Making a critical film

Bharatbala's next

Making a critical film

The year was 1997. When independent India turned 50, a music album caught the attention of everyone from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

The album in question was Vande Mataram, and the brains behind it were A R Rahman and Bharatbala.

After 16 years, the two are back again, this time for a feature film titled Mariyan. The Dhanush-starrer movie has created a lot of buzz ever since it was announced; and now that it is getting ready for release, Bharatbala is a happy man.

About ‘Mariyan’

“Mariyan is an emotional journey of a common man to an unknown place, with the hope of coming home and leading a better life,” says the filmmaker, adding, “Love, separation, struggle, rise and survival — these five human emotions would sum up Mariyan.”

The entire film has been shot in sync sound, and it is expected to be a visual treat to movie buffs. “Mariyan was a story which was waiting to be told. Set against the backdrop of Kanyakumari and Sudan, the film is about the will of survival of a fisherman held captive.”

On why he chose Dhanush as the lead actor, Bharatbala says, “I never wrote the script of Mariyan keeping Dhanush in mind. It was the character of my film that eventually made me choose him. Now, I am sure no one other than Dhanush could have done justice to the role.”

Adding value to his claim, the director says, “From the day we started the project till today, I only see him as Mariyan. We actually shot the script in reverse (from climax to first scene). So it was a tough task for Dhanush to undergo the transformation in reverse. But he pulled it off.”

On the physical strains underwent by the actor, Bharatbala says, “That was far worse compared to the mental difficulties he underwent. He had a terrible time shooting for a few scenes in Africa. He had to run barefoot in the desert. And he was confined in a cage with three cheetahs. He had to dive 50 feet deep in water. He did all this and more without any complaint.”

The filmmaker is also all praise for the film’s heroine Parvathi Menon. “I chose Parvathi because right from her features to her body language, everything is apt for the setting of the film. I also picked her because I had liked the intensity of her character in the film Poo,” he added.

Rahman, Bharatbala’s good friend, has not only composed music for Mariyan, but has also penned the lyrics and crooned for the film. “True that we are close friends for decades, but I never wanted to take Rahman for granted. We started working on Mariyan only after he was thoroughly impressed with the script. And I must say his music has elevated the movie to great heights.”

“Years of friendship between us has resulted in great work every time we have collaborated on a project,” says Bharatbala, who had worked with Rahman for music videos Vande Mataram, Jana Gana Mana and the 2010 Commonwealth Games anthem Jiyo Utho Bado Jeeto.

The director says his dream is to take Mariyan to international audiences. “India is a land of beautiful stories and tens of hundreds of movies are being made here every year. But a majority of them go unnoticed. I want Mariyan to reach the global audience. I am sure movie buffs across the world will appreciate the movie, since human emotions are universal.”

And finally, ask him the meaning of Mariyan, and he says: “It is an ancient Tamil word that means ‘a man who never dies’. I picked it as the title since it aptly conveys the spirit of the character.” In that sense, Bharatbala too is a Mariyan, one can say.

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