*Pre-release event of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jawan held in grand fashion*
The pre-release event of director Atlee's eagerly-awaited pan-Indian film, 'Jawan', featuring Bollywood Baadshah Shah Rukh Khan in the lead and produced by his firm Red Chillies Entertainment, was held with great fanfare in the presence of scores of students at the Sairam Engineering college on Wednesday.
Welcoming the gathering, Gopalan of Gokulam Films, which has acquired the film's distribution rights for Tamil Nadu and Kerala, said that actor Shah Rukh Khan's real life was an example for all as the star had risen like a phoenix. He also pointed out that although Jawan was a Bollywood film, many south Indians had been a part of the film.
The film's editor Ruben, who spoke next, said that Jawan was his 65th film and that he was happy to be a part of it.
Candidly admitting that the person who scolded and fought with him the most was his director Atlee, Ruben said that he was a good friend.
"Trust is important in any relationship. Atlee was the first to give me a blockbuster," he said and added that when the director first told him that they were going to Bollywood, he was a little tense as they did not know Hindi. However, he said that they felt at home in Mumbai as all the technicians in the film were their technicians.
"It was like an IPL team which has all friends in it," Ruben said, adding that this was all possible only because of the film's producer Shah Rukh Khan.
Pointing out that cinema was one and that everybody was only representing Indian cinema, the editor spoke highly of Shah Rukh Khan. "When editing, Shah Rukh Khan would come and say,'Cut down on my portions, not the other actors' portions.'"
Anirudh began his speech by thanking Red Chillies Entertainment, Pooja Dadlani and Gauri Khan for reimposing faith in him and giving him the opportunity to score music.
"Lyricist Vivek has penned all the songs of this film. Thanks to his efforts and involvement, the songs in the Tamil version don't appear like as if they are original Tamil numbers. The lyrics were so impressive that they got Shah Rukh excited and he offered to sing those lines in Tamil.
"I am also proud of my friend Atlee. Directors have gone from here and have made remakes but to actually go there and get one of India's top stars and make a film in his production is no easy task. He needs to be applauded for the effort. Atlee did not go alone, he also took his entire team of editor, cameraman, choreographers and stunt masters to work with him there. He has taken me, who has been working as a music director here, to Bollywood. We have all worked very hard to make Jawan. "
Speaking about Shah Rukh Khan, Anirudh said, "Never dreamt that my first Hindi film itself would have Shah Rukh Khan in it. I consider this to be God's blessing."
Turning to the actor, he said, " I love you Shah Rukh Sir and I'm going to miss you a lot. Every night, we would speak for an hour on Facetime."
Stating that Shah Rukh treated everybody like family, Anirudh recalled an instance when the Bollywood superstar had gone to London.
"He called me and asked me for my shirt size, saying he was going to buy me some clothes," Anirudh recollected, saying that he believed that Jawan, which is an Indian film, would be a blockbuster."
Actor Vijay Sethupathi, while speaking on the occasion, said,"Jawan started with Atlee. Atlee knows how to treat people who work with him. When I was working with him, he made me feel very comfortable. We would discuss several scenes and worked on it. He knows how to extract work."
"When I was studying in school, I was in love with a girl. Like in most other cases, it was a one-sided love story. The girl did not know that I was in love with her. I got to know that she was in love with Shah Rukh Khan. Now, after so many years, I have got my revenge on Shah Rukh Khan," he said with a laugh.
Speaking highly of Shah Rukh Khan, Vijay Sethupathi said that he did not know that he would work with Shah Rukh or fight with him or sit next to him.
"I first met him in Melbourne. They told me to be seated and I went around searching for my seat. I couldn't find mine and thought I would sit somewhere at the back. It was then that my attention was drawn to the fact that my seat was right next to his. I believe the most important quality that he has is that he treats people equally. The way he treats people in a respectful manner is what makes him so loveable."
