Director Balaji Mohan talks about his inspirations to Neelima Menon.

Director Balaji Mohan, whose highly acclaimed debut film, Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi (2012) was followed by an equally impressive one this year- Vaayai Moodi Pesavum. For someone who practically breathes cinema, it is a huge task to limit his list to ten films. Yet he manages somehow….
Annamalai (1992, Direction: Suresh Krishna): That’s where my fascination for movies began. I have watched Annamalai countless times in the theatre and Rajni the star was a huge inspiration.

Courtesy Rajshri Tamil, the full movie is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QteO3ON9GIA


Forrest Gump (1994, Direction: Robert Zemeckis): It was the first film that made me cry. It taught me the kind of powerful emotions a film can evoke. I love the scene where Tom Hanks comes to meet his girl after a long time and realises that he is the father of a child. It is an emotional film that poignantly traces the life of a naive young man who manages to live life on his own terms.

Dhool (2003) and Ghilli (2004, Direction: Dharani)- When I was in school, these films had a huge impact on me. At that time, I wanted to act and was totally blown away by the angry young man image projected in these films. I wanted to be that kind of a guy.

Dhool full movie:

Ghilli full movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVR0lfLFF6k


Kaadhal Kondein (2003, Direction: Selvaraghavan)- This film inspired me to take up direction. I realised the magic a director can create. This was when I was in 11th grade. The climax was mind blowing, Dhanush’s transformation in that scene was phenomenal.

The climax scene:

Kaadhal Kondein full movie:


Pulp Fiction (1994, Direction: Quentin Tarantino,)- It’s a very cool film that is a completely new take on a gangster film. There is this underlying dry humour throughout that makes it very engaging. It made me want to take filmmaking more seriously.

Pulp Fiction trailer:


Amelie (2001, Direction: Jean-Pierre Jeunet)- This French film is another favourite.  It taught me a lot about style and how to turn a simple scene into something very special through music and  crisp editing. I love the colour palettes used in here as well. This had a different flavour of French in it.

Amelie trailer:

Amelie’s beautiful soundtrack by Yann Tiersen:


Charlie Chaplin films- He makes you cry. It takes lot of effort to make you cry amidst the kind of slapstick humour that he does.

Full movie – Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAUFUv1k9Zw


Fargo (1996, Direction: Joel and Ethan Coen)- A perfect setting for a dark comedy.

Fargo trailer:


WALL-E-(2008, Andrew Stanton)- It made me realise that one could hold a film together without dialogues.

Wall-E trailer:

Wall-E vignettes:


Eega (2012, Direction: SS Rajamouli)- It took the usual common man turning into a hero formula, and juxtaposed it with an out of the box idea. Rajamouli has terrific control over the medium and it was obvious in this movie: everything was beautifully done, be it action or romance.

Eega trailer:

Eega Song:


Munnabhai MBBS (2003, Direction: Rajkumar Hirani): Rajkumar Hirani managed to create a character we wanted to see again and again. He successfully created franchises around him. He added enough emotion and humour to an everyday man and turned him into Munnabhai – who could get away with anything. That influenced me a lot. It is the kind of stuff I would like to achieve in my cinema.


PS: I am also a fan of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Christopher Nolan is another guy who has been a major influence on me. Of course Mani Ratnam too!