A whole-lot-of Gautam Menon

Ironically it was only here, I was able to grab a DVD of Kakkha Kakkha. A lot of my friends pushed me to watch the DVD version for the reason that it had Gautam Menon’s directors commentary. I think it is the first time for a tamil feature film, a DVD comes with a director’s commentary. An opportunity missed by many including Mani Ratnam, KB, Kamal Hassan and a others. They still have time to release the next versions of DVDs with director’s commentary. Let’s talk about that later.

At first came the biggest disappointment. Gautam’s directors commentary was in English. He probably wanted Kakkha Kakkha to reach a wider audience. Appreciate that thinking but it would have more interesting and more grounded if only he had done it in tamil itself. Gautam was able to skim through the movie so easily that he had made a year back. Except that he kept saying, a-whole-lot-of, repeatedly through out the commentary.

We know that Kakkha Kakkha was made out of a shoe-string budget of 2.40 crores on first-copy basis to Thanu. And when the budget exceeded Gautam had shelled in 40 lakhs to complete the movie and carry it to the screens. During the commentary, he kept re-instating as to how the budget constraint hindered them from making it a better production. Atleast he should be happy now that his next movie with Kamal, Vettayaadu Villayadu is sporting a huge producer. Gautam could have elaborated more on the Kakkha Kakkha story and what prompted him to pen a story like that[Other than Fugitive and other cop flicks from hollywood, about which they was a huge argument in the blog a week back]. The whole commentary was about how the movie was shot. Instead of saying, we shot this at a crowded Nesapakkam and we had hundreds of onlookers, Gautam could have taken time to talk about the Cop called Anbu Selvan. There is always a next time. Probably it would happen with the Kamal flick, I hope. All said and done, hats off to Gautam to kick start the trend.

A director’s commentary is not a feature for everyone. For fans and movie buffs, a director’s commentary is a treasure. It’s only yesterday, I watched Steven Spielberg‘s first film(tele film for ABC) Duelon the DVD. It had a half-hour interview with Spielberg about making of the movie. He was able to recall his mindset when he shot duel and he spoke with an entusiasm of a first-timer. His director’s commentary for Saving Private Ryan and E.T are still my favorites.

How about our kollywood legends like Mani Ratnam, KB, Bharathiraja dub a commentary for their movies. Not only they enable us to see what went on inside their heads, it also would give them the pleasure of re-living ‘those’ days. Twenty years from now when they will be long gone, their movies will talk their genius, no doubts. If only they sit for a good three months and strech themselves to a commentary for all their movies, it would nothing but a jackpot for the future movie-makers. Imagine Mani Ratnam talking about Nayagan and why he was so moved by Coppola’s Godfather script that he I only wish all Bheemsingh & Sridhar movies had such commentaries. I only wish, I get a chance to see KB talking about Server Sundaram, Bharathi Raja about Muthal Mariyaadhai, Kamal on Raja Paarvai, Hey Ram & Virumandi. I wish.

18 thoughts on “A whole-lot-of Gautam Menon

  1. Lazy,
    I assure you, Kamal will do it any day! for the articulate (some would prefer loquacious/talkative rather) guy that he is, he just waits people to ask questions about those movies! Have you seen the kinda-making-of-virumaandi, a week-long programme on vijay TV aired a week before the movie was released? He talked heck-a-lot!

    Mani was always the calm and quiet guy and its only during the release AE/Yuva, I ve seen him talk so much to the media…

    As an aside, I would really like Kamal and Mani to talk about each others’ movies!! :))

  2. I saw “BLACK” on VCD recently. One of the CD’s had a chat with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Rani Mukherji and Amitabh Bachchan. The moderator of Bhavna of G Magazine. The language used was Hindi….interspersed with English.

  3. More than for us, these directors should talk about their mindsets to serve as lessons for future directors.. Rashomon is a fine example – kurusawa recollecting how they did each shot with other famous directors commenting on the movie. LG, agreed it is a brilliant idea we are yet to try..

  4. As Kaps had mentioned I saw the third CD of BLACK, which had a discussion the 3 pillars of the movies plus other artists/technicians involved.

    The Little girl (Rani’s younger version) mimicked the director very well in a hilarious way, that you forget her painful portrayal & relax a little bit.

    These kind of discussions in VCDs/DVDs will really make the viewers to understand the pain / efforts gone behind the venture.

  5. instead of the directors doing the commentaries, the actors and actresses should do it. It would really make it very dynamic. They should just have fun with this….

  6. When i read this..one scene thats comes to my mind is from “Dil Chahta Hai” ..the scene where Aamir khan is very sad and call Akhshaye khanna’s house and asks for Saif…I have my own inference from the scene but i want to know Farhan Akhtar’s version..

  7. I thought Bharathiraja always gave a “director’s commentary” in the beginning of all his movies.. :-))

    Have you forgotten his unique “en iniya thamizh makkaLE..”????

