An Exclusive Interview With Cheran
Director, Actor Cheran is an extremely happy man. Back from the Montreal World Film Festival, where ``Autograph" was received warmly, he is in an upbeat mood. Participation in an event of that stature is the dream of every film-maker and it has come true for only a few like Kamal Haasan and Maniratnam. Cheran enjoyed each and every minute of his stay in Montreal. ``It was a rewarding experience. It was nice to hear other festival directors asking me to send `Autograph' to their events," says Cheran recollecting the experience.
``Autograph" has been a watershed film. What was your state of mind before you made the movie and after?
Before "Autograph" it was only pain and sorrow and a big burden of debts. I was at a loss for a solution. I did not want to disappoint my financers. I did "Pandavar Boomi" in 2001. It was a much-talked-about film but did not give enough money for me to start my next project. At that point of time I got a call from Thankar Bachan to act in a lead role in his film "Solla Marantha Kadhai."
The film was released in 2002. People accepted me as an actor. This gave me new hope. I decided produce a film in my own direction and acting. But it was not that easy. For fifteen months there was no sleep and only work with borrowed money to finish "Autograph." Now I have cleared the debts. And the film has drawn attention at the international level.
How was the festival experience?
Memorable, to say the least. It was heady, seeing my image on the silver screen in Montreal. It was interesting that the reactions of the audience there were similar to those of our viewers.
Tastes agreed, I should say. It was absolutely thrilling to hear the standing ovation when the show was over. Several persons came over and congratulated me. I was asked to speak before the screening and my speech in Tamil was translated into English. Only some films were shown four times and "Autograph" was one among them with the fourth show running to a packed house.
Your impressions of Montreal...
I spent much of the time seeing films, as many as 40 foreign movies, wanted to make the best use of the opportunity.
From there I went to Toronto and saw the Niagara Falls. I would say that our Hogenakal falls are no less beautiful. The 1,300-ft tall CN towers was amazing.
I delivered a speech at the Washington Tamil Sangam. The Tamils there were delighted to see me.
You don't seem to be in a hurry to announce your next venture...
If I am only a director or actor, I would have finished the film and switched over to the next venture. But I happen to be the producer too. After toiling for 15 months and releasing "Autograph" I did my own publicity, worth nearly Rs. 75 lakhs, for 150 days. So I was not able to concentrate on the next subject.
I have now decided to do a film for Krishnakanth's ``Indian Theatre Production." Then it will be "Pokkisham" for P. A. Art Productions.
Will you make it a point to offer one film for the international audience?
"Porkalam" was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival but my producer was not able to send it. That was a golden opportunity missed.
Now my contract includes a clause to the effect that the producer must allow me to send my film to festivals and awards. I hope to do at least one film in a year under my banner.
Will the next film be director Cheran's or actor Cheran's?
Actor Cheran is not a dancer or a fighter. So it would be a film with a message, good music and enjoyable scenes. It will be director Cheran's film with actor Cheran playing the main lead.