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Defining moments: The Madras Press Meet

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Silverscreen goes to the Madras Press Meet

madras-movie-press-meet-photos-lq-030The cast and crew of the recently released Madras gathered today at a hotel in the city to celebrate its success. The only notable absentee was composer Santhosh Narayanan, who was not in the country.

Producer KE Gnanavel Raja of Studio Green set the tone, reading out a long list of names and thanking every one of them. Taking their cue from him, everyone was determined talk just that bit longer. The audience sighed, squirmed in their seats and sometimes clapped before speeches ended; but the Madras team ignored the restlessness in the hall for it was their time to rejoice; the moment that defined their months of toil.

Pa Ranjith, the director of Madras, narrated its script to many actors. Much to his dismay, none of them agreed to do the project. When he incidentally talked about Madras to Karthi, the actor asked him, “Why shouldn’t I do this movie?” Ranjith kicked himself for not thinking of Karthi earlier. “I loved working with Karthi. He involved himself in all aspects of filmmaking. He asked me a lot of questions and understood the logic behind everything that we did. There were days when I was scared of his questions,” he laughed.

madras-movie-press-meet-photos-lq-020Madras was widely applauded by critics for its realism. Almost all the actors who spoke on stage said, “Ranjith asked us to not act. We didn’t feel like we were acting in Madras. We lived our characters.”  It helped that Ranjith hired a marriage hall to rehearse for about a month. Ranjith made sure everyone – the leads and the supporting cast – attended the rehearsals.

Singer Gaana Bala played a pivotal role in the making of Madras. He managed logistics for the film that’s predominantly shot in north Madras. In his Madras bashai, Bala said, “This movie is almost about my life. I’m so glad about the way my area is portrayed in Madras.”

The similarities between his life and the protagonist’s were so striking that he jested his wife could be roped in for the female lead. “Heroine kedaikkalana, en ponjaathi vechey padam mudichirukkalaam!” he said, as audience burst into laughter. “Avalum azhagu thaan,” he added and concluded his speech by rendering his song Kakidha Kappal from Madras.

madras-movie-press-meet-photos-lq-018Karthi began his speech with an apology. “Ellarum pudhusu, so neraiya pesitaanga! Sorry,” he said. The actor confessed that he was slightly uncomfortable about working in Madras. Most of the actors in the supporting cast were from the theatre. “I thought I might look amateurish among this cast.”

But the team gelled so well that his caravan remained unused.  He thanked the “north Madras makkal,” who live in the housing-board flats, where the flick was shot. “I need to go back and meet all of them. They let the shoot happen without any hassles. I miss them,” he said.

The actor, whose career went downhill in the last few years, was grateful that Madras happened. “Apparently, my friend’s son told him, “Ayyo. Karthi padam-laam paaka mudiyaadhu. Let me check Twitter reviews first.” After he saw Madras, he told his dad that my films could be good too.”

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