Talking about Yogi Babu, Vijay Sethupathi said, "We have been working together from Aandavan Kattalai. Usually, when we work, Yogi Babu would say, 'We'll see'. He'll improvise and deliver it in such fine fashion that it'll surprise you. Most dialogues that you have seen Yogi Babu deliver are his own improvisations. It is very difficult not to smile while acting with Yogi Babu."
Director Atlee, while speaking on the occasion, said, "I met you all here four years ago during the audio launch of Bigil. When the question arose as to where we should conduct the pre-release event of Jawan, I got to know that the man who played a crucial part in the launch of Chandrayaan3 to the moon, Veera Muthuvel, was a former student of this college. We decided we would conduct the event here.
"One important reason why I could do this film was the motivation my brother, my thalapathy Vijay sir gave me. It was Vijay sir who got me to move out of my comfort zone which got established after Raja Rani, Theri, Mersal and Bigil."
"When Alif, who had worked with me in Raja Rani, called me and told me that Shah Rukh Khan sir wanted to meet me, I went. Almost 13 years ago, when I was an assistant director to Shankar, we were shooting outside Shah Rukh Khan sir's home for Endhiran. At that point, another assistant director called Adam Das took a picture of me outside Shah Rukh sir's home. Now, 13 years later, those very gates were opening for me. I went in and met Shah Rukh sir.
"I realised God grants you what you deserve if you love your mother and wife. From the time Shah Rukh sir met me, till this second, no decision has been taken without asking me. He is more than my father.
"When someone is consistently at the top, it means those around them are honest and smart. Pooja Dadlani is one such person. She is more like a mother to all of us. We discussed the story and began work when Covid struck.
"I am someone who is used to making films in eight months and so thought that this film too would get over in eight months. However, due to Covid, it kept getting longer and the film kept getting bigger. But Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri ma'am took the big decision then to produce this magnum opus. People taking a decision to make big films at a later point is understandable but they took this big decision when Covid had struck. I thank them both and want to give my best for this film."
"When we were deciding the heroine, Shah Rukh said it was my decision. When I told Nayanthara was my choice, Shah Rukh agreed. We spoke to Nayanthara and she too was happy to come on board. She was not able to make it to this event as she has gone back home for Onam celebrations.
"When the decision on who would play the role of the villain came, I asked for Sethupathi. One comfortable meeting happened," he said and turned to Vijay Sethupathi and said, " No other hero would have done what you have done Sethu anna."
Stating that Anirudh, who was chosen as the music director, put in incredible work, Atlee said that the effort that Anirudh put in was unimaginable. "It all started with me asking for a single tune from Anirudh, which I sent to Shah Rukh for his approval. He sent me a number. Soon after, Anirudh came on board. There are 12 songs in this film and working with Anirudh, who is humble and sweet, was like working with my schoolmate."
The director also spoke about Yogi Babu. "There are several wrong allegations being levelled against Yogi Babu saying, he doesn't give dates and that he demands more money. But as far as I know, he has helped several assistant directors by giving them dates and not even taking a salary for his efforts."
Atlee then went on to narrate a small story.
"A deer that was about to deliver went into labour. It chose to deliver its baby in a thicket of thorns. Just as its pain increased and it was about to deliver, dark clouds began to gather and it began to pour. On the other side, there was a hunter looking to hunt it. On the third side, there was a tiger waiting to pounce on it and on the fourth, a forest fire was raging. Under pressure and in fear, the deer closed its eyes. At that point, a thunderbolt struck and the hunter, who was rattled by it, let loose his arrow killing the tiger and the rain put out the forest fire. When the deer opened its eyes, all its problems had vanished and it had delivered its baby successfully. Similarly, if you close your eyes to negativity and focus on what you do, you will succeed."
Atlee also praised his wife Priya, who had stood by him always, on the occasion. He told her, "If I am here, no one can be responsible but you. She is the secret of my success."
Shah Rukh Khan, who spoke last, began by thanking everyone for having him and his team there and by saying how he fell in love with Tamil cinema.
