The debutant director talks about ‘making and remaking’ his debut film at the same time and also releasing the movies on the same date
Debutant director Zac Harriss took on a mountain of challenges when he decided to make his debut film, Adrishyam (Malayalam) and Yugi (Tamil), a bilingual. From casting and shooting the movies to their extended post production and finally waiting to release both films on the same date, it’s been an adventure, says the director.
The films, led by Sharafudheen and Kathir, respectively, will hit theatres this November 18. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, Zac, who has also written the screenplay, talks to us about the challenges of making a bilingual, why he treated them as two movies and more.
At a time when people make a movie in a single language and dub it in other languages, you have chosen to make the film in Tamil and Malayalam but with different casts. What prompted you to take that route?
My friend Packiaraj had pitched the storyline to me, and I developed the script and helmed it. Our initial plan, before the pandemic, was to initially make it in Tamil and so we pitched it to artistes and locked their dates. But there are certain scripts, when you pitch, the belief of the artistes gives us more confidence. We won’t have to convince them too much. That was the case for Adrishyam and Yugi. Narain was the one who had given us the idea of making it bilingual.
This wasn’t a script that was quickly put together so that it will be released in two languages. We took our time to develop it and that’s why leading artistes in both industries agreed to be part of it. In Malayalam, we have Narain, Joju George and Sharafudheen, while in Tamil, Narain, Natarajan Subramaniam and Kathir play the lead roles. Essentially, we were making the film and remaking it at the same time, instead of doing it after releasing the original version.
Do the lead characters have huge differences in the two versions?
In terms of the performance meter for the artistes, yes, because the mood and what’s demanded in a Tamil movie is much different from Malayalam. The dialogues too are different. For instance, Narain plays the same character in two versions, but the screenplays of both are different. Also, while Sharafudheen is playing Kathir’s character in the Malayalam version, how we have treated the two roles are different as the latter has a bigger fanbase in Tamil and we had to shape the character to match his stardom.
How about the female protagonists because they are more or less the same?
Yes, Athmiya Rajan, Anandhi and Pavithra Lakshmi are common in both films. However, because the male cast changes, they had to perform the scenes again with different dialogues. For instance, she is part of Sharaf’s investigation team in Adrishyam and plays the same role in Tamil, but has to share screen space with Kathir.
So, they would have allotted more dates for the film?
The film has a lot of combination scenes and so, everyone had to allot about 30-40 days for the film.
Was there a time where you had both, says Sharaf and Kathir on the sets? So, once his sequence was over, you could shoot it with the other?
There were, but they are also busy actors. So, we have tried to make the shoot comfortable for them as well. For days, we couldn’t get their dates together, we changed locations and shot the scenes.
The film was planned before the pandemic and it’s been almost a year since the shoot was complete. In that sense, are you circumspect about how relevant its content is?
The movie also talks about surrogacy, which is being discussed widely, especially in Tamil Nadu now. So, it’s still relevant. The film was planned almost three years ago, and the shoot got over last year. The delay was due to the post-production because each film had a different editor and it took four months each to get the output. We treated them as two different films and the post production took time. After that we had to wait to ensure that both the movies were released in theatres on the same date. So, the challenge was to make the movies at the same time and also release them on the same date.