but vijay and vikram has done over 45 movies for their name..and they know what is correct and what is wrong and ur most of the movies are rubbish copied from english movies…evn i hve seen lot but i forget the names(i used to see atleast 10 english movies per week)but minnale is the only movie i hve liked lot even i hve buyed vcd as well as dvd..i wil watch wen ever iam sad and iam expecting that kind of movie from u..not the stupid police storie movies…and i also u hve to work with vijay with cleen love story wth no mass appeal..i lke vijay in soft roles than mass roles…


  52. Hello!! Gautham sir.. Ur films are awesome.. I personally believe u changed d way Tamil industry looks at film making.. Might be some dialogues penned n English in your films cannot be understood by everybody.. but if they could follow d sequence in d film, they ll probably understand what the characters are trying to convey. ” Back Home they call it Raghavan instinct ” did sound different.. you are different in ur own way.. I want you to do films wit vijay and vikram.. That can change the dimension of Film industry.. These interview spats should not stop it from coming.. I m a ardent fan of Surya.. He can do anything for success.. Wish U both make a gr8 entertainer.. I m also a fan of U and Selva.. In some way U both are tuning Surya and his Sibling at present.. Tats really interesting.. All d best.. Thanks for dis interview..


  53. All: Thanks. Yeah, regardless of how the films turn out to be, he gives it like it is.

    Vijay: Thank you for taking care of ALL the comments. I’ll just take a backseat now :-)

    MR: “thambi” – hence, IMO, the power of the printed page over television. They may make the bigger bucks, but, as you say, when was the last time you “watched” a good interview?

    Ganesha: This was structured more like a casual conversation. (Hence, “Excuse me?” etc.) I wanted to clear out of the way and let Gautam talk. (Because I’ve already done a serious “interview” with him earlier.) That said, I don’t see anything so baffling about wanting to know if he’s going to make non-commercial films, or if his current film contains a message. What’s so “Tamil-slotting” about this?


  54. Surprised to see a director responding to a comment posted on a blog!I would like more filmmakers to interact like this so that they can know what different people think about their films.


  55. Excellent Open hearted interview from gautham menon thanks alot…waiting for varanam ayiram & Thala Ajith FIlm…..


  56. Gautham Sir ,
    I love you so much..ur stylish film making in recent times u have proved it superbly…
    Dnt bother about what other bull shits says..Inspiring from hollywood and taking films is not a joke..Here many actors take films from telugu and do a xerox of it.Compared to that you are far what if gautham copies..He brings a new story to film..PKMC was a film i loved especially for portraying jothika like that…Ur films are excellent sir…U do films with young guys like us and it is really awesome to work with guys like us…dnt bother about anybody.u have a wonderful creativity ..Next to shankar and manirathnam U and selvaraghavan are next geneartion combos..I want you to do more films and bring good cinema than stereotype films which other directors brings….U rock always


  57. Very nice interview indeed.. Looking forward to VA.. The song ‘Kolluthey’ (?) available in youtube, has some very nice visuals of the bay area by Rathnavelu (BTW -I live in bay area).. Surya does look like million bucks, based on the workout sequence posted in youtube..

    I’ve to admit this..For all his talent and the fresh perspective he brings to tamil movies, Gautam lost a lot of credibility after ‘Pachaikili’.. I went to watch the movie first day in the theater and came back real disappointed.. And the general mood in the theater conveyed everything.. Thinking off it, even the second half of Vettaiyadu didn’t make enough sense.. So the malaise (?) actually started there.. So the bottom line is, I’m not going to watch VA the first weekend and I’m pretty sure there are lots of fans like that..

    There’s already ’nuff said about english usage.. I dont understand why people get worked up over such things..


  58. Assuming gautham will read this comment and think about for a min atleast….

    As a fan of ur movies and here to stay pls avoid the following requests for the upcoming films.

    1. Dont dubb urself for the Villan

    2. Dont use daniel balaj as a pshyco one more time.(I read the news somewhare he is going to do a role in chennai il oru malaikalam)

    Its really irritating…..


  59. Does gautham really think he can pass off his “copied” scenes as inspirations? They are way too many for that to happen. And whats with this english stuff? He verified with Police officers about that “Freeze” dialogue? Where in the world do policemen use a stock word/phrase that is unintelligible to the intended recipients? Stop kidding gautham!!!!

    And he says 90 percent like his films just because they laughed all the way to the bank. What he sorely misses is the facutly to understand the logic that what made his films smashing hits are the very same elements that he straightaway criticises in other masala films.

