Richie director Gautham Ramachandran: Nivin Pauly ruins you for other actors | regional movies | Hindustan Times
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Richie director Gautham Ramachandran: Nivin Pauly ruins you for other actors

Richie director Gautham Ramachandran talks about his collaboration with Nivin Pauly and why so much time was spent on the film’s pre-production.

regional movies Updated: Dec 08, 2017 12:15 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Richie director Gautham Ramachandran with Nivin Pauly on the sets of the film.
Richie director Gautham Ramachandran with Nivin Pauly on the sets of the film.

Director Gautham Ramachandran’s debut outing Richie released today amid a lot of buzz. The Nivin Pauly-starrer has been in the works for the longest time, and the reason behind it was the rigorous pre-production work. From rewriting the script 40 times to discussing changes at length with the lead actor, a lot of work had gone into the film even before the project went on the floors. The fact that both Nivin and Gautham chose to go with a remake of a Kannada film came as a surprise. In this exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, director Gautham Ramachandran shares his experience of working with Nivin Pauly, reworking the script multiple times, non-linear narrative and need of good screenplay writers in the industry.

Gautham rewrote the script close to 40 times before starting shoot. He reworked on the original written by director-actor Rakshit Shetty.He explained, “Writing is all about rewriting. It is as we rewrite that we move away from cliches as much as possible. Nivin too spent time with me to discuss the script at length, added value and then I would rework. I wanted to get everything out of my system during the pre-production time. The time we spent on pre-production was worth it.”

He added, “We reworked the script with the intention of making it better than the original. Most of our ground work involved character study.”

Rakshit Shetty shares the screenplay credit with Gautham for Richie. Did he face pressure to make the film a certain way keeping in mind that the original did not perform that well at the box office? Speaking about shared credits, the director said, “It was out of respect for him. While Richie is my film, it is born from his brain child, which is Ulidavaru Kandante. You cannot live a character like he did while he wrote, acted and directed the film.”

The Kannada film did moderately well at the box office, the film was trimmed and the changed version was re-released. Yet, today among the film aficionados, it is considered a cult film. It is the intense screenplay and the characters that drive the original film. Shraddha Srinath was the first girl to audition for the role and she ended up signing the film. Gautham also revealed that this was before she worked on Kaatru Veliyidai or Vikram Vedha. She plays the role of an investigative journalist. Gautham said, “Shraddha is methodical and she rehearses a lot. She also brings clarity to the role.”

To cast Nivin -- who likes playing sober and dignified characters -- for the role of a thug has created a buzz. How did Gautham see Nivin fit the role?

Well, he didn’t. In fact, he couldn’t even imagine Nivin in this role. “This actually became our driving force. Nivin has always wanted to portray a character with a grey shade, someone who was ruthless. When we began shooting, he was halfway there, and he has this organic way of working, which brings out the character well. Richie, for example, is a free-spirited, spontaneous man and Nivin mostly delivered it on the spot to keep the essence of the character intact.”

He also added, “Nivin ruins you for other actors. There are actors who read the script just two days before the shoot and prepare for their role. Then you wonder what is going on? Then you work with Nivin, who works with you closely even during pre-production.”

Coming to Prakash Raj, who plays the role of a timid priest, the director says is part of an experiment. Gautham said, “Actors who are misfits for a role, when cast to fit is what experimenting is all about.”

In the trailer, we see that the film is about one incident from perspective of four different individual. Will this Rashomon treatment be hard for the audiences to understand? “It is a non-linear screenplay and there are four perspectives of the same incident. We did think about adding subtitles to make is easier for the audience, but somehow we felt that the film deserved to be told as is for the viewers to experience. Also, the story flows in a way that wouldn’t confuse audience very much.”

Failure of many Tamil films recently have been due to bad screenplay. Is it true that Tamil film industry has a dearth of good screenplay writers? He says, “Even today, script is not the first thing that makers see. They sign the lead actors, comedians, finalise where a song would fit and accordingly get a script.”

He cites the example of Akshay Kumar’s upcoming film Padman, which is based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham -- the inventor of low-cost sanitary pads. “Padman is based on the life of a man hailing from Tamil Nadu, but we did not think about making it into a movie. It is doubtful that actors would have even worked on a script like that.”

The author tweets @Priyanka_S_MCC

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