  8. Like you, I too wish that our directors give a little more on the DVDs but I feel Tamil film industry has not understood the DVD business. They are totally scared of it. For them DVD (VCD) is synonymous with piracy and they would be happy to keep it away from the viewers. Unless the mindset changes, it will take a long time for us to get these kind of “Director’s Cut” DVD editions.

  9. Hey first thing DVD ui dont think everyone can afford to see in tamilnadu if they see also not everyone watches commentary if they watch also do you think a person who doesnt knw english would watch the commentry the main reason he did the cpmmentry is for people living abroad he wanted non tamil viewers also to watch the film thats why , me too have the dvd version of it , infact i loved the english commentry.

  10. It would actually be better if our directors could actually come with a book version too for their movies. They could discuss facts like, what inspired them to make the movie,what they wanted to convey,why they chose specific actors, and discuss specific scenes and elaborate certain technicalities of movie making.
    Why a book?.Because it is still the easier and cheaper medium. And more intricacies of the director’s thoughts could be elaborated in a book. And specifically i would rather read Kamal than listen to him.
    This would in addition to help us know more about movies would make the general public aware of the
    opportunities in movies and help to an extent in making movies a more acceptable profession in our country. Sadly only Kamal and a few others seem to be inclined to take the art of cinemaking to the public.

    Two ideal candidates for a detailed review would be HEY RAM and the largely misunderstood VIRUMANDI
    IS KAMAL LISTENING????

  11. LG: U finally saw The Duel! And whatever happened to Jeevan? I introduced a couple of my Telugu friends to Kaakha Kaakha and told them that this was Gharshaana’s Tamil original (the telugu version apparently starred Venkatesh and the heroine lives in the end!). They are hooked on it now and raving on and on about Surya. There is even talk of starting a Surya fan club (female only membership) and none of these ppl know Tamil!

    As for DVDs, ya. I think its still all in the dark, due to this piracy thing. But the whole world has become a buyer’s market. Why does piracy exist? cos ppl wanna see things, but wanna pay less. Anyways VCD vaanga atleast Rs 10 venum la? if that pricing can give you movie tickets, then i think piracy can be removed. The most priciest tickets here in the US are no more than $10 and the DVDs are usually priced close to $20 and they come out close to 5 to 6 months after mainstream release. A lot of issues and I dont think I am qualified enf to say things, but i think the movies are being priced out of the market in India, esspecially with teh multiplexes charging tickets as high as they are.

  12. well said lazygeek.i never missed to watch director’s comment on good hollywood movies like “catch me if u can”, “2 fast 2 furious”, “oceans 11”.what u told abt gautam was same with mira nair’s commentry on salam bombay DVD ? 90% she was also mentioning abt constrained budjet of the movie, how she pulled money from financiers in UK very hardly ?
    is it some thing to do with indian mentality ?

  13. well said lazygeek.i never missed to watch director’s comment on good hollywood movies like “catch me if u can”, “2 fast 2 furious”, “oceans 11”.what u told abt gautam was same with mira nair’s commentry on salam bombay DVD ? 90% she was also mentioning abt constrained budjet of the movie, how she pulled money from financiers in UK very hardly ?
    probably our guys will improve
    http://crsathish.blogspot.com

  14. Lazy – FYI, Steven has not given a DVD director’s commentary for any of his films! The region 1 dvds of SPR and ET that I own do not have any director’ commentary in them. Infact, it has always been one of my pet peeves about Steven not doing a DC for the aforementioned films and Schindler’s list. What dvd version did you see BTW?
    I hope you are not mistaking a behind the scenes/making of video to be a director’s commentary….

  15. Vijays , You are correct. Infact, I was about to say that they were the making of film interviews and wrote it wrongly as directo’s commentary. Just like the Duel which I had mentioned both have Spielberg’s special interviews. In the special collector’s edition of ET, there is a A special introduction by Steven Spielberg, On Location featurette and The cast and filmmakers discuss the impact of the film.

    Thanks for the correction. Will change the entry to fit this fact !!

  16. Funny you should mention this, lazy…coz it was only awhile ago that i asked parthiban if he ever planned on doing a “director’s commentary” for “kudaikkull mazhai,” a very interesting film where the presentation was so surreal that the director’s opinions on certain scenes (esp. the “Nila Udayavillai” sequence) would’ve been interesting to listen to…of course, Parthiban replied in the negative–“porulaathaara reedhiyile oru vishayam vetri peraama irukkarchey, adhule thirumbavum oru eedupaadu varamaatengudhu”

  17. Guru, Duel was one of the finest movies I ever saw (Intersection was another). But it is a good idea for our industry heavyweights to weigh in on what they felt like when they made their blockbusters. In fact, that can become some kind of “required reading” in film institutes around the country 🙂

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