Tharun Moorthy is an Indian film Director/Screenplay, who has worked predominantly in the Malayalam movie industry. Tharun’s previous film to hit the theatres was Operation Java in the year 2021.
He was kind enough to discuss the research that had gone into the film, his experiences, the process of roping in multiple established actors for cameos and so on over a call with ClubbyTalks.
Basically, you are an M.Tech holder by qualification, and then you’ve worked as a Teacher. So how did Cinema happen? How did it all begin? Did you always want to get into the film industry and become a director?
I always believed that am an “Accidental Director” and that’s the fact. I never planned or saw myself getting into the directorial role, it was not at all there on my bucket list. But when I completed my twelfth class, I had told my parents that I wanted to learn acting at the Pune film institute, but my father a theatre artist himself had suggested I join B.tech because that was an era where every person wanted to do engineering, and so I did the same.
M.Tech was just an escaping tool for me because I didn’t want the society to ask me about my job details after B.Tech. During my M.Tech days, I did try auditioning for acting but it wasn’t giving me the result that I expected and that’s when I learned about an easy route where if you can write, you can easily get into the industry and so I started with scriptwriting. Though it had given me lots of connections with directors, it also made me realize that I kind of wasted 10 years of life as there was no planning and preparation. Instead of thinking whether if I wanted to do acting or directing, I was just following a different route. And so with lots of self-study, preparations, suggestions and opinions from friends and family, I took up directing.
How did the name Operation Java come to be? Was that the first option?
Operation java was something that was finalized in the last minute, and I wanted the name to be unique. Once when the script was ready, we got our producers and actors roped in and decided to start making the film. We knew that the naming of the film was a huge process and we wanted something that couldn’t be predicted. So once the process started, we found lots of articles which mentioned the word Operation for any kind of sting activity and that’s how it was confirmed. Well for the word Java, as we know the film talks about the Premam conspiracy and also students who are studying Engineering or have completed it, will be able to relate to it and so we had created this cooked up name Operation Java.
Tell us about the casting, I mean there are a variety of wonderful actors, and since you wrote it, did you already have an idea of artists in your mind that you thought/should be part of this movie or were they cast later on?
When I presented the script to my producer, there was no one in mind. It was just me and my script. I didn’t have any experience, neither did I have any connections in the industry. Since I was new, I wanted my cast also to be newcomers or upcoming artists. Though the budget played a role here, I wanted the film to consist of unsung heroes and had prepared a list of such artists which were finalized for the casting. I wanted artists for the film and not vice versa.
How personal is this movie to you, as you see the protagonists of the movie are also Engineers like you? Even though they are very efficient, the system fails to recognize them and also the film is based on real-life cases. So were there things that were personal to you and that you added in the film?
If you ask me how personal the film is to me, then I would say just how Antony and Dasan emotionally lived their life and the issues they faced are kind of same as the one’s I faced personally as an Engineering graduate, their insecurities and so on. But if you see, it’s not just me who would have faced these situations; almost 70% of B.Tech graduates do face such. Not just people from Kerala but people from Pan India can relate to Antony’s and Dasan’s life.
Nowadays OTT platforms have proven again that Content is always the King, do you agree that Stardom is a thing of the past?
This concept itself is debatable. Whatever you say about the filmmaking process, end if the day it is just business and all we need is to make money. Let it be in theatre or OTT or even on YouTube, all you want or need is the consumers to buy it and if you want them to buy it content doesn’t play the role here and the stardom takes that position. If you make a movie with the well prominent actors from the industry obviously viewers will rush to watch such films because the actors are already well established and they are loved by the viewers and even if the content isn’t the hit in those films the movie still gets the name and fame because of the star cast. So I feel that stardom is always the king in the industry.
What is your take on Social media Movie reviews? Do you bother to look at them?
I am a person who looks at all the reviews that are available on social media websites as it helps me know where the movie stands and how the people have enjoyed the film. And of course, reading them gives me immense pleasure and happiness.
Do you think that the OTT platforms are game-changers in the Entertainment Industry as the opportunity is huge and the reach is international?
Yes, indeed it’s the game-changer. If Operation Java was released 5 years back the impact that I’ll get then would be only be half the impact that I received now. People from other states like Tamil Nadu, Bengal etc. are contacting me through social media platforms and all this is happening because of the OTT platforms as it has given me the exposure that I never expected to receive.
What are your upcoming projects? Another Feature Film?
Yes, I’ve committed myself to write few projects but due to this pandemic, nothing is certain as of now.
Which one will you choose from the two: Acting in a Lead Role for a Movie or Directing a Movie?
Of course, it will be directing because the Malayali viewers have already recognized me as a director. I’ll move on and work on my writing and directing skills as that was the field that had given me the recognition that I wanted. No doubt acting was my passion and I might do the role if found feasible, but the directorial role is what I’ll be sticking to.
Any advice for the aspiring Artists, Actors, Directors out there who are trying to make it to the Industry.
All I have to say is cinema is not like how you see it from the outside. It is magical, pleasant and all that, but if you have a proper cinema evaluation, a proper self-study with proper updates about the industry can only help you succeed.
“Cinema is like a lover to us, love her with all your heart and keep on writing to her till she answers you back because there are no shortcuts to get closer to her and all you need to do is wait patiently for her reply”.
Well, that was my little chat with the very humble yet brilliant Filmmaker. I would like to thank Tharun Moorthy for making time for this simple yet interesting chat and wish him all the luck for all his upcoming creative endeavors.
Let there be more fresh and inspiring works to entertain and fascinate curious cinema enthusiasts like myself and a hearty Congratulations to the whole team on the success of ‘Operation Java’.