Richie: It has been blissful working with Nivin Pauly, says director Gautham Ramachandran
All eyes are on actor Nivin Pauly’s big Tamil debut Richie, which has hit the screens this Friday. The film marks the directorial debut of Gautham Ramachandran who, in an exclusive chat with Firstpost, opens up about working with Nivin, their long-standing friendship and why it’s been blissful to work with him.
Nivin and Gautham have known each other for a long time. Their friendship has turned into a successful collaboration, and Gautham can’t quite describe their relationship in words. Recalling how the project materialised, Gautham says: “I’ve known Nivin since the release of Neram, and I had even met him with a script which he had liked. Unfortunately, that project didn’t materialize because we couldn’t find the right producer. But we always kept in touch, discussed ideas and we aspired do a film the way we want to do. This is when I saw a Kannada film (Ulidavaru Kandanthe) made by my friend Rakshit Shetty and recommended it to Nivin. He wasn’t sure about the idea of a remake but nevertheless asked me to get the DVD. After watching the film, he called me one early morning and said he wanted to do the project.”
Despite Nivin’s willingness to do the project, no producer was willing to do the film in Tamil.
“Everyone was interested in doing a bilingual with Nivin, but we were more interested in doing a straight Tamil film. When Premam released and we saw its reception in Tamil Nadu, we felt we could do this project in Tamil,” Gautham says, adding Richie was officially signed ten day after the release of Premam.
“I remember telling Nivin that he should go and work with a big director because of the pan south Indian popularity Premam earned him. But he was hell-bent on doing this project and it gave me a lot of confidence," he says.
Quiz Gautham if the phenomenal success of Premam and the fact that Richie is Nivin’s first remake add pressure to deliver and he says: “He’s the kind of actor who comes with no baggage, thereby there’s no room for pressure. When we sat and discussed doing this project after Premam, our conversations were so casual and both of us wanted to work with no inhibitions. I told him to work with a bigger director post Premam because that was the right thing to do. Had I directed Premam, I would’ve wanted to work with a bigger star next. I also didn’t want him to work with me for the heck of it and because we had spent so much time together."
It took Gautham nine months and 40 drafts to finalise the script of Richie.
“It took us nearly 40 drafts over a period of nine months to finally lock the script. It was one crazy, hell of a writing session,” describes Gautham, admitting that they couldn't have pulled it off without Nivin's contribution.
"Nivin was very actively involved in the scripting stage and he's the sort of actor who has a great eye for details and understands all the appreciation moments of a scene," he says, adding that Nivin doesn't stop until he gets what he wants from a project: “It was sheer bliss to work with him. He seeks for a lot of perfection and we gelled in that area because even I don’t let go off things so easily. We enjoy each other’s company and that’s why the product is very special for both of us.”
Nivin has dubbed in his own voice for the film. He spent more time for dubbing than for shooting and Gautham feels the effort has paid off.
“We’ve followed a neutral accent throughout the film even though it’s set in Thoothukudi. Nivin not a native speaker of the language and hence his accent is quite thick. We’ve put as much effort to make his accent sound neutral. In fact, the number of days he took to dub is double the number he took to shoot for the project. What you saw in the teaser was just the first draft of dubbing. We spent a lot of time post the release of the teaser and worked on his accent. The character is such that I couldn’t afford to have anyone else dub for Nivin, despite knowing people will pass remarks but we were prepared to take a chance with his voice,” says Gautham, who describes the journey of Richie as special, despite having his share of struggles.
He’s hopeful of continuing his collaboration with Nivin: “We will absolutely work again. I have loved working with him and we’ve discussed a few things both of us are kicked about. It’s just that it’s too early to talk about all that.”