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Interview Tamil

Radha Mohan on Kaatrin Mozhi: Jo and I couldn’t have reunited for a better film

Filmmaker Radha Mohan opens up about his brand of cinema, how Kaatrin Mozhi fell in place, and what it was like to work with Jyotika again after so many years.

Filmmaker Radha Mohan

Haricharan Pudipeddi

In his 14-year career in Tamil cinema, filmmaker Radha Mohan has earned the distinction of making clean, family-friendly films laced with a good dose of drama and humour such as Mozhi (2007) and Abhiyum Naanum (2008).

His latest, Kaatrin Mozhi, the Tamil remake of Vidya Balan's Tumhari Sulu (2017), was released in cinemas on 16 November to a good response from critics and audiences alike.

Radha Mohan, who reunited with Jyotika after more than a decade for Kaatrin Mozhi, feels they could not have joined hands again for a better film.

In an exclusive conversation with Cinestaan.com, the director opened up on his brand of cinema, how Kaatrin Mozhi fell in place, and what it was like to work with Jyotika after so many years.

Ever since Jyotika made a comeback with 36 Vayadhinile (2015), people have been asking her and Radha Mohan when they would collaborate again. At one point, there were even rumours about a sequel to Mozhi with Jyotika.

“Honestly, this project was never planned," said Radha Mohan. "While the thought of working with Jyotika has always been at the back of my mind, Kaatrin Mozhi was her idea. Jo called one day, asked me to watch Tumhari Sulu, and said we could remake it if I was interested.”

Talking about working on Kaatrin Mozhi, Radha Mohan said he made minor changes to the story to suit local sensibilities. “The film was rewritten in parts as we made minor changes to suit the local audience," he said.

"If we were remaking a Telugu film in Tamil, we would not have to worry too much about changes," the director continued, "but you need to restructure when you are remaking a Hindi film. We had to treat the romance portion slightly differently. Also, we added new characters.”

Radha Mohan said he took special care while handling Jyotika’s character. “In Jo’s character, we didn’t want to take away the traits that made Sulu endearing," he said. "Jo liked Tumhari Sulu and fell in love with Vidya Balan’s performance. Both of us knew there will comparisons but wanted the character to be as emotional, compassionate and self-confident as Sulu."

On the experience of working with Jyotika after a long gap, the director said: “This time, audiences got to see her comic sense and we put it to great use. As a performer, she has matured. It was a joy to work with her, and it’s amazing how she picks different roles in each film and shines in them. I was in awe of her in Naachiyaar (2018) as I could never image such a negative and violent side to her.”

It has been two remakes for Radha Mohan in quick succession — 60 Vayadu Maaniram (2018), his last release which hit the screens in August, was the Tamil remake of Kannada film Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu (2016).

“These were opportunities that came my way and I accepted them because I liked these films," the director explained. "It’s sheer coincidence that both these films are remakes and were released within a short gap. Producer Thanu approached me with 60 Vayadu Maaniram and I accepted because I liked the original. In case of Kaatrin Mozhi, Jo and I have been planning to work together again for a while and things just fell in place this time.”

While 60 Vayadu Maaniram sank without a trace at the box office, Kaatrin Mozhi has opened to encouraging numbers. “I believe 60 Vayadu Maaniram did not get the attention it deserved," Radha Mohan said. "It’s becoming extremely challenging to bring audiences to the theatres. And on top of that, the box office has become overcrowded with multiple releases each week. Even for Kaatrin Mozhi, we had to share screens with Thimiru Pudichavan (2018), which opted out of a Diwali release as Sarkar (2018) got the most number of shows."

Finally, Radha Mohan said it is not a conscious decision of his to always make feel-good films. “I see them as my kind of films," he said. "I’m more comfortable taking up simple stories and narrating them in heartwarming fashion. I did Payanam (2011), which was a thriller and a departure from my style of cinema. As a story, it really struck a chord when I read about a flight hijacking incident.”