(G.N.S) Dt. 17
Debutant filmmaker PS Mithran on dealing with intelligence theft in his upcoming Vishal-starrer ‘Irumbu Thirai’
The seed for Irumbu Thirai was sown in PS Mithran’s mind a few many years ago, when his friend, Sathyaraj, lost some money from his bank account. “He lost ₹40,000, but he had no clue where it had gone,” recalls Mithran, “We went to the bank, but they were clueless. The police too didn’t have answers.”
It got Mithran, a filmmaker always in search of ideas, thinking. He took it as his pet project, started researching about similar cases and wrote a script. “It was a very low-scale film idea then, about an IT employee whose money gets stolen.” It became a big film once he started pitching it to prospective producers. “Wherever I went, I was getting positive feedback on the core concept. Everyone was facing this, but nobody was talking about it in films.”
Thanks to all these reactions, what seemed like an interesting factoid to Mithran went on to become a big project. “The producers had issues with screenplay and characterisations but everybody loved the core concept and a few scenes I’d written.” Everywhere he went, he received the same response: make this into a bigger film.
But that was easier said than done. “If I had a producer, I couldn’t find a hero. This went on for a while,” he recalls. That’s when a friend suggested an idea–seek a hero who is also a producer. That’s how Vishal came in.
Today, Mithran is busy with post-production work of his film, releasing next week, and looks back at the course of things fondly. “What I’m most happy is the same five scenes I started with,” beams the filmmaker, who tweaked his main character from an IT employee to a military personnel who faces common-man everyday issues like difficulties in getting a passport and ration card.
The recently-released trailer throws light on the core concept of the film—which Mithran says is “information theft.” Irumbu Thirai comes to Tamil audiences at a time when relatively new concepts such as web security and telephone tapping (remember Maayavan and Spyder?) are making it to the big screen. “All audiences look for in a film is an emotional connect. As a filmmaker, if you achieve that, the setting doesn’t matter at all.”
That’s why he describes his own Irumbi Thirai, billed as a ‘techno thriller’, as a family drama. “It’s essentially about an estranged son who wants to prove his worth to his family. That, I hope, will connect with the audiences.” Initially, he didn’t even want a villain. “I saw I Robot and was very impressed with the AI villain in it. I thought we’d do something like that. But when I started writing the sequences, I realised I needed one face—and conceived ‘White Devil’, played by Arjun.”
Mithran believes that premise and style of filmmaking is the second layer for any filmmaker; finding the connecting factor for audiences is the first. “If we make a film about the Parliament being under attack, audiences might not watch it. But if we make the same subject with a pregnant lady from Tamil Nadu caught inside the Parliament during an attack, they will,” he explains on his thought process.
Mithran is largely a self-taught filmmaker, having even bunked class twelve and assisting Naga with dreams of becoming a TV serial director. Then he became friends with George and Reuben (now a successful cinematographer and editor respectively) and knew that films was his calling. “I went to theatres to learn cinema; I didn’t know about the process but knew how the output should be. So, I worked backwards.” He joined Balaji Kumar, who was working on Vidiyum Munn, and learnt film production on the go. “I was handling cash then, and realised the practical difficulties involved in film. After that, even my writing and thought process changed.”
He has a lot of real-life experiences that he hopes will make it to the big screen someday. But for now, he’s looking forward to the response to Irumbu Thirai, which releases at a time when many other big Tamil films are slated to hit screens too. “I believe that a film has no competition theoretically since the experience you’ll get at my film is unique. But the problem is that supply exceeds demand in Kollywood, and that’s why promotions have become so important.”
(G.N.S) Dt. 17