Respected members of the ?lm fraternity, I am a ?lmmaker. I’ve made Minnale, Kaakha Kaakha, Vettaiyadu Villaiyadu, Varanam Aaayiram, Patchaikili Muthucharam, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, Nadunisi naaygal and Neethaane En Ponvasantham. I have made these ?lms with some of whom, I consider the best talent we have in the south. And I believe these 13 years of making these ?lms has earned me the right to talk to you.
Over the last 8 weeks, I have maintained a digni?ed silence against news reports and press articles claiming that RS Infotainment has got an injunction order preventing me from directing any movie. RS Infotainment is jointly run by Mr. Jayaram and Mr. Elred Kumar. But as far as the ?lm industry is concerned, Mr. Elred is the face of the company. And any future reference to Elred, Jayaram or RS is to be understood in this context. Let me ?rst tell you that the injunction petition ?led by RS has been dismissed by the courts . The Injunction petition ?led by RS has been dismissed by the courts upholding my stand in the issues raised by RS and also proving that what was being done by RS or asked by RS was not right on any grounds. My ability to work and earn for myself is my birthright and as the law says its my constitutional right-and no one should be able to take that away from me.
But of course, this is also a free country and one can ?le a case-legitimate or for other reasons-against anyone. The other reasons could be harassment, discrediting an individual, cornering him and bullying him into succumbing to the pressure and duress you have put him under. In fact, it is shocking and also amusing that Mr. Elred Kumar has supposedly gone on record to say to some respected members of the producer’s council that unless I give into his demands, he will ?le ‘case after case against me and make me run around.’
And so, as warned, there is another article carried out yesterday that says our lawyers have received a notice from RS (again). My lawyers are con?dent of this case as well being decided in my favour on account of the falsity of the case of RS.
But this isn’t about the law. This isn’t even about me running around battling these cases and media reports instead of being able to write and make movies-which is my means of putting food on the table for my family.This is about me. My character, my intent and my credibility which has been put on the stand. And though ideally there should be unions or committees in place in an industry as big as ours to support and help me ?ght these un-wanted battles, I ?nd myself alone and reduced in the spotlight.
If I truly did believe there was any merit to these accusations, I would never put myself out here appealing to the good sense of the community. I would have slunk quietly into a hole, called for a negotiation and sorted the matter out in the comfort of 4 walls protecting my privacy. But I have no such reason to worry. I know I am right and I can’t go down without a ?ght. A ?ght-not about money or about doing ?lms. But about clearing my name.
Which I’ve begun to realize is the true target in all of this. Mr.Elred has supposedly told my previous partner Mr.Madan Pandy that he would let him off in the case if Mr.Madan Pandy turned against me. As for the claim Elred has made- that we signed a letter in 2008 saying I would do a ?lm for him, it is evident to anyone who works in this industry or who follows ?lms that since 2008, I have done not one but four ?lms with RS Infotainment.
In fact there was no need for me to have done more than one ?lm, but at the end of every ?lm, I would be under duress to do yet another ?lm for RS Infotainment. In fact, 20 days into the shooting of Ek Deewana tha, and after promising us and Fox (the co-producers) that the rights will be transferred, he refused signing off on the remake rights and agreed to transfer them ONLY if I signed ANOTHER agreement claiming I would do one more ?lm for him. This was the ?lm that was made as Neethaane En Ponvasantham.
Now he has supposedly claimed that the ?lm was meant to be with Simbu. But the letter that I signed clearly indicates that the hero would be one of my choice.
If one were to not take into consideration for mere purposes of argumentEk deewana tha (being a hindi ?lm) and Nadunisi Naaygal (being a nonhero ?lm), though both were produced by RS infotainment, one must consider Neethane En Ponvasantham where the supposed ?rst choiceSimbu-refused to do a ?lm for Mr. Elred Kumar/RS Infotainment. We then cast Jiiva as the the hero of the ?lm. Jiiva-is a star with a credible market- and was actually put onto us through Mr. Elred Kumar, which leaves RS no space in claiming that they were not part of this decision. So it’s not that I haven’t directed a ?lm for RS as promised. In fact i have directed 4 ?lms for RS. And I have also used a star that was mutually acceptable to both me and Mr. Elred Kumar for Neethane Enn Ponnvasantham.
