EXCLUSIVE: Love and affection from audience is my fuel, says director Hari

His latest directorial 'Rathnam' is centred on a conflict zone between Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu states and caters to his self-confessed interest in geography.

ByAvinash Ramachandran

Published Apr 25, 2024 | 6:59 PMUpdatedApr 25, 2024 | 6:59 PM

Rathnam director Hari

From director Hari’s filmography, it is impossible to peg him down as a philosophical man.

A few minutes into the conversation with him, one can’t shrug off the feeling of talking to a man who is street-smart, fast-paced, sentimental, and of course, philosophical.

“Fame is a good thing, but it is only till you make use of it. The moment you want to use your fame to get your way in this world, it diminishes. Be humble. Humility will take you farther than fame,” says Hari, whose next big release, Rathnam, hits the screens on Friday, 26 April.

‘Love and affection is my fuel’

Hari with Vishal on the sets of Rathnam

Hari with Vishal on the sets of ‘Rathnam’. (X)

So far, 2024 has been the year of nostalgia for Tamil cinema, and voices are growing louder asking for a re-release of Hari’s films like Saamy (2003) and Singam (2010).

In fact, recently, Chennai Super Kings’ star player Shivam Dube mouthed a version of a famous dialogue from Saamy.

Recalling it, Hari says, “I enjoyed that tribute. Honestly, this love and affection from the audience even after all these years is the biggest award I can get. As long as people speak about me, I will be relevant. That is my fuel. That makes me fine-tune myself, and stay updated on what is happening around me, and in the cinema.”

The filmmaker further shares that learning from others’ mistakes is as important as learning from ours.

“I directly talk to my people to know what went right or what went wrong. I might not always agree with them, but it is important to know what is being said. Knowing what works and what doesn’t subconsciously keep you on your toes.”

He adds, “This maturity isn’t something that came out of nowhere. We have lived our lives amidst society and not away from it. We notice trends and learn from other films too. This maturity is developed over time.”

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Promoting Rathnam on all fronts

Tamil director Hari

Tamil director Hari. (X)

It is this maturity that made him approach film promotions a bit differently.

While Hari doesn’t shy away from giving interviews on a myriad of platforms, he also ensures to go to different parts of Tamil Nadu and promote his films.

In fact, even now, clips of Hari visiting cloth stores, jewellery stores, and markets to promote Rathnam are going viral.

Hari explains his approach: “Nowadays, it isn’t easy to fill single screens in Tamil Nadu. If we take our promotions to their doorsteps, they are intrigued. They see it as some festive occasion.”

He cites an example. “In our towns and villages, if we hear some music coming in from a nearby temple or a church, even if we don’t attend the ceremony, we at least go past that place to revel in that festivity.”

The director asserts that he wants his films to create that noise.

“I want to let them know there is a celebration happening. Many times, our physical presence is restricted to just Chennai during promotions. I wanted to take my films to places where I make my films.”

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Hari’s take on his work

Priya Bhavani Shankar in a working still from Rathnam

Priya Bhavani Shankar in a working still from ‘Rathnam’. (X)

Vishal-starrer Rathnam is centred on a conflict zone between Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu states and caters to Hari’s self-confessed interest in geography.

Hari speaks passionately about his upcoming film. “Rathnam‘s starting point was the geographical location. A state border where there is a dispute about duties and rights. A place where jurisdiction between states, and even warring gangs are under conflict. I have a huge fascination for both geography and history.”

He is quick to negate the idea of attempting a period drama, which would be a marked change from his usual family dramas.

“While I know I am not that good of a creator, all my films have deep analysis behind them. But, I make sure that I am not telling them new facts but information they might have stored in their subconscious but never had the chance to use,” the filmmaker quips.

About his techniques, Hari says, “When you remind your audience of such facts, they are surprised and happy. When you tell them things they didn’t know, it might make them surprised but not necessarily happy. I want to make my audience happy. That is why I prefer working with the known.”

With such a strong need for catering to the audience, does the director worry about his thoughts and process not reaching them the way he intended to?

“I understand it is not always possible. How can one like everything I do? I must acknowledge what went wrong, right? But I never stop mingling with people from all quarters of this society,” Hari shrugs.

He concludes, “I have always found that my films, at least portions of them, find resonance in sections of the society. That is the recognition that I crave. It makes me work harder. It makes me run faster. Basically, it makes me Hari!”

Related: Vishal’s much-awaited actioner ‘Rathnam’ completes censor formalities