My film deals with humanity: A R Murugadoss

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 15:00

Come September 27, 'SPYder' will hit the screens.  AR Murugadoss gets candid in this interview about what is the film about, what makes Mahesh a unique star to work with, his forthcoming films, and more. 
How did the film fall into place and how do you rate Mahesh Babu as an actor?
I had been meeting Mahesh Babu once every year for many years.  But we wouldn't find the dates so that we could team up.  Finally, I met him to discuss the idea of 'SPYder' when he was to Chennai to promote the Tamil version of 'Srimanthudu'.  
I can't compare Mahesh Babu with other actors with whom I have worked.  Suffice it to say that every director should work with him atleast once.  He is the director's actor.  Once you have told him what is the script, he doesn't interfere later.  
We shot in night effect for 80 days.  The kind of co-operation Mahesh gave us, no actor in India could have given that.  He never said he was tired.  
Was Mahesh running out of time because of the delay?
Far from it, he was ready to allot more and more dates.  He was ready to shoot five extra scenes if I removed some scenes.  
Sometimes, because of the bilingual nature of the movie, what would have taken 6 days ended up taking 12 days.  But Mahesh told me he will move to his next movie only after he is done with this film.  He would calmly cooperate even when his co-stars took 10 takes. 
In what sense is 'SPYder' a different film?  Is it like a James Bond movie?
James Bond movies are futuristic, and some of the elements are unnatural.  Contrary to what many seem to assume, 'SPYder' is not a device-oriented movie.  Among other things, it takes you through how the intelligence systems are working in India.  Directly or indirectly, there is messaging.  There is so much emotional content also.  With respect to styling, it's like a 'Gajini', a 'Thuppakki'.  With respect to emotional content, it's like a 'Ramana', a 'Katthi'.
What is the film's message?
Humanity is foremost.  It's because of a lack of humanity that corruption and man-made disasters take place.  I have observed that we (Indians) create heroes instantly, only to dump them within days.  Anna Hazare didn't find a crowd a few weeks after he was deified.  

But the message is not preachy.  I avoid cliches.  In 'Thuppaki', you won't find the hero saluting the flag or saying 'Jai Hind' anywhere.  

Why did you choose Mahesh for this spy thriller?
His personality and looks are very much apt for the role.  He is playing a spy, who is a different persona compared to a police officer or an army man.  Mahesh is looking different in every shot of Santosh Sivan.
Was the film shot twice in Telugu and Tamil?
Yes.  Even the montage shots were shot twice.  In some cases, even the shot division was made twice.  This is a straight Telugu and a straight Tamil film.  The delay is because of the same. What I thought would be one extra shot turned out to be one extra film!  
Why was Rakul brought in instead of a Bollywood heroine?
Because of the film's bilingual nature.  A Bollywood girl wouldn't have been able to handle two languages.  Rakul knows both Telugu and Tamil.  
Why SJ Suryah?
We have seen all kinds of villains.  But the antagonist of this film is brainy and hidden.  He is a guerilla villain.  Suryah fits the bill completely. 
How was it working with the producers?
They not only spent whatever was required but also loved the film.  I have had a long association with Tagore Madhu through 'Ramana', 'Gajini', 'Stalin'.  When there was confusion as to whether 'Katthi' should be dubbed into Telugu, he felt that a social drama should be done by a big hero of that language.  Coming to 'SPYder', we always knew it would be a grand movie.  But, thanks to the producers, it grew bigger.  The climax became grander, for example.
Do you feel the pressure of 'Baahubali'?  What about your film's market potential?
The film is going to have its impact on all film industries and creators.  I don't bother about the market.  More than collections, I think about how many people are going to watch my film.  If my film breaks some records, I will be happy.  
It is said that you are going to make a film with Salman Khan and Rajinikanth.  What is the truth?
If it is a big star, working with him is always subject to availability of his dates.  Sometimes I have to wait for a year.  Rajini sir has two films in the offing.  I have an idea ready for him. It's only a matter of 2-3 months before I can develop a script for him, but I should have his dates.  As for Salman Khan's film, the basic idea is there.