Over and above this, we have already invested approximately 1.5 crores on Mr. Elred’s behalf into the Hindi remake of VTV (we have paperwork to prove the same). In NEP as well, we took a cut in the budget of the ?lm for an amount of approximately 2.5+ crores.The money that Mr.Elred gave us in 2008 was for a ?lm that that got shelved due to Mr. Elred’s inability to keep up with the commitments as he had promised and documented. This money was spent by us in that production but as the ?lm got shelved due to his inability to keep up his commitments – how are we to blame? But i still directed 4 ?lms for Mr.Elred including NEP .
Not only did we take a budget cut in NEP, we also put in money into the project for the music composing that happened in London because it wasn’t about just business for me, it was about passion and making a good product. In spite of knowing that the project is owned by RS Infotainment and we will have no pro?t share or bene?t whatsoever, I spent money from my own pocket.
Also, it must be known that over these 4 ?lms I have not taken my complete director’s remuneration-which I would have rightfully earned-at market value-had I done a project for another producer.
I did all of this so that we could once and for all close out our dealings and NEP was meant to be the last ?lm. All this was discussed and signed in the presence of prominent personalities for the ?lm industry.. We also have emails from Mr.Elred con?rming this.
But there is a choice I made-something I considered to be the best choice for the ?lm given the genre and the sheer genius of the technician. This is the part which I ?nd most dif?cult to talk about. One of the biggest reasons Mr. Elred holds as my ‘mistake’ in NEP, was this choice I made of a certain senior technician. The same technician who added value in terms of sale rights much higher than RS could have expected. The same technician because of whom there was a tremendous buzz to the movie. And more importantly, at the felicitation of this senior technician-where 100 foreign musicians were ?own down for the function (which I spent for along with Jaya TV), Mr. Elred came up on stage and spoke as well. But he has said to me directly, and to others that it was this very choice that he holds against me and wants me to pay for. Would anyone consider that a ‘mistake’? And one that I must pay for so dearly?
I realize that producers need directors and directors need producers. And I am in no position to judge who is more important than the other-having played both roles myself. But this is not a con?ict between a producer and a director. Otherwise-it would have been sorted at a council meeting or with the intervention of other senior and established members of our industry. It’s an unsaid rule in the industry that people don’t arbitrarily ?le cases against each other and harass fellow members of the ?lm fraternity but RS infotainment has decided to break that rule.My last learning from all of this is that there are those with talent and those without. And those without will always latch on, feed off and try and survive off people with. And I know I still have my ability with me. This is a creative ?eld where ?lms have to be made with passion and love. And I only want to make ?lms that way.
Neethaane en Ponvasantham was made that way-with a lot of love and passion. Just because it didn’t perform as well as Mr.Elred expected is not a good enough reason to send a director a legal notice. He claims he tried to call me repeatedly, to discuss this issue, but I do not have a single call from him or text from him on my phone regarding this. The last text I received from him (which I still have) talks about how the ?lm has good reviews and even has a smiley attached to it. He claims he is friendly, still friends with me and has sent me the notice only to safeguard the company interests. Do friends send legal notices to each other? And a producer sends a legal notice to a director after the release of a ?lm -is that even healthy practice? As far as his company interests are concerned, I have explained above how his company interests have already been more than taken care of by me.
Today, as I write this, Mr. Elred has ?led yet another suit against me, claiming approximately 9.5 crores and to attach my house. Asking me the aforesaid money is unacceptable, asking me to do another ?lm is unreasonable, asking for attachment of my house is heartless and the work of a vengeful mind. Mr.Elred Kumar has many business interests and ?lms are not his livelihood unlike us – fellow members of the ?lm fraternity. For us ?lms are not only our sole livelihood but also our passion and life. He believes he can thus harass us by ?ling false cases as we do not have his ?nancial strength. But we have our love for ?lms and he cannot take that away from us.Like I said, I have directed 13 ?lms across three languages and I have even won a National award for Varanam Aayiram. My ?lms have been reasonable successes and I am a ?lm maker with heart. With all my experience, I would like to put a word of caution out to all those ?lm makers directing ?lms for producers who will take them to court if their ?lms do not succeed as expected by the producers, at the box of?ce – please be careful.
Please assist me and free me from the harassment of Mr. Elred.
Your humble and loving colleague
Gautham Vasudev Menon