'Maara' is a reinterpretation of Malayalam film 'Charlie': Director Dhilip intv

Starring Madhavan and Shraddha Srinath in lead roles, the film will release worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on December 17.
'Maara' is a reinterpretation of Malayalam film 'Charlie': Director Dhilip intv
'Maara' is a reinterpretation of Malayalam film 'Charlie': Director Dhilip intv
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Maara, starring Madhavan and Shraddha Srinath in lead roles, will release worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on December 17. Produced by Prateek Chakravorty and Shruti Nallappa of Pramod Films, the film has been directed by debutant Dhilip Kumar. Dhilip, however, isn’t entirely new to cinema. The young filmmaker had actually directed a short film called Kalki in 2017 for the same production house.

“I was brought on board as a writer for this project and as things worked out, it was decided that I would direct this film,” Dhilip tellsTNM.

Incidentally, director AL Vijay was brought on board for this film that was reported to be based on Martin Prakkat’s Malayalam hit Charlie. Since the time it was first proposed in 2016, many significant changes were made to this Tamil remake of the Malayalam film. Actor Madhavan joined the team and at first, the producers were keen on retaining actor Parvathy who had done the role in the original. Then actor Shraddha came on board and the project began taking an entirely different shape from the original.

“The idea was not to do a remake. Madhavan and the production house were both particular about it. That’s why I was called in as a writer, to reinterpret the film. They were looking at something that they can proudly say is an adaptation,” Dhilip says, also talking about how deeply involved the production house was in this film’s progress. “They were there for every step of the film and were most easy to work with,” he adds.

Therefore Dhilip had the liberty of exploring the film. “I had the liberty of taking any of the threads from Charlie and working around it. The story of Maara is different from Charlie. Remake is not the right word that can be attached to this film, it is a proper adaptation,” he adds.

And actor Madhavan is not entirely new to the concept either. “He has done adaptations before, Anbe Sivam (2003) was inspired from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987). He was interested in something like that and I was immediately hooked to that prospect. We took a plot thread of Charlie and wove our own story. Our theme too is original. The takeaway from this film would be different from Charlie,” he explains.

Dhilip likens it to the idea of taking the skeleton of something and building something else over it. “It’s still a love story, a very happy, utopian film that will be different from Madhavan’s recent films. Moreover, Madhavan plays his age in this film. It’s definitely different from Charlie,” he says and adds, “This is not just the story of love between two people. It is the story about love itself. Also, I have huge respect for what they pulled off with Charlie. We don't have many bohemian lifestyle films. However, ours is not a bohemian take and will be a lot closer to regular life.”

“Madhavan could have done Charlie within a decade after Alaipayuthe. Now he can’t, and we didn’t want him to either. We explored that idea, of how it’d be like now…” he says.

We then get talking about his experience of working with Madhavan. “He is an actor and a technician who has written and directed his own film. Interference is one thing, trying to look at what the writer puts across is another thing. We interpreted the film together. He was available for discussion at every stage. He was eager to know why we were making the choices that we were making,” Dhilip shares.

And actor Shraddha brought a whole new dimension to the film, having spent most of her time with the production and direction unit. She was committed to the script reading sessions as well. “She plays a very important role in the film. Her character’s gravity in this film is slightly higher than that of Parvathy’s character in Charlie. Moreover, she is both an actor and a heroine in this film. She’s going to be styled like the heroine that we know of and also be the actor who shoulders the film. We wanted to prove that both an actor and a heroine can co-exist in Tamil cinema's women characters,” he says. The film also stars stand-up comedian Alexander Babu and veteran actor Moulee.

Talking about the challenges in making Maara, the director tells us about the screenplay and the production design. “We were trying something tricky with the screenplay which is more like playing Jenga. Also, the film is a trip, so the production design for it was very important. Not just art direction but costumes and cinematography as well. We were trying to build a world, and so pre production was crucial,” he shares.

The film has Ajayan Chalissery of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Trance fame as production designer, costume designers Eka Lakhani and Luca fame Ramya. “Cinematography was done by two of them, Dinesh Krishnan and Karthik Muthukumar.When you watch the film, you’ll know why,” he adds.

On being asked if he regrets not having a theatrical release for his debut film, the director says, “We actually made the film both for large format and mobile viewing. We’ve already reached this point in cinema. The film plays in theatres for a maximum of three weeks and for the rest of its life it is played over different devices like TV and mobile phone. Although there’s a slight feeling that no one would be able to view it on the large screens it is not very affecting."

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