Interview Tamil

Myths really attract us, especially local myths: Gayathri of Vikram Vedha reveals


In an exclusive chat with us, the director spoke about the need for better craftsmanship and the allure of myths. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

On the last day of the 5th Indian Screenwriters' Conference, the panel on southern cinema saw a discussion between directors Sridhar Raghavan, Vetrimaaran and the duo of Pushkar-Gayathri. Speaking to Cinestaan.com after the panel discussion, Gayathri mentioned the attraction of myths to the formation of Vikram Vedha (2017).

The director duo earned critical and commercial acclaim with their film, Vikram Vedha. Speaking on working together in tandem with husband, Pushkar, the director said, "Actually for us, that is the only way we know to work. We did our under-graduation together from the first year. We started out as editors for college newspapers. Whatever projects, we have taken up we have worked together. That’s the only way we know to work as such."

While that is always convenient, it does not mean it comes without disagreements. Asked about how they reach a conclusion when such an impasse arises, Gayathri answered simply, "If there is a disagreement, we have a trust. He has a choice, I have a choice. We go for an inherent third choice, which works for both of us."

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Apart from Vikram Vedha, the duo also directed Oram Po (2007) and Va - Quarter Cutting (2010). Of these, it is the former that has earned them recognition even in the Mumbai film industry. Speaking of the genesis of the films, Gayathri mentioned that like several of their projects Vikram Vedha too was born of long discussions.

"In terms of writing, most of the time it is just useless talk. It will turn out to be useless, till 3 in the morning, you are talking about good and bad, in what era, in whose perspective….That’s how Vikram Vedha happened," she said.

The panel, which saw the directors debate on topics from remakes to copyright issues also focussed on an interesting aspect — the lack of scriptwriters in Tamil cinema. While director Vetrimaaran was of the opinion that most writers turn directors themselves, Gayathri focussed on the fact that there was a lack of facilities to develop the craft of writing.

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She said, "We don’t have too many writers’ programmes in the industry, and also, writers are not given as much importance and recognition as in pay. People tend to become directors instead of writers. If there is more recognition, in terms of monetary compensation happening, they will be willing to become more writers."

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Gayathri studied at the Northwestern University in Chicago, while Pushkar at the University of New Orleans. The director duo strongly believe in developing the craft before entering the industry. In her conversation with Cinestaan.com, Gayathri mentioned, "There is one thing called art, and the other is craft. Craftwise it (workshops) definitely helps. When you are in film school, you edit your stuff, end up acting in something. It is one space where you don’t have any ambitions to fulfil. More than what you actually read, the time helps you mull your voice as an artiste."

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While she was a fan of the animator Saul Bass, Gayathri mentioned that the idea to use animations to introduce the story of Vikram Vedha arose from a more simple necessity.

"We just assumed everybody knows Vikram Vedha. It is actually more popular in the north, than in the south. Our younger ADs, we realised they didn’t actually know about the myth. So we thought we love title sequences, and we thought of using animation for it."

While their unique use of mythical narrative to tell a modern story about crime won appreciation, it also seems to have encouraged the writer-director duo. On the panel, they revealed that their next project will take three more of local myths from Tamil Nadu woven into a modern story.

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Gayathri said, "Myths really attract us. Especially local myths. These stories begin, for instance, one brave woman who opposed evil becomes the guardian deity of the village. We call them ‘kaaval dhaivam’. Those myths are very interesting, and are very rooted to our culture."

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