Maari 2 director Balaji Mohan on working with Dhanush and Sai Pallavi, and what makes the sequel different
Maari 2 director Balaji Mohan on why he opted for a sequel, rather than a fresh script
Director Balaji Mohan, who is known for his feel-good romantic movies, surprised everyone with a mass masala entertainer Maari with Dhanush in 2015. Now, after three years, he is ready with the sequel of Maari, which will be hitting the screens on 21 December.
When asked why he opted for the sequel and not a fresh script after Maari, Balaji says “In these three years, the script work for Maari 2 only took seven to eight months. As Dhanush sir was busy with his English film, Vada Chennai and Enai Nokki Paayum Thotta, it took some time. But using that gap, I completed a web series, As I’m Suffering From Kaadhal, which fetched good feedback from the audiences. The reason why we chose Maari 2 is that we got so much love from fans for the characterisation of Dhanush sir in the original Maari”
"Unlike the other gangster films, the characterisation of Dhanush in Maari was unique and peculiar. “I opted to sketch a naughty easy-going gangster because no one tried such a character before. Also, Dhanush sir has an extraordinary humor sense and as comedy comes quite natural to me, we blended it with enough mass elements. In fact, Dhanush sir was the only choice for Maari because I wrote the script keeping him in mind," says the director who debuted in Tamil with the romantic comedy Kadhalil Sodhapuvathu Yeppadi.
“The first part of Maari had elements to satisfy the taste of the masses. The second part will also have that fun element but we have also handled a meaningful message this time and there is a strong emotional quotient as well. The characters of Tovino Thomas, Varalakshmi, Sai Pallavi and Krishna will create a few things to Maari’s characterisation, which will be the highlight of the sequel," he says.
In Maari 2, Sai Pallavi plays an auto driver. “For the first time, a Tamil heroine plays an auto driver. Even while penning the script, I decided that this time I should give more scope to the heroine. As I myself saw many single mothers and young women driving autos for their livelihood, I sketched my heroine as an auto driver. Another aspect is that in the original, Dhanush becomes an auto driver after a point of time so there is a natural connect to this profession. Sai Pallavi had proper auto driving training for two days and we also made sure that she speaks the Chennai Tamil dialect right. Now, she fluently speaks Chennai Tamil and like a pro, she drives auto with a great ease," smiles the director.
Heaping praise on Sai Pallavi, Balaji says “Generally, most of the actors only deliver 50% of what filmmakers conceived on paper. For me, Dhanush sir completely justified his characterisation in Maari. Now, in the sequel, Sai Pallavi’s character and her performance gave me immense satisfaction”.
A section of critics felt that the first part of Maari had a fragile villain. “Based on the feedback I got for the first part, I sketched a powerful villain in the sequel. In fact, I started writing Maari 2 with the characterisation of Tovino Thomas, who agreed to play the antagonist only after knowing that it’s not a regular baddie. Tovino is a big hero in Malayalam cinema so there is no need for him to play a villain in another language but he loved his characterisation and gladly came on board. Tovino’s character uses both brawn and brain to tackle his rival Maari in the film”.
Anirudh’s music in the first part was a big success and when asked Balaji whether he had any doubts in signing another music composer for the sequel. “Without a doubt, Anirudh was a big strength for the first part of Maari. But as we roped in Yuvan Shankar Raja, the entire team was confident that his music will definitely bring another colour to the sequel. I actually grew up listening to Yuvan sir’s music so it was an amazing experience working with him. The melody track which was sung by Ilaiyaraaja sir has become a pleasant surprise to a lot of people as they didn’t expect such a song in Maari 2. The "Rowdy Baby" track has also become a viral hit so as a team we are happy with Yuvan sir’s contribution," says Balaji.
Talking about the penetration of web series in Tamil, Balaji says “When we attempted As I’m Suffering From Kadhal, which is one of early web series in Tamil, I thought only IT and college crowd would be our target audiences. But to my surprise, valet parking guy, Swiggy delivery executives, security guards and more such people from different walks of life saw the series and appreciated me. If more proven features filmmakers and actors get into this web series arena, it will attract more audiences."
Maari 2 is all set to release on 21 December in Tamil and Telugu.
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