MOOKKAN's MANY YEARS OF SUCCESS

By now, anyone and everyone who has seen Magalir Mattum, know that Mookkan is another name for the jollu vidum manager played by Nasar in the film.. Yet, Nasar's success has not come so easily.. There was, and still is, a trend of stereotyping artists to play just one type of character in every single film.  Nasar has been through his share of stereotyping, always as a villain during the early years of his career. But, talent and luck have played a major role in Nasar's climb to the top in the last 13 years.  From his first pay check of Rs. 500 from Kavithaalaya Productions, (which he has saved as a precious keepsake all these years) to this day, where Nasar directs films and pays technicians himself... things have changed a lot, so have people's perspectives of Nasar.

Nasar still reminisces of those days when he travelled from Chengalpattu,Tamilnadu on the steps of the train, even though his life today is filled with hope, happiness and self-fulfillment.  Comfortably seated in his home, Nasar gave two separate interviews, one after his directorial debut Avathaaram was released in 1995, and the other after his second film Devadhai was released. The following is a compilation of the thoughts, feelings and ideas which he shared in his interviews:


How is it you manage to shine in a variety of roles?

"Nadigargal homework seidhu thayaar-aai settukku vandhaa yendha character-ileyum nikka mudiyum. Idhu Director-ai saarndha vishayam... Naan kallimann.  Ennai kurang-aagavo kozhukkattai-aagavo maaththikaattaradhu director kaiyil dhaan irukkiradhu"...

At the same time, Nasar also believes that he would not want to have a static image or style to spoil the good roles he might get from today's directors..

What was the Avathaaram directing experience like?

Nasar answered this more honestly than what celebrity directors usually do: "I showed Avathaaram not just as story of pazhivaangal, but also one that illustrated the struggle between good and bad... Indraiya thedhiyil nooru kodi koduththaalum padam panna paththaadha soozhnilaiyil en mudhal pada directionil ennakku avvalavu thirupththi irundhadhu."  Moreover, Nasar also adds: Avathaaram was an attempt to show our culture and tradition our society and it is indeed himself he blamed for the dismal failure of the film.  Nasar still refutes the idea that people don't make good movies run today, even after his Avathaaram  paduththu-fied at the box office...

Why haven't you acted with Rajini recently?..

Nasar was rather skeptical in his response: "Avanga avanga yaaru thevaiyo avangalai podaraanga.  Rajini padaththil nadiththaal perum pannam, perumpugazh kidaikkum dhaan.  Ennakku VelaikkaaranDharmath-thinThalaivan padangalukku piragu azhaippu varavillai."

Nasar's interview after the film Devadhai flows from one subject to another smoothly... There is no need to mention questions here, as all of Nasar's answers makes the questions obvious...

Nasar does not dispute that Devadhai is indeed a take on Hollywood's Dracula, yet he does insist that "appadiye yedukkaamal naattil ulla vishayangal-ai kalandhu nammudaiya kadhai sollkira vazhakaththil dhaan thiraikadhai amaichchen. Adhu saadhaarana manidharukku purindhadhaa yendru theriyavillai." Nasar-ai poruththa varaikkum, Devadhai was his experiment in learning new technology.  Eventually he wishes to utilize this knowledge in creating a new realm of films for children.  He feels that Indian children have no real outlet like cartoons, comics or even films like children in other countries.  Indeed, he is inspired and amazed at the technological advance of, what he categorizes as maayajaalam, in Jurassic Park.. He hopes that eventually his experiences will give him the courage and knowledge to try his hand at a film at par or better than "Ju.Pa" itself.


A CLOSER LOOK AT NASAR'S "DEVADHAI"


PRODUCTION: INDUS FILM FACTORY
STORY, SCREENPLAY, DIALOGUES, DIRECTION: NASAR
MUSIC: ILAIYARAJA
CINEMATOGRAPHY: SRIDHARAN
EDITING: SURESH URS
ART DIRECTION/SPECIAL EFFECTS: 'TROTSKY' MARUDHU
DANCE CHOREOGRAPHY: SHYAMALA, JAYANTH
STUNTS: KRIPA
LYRICS: ARIVUMADHI, PONNIYAN SELVAN, KAMAKODIYAN, K.A.GUNASEKARAN


STARRING: NASAR, KEERTHI REDDY (DEBUT), VINEETH, 'THALAIVAASAL' VIJAY,
JANAKARAJ, K.B.MOHAN (DEBUT), SATHYAPRIYA..

