The film Ghilli directed by Dharani is an iconic one that was released in the year 2004, on April 17. It is undoubtedly an important film in the career for Thalapathy Vijay. It was a remake of the Telugu film Okkadu. When the film had released, it had three straight days of houseful shows in all the screens in Udhayam complex, Chennai. Interestingly it was the first time, a film was released on a Saturday. Ghilli had everything going in its favour, be it the direction or screenplay or performance or music or action sequences or the engagement factor. In short it had all the necessary checkboxes for a perfect commercial potboiler, ticked. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Ghilli, we spoke to director Dharani and he was both moved and delighted to talk about the film.
In an exclusive conversation with us, he says, “This is a very proud moment for me, 15 years of Ghilli! This film would not have been made without Vijay, Trisha, Prakash Raj, DoP Gopinath, Editor VT Vijayan, dialogue writer Bharadhan, art director Mani Raj, choreographer Kalyan, Raju Sundaram, my assistant directors Vidya Reddy, Chaplin, Nagendran, Surya, my associate director Jawahar, Shanthakumar, Co director Jayabalan sir and Babu Sivan, my costume designer, fight master Rocky Rajesh, my production manager, my producer and all my technicians. Ghilli is not there without these people." Interestingly, he said that they had adapted the movie from Okkadu and did not remake it. Dharani also added that he actually had three different stories - one on Kabbadi, another one on a heroine being hidden in a lighthouse and the third one a big chase like a road film. Since all these three stories were incorporated in Okkadu, the team decided to go with it.
He also credited producer AM Rathnam, stating that a film of such a huge budget would not have been possible, if not for him! However, Dharani reserved the biggest plaudits for his hero - Thalapathy Vijay! The director mentioned that there were many fight sequences of huge proportion; rolling around in slush, running while carrying Trisha and a number of such strenuous such scenes which Vijay did perfectly. Explaining about a pivotal scene in the movie, Dharani said, "It was a dream to shoot in front of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple. Such shoot could have been possible earlier when fan clubs had not existed. But to film with someone like Vijay, we had employed a guerilla kind of shooting without his fans even knowing. When they came to know, they were little upset but when I explained, they understood and had cooperated with me to complete the shooting. The dream of wanting to shoot in front of the temple became a reality, thanks to the cast, my team and also Vijay fans."
Dharani also mentioned that Vijay had performed some risky stunt sequences, like a jeep hitting another vehicle, without a stunt double. In another scene, Trisha had to jump out from the lighthouse on to an umbrella, which Dharani says she did on her own along with Vijay. Prakash Raj was the highlight in Ghilli and his stylish pronunciation of "Chellam" went on to get him the name Chellam Prakash Raj. Dharani also revealed that when he revealed the title to Superstar Rajini, he had mentioned that already 50% of the movie's success was guaranteed with such a title! Rajini actually attended the felicitation function of the movie on it's 230th day in the theatres and presented all the cast and crew members with a commemorative shield! Dharani signed off the interview by thanking every single person who was involved in the movie for its massive success and also extended a heartfelt thanks to all the fans who made it into such a blockbuster.