Shanthnu: Dad will not choose my films any more

We haven’t seen much of Shanthnu in the last four years, but he says much has changed—his judgement of scripts, for example. “I have decided to do more experimental films… like Vaaimai.” And that’s because “there aren’t too many good films coming out, these days.” Rumour has it that Vaaimai is based on 12 Angry Men. He agrees, but says, “To my knowledge, we will not be mentioning the film in the credits, as there have been many jury-based films made, and Vaaimai could be inspired by any of them.” The film has a powerful message. “It suggests that we adopt the jury system as it is less corruptible than our present system.” To further emphasise how the film is different, Shanthnu says that the film has done away with a comedy track and a love angle.

Something else has changed. Shanthnu had a conversation with his father, K. Bhagyaraj, and decided that for better or worse, he will choose his films himself. “In the past, we have turned down films like Boys, Subramaniapuram, and Kaadhal. But dad always meant well.” He takes a detour from the conversation to narrate the tragic tale of a helpful goat that gets slaughtered at the end. “Similarly, people have blamed my father for my lack of success as an actor.” The reason Shanthnu was forced into making such a decision had also to do with the industry’s perception that Bhagyaraj meddles with his scripts. “As one of the best scriptwriters in Tamil cinema, he tries to help. Even Murugadoss approached him for advice when writing the Hindi version of Ghajini.” But Shanthnu knew that it was crucial for the health of his career that he make this decision public. “Dad was hesitant initially, but he understands.”

 The other film Shanthnu’s working on is Mupparimaanam, which is “the first time since my debut film, Sakkarakatti, that I’m working with top technicians.” Like editor Vivek Harshan and composer G. V. Prakash. “Even within the scope of a commercial film, it tries to be different.” He hopes that either of these films will give him the hit he needs badly. He hasn’t had even one yet. “Somehow, fate has conspired not to give me a hit so far.” When it does come—“and it’s a matter of when, not if”— Shanthnu is confident that top directors will want to work with him. “Right now, some producers are hesitant about my market value, but I’ll have my time under the sun too. When I do, I’ll remember to help all my friends .” In other words, the gist of his caller tune: ‘Engalukkum kaalam varum, kaalam vandhaal vaazhvu varum; vaazhvu vandhaal anaivarayum vaazha vaippome.’
This interview was written for The Hindu. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.
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