    While i appreciate that everybody is entitled to an opinion and more importantly, to express it, i see a lot of crapfest thrown here in the name of “inspired ranting”. For all such, here it goes: “gautham is just another commercial film maker, who exploits existing social prejudices as much as any other and is infact aesthetically colour-blind which is too bad for a film maker”.

    and sorry rangan for this rant, but i am deeply disappointed that you didnt ask him how he judges his own movie , for that wud have brought out how good his aesthetics is as a film maker in his own words. One gets the feeling that you played very safe while getting the necessary scoops that would interest any ordinary reader without much of an effrot.


  60. according 2 me…..i think gautam or goutham is just a overacting pimp in my view…..n he shud thnk if ever he cums out of his cage wht can vijay’z n chiyaan’z fans do 2 him……vijay n vikram r gold kind of actorz in their own way…n v noe tht n v dnt wanna hear 2 ne1’z interview 4 tht….all i wud say 2 vijay n vikram is tht 2 keep on relaesing hits after hits so tht their itself shuts goutham up…. neva mind guyz …he has no mind of his own i think……so chill n carry on. overall i feel goutham still has 2 grow up….!!! mentally..!!! ths it frm a dedicated vijay’z fan frm da capital.chao. n tc ppl.


  61. Hey, GaVaMe, Yo Ain’t went d way wrong at all, But do think What 2 say n too where to say only matters… Plz, Do check out 4 d better in yor ulterior up’s…
    Hope 2 c yo Wit Gr8 “V” soon…
    We’re a big follow up f our Gr8 “V”


  62. Hey, GaVaMe onethin i forget 2 tell here is nothin der’s a loss 4 d Gr8″V”, as der r many 2 do so… bt no vengeance shud b here…


  63. Hey, der r many here in Tamil Cinemas, now 2 do better n d best as 4 as d directional edge , So b don’t stuffed wit vengeance…


  64. Hey, Sagarika r yo tryin 4 any directorial ventures or yo practisin yor skill(typin)…
    Oops! really massive score f yo… Jus kiddin… don’t b angry on me… jus findin huge in comments block…


  65. hello gautham… ur films r nice…but u remember 2 things u try 2 make film in ur style plz don’t copy in hollywood & try 2 avoid english dialougs it’s spoiled tamil culture… particullarly ur dailouges can’t reach easily to “B”class & “C” class audiance…. try 2 given film to three class auidance(A,B,C) In ur style….


  66. Gautham Boss – I saw your Varanam Aaiyiram and I have mixed feelings about it. I definitely liked it and boss being your junior in MCE, having knoln you well through culturals, your difference between what is Walk and What is Dance, Your La Bamba , man you are too cool. But not all will understand you as they dont know you and that is where peoples perceptions of you comes and spoils things.. I loved varanams two big pieces – The RECTian girl and MCE guy piece ( my wife is a RECTian ) , I had a friend from MCE in OSU ( thankfully she didn’t get close to the fed building) .. and the Elder suryas character, more a laissez faire approach. I could see amalgam of Abba , You and others in the younger surya .. this movie made my day and nostalgia .. i so long to talk to you !! On a parting note, I think you can do a lot more .. fresh subjects and i dont give a damn about copy etc, if its final rendering is good theres nothing to complain .. So far I saw KK, Minnale and Vaaranam. I avoid some of your movies because they are too graphic . But I certainly think you are leading the industry into moving into what have been avoided subjects , maybe you need to temper it down if you have problem in acceptance by your producers, if not..shoot on all cylinders .. I am proud of you !!!!


  67. Anothing thing I wanted to imply
    What came from Gautams heart –
    1. The first love of a person who you know well about – a character from MCE
    2. Your dad and his character portrayal
    These two were the best part of the movie . The unadulterated Gautham ..Maybe we want to see a movie full of it ! And that I think will silence your critics …


  68. Gautham you are indeed one of the finest directors who caters to the needs of urban audience. Do not get deterred by the mixed reactions to some of your movies. You are one person who makes movies straight from your heart. carry on the good work and I am sure mani sir will appreciate you


  69. Gautam sir,you have done a great work.
    YOu have proved ,when vision and hardwork is there ,a personn can achieve.
    All my best wishes and my prayers for your future endeavours.I am deeply touched by the gratitude you have for your father .


