Lingusamy Troll affects his childern too, Director speaks out [Interview]
In a recent interview with leading newspaper, Lingusamy breaks his silence on the debacle of his latest release Anjaan. His last release, Suriya’s Anjaan, did not meet expectations and the backlash from the audience was severe.
When he answered about ‘Lingu memes’ he became silent and said these memes affect his children too. Lingusamy said “What hurt me the most was that it reached even children! One day, when my kids came back from school, they told me, ‘Ayya, ungala pathi ipdi pesaranga’, and I was embarrassed for a while. I just said, ‘Adhellam kanduka vendam ayya.”
Director Lingusamy breaks his silence on the debacle of his last release. He speaks to us about learning from younger directors and his upcoming projects
Lingusamy looks pensive. The last few months have not been good for the filmmaker. His last release, Suriya’s Anjaan, did not meet expectations and the backlash from the audience was severe. ‘Lingu memes’ were created and circulated online, with stills from the movie and a TV interview the filmmaker had given sometime ago.
But, he manages to sound cheerful. In an exclusive interview with MetroPlus, the filmmaker opens up on the Anjaan debacle, what he went through then and what’s coming up…
What have you been working on in the months after Anjaan?
I’ve started work on my next. I believe that only work will take us to the next level. I’m at the scripting stage of a movie with Karthi. Simultaneously, we’re completing the script of Sandakozhi 2 with Vishal. I’ll start the shoot immediately after the scripting is done.
The feedback for your film was scathing. Did you even expect that coming?
What do audiences have against us? We don’t have any nela thagaraar, right? (laughs) They’ve just expected a lot from me. They have a lot of respect for me, much more than what I expect from them. This tells me that I have to be more responsible towards them. Recently, Kamal sir said that ‘it’s our job to satisfy those who scold us the most.’ I’m doing that currently. If people who follow my work were disappointed, I’m sorry for that. I’d like to give them a better film the next time.
Most people on social media received ‘Lingu memes’ which did the rounds in the weeks after the film’s release. Did you get them too? Were you hurt?
I understood the level of angst. What hurt me the most was that it reached even children! One day, when my kids came back from school, they told me, ‘Ayya, ungala pathi ipdi pesaranga’, and I was embarrassed for a while. I just said, ‘Adhellam kanduka vendam ayya.”
Are you aware of what fans across the world are talking about you and your work?
My assistants and people in charge of publicity take note of that. They don’t bring everything to my attention, except for what is important.
How do you deal with negative criticism…
When overdone, both positive and negative feedback can be a hindrance to directors. They don’t let you go to the next level. But as a filmmaker, there’s no choice but to go through both these phases. Whenever I get negative feedback, I just feel a sense of responsibility… the viewer has experienced something in my previous work that he has missed in this one. I feel that my work should satisfy even my enemies.
That’s a strong word… do you have enemies in the industry?
See, there are many friends in the film industry. But if I make a bad film, some of them start ignoring me. They won’t answer my calls or don’t bother calling back. And if they do, they’ll say, ‘Mapla, I liked the film.’ I hate the stress on the ‘I’ in that sentence. It means that the film hasn’t worked with 10 people around them.
There’s commercial cinema from big directors and a new wave of small films by young filmmakers…
We need both of them, just like small and big fish in the sea. Theatres cannot run on films that make just four or five crores. Lingaa should come, and other big films should too. This has been the case since the times of MGR… Big and small films should co-exist.
From the time you started, you’ve worked with big stars. There was Ji with Ajith, Run with Madhavan, Bheema with Vikram and Anjaan with Suriya. Don’t you wish to do smaller films or work with newcomers?
It’s only because I have that wish that my company releases quality projects like Sathuranga Vettai and Goli Soda. I still think that soon, when the time comes for me to relax and have a cup of tea, I’ll make such movies.
So, you’re not relaxed now?
I don’t think so. I’m at a stage in my career when I’m constantly conscious of whether I’m at the right place. I’ve not yet reached the stage where I can sit back — people who see me from afar might think so, but I still haven’t reached there. Just like actors, audience expect a lot from directors too these days.
We constantly read about how you and your peers were influenced by the work of your predecessors. But, do you think you can learn a thing or two from promising young directors, like Karthik Subbaraj, Nalan Kumarasamy, etc…?
We’re watching them everyday, we’re learning every day. All these new filmmakers in Tamil haven’t arrived suddenly, … they’ll keep coming. As seniors, we shouldn’t treat them with disdain or jealousy. We should observe what these newcomers have in them that we might have missed. Only if we do that can we sustain. Even the masters have done so — we read about Steven Spielberg initially wanting to direct Christopher Nolan’s brother’s script. Closer home, Bala anna is discussing his script with Nalan Kumarasamy. A.R. Rahman has roped in Anirudh to sing for him. Why do they all do that? Because, today, avanga kitta oru saththam iruku (They have a presence.) Audiences like to watch them and so, we also have to see what’s special about them.
Going back to Anjaan, do you believe you were a victim of excessive marketing?
Perhaps. I didn’t even want an audio launch. Both Suriya and I didn’t want to boost the film unnecessarily. I don’t want to blame anybody now, but even without my knowledge, the project suddenly became big. I’m not active on Twitter or other social media but I know how there was a buzz about the film even before its release. There were sarcastic comments about our team cutting a cake for so many likes on the Internet… it’s just that we didn’t realise where all this was going.
But I’d like to say that even now, if someone watches it on TV, they’d think ‘Why did people criticise this film so much?’ Everybody who criticised the ‘Ek Do Teen Char’ song must tune into Tamil TV channels and see how there’s not a single day that goes by without the song. I believe, that I’ve not done a bad film — at least not to the extent of receiving such a strong backlash. I look back at the past for inspiration. After all, didn’t I make Sandakozhi after Ji? Didn’t I deliver Paiyaa after Bheema? In this industry, we just have to keep proving ourselves.
The jokes about Anjaan increased when an old interview of yours — where you use phrases like tune ayiten and motha vithayum erakirken — was re-circulated. What were you talking about then?
That interview took place almost a year-and-a-half before Anjaan happened. In fact, I hadn’t decided the story then.
Meanwhile, your production house is doing a lot of work…
Yes…We’ve signed Kamal’s Uthama Villain and Sivakarthikeyan’s Rajini Murugan with Eros International. Kamal sir’s film is over and CG work is on currently. We hope to release it during Pongal or immediately after. Other films like Idam Porul Eval, Ra Ra Rajasekar and Naan Than Siva are also in the pipeline.