Director Ranjit Jeyakodi is making his pan-India debut with 'Michael', the Sundeep Kishan movie. Ahead of its theatrical release on February 3, the director talks about his film at length.
Starring Sundeep Kishan as the hero and Divyansha Kaushik as the heroine, the film has Anasuya Bharadwaj, Gautam Menon, Vijay Sethupathy, Varun Sandesh and several others in its cast.
I have done three movies previously in Tamil. 'Michael' is my fourth movie. I and Sundeep have been good friends. After watching my second movie, he showed interest to work with me. That's when the first lockdown happened. During the second lockdown, we once again got in touch with each other. I was writing an action movie script and Sundeep wanted just that.
'Michael' is a multi-genre movie. It's a romantic action gangster drama. The story takes place from the 1970s to the 1990s. It's a period drama.
The film is not based on any true story. We all hear of gangsters and their stories. Some of them might be true. Some of them might be mere gossip. We wouldn't know. Michael, the character, will be seen as a 16-year-old, 20-year-old, and 24-year-old person. The core of 'Michael' is based on love.
Gautam Menon's character warns the hero against falling in love. It's an inescapable truth of life that our lives revolve around women. We do everything for their sake. Gautam Menon is doubtful about his acting skills, but his directors are confident about his calibre.
The protagonist in 'Michael' is born and brought up in the world of crime. Usually, gangster films showcase someone from a poor background or a dysfunctional family getting into the world of crime. 'Michael' is different.
'Michael' is a pan-India movie. We are going to release it in whichever language is possible. The initial plan was to release it in three major South Indian languages. Eventually, the producers decided to release it in five languages, including Hindi.
Vijay Sethupathi was the hero of my first directorial. He has a crucial role in 'Michael'. He is always willing to do anything for me. He is the only actor I know who is familiar with audiences of all languages. It's very sweet of him that he came on board. After listening to the script, he asked me to add more to his character.
Varun Sandesh is not someone I knew. It was Sundeep Kishan who suggested that I rope him in. I was a little skeptical, as I hadn't watched any of Varun's movies. I screen-tested him. He was sportive about doing a screen test. He was as humble and energetic as a first-time hero. He is a very nice guy. When you watch the movie, you will be surprised.
The cinematography (by Kiran Koushik) is different from mainstream movies. I am inspired by foreign movies. The cinematographers of my movies have been debutants. Newcomers come with a lot of energy. We sit and plan extensively in the pre-production phase.
The film was in the making for about a year, although the working days for production were 70 days or so.
I write based on the psychology of the characters. I do some research and develop scenes. The characters' behaviour, mood, language, how they handle emotions... These are analyzed in detail. A character might not be guilty of killing someone. Others are hyper-emotional.
Our movie has no similarities with the stories of Lokesh Kanagaraj's movies (like 'Kaithi' and 'Vikram'). Anyways, it's a compliment that comparisons are being made (based on the trailer of 'Michael').
We have plans to do a prequel and a sequel. First, we have to take 'Michael' to the audience. We don't want to be overwhelmed by anything at this point in time.
Our movie has nothing to do with Pawan Kalyan's 'Panjaa'. There are no similarities in the plotting between the two films.
Producers Narayan Das K Narang, Bharath Chowdary and Puskur Ram Mohan Rao are very sweet. They have a strong knowledge of the film business. They made me feel at home. I never was conscious that I am a non-Telugu director.
My next movie is going to be with Yuva Sudha Arts (the banner which is currently doing NTR30, directed by Koratala Siva).