Pradeep Ranganathan is an enthusiastic, multi-tasking director, who has directed a blockbuster movie “Comali”, which was well received by the audience. He also got the Best Debut Director award from SIIMA for the same. He has acted and directed a movie “Love Today” which was recently released and is getting rave reviews from the audience and film critics.
1. Is acting your passion? Since you were a director by trade, how did you get into acting?
Acting wasn’t my passion, I don’t know if direction was on my list too. I just dreamt of making a short film and started making it while I was in college. The guy who was supposed to act in my short film had some of his college exams so eventually; I ended up acting in my second short film as I’ve invested more on the same. In my first short film, the actors got all the recognition and not the director. After my second short film, I kind of liked the recognition as an actor. Acting was always on cards but not really a passion. I always wanted to try each and every aspect of cinema. I used to play multiple roles like cinematography, editing, vfx, sfx for the reason I didn’t have money and had to do everything. But now, I’ve reduced the aspects that I was doing as I have money and concentrate on the things that I want to do. When I was doing Comali, I thought it would be nice if I acted. So after Comali, I just decided to act. I had a lot of opportunities, big things opened up. I liked the recognition and wanted to try this too.
2. What are the toughest aspects of making a film today?
It depends on who you are. Director has a responsibility of rolling out a project. I worked on a script for two years. I have to be the bridge between all the aspects and make this project come up. As a director, the toughest thing is setting up a project. It doesn’t end only with writing. Setting up is convincing each one. A large amount of energy is spent convincing people to make the project work even if it is big or small. The director wants to be creative; I want to concentrate on that. So, I think it’s the toughest aspect.
3. Was there any time when you made a mistake?
Sometimes, you believe someone too much due to your laziness. I’ve done that too. Like, I’ll have my hope that another person will take care of it and aaram se, I can sit and relax. But, who’s responsible, it’s me right. As a director I’m responsible for it all. You can’t give excuses. If I’ve assigned some work to someone and if he’s not done that, nobody will accept the error. After all this I feel that I should’ve asked him. It’s my responsibility to ask him. I shouldn’t have been lazy at this moment. Sometimes, due to exhaustion I’ve done that.
4. Can you share the story behind Love Today? How did it all start?
Love Today started with a lot of tears. I’ve cried many times about why this isn’t happening. But you know everything happens for good. I ended up with the biggest production in Tamil Nadu. AGS is the best thing which happened to Love Today. They trusted me as a director. They didn’t ask for an established actor either. What they said was, “I want to work with you as a director. We believe the content, we believe the story”. Ending up with a passionate producer is very satisfying and that was the starting point of Love Today after all the tears.
5. As a director/actor, what challenges did you face while shooting Love Today?
I have to work for 48 hours on a roll. 16 hours, we have a call sheet, that’s from 9-2. Actors finish it by 2 o’ clock. Then there’ll be no rest, I have to play the director’s role. Talk to my AD’s, make arrangements for the next day’s shoot. The sun rises and I have to start the shoot again. Some days, I get tired and too occupied with my mind.
6. What is the one message you would like to give to the budding directors?
You have to find your own way. There’s no single rule to success. If you didn’t get to work as an assistant director, that’s not the end. When you’re on a journey and things don’t happen your way, find another way. It will happen.
7. Tell us about the “Pachai Elai” Song which is going viral on social media right now? Please share some interesting anecdotes from the making of the song?
This film has a lot of romantic numbers as it’s a romantic film. I asked Yuvan sir, can you give me a song where college students can vibe and dance for it. I just wanted one song to go viral and make the audience dance. I gave him a few incidents and asked if we could go with these types of lyrics. He said, we’ll go with gibberish. He just constructed a song after I sent him the lyrics. At last we added the chorus to the start. It was just a gibberish college song but just because we added the first line “Pachai Elai” it got a new flavor. Yuvan sir suggested that why shouldn’t we start the song with this line. I said, when the audience hears it, they just get kicked up. Also, he only named it as pachai ilai. The original name was “chilluku chikka”. He asked me to name the song while saving it as MP3 after the session. He gave the idea, how it’ll be if we name it as Pachai Elai? I said, Sir, people will go crazy. That was a fun song and we didn’t intend anything.
8. What are your upcoming projects?
I just feel that this movie is still to get its much deserved due. I have heard a few stories from other directors. Also, I have stories for other actors. That’s in the pipeline as I said; it’s in the setup process.
9. Can you tell me about the cast and crew of Love Today?
The female lead is done by Ivana. She has also acted in Bala Sir’s Nachiyar movie. After five years we are bringing her back. She’s a good performer. We auditioned her and she performed really well and made us think that she has to be here. We have Sathyaraj sir also. The key of the film. He made the film look big and so did Radhika Mam and Yogibabu. Sathyaraj sir starts the film and Radhika mam ends the film. Yogibabu is not a comedian in this film, he plays as a character artist just as in Comali, and he will have a lot of shades. Ganesh Purushothaman is the DOP of this film, when I had him; none of his films got released. I just saw his short films and called him. Everyone gave opinions like you’re simultaneously acting and directing so why don’t you choose an experienced cinematographer so he can handle the film when you’re in front of the camera. But, I am coming from a short film background. I have to trust him. I just wondered why he shouldn’t do my work. I’m happy with that and even others are happy for taking Dinesh. Again the art director MKT Murali is a new person; this film has a marriage backdrop. I just googled the top 10 marriage decorators and found out Vivahhika was one among them. We just made him take the Union card and made him an art director and I felt he adds value to the movie. The editor Pradeep E Raghav is my Comali movie editor. He’s doing great. The choreographer Praveen is a newcomer again, he’s a struggling choreographer. He did well and the steps got trending. A lot of freshers are in this team. My eight assistant directors are freshers. Let them come up as I did.
1. What would be your superpower?
I wish to know what’s after life.
2. Which fictional character would be the most exciting to meet in real life?
Kojirō Hyūga from the Anime Captain Tsubasa.
3. What’s the most useless talent you have?
Sometimes I boast about myself and that’s totally useless.
4. What’s the weirdest question you’ve been asked?
Why did you act when you have other stars? That’s the weirdest question.
5. What is your favourite movie?
I like Titanic, Home Alone 2, Back to the future and Aboorva Sagodharargal.
6. What would you like to remember about you?
I’m good, that’s it.
7. Would you date a fan?
Yeah, when you date someone you love, you feel loved. A fan obviously loves you when they are a fan. It’s just a matter of figuring out in which way they love me. Whether it’s for my work, for what they see on screen or for my personal life. It might happen sometimes, if it is for the personal me.