Director Gautham Ramachandran is your quintessential debut director who graduated from Rajiv Menon's film school and has assisted Mysskin in films like Mugamoodi and Yudhdham Sei. Ahead of his film Richie's release on December 8, 2017, we caught up with the Bangalore-raised former Lawyer / Londoner, over a quick set of questions.
Give us a background into how Richie happened..
I've known Nivin for quite sometime now and about 4 years ago, I had approached him with another script, which was my own and not a remake. He had given his nod to it but I wasn't able to find a producer. Then I happened to watch Ulidavaru Kandante (Kannada film written and directed by Rakshit Shetty) and I liked it so much that I wanted to remake it.
So you were able to find a producer this time, because the script was a remake?
Absolutely not. When I has set my mind on the script, I had three heroes in mind, one of whom was Nivin. One was Ashok Selvan for whom I was back to struggling with the producers. The other was Vijay Sethupathy whom we had almost zeroed in, but the producer I had at that time, couldn't come to an agreement on his remuneration.
Even when I was left only with Nivin, he kept telling me to keep an eye out for other options (heroes), as you never know what comes your way in this industry. And I don't think I found a producer because of Ulidavaru Kandante, because the film never worked well at the Kannada box-office.
Nivin Pauly is a well known face in the Malayalam industry. Have you ever thought a remake in that language could have been a better option?
Well, all I can say is I was very clear that I wanted to have the film made in Tamil. Also, Nivin does have a good commercial value in Tamil Nadu as well, thanks to the success of Premam. With his growing popularity and Richie coming up, things are bound to become even better.
Despite being a remake, we keep reading about the extensive work you've done in scripting Richie...
Well yes. Anyone picks a script for remaking because the job is already half-done but we did so much work on the script it is almost laughable, that the script has an original. I won't be able to tell you what I've changed about the script but I will say this - we've retained the skeletons of the film which is the USP to this story.
Also despite fetching high crticial acclaim, Ulidavaru Kandante still is a relatively lesser known film when compared to a Premam or a Kshanam. So very few are going to know the difference between the original and Richie.
Funny you should mention Kshanam, you do know that its Tamil remake (Sathya) is releasing on the same day as your film..?
Of course I'm aware. But I see where your question is going and no there is no enmity or bitterness amongst any of us. There is only healthy competition. Even Aruvi, which has my good friend Shelly (Calist) as the cinematographer, was supposed to release on December 8th before and I am eagerly waiting to watch the film. I am always up for good cinema and good cinema needs to win.
You once said that Richie is a two-hero subject. How important is Natarajan Subramanian (Natty)'s character in the film?
For Nataraj's character we wanted someone who was a known face in films but at the same time came with no pre-conceived image of his own. He fit the bill perfectly and we've tried to maintain his and Nivin's characters in the film as two-sides of the same coin. In fact I would say that we've tried to incorporate this "two-sides-of-the-same-coin" theme throughout the movie.
Shraddha Srinath too plays an important character. She plays a journalist who opens and closes the story and the entire film moves from her point-of-view. In the end, there will be a personal angle to her narration of the story as well.
You've come from the school of Mysskin and the original Ulidavaru Kandante was directed by Rakshit Shetty. How are you planning on handling comparisons?
I am aware that once the film releases, both these topics are going to be touched by the audience or otherwise. I am better-off not thinking about it now or afterwards. Besides, Rakshit is a good friend. There is great brother-hood among Nivin, him and I and he is going to be there all day on the first day of Richie's release supporting the film.
December 8 - Richie hits theatre screens. What do you have to say for the audience?
It may sound like every director's sign-off but yes we have put in a lot of work and what matters ultimately (for a film) is the audience's attention. The concept (of Richie) may sound like it is for viewers of limited niche but I assure that the film will be an eye-opener for many.
Any future projects?
For me, the stress level is obviously more while working on a home production. Its easy to follow instructions and do what you are told to but when it comes to decisions, it far more pressing. Of-course I have a team who handle all the manual work but eventually the decision-making has to be passed through me and that I find that stress adding to the actual work.
Any future projects that you are working on?
(in a very excited tone) - Yes.! The artist is ready and so am I. An official announcement will be made as soon as I have a bound script.