Jayaraj, a national award-winning filmmaker, announced 'Highway 2' on actor Suresh Gopi’s birthday on June 26. A sequel to Jayaraj’s 1995 release Highway, featuring Suresh Gopi as the protagonist, the upcoming film is highly anticipated even by younger generations. The project is to hit the floors soon.
27 years ago, 'Highway' was a trend setter; the making style, costumes and presentation were all experimental and out of the box. Director Jayaraj opens up about 'Highway', its upcoming sequel, and his friendship with actor Suresh Gopi.
The announcement of 'Highway 2' itself has drawn all eyes to the project. How do you feel about the high anticipation from the audience?
The response from the audience is encouraging. We had not expected such huge anticipation and excitement from the audience. Many had asked me whether there would be a sequel to the movies Highway and Johny Walker. Though a second part for the latter was thought about, Highway 2 will be made first.
Highway (1995 release) was an action movie. Will 'Highway 2' cross the boundaries to cosmic proportions?
'Highway 2' will be a pan-Indian cinema on a huge canvas, making use of the present filmmaking technology. The script for the sequel movie was ready three years ago. It was postponed owing to the COVID situation. Now is the right time. Suresh Gopi is also ready to find more time for the movie. Other actors are yet to be finalized.
How did you go experimental and set a trend in those times in terms of the location, costumes etc for Highway?
I was very particular about placing it in a location which looked similar to the region around Mexican borders. It was after searching a lot that we zeroed in on a place called Valliyur near Nagarcoil; with wide roads, red soil and dry terrain - all that we had in mind. The township in Highway was a set. People used to come by buses just to see the township set in Valliyur, then.
Costume specialities made a mark not only in Highway but also in Johny Walker. I had presented torn jeans' style 30 years ago. The actor was a bit reluctant initially when I wanted him to tear his own expensive jeans. But he came around later. The costume focus was on a cowboy-style in Highway.
When Highway 2 was announced, many posted pictures of ‘Marlboro’ jeeps as fanmade posters. What is your take on that?
Marlboro jeep was a trend then. That was a period when Marlboro cigarettes were seen as a symbol of masculinity, a macho image. I wanted the introduction shot of the character to be very special. We felt a jeep would be better than a bike for the shot. The Marlboro jeep, the one seen in 'Highway', was specially modified taking inspiration from the jeeps used in African safari.
Suresh Gopi's movies get wide acceptance among Telugu audiences like Allu Arjun’s films are accepted in Kerala. Will the new movie appeal to such markets?
Definitely. Suresh’s movies dubbed into Telugu had a wide acceptance. Highway was a hit in Andhra Pradesh, much like in Kerala then. We hope Highway 2 also gets the acceptance that Tamil and Telugu movies now enjoy in Kerala. Highway 2 is going to be a mass action musical mystery film.
It has been 27 years since the release of Highway. Has there been any change in Suresh Gopi over these years?
Suresh has always been a good friend just a call away. We are reuniting for a movie after a long gap. Nevertheless, it has not affected our friendship at all. Suresh Gopi is a good human being in all senses.