Is it 3 years? Can't believe it! The process of writing a script takes longer and longer, I guess. I was working on another script, a period film, but it didn't work out. Kadal was written after that. That probably was one of the reasons for the time taken between projects. But three years is still too much. Hope I will have shorter gestation periods over future films.
Kadal introduces a new actor Gautham Kartik. What prompted you to work with a newcomer for a change?
The script and the characters determine casting. Kadal required two new faces along with, Arvind Swami and Arjun. I was lucky that I found Gautham and Thulasi for the roles. They fit the roles pretty well.
There were lots of reports in the media about the various leading ladies considered for Kadal, including Sonam Kapoor, What made you finally select Thulasi Nair?
When I met Sonam, it was for the previous script. Since that project did not materialize, I moved to Kadal. For Kadal, Gautham was the first actor I met, and knew that he was the Thomas that I was looking for. But for the girls' character, we auditioned quite a few, but finally got lucky and found Thulasi.
How much more challenging is it for you to work with newcomers as compared with the stalwarts that you've worked with in the past?
With a stalwart, say, like Kamal Haasan, your job becomes so much easier. He can make the scene real. With newcomers, you have to get them to invest a boy of themselves into the character. Once they get into that frame of mind and are moving the character then it is a lot easier.
How do you rate Kadal among your films? Do you think you've got the story that was in your mind to match the visuals?
I have only one simple ambition when I make a film. That it should be the best I have made so far. With Kadal it was no different.
Hopefully I will have a script for Hindi soon. And then we will worry about casting and the rest.
Your collaborative epic Nayakan with Kamal Haasan recently grew 25 years old. Audiences still crave to see you and Kamalji come together again. Is that going to happen?
It would be a pleasure to work again with Kamal. But I need to have a solid script for him. He is huge in terms of star power and acting talent. So the script should have scope for that. Hopefully it will happen one day.
In Kadal you have chosen the sea as a metaphor of unfathomable love, like Ramesh Sippy's Sagar. Would it be correct to say Kadal is your most romantic film to date?
Kadal is set in the backdrop of a fishing village but it is not a romantic film like, say, Sagar was. It is more drama than romance.
When do we see your next film, and what would you be making next?
The next film is invariably in my mind by the time of releasing the one on hand. But the process of converting the concept into a script is a bit tougher. Kadal releases today. And I am ready to start work on my next script by Saturday.
What prompts you to make the films that you do each time? Do you choose your subject, or vice versa?
Unfortunately scripts don't chase me. I chase them. I struggle, battle, discard, pick it back, struggle further, plead with it, curse it, cajole and try to be clever. But it is invariably the script that rules.