  70. My father gave me inspiration when doing my engineering.I well know ,everybody would have come across this FLF (first love failure) case.I could understand,getting exposure for a person to prove himself ,faces lots of challenges and jealous.
    In a higher perceptive,when so many eyes fall on us ,it also means we are growing.HATS OFF.


  71. sir
    my name is nithish iam from kerala iam your great fan iwas watch your all filims &i think your make a malayalam filim ifyouare take different type of movie you can win in malayalam indestrey
    my ambision is to become a filim director icoplete my plustow &start civil(engg)dip iam write screenplays .everyone laught at me &says you never became a director but iam sure iam become a director &my dream is one filim working with you if yoy like please replay me in my number pleasesir 9747714358 email id


  72. hai sir i’m jagan i’m a great fan of u & surya i’m searching u in sake to get a chance of being ur assisstant but not to direct to act as a villain against surya because he is my favourite hero


  73. For all the back and forth that took place about the inappropriate phrasing/positioning/delivery of English in Gautham Menon’s movies….no one seems to have observed how ironical it is that songs from most of his movies have quite a bit of unadulterated Tamil…


  74. Hello Gautham Sir,
    I am hoping that you would read this post.You are one of those remarkable directors that I have seen.I am an ardent fan of yours.The romantic scenes in your movies are too good and real..If I am given a chance to meet a celebrity,it would be you..
    I am sure that you had sung some tracks in VA. The title track , paadadha pattu ellam pada vandhaan was sung by you no???
    It is really good..
    Hope to c more nice movies of urs..


  75. hello gautam sir how r u.
    i heard a adverdisement in radiomirchi. its about whoever want to act in ur movie can give photos in some website. i cant find that website. im very interested in modelling n acting. hope u like me. if god choose me in ur film i ll do wat ever u want. thank u sir. hope u see this.


  76. hw r u sir
    ellareyum pole english avlo varathu
    ennode ambition unka koode oru irukkanum
    udhaviya avlo love panre sir unke film
    sir aprm i m a graphic designer sir.
    k sollanum nu thonich solleten
    ithe neenke pakuveenkala nu koode
    enakk theriyathu irunthalum chinna oru nambikkai avlo than.,.,.,, k sir byee


  77. Sir iam from kerala iam a huge fan of u…i watch all movies of you..i like your way of story telling..iam waiting for ur movies evrytime…i watch vinnaithandi varuvaya and vaaranam aayiram each three times in theatres…Ian doing degree now …i want to become a film director like you.. plz help me sir..plz contact me +919746393859 email: enikku arinjooda sir ithu kanumo illayo ennu..but i hope u will c it…


  78. in the scene from vaaranam aayiram meghna dying..that scene is superb because if other directors do that will be so sentimental u did it correctly it looks like real…vere director aanu ithu cheythirunnenkil meghnaye hospitalil kondu pokumbol surya koode kanumayirunnu..pinne meghnayude avasana dialogukal angane kure…but u did it correct is so real….and vinnaithandi varuvaya also …thers is no other special scenes for comedy or anything thats why i like it…plz do movies like that…everytime when i on my computer i just try to check it out gautam menons new movie…im waiting for it alwayssssssssssssss


  79. Hi, I personally love goutham menon’s films,although I mentally prepare myself for a tragic ending. His films are classy and appealing. They are also refreshing from the usual tamil movies which focus on heroism.He is not criticising vijay or vikram,he clearly states that he just wants them to work on his terms. Nothing wrong in that. A filmmaker should have a say on how the film runs. Goutham,it would be interesting if you a did a film which gave the actress a more prominent role than the actor,and manage to make it a hit. Something like chandramukhi?I may sound like a feminist,but more films in the tamil industry should look at females,beyond the glam factor.

    @bhuvan–Just as you dont expect an A class film from perarasu,(I wouldnt)I think we shouldnt expect films catering to the B or C classes from menon. Just an offence intended.


  80. Sir Gautham is a good director and is films always find’s a place in everyone’s heart though they try to hide it.. you can’t write a script for the actor..
    Hope lazy Vijay understands..


  81. @gvm
    sir.. pls dont do any films with that weirdo called “Head”.
    he will later want to co-direct and things will go awry and ugly than the usual !


  82. “Nobody knows me there, so I want to go with a big actor that the crowd will come for.”

    And then he comes out with the crap remake of VTV. With plastic Amy and velakennai Prateik. Wonder what the compromise there was.

    Just saying.

    And, I just noticed. This blog should be published as a book. Like a compendium of sorts which is precisely what the blog is. Fun and really interesting to read through the old articles!


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