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The thrill of the hunt


`Vaettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu' is eagerly awaited, what with Kamal Hassan teaming up with Gautam Menon for the first time.

``When I've been fed on cinema from childhood, how can I get fed up with the problems it throws up?"


Witticisms mark the tête-à-tête with Kamal Hassan. The actor is just back from a long dubbing session for `Vaettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu', which has surmounted all manner of problems, and is ready for release (today). Director Gautam Menon, composer Harris Jayaraj and cinematographer Ravivarman join Kamal for the first time, for this action thriller.

`Vaettaiyaadu Vilayaadu' has been in the news from day one of its take-off, for both good and not-so-good reasons. But matters got evened out (or so you thought!) when Manickam Narayanan of Seventh Channel came forward to shoulder the responsibility of production. It's Gautam Menon's third film after his proven hits, `Minnalae' and `Kaakka Kaakka ... ' "It was nice of Narayanan to take on the onus when the project was in the balance. He's been very co-operative," commends Kamal. "And Gautam is keen to learn ... open to new ideas. The end product is savvy and looks good without pretending to be different," he adds.

A whole month of shooting took place in the U.S. for `Vaettaiyaadu ... ' — rarely has a Tamil film unit shot abroad for so long a stretch. Kamal refutes the observation. "That's not true. I was in Europe and the U.S. for a longer spell for `Ullaasa Paravaigal,' made years ago," he informs.

`VV' crew

Only two songs of `VV' were ready when the crew left abroad. For the other numbers they had to make do with tracks. About the film's music Kamal says: "Harris Jayaraj's final output is hummable, and well ... it's a new sound in the market. It should work." (It has, already.)

On Ravivarman's camera work in `Vaettaiyaadu ... ' Kamal says: "More than those who enter with a technical qualification, I prefer people who come with experience. Ravivarman has risen from the lowest echelons to become a cameraman of merit. He was not born with a silver spoon, the man has crafted his own spoon!" Kamal lets out an appreciative chuckle.

"When we were shooting for `Marudanayagam,' Ravi was in the bottom-most rung in the camera department ... the fourth or fifth assistant. But soon he went on to win an award in France. And what I like best about Ravi is that he tells me he has still got to prove his potential. The man has this constant urge to better himself. I feel he has a great future," he adds. Kamal teams up with Jyotika for the second time — they had done `Tenaali' together.

So what difference did he see in the actor? "She's lost a lot of weight [guffaws] and she understands Tamil now, though she has not begun speaking the language."

That reminds you of Madhavan's comment about his preference for heroines who can talk in the tongue they act in. "Imagine pouring out romantic dialogue to responses from male assistants standing in the wings, on the sets," he had said.

Kamal interrupts: "I've had no such problem. Every heroine I work with utters her lines herself." But he has had the likes of Manisha Koirala and Raveena Tandon, co-starring with him! "Sure. Yet they have spoken their dialogue in Tamil, though the voices were dubbed later. Why, for `Hey! Ram!' I insisted on Rani Mukherjee speaking Tamil. And when I needed a typical south face, I chose Abhirami for `Virumaandi," he contends.

The veteran nurses a grouse — he feels that Abhirami did not get her due from the media or the public for her portrayal in the film.

"It was a tough role and she was brilliant," he had commented during an interaction earlier.

About Dasavatharam

Responds Kamal: "Actually as a friend I told director K. S. Ravikumar the line. He liked it a lot and said he would like to direct such a project. Soon things fell in place and here we are, constantly thinking `Dasavatharam.'"

The ball has been set in motion. Shooting for the film commenced this past week.

So is Kamal out of the `VV' mode already? "Sure. For more than a couple of months now," is his cryptic reply.

As A. R. Rahman, who was to score the music for `Dasavatharam ' has his hands full, after much deliberation Kamal and Ravikumar have zeroed in on Himesh Reshammiya, the young, happening composer in the Hindi film circuit today. He was terribly excited about working for a Kamal film. "When Himesh told me that he would get the tunes ready soon, I just thought it was the initial enthusiasm. But when it got translated into six scintillating pieces in a matter of days, I was impressed. We selected three and recorded the first of them on the third day," says Kamal.

Of late, beginning with `Virumaandi' to be exact, be it `Vasool Raja ... ' `Mumbai Xpress' or `Vaettaiyaadu ... ' they've all caused pre-release tension of some kind for Kamal.

"Why only from `Virumaandi'? It's been there from `Kalathur Kannamma,'" Kamal cuts in.

` ... Kannamma' was Kamal's debut film as a three-year old. You think he's kidding, but he clarifies: "T. Prakash Rao directed nearly half the film. Midway, AVM and he didn't see eye to eye and the entire film was re-shot by Bhimsingh. So I actually acted twice for `Kalathur Kannamma.'" Doesn't he get fed up facing problems, mundane or major, before every project? "No. When I've been fed on cinema from childhood, how can I get fed up of it?" he quips.

According to Kamal Hassan if a film has been through trouble, it is bound to reflect on screen. But as far as `Vaettaiyaadu ... ' is concerned, he believes nothing has affected its aesthetics.

If this is true, what about his earlier films that hit some rough patches? "Come on, you can't term what happened during `Virumaandi,' `Vasool Raja' or `Mumbai Xpress' as problems. They were more of a nuisance!" he laughs.

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