Milind Rau's last film Aval was in the horror genre. His next film Netrikann, starring Nayanthara, is a crime thriller about a visually impaired cop solving a series of crimes. In this interview with Baradwaj Rangan, he talks about why he was excited to adapt the Korean film Blind into Tamil, working with Nayanthara, and why he likes to throw a few surprises even in genre films. Edited Excerpts…
This Korean film, Blind, did it come to you or did you choose to make it?
It came to me. The producers were looking at titles to make in India. In fact, they already had one in process. They did the same film in Hindi with Sonam Kapoor, directed by Sujoy Ghosh. They reached out to me to make a South version. This was a thriller too, like Aval. I saw a screener to the film and thought it would be fantastic to adapt it to Tamil. There were a lot of elements that were new. It had an easy, underdog story where a visually impaired person goes after an antagonist who is already after her. The film instantly struck a chord with me.
How did the star, Nayanthara, come in?
Once we adapted the story, that was the immediate next step. We needed the best person for a film like this so we could reach audiences in multiple South languages. Nayanthara ma'm was the perfect fit. I was very lucky that she felt the same way too. Five minutes after the narration, she told me she would do it.
Nayanthara has a huge draw, she's a superstar. When you adapted a film with such a big star, did you find yourself doing things like giving her a stronger intro shot or things like that?
The story itself came with those elements. She plays an ex-CBI agent who loses her eyesight due to an accident. So, there was a way to introduce her with all these skill sets. And then, it becomes an underdog story. As she goes through this journey, she fights back. So, the hero moments were built in. It was very easy to translate to the sensibilities of our audience. But we had fun throwing in those extra dialogues with swear words. And those lines aren't said just for the impact of it. She's up against a really bad guy and it works in the context.
How was it working with a huge star like Nayanthara?
I was apprehensive but she's so professional. She made it easy for me by suggesting we do a test shoot to get the body language right and to see how the de-glam look shows on camera. We wanted to make sure she looked real as a visually challenged person. When an actor has that kind of interest, everything becomes so easy. She's a professional in the way she details her character.
Aval is a horror, this one is a thriller, and a long time back there was Kadhal 2 Kalyanam which was a romcom. What draws you to genre films?
As an audience you come in with an expectation if it's a genre film. Within that if you can do something interesting, it's very easy to work with. Within a genre, if you surprise them a few times, the audience gets a complete experience. Genre is a way to connect with the audience instantly.