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Interview with Sarabham Director Arun Mohan

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Only Kollywood’s exclusive interview of Arun Mohan, who makes his debut as a director with the crime-drama Sarabham.

“Gautham sir never wants his ADs to formally bid adieu to him. He wants us to vanish at one point of time and come back to visit him only after making a film on our own. That’s his style,” opens up Arun Mohan when we started our free-wheeling conversation with the inevitable question – How did you bid adieu to Gautham Menon as an assistant director, after knowing that he was going to direct Thala Ajith in his next? – For starters, Arun Mohan worked with Gautham Menon in the national award-wining Vaaranam Aayiram and the breezy Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya.

But he doesn’t regret missing working in Thala 55. “If I become a director, I myself can prepare a script for Ajith sir someday. Being a former Gautham sir’s assistant, I, of course want to direct Ajith sir, Vijay sir, Rajini sir and obviously, the great Kamal sir. So, I don’t regret it,” says Arun. He hasn’t screened the film to his guru yet. “Gautham sir has promised to see the film after release. He is busy shooting for Ajith sir film. Avarukku pudikkum intha padam, kandippa avarukku pudikkum,” says Arun.

The seeds for Sarabham were sown in the Marina Beach when Arun narrated the script to his friend Leo John Paul – the editor of Sarabham and also, a CV Kumar regular. “I and Leo were friends since a long time. We both started our career with Gautham Menon sir. We are like a team,” says Arun. Later, Leo introduced Arun to CV Kumar, a producer who many believe to be the reason for the new wave in Tamil cinema. Much to the surprise of Arun, CV Kumar liked the script very much that they started shoot from the third day of their meeting.

“Sarabham explores the different characteristics of a human. It’s a mystical creature which is half-bird and half-lion. Like that, every human being has two characters inside them. The film basically revolves around three important characters who have similar attributes,” demystifies Arun Kumar about the mystical-creature inspired title, to which he was initially sceptical and had apprehensions about its reach. Arun has not even watched Bramman but he loved the Telugu film Andhala Rakshasi. “It was Raja Ram, the dialogue writer of our film who told about me about Naveen Chandra and asked me to check out Andhala Rakshasi. I liked Naveen’s performance and narrated the story to him in Hyderabad. And yes, he was on board,” says Arun.

“There is not even a single woman in our film, except Salony Luthra. There is not even a single woman in our crew too, except our costume designer,” he laughs. Salony was chosen after auditioning a huge chunk of artists for the role and was mainly selected for her attitude. “Some would act really well, but I couldn’t see any attitude which I gravely needed for this particular character. You will understand after watching the film,” explains Arun.

“There is nothing called as trend in cinema,” promptly interferes Arun when we quizzed him about the recent spate of films centred around financial scams – Yennamo Nadakkuthu, Sathuranga Vettai to name a few – and he clarifies that Sarabham is not an exclusive film about financial frauds, but it’s much more than that. And he is not worried about the recent surge of films which have money-laundering as theme element. “If you take Velai Illa Pattadhari, it’s a mass film. And, Sathuranga Vettai is an offbeat film, but both are running successfully and fared well at the box-office. The content should be engaging. That’s all matters” opines Arun.

Screenplay is the most satisfying thing for Arun in Sarabham. “They will be hooked up throughout the film. The audiences will have myriad number of doubts when they leave the theatre halls. They will start answering their own questions about various sequences. There is not even a single scene which is out of scope for the script. Every scene is inter-linked to the other. Even if they arrive five or ten minutes late, it’s going to be a difficult for them to put the events together,” alerts Arun. There you are warned guys. Make sure you reach the theatre on time and don’t blame it on the film-maker later.

“We have received around 800 to 1000 entries for our logo design contest. If each of them discussed about it to two or three of their friends, it reaches around 3000 people. That’s the kind of target audience we are looking at to spread the word about the film,” says Arun about the innovative online logo design contest being run for the film. And, he agrees that it’s not about creating any awareness and all, but a marketing idea.

“My father neither advises nor does he know about my film’s script. Even when I joined Gautham Menon as an assistant, he got to know only later. He never expects. ‘Be true to the genre you are making your film in’ is the only advice he gave me,” says Arun when we asked him about the veteran actor Anu Mohan.

Nalan Kumarasamy is his favourite among the current generation of film-makers. But, “Mani sir is all my all-time favourite,” says Arun. He also raves about his music director Michael Britto – the brother of editor Leo John Paul. “Background score is an important aspect of a crime story. It can elevate or let down a film. In that way, Michael’s score is the pillar of our film. His background score will linger in your ears after watching the film. That’s the kind of impact he would leave on you. I’m not telling this as the director of the film, but as a film buff. I’m sure he’ll go places,” says Arun.

And, we wished him belated birthday wishes and signed off with a good luck for the film.

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