'Neymar' is meant for the theatres, I have given it my all: Director Sudhi Maddison

Director Sudhi Maddison
When I set out to make Neymar, my goal was to create a movie that would entertain audiences with a wide range of emotions, says Sudhi. Photo: Sudhi Maddison/Instagram

Sudhi Maddison, the debut director of the upcoming film 'Neymar', is eagerly awaiting its release. Starring Naslen and Mathew in the lead roles, along with the canine star Neymar, the movie has garnered attention for its unique concept. Sudhi recently spoke to Onmanorama about his experience working on the film and the process behind it.

Neymar's trailer looks promising. Is it going to be a full-on entertainer or an emotional drama?
When I set out to make Neymar, my goal was to create a movie that would entertain audiences with a wide range of emotions. While many dog movies tend to focus on the emotional side of things, I wanted to bring a bit of mischief to the story as well.

Rather than being solely focused on joy or sadness, Neymar is a movie that explores a variety of emotions. The film tells the story of how a dog becomes a part of Mathew and Naslen's characters' lives, and the fun and sometimes unpredictable things that happen as a result.

What was it like to work with a dog in the movie? Was it easy, or did it pose some challenges?
Working with Neymar was quite an experience. He was just 2.5 months old when he was handed over for training, and it wasn't an easy job. While it's easier to train foreign breeds, it's not the same with local breeds. But we were up for the challenge. Neymar was trained for 4-5 months before we started shooting, and it was exciting to see him grow and learn.

The biggest challenge was getting the shots we needed with Neymar because it all depended on his mood. We had to incorporate various techniques to make him cooperate, but it was worth it. Neymar loved chicken, and we used it as a treat to make him do fun activities during shoots. We had to be careful not to interact with Neymar during shoots as he would get distracted and wander off to play with us. So, indeed, working with Neymar was a challenging but rewarding experience.

How do you feel as a first-time director with Neymar's release just around the corner?
I don't feel particularly tense right now. Having worked as a film editor for 10 years and as an assistant director on the movie 'Jilla', and having edited and spot edited at least 20 other films, I feel confident in my abilities. Additionally, I served as the co-director of 'Operation Java', so our team is very confident in the content we've created. However, I can't say for sure how I'll feel when the movie is actually released.

Why did you choose a theatrical release for Neymar despite the growing prominence of movies on OTT platforms these days?
Theatrical release was the preferred choice for Neymar, given its grand scale and setting in a Malayalam-Tamil backdrop. While OTT platforms are gaining popularity, the movie is designed to be experienced on the big screen, as it offers a complete entertainment package. Once you watch the film, you'll realize why it was made for the theatres.

With the controversy surrounding young actors and their perceived lack of professionalism these days, did you encounter any issues while working with young actors in this film?
I didn't experience anything like that. In fact, I was very comfortable working with the lead actors who were quite young and understanding. It was easy to communicate and interact with them freely. Mathew and Naslen were on the same wavelength as me, which gave me the freedom to express my thoughts and ideas openly.

What was it like working with the highly sought-after duo of Mathew and Naslen in the industry?
Since the scripting process of Neymar, I had been in contact with Mathew. Our discussions started right after the completion of 'Operation Java'. We also wanted Naslen to be a part of this movie. As you mentioned, their collaboration is highly sought after and they are a valuable combination. Neymar is their third film together. Although many other directors may have approached them with scripts in the past, those attempts may not have been successful. Therefore, it was crucial for us to approach them with a well-crafted script. Once we were ready, we reached out to them, and they both agreed to be a part of the project.

Did you have prior knowledge of Mathew being cast in Vijay's upcoming film Leo? How excited was he about it?
While we were dubbing Neymar, Mathew shared the news about his role in Vijay's upcoming movie, Leo. We were thrilled to hear about it and it's always a great feeling to see someone you've worked with achieving success. Mathew was definitely excited about it, but I don't have much information beyond that.

I did not come from a film background. When I was in college, I aspired to become an editor. No one in my family or circle of friends had a background in the film industry.

Sudhi Maddison

Have you always aspired to become a director? Was the journey to becoming a director a smooth one for you?
I did not come from a film background. When I was in college, I aspired to become an editor. No one in my family or circle of friends had a background in the film industry. I learned editing on my own by watching YouTube channels. The process is surely not easy. I reached out to editors in the Malayalam and Tamil film industries for opportunities, and eventually, I landed a job as an assistant director in 'Jilla'. It was only in 2017-18 that I started feeling the desire to direct my own movie. Up until then, I always had dreams of becoming an editor.

Future Projects?
Currently, I am fully focused on Neymar and not involved in any other projects. I have put all my efforts and dedication into this movie. I have given this movie my all. Once Neymar is released, I will consider new projects. I aspire to work on bigger-scale films in the future and hopefully, that opportunity will present itself.

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