We're nearly done dubbing for the movie, but for a little patchwork here and there. We should be done by the middle of the next month. Unless things go wrong drastically again!
Till then, here's an interview Kiruba did with me one year ago. I've edited it all over again because we went through a few cast changes after that.
The movie and my life has changed quite a bit.
Sudhish, you practically live, breathe and dream TFLW. Take us to the birth of the film.
Interesting choice of words there, Kiruba. Live, breathe and dream. Hmmm… EXACTLY the words that the film tries to explore. Yes, TFLW is about living, breathing and chasing your dream. Which is why it has to do with each one of us. Which is why it is a story of every gang of friends. Which is why it is a universally relevant theme. Which is why I found the idea interesting enough to pursue in the first place. But yes, the film was conceived when my best friend Murugan and me caught up with life, during one of his annual trips to India. While discussing our lives, we found a common thread that has to do with everybody’s life. Actually, I started a blog to record the birth of the film. So you can find the details there. (http://thatfourletterword.blogspot.com). But briefly, here’s how it started. It occurred to us that everybody in our age group had the same things to worry about: What next? What are we going to do with the rest of our lives? What determines our dreams, goals and the means to reach them? What is the price we need to pay? These are things we wanted to explore through two diametrically different attitudes in life. One way to live is to go by your heart, it has to do with living the moment, going with the flow… Carpe Diem. And the other way to live is to use your head: you plan, stick to it and know where you are going with total focus. But most of us are somewhere caught between the heart and the mind … confused about which one is right. I, for one, didn’t like Science in school, did Commerce in College, and then Masters in Science, ironically in Communications, always wanted to do advertising, but took up a job in journalism to start working on a film, just to tell someone who much I liked her. How confused can one get? TFLW is about these people … these people we know so well. Ourselves.
Did you learn filmmaking formally?
I did, we had a whole semester dedicated to it when I did my Masters, but it didn’t help much. Because, one thing about filmmaking and sex… till you have actually done it, you really don’t know how know how it REALLY feels like. Man, I sound like Siddhu, don’t I? He he! But yeah, I learnt filmmaking through the grind, on the job, while making TFLW. TFLW taught me filmmaking. I didn’t make TFLW. TFLW made me!
Who are the main people behind this venture?
Now, I don’t know where to start. Okay, first Murugan, because he wrote it with me. He was in it from Day one, or night one rather and still continues to be. That was seven years ago. And we wrote the movie over email and it took us a year and a half to develop the script. My family, my Mom and Day especially, and then, Sashi Chimala, my producer and my guide all the way. If there’s one man who has his heart in the right place, that’s him. His little daughter has been bravely fighting brain tumour for two years now and our prayers are with him. And she needs yours too, so pray for her. Though he’s not actively involved in the project now, he will always remain a part of it. Next, my cast … every single one of them. The sacrifices and the emotional investment they have made probably outweigh what me, Murugan and Sashi together have, over the years.
Abbas, who's not a part of the film anymore, but who we are indebted to forever, for being there, without being paid, supporting us for two years of his life. Unfortunately, the only way we can sort out our differences is when I finish my film and show him what I envisioned.
Cary stayed without a job for a year, waiting for TFLW, before we shot something. Similarly, Usha too, completed her second round of six months waiting for TFLW, before she shot and got another job that paid.
I have the most amazing cast, Aashil Nair, who risked losing his job at IBM to step in for Abbas in 48 hours, Paloma Rao and Praveen Bharadwaj who almost let us take them for granted unconditionally, always showing up on time, Sunil from 'Evam', for giving me the most amazing Zebra, a role I thought no body could do after Ranvir Shorey. Thank you for proving me wrong. I guarantee people will love you, whether they like the movie or not.
Archana, my production manager and angel incarnate, she was like the Atlas, carrying the weight of the production department, just by herself. Well, I could go on… my inspiration and film editor, my 'nanban' Vijay Prabakaran, who made his own film in less than two months, with no money at all, my associate director and bundle of energy Swathi Raghuraman for working round the clock, my art directors Anuradha and Preethi, for the unconditional support, all those hours of toil and believing in the film more than I have (which might tempt me to forgive them for giving The Last Samurai, my old bike, a coat or orange and blue), my music director Asif Bhai for staying on patiently giving us 30 plus tracks when we needed only half a dozen, thank you Sindhu, my really sound engineer, Preethi Narayanan, my art director from the first film, for the super professional work you churned out even before your NID experience, my soul-brother and assistant director Abhishek who has believed it is his film more than mine (lol!), my script reviewer for four years Ghirijah Jeyaraj, Ranvir who pledged his unconditional support from the moment he heard about the plot, Pradyumna Singh Chauhan who did this just to support a friend's dream despite his broken knee that took away one year of his life, Shanky Mahendra, who did the camerawork on the previous, our cinematographer Jai for stepping in at short notice … oh, there are just too many to mention. My professor Rakesh Katarey and filmmaker Hariharan, who I consider my guru.
I’ve had like ten assistant directors till date... Thank you Deesh Mariwala teaching me basics of production, Sravan and Bharani for being super resourceful, Rohit Rueben for working harder than everyone else the first time around, Krishna Ramkumar, Pradeep Kalipurayath (who came a full circle in the last five years, he started as an AD and returned to the movie as a cinematographer), Shalini Venugopal, Kumkum Jagadeesh, Avinash, Livingston, Shyam Balasubramaniam! And please remind me if I left anyone out, better late than never. And yes, I'm gonna suck at Oscar acceptance speeches... He he!