Atlee on working with Shah Rukh and Vijay: Both are ideologically and professionally similar

PTI, Sep 21, 2023, 5:01 PM IST

As someone who has worked with both Shah Rukh Khan and Vijay, two of the biggest superstars in Indian cinema, filmmaker Atlee says he found the actors to be ”ideologically and professionally” similar in many ways.

Atlee is currently basking in the success of ”Jawan” that marks his debut in Hindi cinema and his first collaboration with Shah Rukh. He has worked with Vijay in Tamil hits such as ”Theri”, ”Mersal” and ”Bigil”.

The director, who turned 37 on Thursday, said both the actors wear their stardom lightly and approach every project like it’s their first.

”I think both are ideologically and professionally very similar because I’ve worked with both of them. They’re very dedicated. They take filmmaking seriously and they don’t get tired… They will give their hundred percent.

”So, I had similar synergies from both. I’ve been with Shah Rukh sir for four years and I’ve been with Vijay sir for the same four years. I can see both are really dedicated and hardworking. They never take success, fame or name into their system. They work like a newcomer,” Atlee told PTI in an interview.

Recalling his experience of working with Shah Rukh on ”Jawan”, the filmmaker said the actor surrenders to the vision of the director even after being the business for so many years.

”Shah Rukh sir, having these many audiences, these many footfalls and giving a blockbuster like ‘Pathaan’, even then when he comes to our set, he comes like a newcomer.

”He’s like, ‘So, what should I do?’ That is why they are there (at the top). That is the learning we should take from them. I think all film technicians, actors or whoever is part of cinema should really be like them. We should feel fresh, we should feel ‘This is our first day’,” he added.

The film, which released on September 7, has already grossed Rs 907.54 crore at the global box office, according to the makers.

Atlee is among the new-age directors in Tamil cinema who are in their 30s and are rewriting the grammar of mass cinema sensibilities with their storytelling. Nelson Dilipkumar and Lokesh Kanagaraj are the other two names who have made a mark in this genre with their films ”Jailer”, ”Beast”, and ”Master” and ”Vikram”, respectively.

Asked how he would define ”mass cinema”, Atlee said he draws inspiration from his origin.

”My mass is very basic, very rooted with emotions. I write it that way. I think we all are individually different, but we all make mass films and I’m happy everyone is making the best now and taking our Indian cinema to a global standard. Cinema is in safe hands to bring audiences to theatres,” he said.

According to the director, Nelson delivers ”mass with humour” and Lokesh is great with ”twists and turns”.

”Everyone has their own way of telling mass. I love Nelson, I call him Nelson anna (‘elder brother’ in Tamil). So, Nelson anna has his way of giving mass with humour, which I think is unmatchable. No one has done it in that genre.

”Loki’s (Kanagaraj) mass has a very surprising standard of twists and turns, not going by any formula and he really surprises and I love the way he narrates a film,” he added.

Praising Prashanth Neel — best known for popular Kannada film franchise ”KGF” — Atlee said, ”He creates a world, he defines the world and he makes a mass out of the world and that is something else. We have not experienced this before. There are other new talents coming up who are getting into this mass zone.” Senior filmmakers like SS Rajamouli and Shankar are at some other level, he said.

”Even Rishab Shetty of ‘Kantara’… He has done a brilliant job with that world. It really strikes as a mass that I still remember. Everyone has their own route of understanding mass and delivering it. ”I stick to the basics. My father is a MG Ramachandran fan. MGR sir, NTR (N T. Rama Rao) sir and Amitabh (Bachchan) sir, they have created a math on mass cinema and I am trying to understand that and deliver in my way,” Atlee added.

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