Cameras are being loaded on a pickup truck a few kilometres from Thiruvidandhai on East Coast Road. We could see director Gautham Vasudev Menon in a serious discussion with cinematographer SR Kathir. The song Naan Un Joshua that became a chartbuster this lockdown, is being played on the speaker. Lead actors Varun and Raheei of Joshua: Imai Pol Kaakha are ready as Gautham narrates the scene. Produced by Vels Films International, there are hardly 60 people on the sets and Gautham says, “We can’t keep sitting at home until the virus vanishes. As I have always said, ‘Life has to move on’. Today we are shooting for the song Naan Un Joshua and we will keep moving. We need to get it done before the light fades off.” Varun sits on a bike and Raahei takes the pillion. Gautham jumps onto the pickup truck and says ‘Start camera, rolling, action while Varun follows them. The crew stops at Vadanemmeli, three kilometres away, and takes a U-Turn, and is back on the sets. Varun says, “Post this we will be shifting to Mahabalipuram and will shoot till midnight. After this, we will break for the weekend and resume the shoot on Monday at a private hotel which is a few metres away. We have less than two weeks left for the film to wrap up.” Gautham Menon reveals that for Ennai Konjam Maatri in Kaakha Kaakha it was quite different. “This is just a few kilometres. For Ennai Konjam Maatri, we made Suriya drive all the way till Puducherry with Jyotika beside him.”
The cameras are assembled and Gautham Menon greets us as he sips his coffee. He narrates the scene to Raahei and shoots her part. “Today we are shooting this scene and then a song,” she tells us. The
actress later sums up Joshua as a challenging experience. “This isn’t a typical role and Gautham sir doesn’t write clichéd characters. He comes up with a surprise each day. And he is a perfectionist. He wants the dialogues the way he has written it. At the same time, he is captain cool, who makes everyone feel comfortable. Making your debut in a GVM film is a blessing. Varun too is chilled out. I learnt martial arts for the film for a specific scene where I have to hit someone and we will be shooting that as well I believe,” she tells us. Varun walks towards the sets and takes his seat next to Raahei. “Joshua will be a completely different film on my list. I had to travel to Paris and learn stunts from Yannick Ben to play my part. Here we are today, shooting for a song sequence and a scene,” he opens up. On shooting with Gautham Menon, he says, “One bit of appreciation from Gautham sir is an assurance of being a decent actor. He keeps motivating his actors, which keeps us going. My next shot is in the swimming pool upstairs and I will hit the gym now.”
Gautham Menon shoots a specific portion of the song with Raahei and tell us, “I wanted this specific shot in this particular mood and I am glad that we were able to capture it.” The hearsay on the sets and in the industry is that Gautham goes with the flow. We ask him about that and how it still resonates well with the audience. He says, “Yes, I do. It is because I am confident and not over-confident. I am an audience myself and I keep watching a lot of stuff. So, I know what would the audience like and what they wouldn’t.” On the day’s work, he reveals that the shoot would go on till two in the night. The portions that were originally scheduled to be shot in the US are now being shot on ECR. Talking about his never-ending love for ECR and coffee shops, he says, “I love this part of the city and it is peaceful out here. Right from Minnale till today, I have shot all my films here. Even today, I make it a point to go on a bike ride on ECR till Pondicherry once a month. As far as coffee shops, I love the aroma of the coffee. Sometimes, I get the connect there and ideas start kicking in.” This is SR Kathir’s fourth collaboration with Gautham after Neethane En Ponvasantham,d Yennai Arindhaal and Dhruva Natchathiram. “I worked partly in those films. Joshua is the first film where I am completely working with Gautham and it has been a journey. The US portions are now tweaked and we are showing ECR as it is in the camera,” he concludes.