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Seizing the day: Director Shankar on I

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Director Shankar rarely talks about his upcoming films. But he opened up in a recent interview with film critic Rajeev Masand, and spoke about his upcoming I and the effort that went into making it. A candid Shankar also spoke about a range of topics – from finding a friend in Vikram to harbouring a secret dream of making a small-budget film.

Here are some nuggets from the interview.

1. Shankar makes sure his movies satisfy him first. “People watch my films with high expectations. I have to come up with something that excites them them. And in that process, I need to satisfy myself too,” he said.

2. Vikram was the only actor Shankar approached for I, because Shankar felt only Vikram could understand his vision. He also wanted an actor who would dedicate 2 years to I. “After working with him on Anniyan, I knew only Vikram could do justice to this role. I’ve always been in awe of his commitment, dedication and hardwork.”

Director Shankar, Actor Vikram and Actress Amy Jackson in Ai Movie Stills3. Vikram dons multiple roles in I. As Shankar was writing the script, he asked Vikram to start working out and build his body. “He loved making his body listen to him. I couldn’t bear to see him suffer for the characters that he plays. I told him that his health is important. But Vikram’s wife told me that that he genuinely loves going the extra mile for a character. That made me feel better,” revealed Shankar. After Anniyan, Vikram and Shankar became the best of friends. I brought the families together too.

4. Weta Workshop handled the special makeup for Vikram. They told Shankar that the actor would have to tonsure his head to wear the makeup. “Vikram agreed right away. What makes him special is that he agreed readily even though he knew he would not appear with a tonsured head on screen. This was just needed to change his look using makeup.” Shankar added that he always knew that Vikram would be willing to anything for his role. However he didn’t want to take the actor for granted. But when Shankar asked Vikram, he said “You need to even ask me. I will do anything for I.”

5. Shankar acknowledges the tag that his films are given – “Bramaandam” But he does not spend money unnecessarily. “We spend only if the film demands it. For instance, the Uppu Karuvadu song in Mudhalvan was shot in a very simple manner. Arjun wore veshti-sattai. Manisha in Pavadai-dhavani. And the prop that we used was a stick. That was all that we needed.”

Director Shankar in Ai Movie Working Stills6. The I team braved rough weather when they canned a few crucial scenes in China. “We shot in so many virgin locations. I understand the expectation my songs generate. Every scene in I was canned creatively.”

7. Although Shankar is known for his big-budget movies, he admitted that he’d like to make smaller films as well. “I’m ready to make them if people are willing to see them,” he laughed. But he’s happy making the kind of films he makes. “There are a lot of directors who make beautiful movies on a shoe-string budget. I produce such films too. I might change my mind if I get bored, but I like what I’m doing now.”

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