ELEMENTS OF GAUTHAM VASUDEV MENON'S LIFE
RITZ|January 2020
Most people know that Gautham Vasudev Menon is not just special, he is important. We met him on a rainy day. And the conversation that ensued was as good as a Gautham Vasudev Menon movie. Here’s how the ace director charmed us...

Rains have been a part of some momentous moments in your movies. How important are rains to you?

If rains inspire me, it is because of several incidents that have happened in my life during rains. I can remember a lot of ‘rainy’ moments in my life. Lots of romance, lots of love, obviously. I still remember the times when I’ve gone out to feel the rain. I would never let that go. Rains are very inspiring. As it is, our city needs rains so badly that we don’t complain about rains at all. Every time it rains I would feel like drinking hot chocolate... I feel like having one right now, in fact! I feel like writing. I would feel like settling on a window seat with a book, or songs. Sometimes I feel like taking the bike out for a ride in the rain. But now I am not brave enough to try and shoot a rain sequence, because you need to create it. Nowadays, you cannot trust rains to last till you finish shooting a scene. We’d have to arrange for water lorries and in the current situation, it won’t be ethical. Even recently, we had to shoot a rain sequence but I decided against it. The sequence still came out very well because we did have a small shower that day and the atmosphere was fresh and clean while we were shooting. Rain is inspiring, anytime.

Let’s talk about the major elements in Gautham Vasudev Menon’s life.

I was expecting questions on my financial situation, Enai Noki Paayum Thota and stuff. I would have worn a different shirt otherwise! (Laughing)

How important is paper and a pen to you? When did the relationship between you and writing crop up?

I began writing probably at the age of 13 or 14 - in the eighth standard. I studied at Madras Christian College school and we used to have debates. I used to be a quiet boy back then, but I used to somehow transform on-stage. I began participating in debates and such programmes. Sometimes, I would feel like an imposter- that the person who is speaking is not me, but honestly, I used to just feel differently onstage. Probably I began writing from then. I began with short stories and the like.... couplets of poetry in English, Hindi and then copy out the lyrics of some Tamil songs. I have passed some of them to some people as notes. The relationship with pen and paper began that way. It is interesting as now I’ve gone back to writing on paper. I had taken to typing out my thoughts on a laptop as it is easier to format a soft copy. If I’m writing on paper, I would still have to type it out on the laptop, so I tried to simplify the process. Then when I hit writer’s block, I tried writing on paper to see it if it helps. Even recently, I finished a script on pen, typed it later and sent it across to an actor. He liked it. So I’m back to pen and paper. I’ve heard Mani Ratnam sir also says the same thing. There’s nothing like writing an idea down using good old fashioned pen and paper.

How important is travel?

Of course, I would miss my kids, wife, and mother and they would also feel my absence even if it is for 10 days; but when they say ‘Ok, go have your writing break’, I would go. All my writing is across travel. I have owned this place for the past 20 years and I have stayed here and written when it was impossible to travel. I would sit and write in coffee shops... But 90% of the time, I would travel to write. Even the latest script that I was referring to was written when I was on a flight. Later, I also wrote with the Apple pencil. When I landed, I went to a coffee shop, found a great spot and formatted the script. Without travel, something changes in me. The longing to write peaks once in a while, and say once in three months, I would seek to travel. In my movies, there’s always a journey that somebody takes to meet someone. That’s me. And I like surprises. I never plan my trip or inform anybody. I never tell anybody that I’ll be visiting: I just land and knock on the door. My grandmother, cousins on my father’s side, are all used to it. Even now, I never call my wife and tell her that I would becoming. I would reach around midnight, knock on the door and that would be it.

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