It’s not often that you come across creators who openly admit their film has not been received well. Suseenthiran is one of them. The director, known for his work in Vennila Kabbadi Kuzhu, Naan Mahaan Alla, Azhagarsaamiyin Kuthirai, Aadhalaal Kaadhal Seiveer, Pandiya Naadu and Jeeva, among others, had to trim his latest, Nenjil Thunivirundhaal, by about 20 minutes. The Telugu version c/o Surya is untouched.
“I was in a quandary whether I needed a heroine portion for a movie high on thrill. But, we were making a bilingual and everyone felt we needed to play safe. But, the audience felt it was slowing down the pace, and digressing from the core plot. And so, after apologising to actress Mehreen Pirzada, I went ahead and deleted the song and her portions. I’ve changed the climax too, removed the auto driver bit that brought in some laughs…”
Interestingly, Suseenthiran already had a rough cut of the version that’s currently playing in theatres. It never went in for post-production, though. “But, what’s playing now is the film I wanted to make,” he smiles. His statement to the media said that he had a commercial and non-commercial version ready. After all these years, and these many films, does he still have to pander to market forces? “See, my earlier film (Maaveeran Kittu) did not do very well. People were afraid I would create another ‘art film’, and I had to listen to what then seemed practical suggestions. Now, I know I should have stuck to what I felt.”
Is this going to bring about a change in the fortunes of the film? “I think like a sportsperson. Even when I know we look certain to lose a cricket match, I keep watching, waiting for some last-minute magic. We have another three days. Am not sure how much of change this is going to make to box office collections, but I’m hopeful, because people have been sending me messages that this version is much tauter.”
What Suseenthiran feels sad about is that he’s never ever had to remove the portions involving a heroine before this. “I’ve only trimmed a song in Maaveeran Kittu. I’ve not disturbed even a thriller like Pandiya Naadu. Mehreen was very considerate, and said that she understands, and is ‘cool’ with the change.”
Suseenthiran has faced failure a few times before (Rajapattai, etc) and says that his way of coping is accepting it and jumping headlong into the next project so that he can focus his energies there. That’s what he’s doing now with Angelina, a film that will be “in the mould of Jeeva and Aadhalaal…”
And yes, for his next film, he’s certain he’ll show the movie to a select set of people, get their feedback and release a version that makes sense to all. “What I did now is damage control; that will be a planned edit,” he says.