“It was pure pleasure working with Aamir Khan” – A R Murugadoss

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He is without a doubt the director of the moment. After delivering several blockbusters in Tamil cinema last year A R Murugadoss traveled up North to give Indian cinema one of its biggest blockbusters for the year 2008, Ghajini. From the moment the announcement of the film was made expectations the size of Mt Everest were upon this one man. Despite the hype, the controversies and everything else that comes with a highly anticipated film, A R Murugadoss remained unwavering as he crafted a masterpiece that not only lived up to its expectations but exceeded them! He now talks to BollySpice exclusively about his film, the expectations and of course Aamir Khan!

As both the writer and director of the original and remade Ghajini, had you ever expected the concept to be so well received, not only amongst the critics but also the masses?

Yes, I expected this… at the time of script writing I was so particular about making it so clear that it will reach every type of audience… The critics accepted it because of its freshness, in both plot and characters, and the audience accepted it for its entertaining quality.

Is there one amongst the many accolades and praises you received for Ghajini that stuck with you?

Mr. Aamir Khan called me to Chennai to convey his praises about the film after he saw the Tamil version of Ghajini. Those words are still stuck with me. That was the biggest encouragement for me to remake the film in Hindi.

There are many stories about how the Hindi remake of Ghajini came to exist, would you clarify the stories and tell us how it really initiated?

Mr. Pradeep Rawat who played the title villain role in the Hindi Ghajini was the one who played the villain role in Tamil version too. At the time of the Tamil Ghajini shooting he was telling me that he will tell his friend Mr. Aamir Khan about this movie, with whom he has worked in films like Sarfarosh and Lagaan. One fine day he met Mr. Aamir Khan at his house and explained about Ghajini. Mr. Aamir Khan wanted to see the movie and we sent the print from Chennai. He saw the movie and liked it. The remaking [of] Ghajini in Hindi started!

The characters in film are very specific in terms of the actor that it demands. So what was it that made you opt for Surya in the original and Aamir Khan in the remake?

Yes. The character demanded a great talented actor because he would portray three shades of the life of a man. A multi millionaire, a memory loss patient and a lover boy. That time in Tamil cinema, Surya was the one who was eagerly waiting to do some good work. I decided to work with him so that his hard work will enhance the reality of the character. When the remake proposal came I had no second thought except Mr. Aamir Khan.

How was the experience of working with the Aamir Khan?

Simply great! He is passionate about every element of the filmmaking process. It was a pure pleasure.

Asin has now been a part of your career twice for the same film. How has the experience been working with her?

Asin is a director’s actor. She is very special in observing what kind of performance the director wants in each scene and giving it without fail.

Did you initially consider anyone else for her role in the Hindi version?

Yes, initially we considered Kareena Kapoor for the role but later we felt that since the character is aspiring model, any new face can do better justice to the role. So we ended up casting Asin since she has done the role already in Tamil.

There were endless amounts of rumours in reference to the casting of Jiah Khan’s role originally essayed by Nayantara. Did you really face a lot of hardship in the casting process for this role?

Not really. We wanted to differentiate this role from the role of Kalpana, which was played by Asin. We tested lots of girls to get the right contrast from the look of Kalpana. Jiah was perfect and we selected her.

Your career till date consists of only mega hits, including all your Tamil and Telugu films. Having never seen a real failure yet, would you say you are more terrified of it than you would have been initially?

Yes, I feel more responsible now that the audience has accepted me in a big way. In my forthcoming films also I will have to satisfy them with the best quality entertainment.

What were some major contrasts that you were able to draw between the Southern film industry and Hindi cinema?

Hindi cinema is more organized compared to [the] South. In the south, we have lots of good technicians but always a lack of serious planning. The working methods in Hindi cinema is [an] international style.

As a director, are there any particular subjects that interest you the most?

Action filled with romance always attracts me. Crime also is a genre of interest of mine.

How do you think cinema has evolved over the years and how has it effected the genres that makers such as yourself can tackle?

Unlike the old time nowadays each and every elements such as art, costume, tone, etc. are involved in telling a story. So, the makers need to concentrate not only on the script but also in every single element of the movie.

You’ve worked and interacted with a great list of superstars in your career from South sensation Chiranjeevi and Surya to the perfectionist Aamir Khan. Out of the list of actors/actresses you’ve worked with, is there one particular person whom you enjoyed your time most with?

Mr. Aamir Khan.

Amongst your peers, who are some of the makers you really admire?

I really admire the work of Mr. Aamir Khan as filmmaker also.

Lastly, there have been various reports in reference to your next venture. Some say it is one with Surya in the lead whilst others report that it’s a project for Red Chillies Entertainment. What exactly is your next venture?

Still the meetings are going on. I am writing now. I will have to finalize something based on available dates of the lead actors.

Although he may just be one film old in Hindi cinema, A R Murugadoss has already gained the respect that takes filmmakers many years to attain in this competitive world of cinema. As he embarks on yet another thrilling journey of what we hope to be another blockbuster we wish him all the very best and wait with baited breath to see what he does next with his dedication, creativity and profound knowledge of cinema!

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