Even after advertising in newspapers, Nasar struggled to find a heroine for his film... With a little luck and help from acquaintances, he spotted Keerthi Reddy and immediately signed her for the role.  Things got more hectic as Nasar fought tooth and nail with Dubai authorities to get permission to shoot his film there... Disgusted by the portrayal of a villain's home and territory situated in Dubai, in the only tamil film shot there before, the authorities were not so easily convinced that Nasar would do less harm.  After a lot of begging, pleading and story-telling, the Dubai government finally permitted Nasar and his crew to shoot Devadhai there... Of course, the only reason he shot the film there was because he wanted to show a different location from the aradha pazhesu stuff in other tamil films...

The most difficult aspect of filming Devadhai was the attention to detail that the art director-cum-special effects expert "Trotsky" Marudhu, had to give for the making of the first 30-35 minutes of thefilm... The sets, costumes, weapons, make-up.. just about everything had to blend in well with the situation of the film being set back 300 years ago.. With so much scrutiny being placed on perfection, Nasar and Marudhu further proceeded to incorporate graphics into the film, to ultimately make it a 'fantasy' that it was meant to be.  Marudhu used  "Flint" software, that aided the Hollywood blockbuster Independence Day to achieve distinct box office success,  to create several special effects scenes in the film..

REVIEWS [Balaji's Note: I'll be reviewing Devadhai when its screened in the Bay Area...]

For the sake of excitement, there will be no discussion of the story... But, a closer look at what the magazines have criticized and praised...

You sit up for:

***The excellent cinematography by Sridharan (especially during the first half hour of the film! Just incredible!)..
               
***Ilaiyaraja's out of the world re-recording throughout the film, especially during the end credits (Don't miss it! It appears the songs are worth the listen too!)

***Suresh Urs's impressive editing which gives additional merugu to Ilaiyaraja's re-recording and the general viruviruppu of the film!..

***Nasar's tharam-aana acting and directing techniques. He brings the best out of everybody, including himself when it really counts.

***General praise goes to newcomer Keerthi Reddy.. She, not only, looks pretty decent, but the way she carries herself gracefully throughout the film deserves recognition.

***The overall presentation of the first 30-45 minutes of the film: the acting, dialogues (Romanian play style?!), costumes, make-up... the whole package is indeed a huge feather in the cap for tamil films... (Yet, Anandha Vikatan magazine felt Nasar could have experimented with some other form of tamil other than sudhdha thamizh, for characters set 300 years back.)

You slouch for:

Nasar's rather jumpy screenplay which sways us in all directions from 300 years back to Dubai today and then back to a small village setting... The constant gudhippu appears to be a flaw according to many critics.

All thumbs seem to be way down on Nasar's decision to incorporate comedy scenes in Dubai with Vineeth and K.B.Mohan. These scenes brought in the masala-ish feeling to the film,which was not meant to be in the first place.

Overall:

"Tower meedhu utkaarndhu kai-yai mudindha-varaiyil irakki, rasigargal-in rasanai-yai uyarththa muyarchi-kkum "SelectBand"-il sernthu kollave ivarukku (Nasar) viruppam!.. Sandhegam iruppavargal Devadhai paarkkavum!"

--- Anandha Vikatan

All of Nasar's ideas and dreams for his future films came only over time... Like many others, he entered the field with similar aspirations: "Padaththula nadikkannum, car-u vaanganum, bungalow vaanganum" etc." But things soon changed when he realized he was being transformed by the educated and intelligent people who surrounded him. Nasar describes it best: "Idhu oru process. En mugam maarikkitte irukku. Ennaku-nu oru mugame kidaiyaadhu." In other words, whether he is a kooththu katara character in Avathaaram, or dancing as a blind man with Kajol in Minsaara Kanavu, or even acting as an Oomai muslim in Avvai Shanmughi,  Nasar is just comfortable with himself and his character. Seems like no one has dared to label him with any title as yet.