"Very early on I understood that some of the finest cinema comes from TN and I was very lucky to make two friends from this industry. One was Mani Ratnam and the other was Santosh Sivan. When I came down here and shot Dil Se, which was my first experience of a Tamil film, I got to know the wonderful Mr Kamal Haasan. I worked with him, for him in a film called Hey Ram. And that was the first and the last time that I ever spoke in Tamil because I have actually spoken Tamil in that film. And then, the greatest of them all became my friend by coming over one night and doing one shot for my film Ra. One -- The great Rajinikanth sir.
"So, I have these three-four friends in the Tamil film industry. And watching them from afar, I have always wanted , if there was something that I could come, learn something from the Tamil film industry. So, I spoke to Alif and asked him to arrange a meeting with Atlee after this wonderful film Raja Rani. We got together. Priya and Atlee are such a beautiful couple. There was a whole new production they had while we were making Jawan for three-and-a-half years. They produced their own little beautiful baby called Neel. Congratulations. God willing, Jawan will do well on September 7th.
"I would like to recount things of all the friends and family I have made over the last three years. There's this little baby who I think of as my own son. That's Anirudh. He's telling me that he will miss my calls. I hope that he doesn't graduate so so much into the Hindi film industry that he doesn't take my calls. I'll miss you my son. When Atlee sir told me there's this young kid, can we do one song in the Tamil version and the Hindi versions, I said, "No, we have to do all the songs with only Anirudh. He has put in so much of hard work."
"I remember Yogi Babu from Chennai (Express). He was so shy and so quiet. I remember I came to market the film here and everybody was screaming and shouting in the theatre. For one moment, I thought it was for me. But no, they were pushing me aside to see Yogi Babu. So, thank you so much for being a part of Jawan.
The actor also gave titles in Tamil to his unit. "If I have to praise Atlee in Tamil, I will call him Marana Mass. Cinematographer Vishnu, who is such a wonderful human being, has done such outstanding work in this film. He is Olimayamaana Vishnu. We call Muthuraj, art director, Gambeeramana Muthuraj. Our editor Ruben is Viruvirupaana Ruben. I call her Vaseegaramana Nayanathara."
Shah Rukh also thanked the beautiful actresses who have played significant roles in the film. "Priyamani, who has been trying to teach me dance 1234 and I still haven't learnt. Sachita, Lehar, Alia, Girija and Nidhi. All these ladies have been so wonderful, waiting on the sets for me to do prosthetics and the looks. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart," he said.
Calling Vijay Sethupathi Attagaasamana Vijay Sethupathi, the King Khan said,"I will take a moment and tell you how much I love Vijay sir. I met him in Melbourne first. One day he was here for Nayantharaji's wedding. We met and decided to work together. I cannot tell you how much I have learnt from you."
The actor further said, "I just want to tell everyone from the Tamil film industry who has worked in Jawan that I have only come here to learn from you and take that learning and present that in front of all the Tamilians here to tell you how much I have learnt and if you can appreciate the teachings of the great team of Jawan to me.
"People talk lovely things about me. I am called a global star and a big star. All that means nothing to me. To me, everything means that I learn from great talent like we have in Jawan. So, thank you all. From the youngest one to the eldest one, thank you for allowing me to learn so much from the film."
Shah Rukh Khan added, "All of us from Mumbai have learnt a lot from this film. We have learnt a lot from these doyens. From Anirudh, Vijay Sir, Atlee Sir, Yogi Babu and all of you. Inshallah, we will be able to perform our best and maybe the Tamil audience can make us your own. Thank you to the whole industry for giving us this opportunity. You have been very very kind. The best thing apart from the talent is you have fed me well, I've lost my six-pack. I have a paunch because the food here in Tamil Nadu is the nicest."
Jawan has been produced by Gauri Khan on behalf of Red Chillies Entertainment. Gaurav Varma has co-produced the film. The film, which has been directed by Atlee, is to release in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi around the world on September 7.