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Rajinikanth’s 2.0 is Shankar’s baby all the way, says writer of the highly awaited film

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B Jeyamohan, the controversial writer of short stories, novels and screenplays, is co-writing the script for 2.0, India’s most expensive movie ever, piping Baahubali: The Conclusion to the post.

In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, the author of over 250 books in Tamil and Malayalam revealed in a frank and freewheeling chat that his main role was to implement director B Shankar’s vision of the movie.

“The other thing I have to do is come up with dialogues for which Shankar provides the feel,” Jeyamohan said, strongly hinting that his role while writing for such blockbusters was minimal. “It is Shankar’s baby all the way,” he said in chaste Tamil.

Shankar has in the past made highly successful Tamil movies like Gentleman, Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans and Shivaji.

2.0, starring Rajinikanth, Amy Jackson and Akshay Kumar, is keenly anticipated by audiences across the country. The sequel to 2010’s Enthiran, the science fiction film, is being made and marketed at a whopping cost of Rs 450 crore. It was  recently announced that the movie will be released on January 25, 2018.

Superstar Rajinikanth will reprise his roles of Dr Vaseegaran and the robot, Chitti. The movie will be produced by Lyca Productions. Akshay Kumar is expected to play the villain, going by the first-look poster.

“Shankar comes up with the basic one-liner that serves as the template for the story. There is something called designing a movie and he does it the best,” said Jeyamohan.

He said even popular writers like Sujatha had to bend to Shankar’s will while writing for Indian (1996). “Sujatha’s genius came across in flashes. But the movie itself was Shankar’s child,” he said.

Jeyamohan has previously written dialogues for the national award-winning Naan Kadavul (I Am God; Dir. Bala). He sounded as if he took pride about his work in Tamil cinema. “I came up with large swathes of the screenplay for 2.0. Many dialogues are also mine. But in the end, it’s a Shankar film,” he said.

During an earlier interview a few months ago, Jayamohan had told me that 2.0 will satisfy the superstar’s core base in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

“You can expect everything that is usually in a Rajinikanth movie and more,” he had said. Jayamohan begged off further questions on 2.0 saying that the “rules” did not permit him to answer them.

The movie will be shot by Nirav Shah and edited by Anthony, both of them first rate technicians in Tamil cinema. Oscar winners AR Rahman and Resul Pookutty have also signed up.

Jeyamohan said even commercial directors often tell him that they want to collaborate on a serious film with him. “It is very difficult to get into the mood to churn out a script. But I often come up with the screenplay, which usually runs from 90-100 pages, in a month or less. But that’s just the first draft,” he said.

“Today, I am among the most sought-after screenplay writers in Tamil. When directors like Vasanthabalan and Bala begin their projects, they seek me out and that’s a good thing for me,” he declared.

I asked him if his fellow writers considered his entry into films as a sort of betrayal to serious literature in Tamil. “There would have been writers like the late Sundara Ramaswamy from the previous generation, who would have thought of this as betrayal, had they been alive. But in the post-globalisation scenario, the lines between popular and serious literature have been blurred. I am trying to do movies without compromising too much. I have set certain standards for myself,” he asserted.

The writer, who began his film career with Kasthuri Maan in 2005, said he had turned to cinema to supplement his income. “I was spending 10 hours a day in my job with the telephone department and the income was meager. Writing for the movies provided me the means to do what I liked. Nowadays, I can call myself well-travelled,” he said.

As a short story writer, Jeyamohan said, he could convey the thoughts of his characters. “But screenplays have to be visual. It has to appeal to the eye. So it should be filled with events leading up to the conclusion,” he said, adding that this was a “testing task”.

When I first met Jeyamohan in 1997, he was a rising star in Tamil literature and an opinionated intellectual. He used to visit Sundara Ramaswamy, my grandfather, almost everyday. He wore thick glasses and dressed informally. He borrowed my spectacles once because he had broken his own. For the observer who didn’t know him well, Jeyamohan could seem cocky and too sure of himself.

I used to accompany my grandfather and Jeyamohan on their evening walks many times. The two writers shared a mentor-understudy relationship. Some of the talk, understandably, was alien to me.

I knew that Jeyamohan wrote very fast and published nearly everything he wrote. Even after entering the film industry, he wrote at a terrific rate. But many writers hold Jeyamohan guilty of making personal attacks on them and being “immature” in his interactions with them.

In his public interviews and talks, Jeyamohan displays an amazing grip of facts. Film critics familiar with his work told me he had made several movies, which introduced a new sensibility to audiences.

Many of Jeyamohan’s fellow writers consider him a force to reckon with. “It was noticed in Kadal (The Sea; Dir. Maniratnam), Naan Kadavul and Sindhu Samaveli that Jeyamohan was taking cinema to a whole new level,” a writer told me.

Sindhu Samaveli, a little heard of movie, especially was fantastic in the way it captured the psychological background of the lead characters who are involved in a forbidden sexual tangle.

It seemed that Jeyamohan was extending the frontiers of Tamil cinema while working well within the confines of its “commercial limits”. But writers are critical that Jeyamohan often issues “sweeping statements” and substantiates them only subsequently, often after they have become a full-fledged controversy.

I asked him why he was often in the middle of controversies in Tamil literature, especially on social media. “I have a creative bend of mind. So when I suggest new ideas, there is a strong reaction. But for a writer, any reaction is good. But, sometimes, people do get hurt emotionally,” he said.

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