Even today, he feels that there is a certain act, a "poliththanam" about being labelled a hero.  He sees a "hero" is one who has lost his privacy and has to put on an act anytime he is in public.  For Nasar, acting is his only priority.  He knows his limitations and acts until he reaches his satisfaction point. Obviously, he resents the pressures of being a hero, keeping the "No.1" spot and pleasing the public, all at the same time.

Nasar has never been imagined to be the 'dancing' kind, until his audience saw him jumping, dancing and prancing with Kajol in Minsaara Kanavu. Here again, Nasar's eloquence in response, beats many stars hollow: "Dance meedhu viruppam illai-nu illai. Ennakku vaaippugal varalai. Yaarum ennakku ugandha maadhiri paaththiram tharalai. Ellorum ennai murattu aall-aai yosikkum bodhu Rajeev Menon-ukku ennai ilammai-yaana isai kalaignyar-aai yosikka mudindhadhu. Oru nadigan-ai appadi dhaan thatti thatti kondu varamudiyum."

For a comparatively quiet actor like Nasar, there are indeed a few kisukisus that fly around: One is a rather old one, where Prakashraj (Aasai) is considered a major potti to Nasar. Nasar disputes this by saying that he holds Prakash in very high regard, as a friend and a well-wisher. Furthermore, he feels he has become too selective in his roles to be in competition with anyone.

The second rumour revolves around the issue that Nasar has been seeing a psychiatrist for more "manobalam" in life.. Nasar has clarified this by stating that the psychiatrist was indeed a friend, in whose play he had acted in long ago, which paved his path into films.  The shakkai podura aspect of his answer lies in this: "En manaivi-yum oru psychiatrist dhaan. Naan veliye poga vendiya-dhillai."

To end this interesting trek through Nasar's thoughts and his career, nothing better than Kamalahassan's quote could be given: When asked who he thought has made the most progress and grown the most in tamil movies:

"Nasar indeed.  Wow, how much he has grown within the industry. It is still hard to believe the Nasar I see today to the one I started working with many years ago.  What a dramatic transformation!"..

 

Here are some of short thoughts from Nasar: his likes and dislikes, his memories and his views..

***Penngal-idam pidikkaadha vishayam...

En sir vambhu, Villain-aa irukkaradhu-naala penn rasigai-gal kammi. Indha unmai-yum sollittaa avalavu dhaan..

***Pidiththa nadigai?

Savithri.. Thaai-mai pongum andha kanngal.

***Maniratnath-thidam pidiththa vishayam?  pidikaadha vishayam?

Idhu Ippadi dhaan varannum-na ippadi dhaan varanum-gara theermaanam. Pidikaadha vishayam.. ondrumillai...

 

***Nadigargal penn vedaththil nadikka virumbu-vadhen?

Oru vagai-yil adhu nadigan endra thozhil-il oru uchcha katta paaththiram.

***Ungalai kavarndha isai amaipaallar?

Ilaiyaraja.. Yaani..

***Avathaaram padaththai iyakkiyadhan moolam neengal kattru kondadhu?

Niraiya.. adhil ondru "Makkalai manasil vai" enbadhu.


***Ungalai kavarndha villain nadigar yaar?

Bala Singh (the villain who debuted in Avathaaram)

***Thaangal yaarudai-ya rasigar?

K.J.Yesudas, S.P.Balasubrahmanyam.

***Ungalai migavum kashta paduththiya vedam yedhu? yenn?


Magalir Mattum... viraippaaga-vum muraippaaga-vum pazhaga pattu pona en manonilai-yai maattra siridhu kashtap-pada vendi irundhadhu.

***Kamal-idam yedhai kattru kondeergal?


Aasiriyar-idam solli, kumudha-ththil paththu pakkam vangi thaangalen.. avalavu irukku..

and Finally..

***Cinema netrai vida indru eppadi iruppadhaaga ninaikkireergal?

Innum kuzhambi poi dhaan irukkiradhu..

(My Sources: Kumudham, Ananda Vikatan, Cinema Express & Pesum Padam.)