Vikram Vedha director duo Pushkar-Gayathri on creating Suzhal The Vortex: ‘When you have a transgender character, you don’t want…’

Filmmakers and partners Pushkar and Gayathri have helmed interesting projects over the years, but they are perhaps best known as the directors of the superhit Tamil thriller Vikram Vedha, which starred R Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi in the lead roles.

Of late, the duo has been in the news for creating Amazon’s original Tamil series called Suzhal: The Vortex, which featured actors like Kathir, Aishwarya Rajesh, R. Parthiban and Sriya Reddy among others.

Both Pushkar and Gayathri recently got together for a zoom chat with The Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta, in which the artistes spoke about their journey in showbiz, collaborating as partners and writing and working for films and OTT.

Speaking about their journey, Pushkar said that they were making ads and then decided in 2001 to go to a film school. “We started with quirky comedies like Oram Po and Va-Quarter Cutting.” Adding that Suzhal: The Vortex was forming as they were writing their big blockbuster Vikram Vedha, Pushka said, “We began writing Vikram Vedha. At that point, Suzhal started shaping up, first as a feature film.”

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However, the pair said that they soon realised that they cannot do so much of world building with a two-hour movie. “After Vikram Vedha released, Amazon contacted us. Our actor from Vikram Vedha, Maddy (R Madhavan) was doing a show with them, Breathe. Madhavan introduced us to other people at Amazon, made us meet Aparna Purohit (head of originals at Amazon Prime India). They wanted to know if we could come up with a Tamil original series.”

Pushkar and Gayathri stated that collaborating with Amazon Prime India was creatively satisfying as they were given “freedom to cast whoever we wanted. We could cast people who felt right, rather than for commercial reasons.”

Gayathri also mentioned that working on the digital medium was freeing in other ways, adding, “There was no pressure of Friday opening. That also gives a huge leeway.” Meanwhile, Pushkar said that writing and creating for OTT is a ‘separate beast’. “It is not just gonna be a subset of cinema (the OTT space). It is the way you spread the story out here, part of which happens in the writing. How lived-in you can make it feel? Cinema is more about the broad strokes. Here you can actually take the time to build something.”

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At one point, Pushkar-Gayathri were asked about working together as professional partners, to which they both smiled and responded with a simple, “We don’t have any conflicts. We are too lazy to fight. We are too used to it now.”

Gayathri and Pushkar also spoke about tackling difficult subjects in Suzhal: The Vortex. Gayathri said, “When you have a transgender character, you don’t want them to have a stereotypical thing, and that comes from our core belief and a larger worldview. You need to take a stance, otherwise it could lead to shallow storytelling.”

The filmmaker duo is now looking forward to the release of the Bollywood remake of Vikram Vedha, which they wrapped a while ago. The Hindi remake stars Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

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