I'm touched by response to 'Pattiyal': Vishnuvardhan

May 8, 2006 Meera Krishnankutty

Chennai, May 8 (IANS) Acclaimed Tamil director Vishnuvardhan admits he never expected his film "Pattiyal" to be such a runaway success. It continues to woo audiences even after crossing the 40-day mark at city theatres.

"I knew the film had a distinct flavour. But the stupendous response it evoked has been really touching," Vishnuvardhan said while speaking about his directorial ventures, films and philosophy.

The young director, who entered films as a child artiste, has evolved into a director with a stamp of his own. Although "Kurumbu", a remake from Telugu, was his first film, it was "Arindum Ariyamalum" which brought him into the league of outstanding directors of the new generation.

Vishnuvardhan also acted in Mani Ratnam's "Iruvar" and Santosh Sivan's "Terrorist" while still in college and he says that he is hugely inspired by the two directors.

The actor-turned-director also reveals that "Pattiyal" is not all fiction because he actually interacted with gangsters. "I studied their lifestyle though it was not easy."


When and how did you enter the film world?

I became an actor when I was in my seventh standard! While Mani Ratnam was looking out for young talents for his Anjali, our schoolteachers excitedly recommended me and my brother for the screen test. Of the 500 contestants, only a few were chosen. And we were in it. The shooting sessions were fun, with unlimited supply of chocolates and ice creams. That was when I decided to be an actor forever!

While many got into films with the sole ambition of acting, you abandoned acting, opting to direct!

I was influenced and inspired by the works of Mani Ratnam and Santosh Sivan. Watching them create magic on screen fascinated me and I wanted to learn filmmaking. While working for "Terrorist", I expressed my desire to Santosh Sivan. Sensing my sincerity he accepted me as an apprentice. I observed everything that went on behind and around the camera, from the positioning of the lights and directing the artistes and arranging the frames and sets, to the finer points of correcting the artistes. I stayed back even to clean the sets. When Santosh Sivan invited me to be an associate for "Malli", "Fisa" and "Ashoka", I was overjoyed.

How was your first independent film?

"Kurumbu" was my stepping stone. I accepted the movie as a godsend gift, though it was only a remake.

How did the idea behind "Pattiyal" come about?

I knew people expected a lot more from me. So I decided to speak about a different relationship - a touching relationship between two orphans. I put my heart and soul into the script... and that was "Pattiyal".

The orphans in the film were hired killers too. Were you not worried about the risk involved in dealing with a subject of gangsters?

No film is born without an element of risk. And no director is unaware of it.

In "Pattiyal", the underworld serves only as a background. Beyond that there is a beautiful human bond being discussed. A powerful play of emotions displayed. The tender feelings of the killers and their lovers were revealed. There have been movies like "Sholay" and "Dalapathi" before, but to me this was more raw and realistic.

How much homework did you do to make it convincing?

I had to actually interact with gangsters. I studied their lifestyle, though it was not easy. My narration was not just a piece of fiction. The incidents I heard were stranger than fiction. I got to know that no killer was a mere puppet without emotions.

What made you end the film on a philosophical note?

We all know that there is no end to anything. Things take to new forms or shapes and that is it. Also, I firmly believe in the theory that you reap only what you sow.

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