Gautham Vasudev Menon is an Indian film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor, who mainly works in the Tamil film industry. He has also directed several Hindi and Telugu films which are mostly the remake of his own Tamil films. He is best known for his films Minnale (2001), Kaakha Kaakha (2003), Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (2006), Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa (2010), Yennai Arindhaal (2015), and Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu (2022). All these films were highly appreciated by both critics and audiences. His film Vaaranam Aayiram (2008) won the National Film Award for being the Best Feature Film in Tamil.
Gautham Vasudev Menon was born on Sunday, 25 February 1973 (age 50 years; as of 2023) in Ottapalam, Palakkad district, Kerala. His father was a Malayali and his mother is a Tamil. Though he was born in Kerala, he was brought up in Anna Nagar, Chennai. He did his schooling at Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, Chennai and completed a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mookambigai College of Engineering, Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu (1993) The Hindu. Gautham developed his passion for filmmaking when he was in college. He was inspired by films like Nayakan (an Indian Tamil language drama film; 1987) and Dead Poets Society (an American drama film; 1989). At that time, he decided to change his career path and pursue his passion for filmmaking. Besides his passion for filmmaking, he was an avid cricketer, singer, and choreographer in his college. The Hindu In an interview in 2010, he told about the role of college in helping him to fulfil his dreams to get into filmmaking. The Hindu He said,
College education is a must. It is true that I did not get much out of engineering, but I got a lot out of the whole experience. College moulded me into the man I am today.”
Height (approx.): 5′ 11″
Weight (approx.): 75 kgs
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Gautham Vasudev Menon was born to a Malayali father who passed away on 14 February 2007. His mother is a Tamilian.
Parents & Siblings
Gautham’s father’s name was Vasudev Menon and his mother’s name is Uma Prabhakrishnan. His mother is a PGT teacher at Jawahar Vidyalaya. Instagram – Uma Prabhakrishnan
His father passed away in 2007. He has two sisters, AnupamaMenon and Uthara Menon. Uthara Menon is a celebrity costume designer in the Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam film industries. Instagram – Uthara Menon
When Gautham was in college, he expressed his desire to become a filmmaker to his parents. It was his mother who guided him to start shooting for various commercials and take an apprenticeship under the filmmaker Rajiv Menon. Rediff In an interview, he shared his story of getting into the world of films. He said,
I’d watch a lot of films and whenever I saw one, I had this strong urge to make one. Though my parent were shocked at my decision to turn filmmaker, they were very co-operative. It was my mother who suggested that I join an ad agency first. She gave me the name of Rajiv Menon’s ad agency and, soon, I came to assist Menon in his first feature film, Minsara Kanavu. After that, I decided to work on my own.”
Wife & Children
Gautham Vasudev Menon is married to Preethi Menon. The couple has three sons, Arya, Dhruva, and Adhya.
Gautham Vasudev Menon developed his interest in filmmaking when he was in college. He started writing his first script when he was in college. The Hindu In an interview, he said,
It was here I made the decision to become a filmmaker. I started writing my first script at the college hostel.”
He wrote about the lead roles in the films Minnale (2001), Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa (2010), Neethaane En Ponvasantham (2012), and Enai Noki Paayum Thota (2019) when he was in college. He has worked as a dialogue writer for the Tamil version of the film titled 99 Songs (2021).
Initially, he worked as an assistant director for a Tamil language romantic drama film Minsara Kanavu in 1997. In 2000-2001, Gautham Vasudev Menon directed the film O Lala, a Tamil language romantic drama film. The film’s title was changed to Minnale with R. Madhavan in the lead role. The film was released in February 2001 and became a hit.
In 2003, he directed a police thriller film Kaakha Kaakha showing the personal life of a police officer and how life gets affected by gangsters. The film became a hit.
In 2006, he directed the film Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu with Kamal Haasan in the lead role. The story of the film was about an Indian police officer who moved to America to investigate the case of a psychotic serial killer. The film was released in August 2006 and managed to gain a lot of popularity and became the third successive Tamil hit of Gautham Vasudev Menon.
Gautham Vasudev Menon directed the film Pachaikili Muthucharam in 2007 starring Sarath Kumar in the lead role. Though Menon’s direction was appreciated, the film failed to perform well. Menon claimed that Sarath Kumar was not the right choice for the film and also stated that he was not in the right state of mind while shooting for the film as his father was unwell. The film was released on 13 February 2007 and his father died on 14 February 2007.
In 2008, he directed the film Vaaranam Aayiram which became a huge blockbuster and won five Filmfare Awards, nine Viyak Awards, and National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. Apart from this, the film managed to earn approximately 220 million rupees worldwide. Behindwoods
In 2010, Menon directed a romantic drama film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. The film became the first Tamil project that had a music soundtrack premier outside India, with a successful and amazing launch at the BAFTA in London. Behindwoods
Gautham directed a psychological film Nadunisi Naaygal in 2011 which was his first home production under Photon Kathaas. The film managed to perform below average.
Gautham’s next release was Neethaane En Ponvasantham in 2012 which was his home production film under Photon Kathaas.
Yennai Arindhaal, an action thriller film was co-written and directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon. The film was released in February 2015. This was the third instalment in the franchise of his police films after Kaakha Kaakha (2003) and Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (2006). The film managed to get mixed to positive reviews from people. Gautham’s work was appreciated and the film became Gautham’s first commercially successful Tamil film in five years. The Hindu
In 2016, he directed a romantic action thriller film Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada. A Telugu version of the film titled Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo was shot simultaneously. In an interview, Menon said that he was financing the Tamil version of the film with the salary he received from the producers of the Telugu version.
His other Tamil films are Enai Noki Paayum Thota (2019), Putham Pudhu Kaalai (2020), Kutty Story (2021), Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu Part 1: The Kindling (2022), and many more.
With the success of the Tamil film Minnale in 2001, the producer Vashu Bhagnani approached Gautham Menon to direct the Hindi version of the film with the title Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein (2001). Menon was sceptical about the Hindi remake of the film but took just half an hour to agree. He was not happy with the decision of producer Vashu to change the original technical crew of the film. Rediff The film starred R. Madhavan, Dia Mirza, and Saif Ali Khan. The film was released in October 2001 and managed to give a below-average performance at the box office.
In 2012, Gautham directed the Hindi version titled Ekk Deewana Thaa of his Tamil film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. The film’s performance was below average and became a box office failure. Box Office India
In 2004, Gautham Vasudev Menon made the Telugu version titled Gharshana of his Tamil film Kaakha Kaakha. The film managed to gain a lot of positive responses due to technical excellence and amazing work by Gautham. Not only this but his art of filmmaking was compared to that of Mani Ratnam and Ram Gopal Verma.
In 2010, Gautham Vasudev Menon directed the Telugu version titled Ye Maaya Chesave of the Tamil film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. The film managed to gain positive responses from both the audience and critics.
In 2012, he directed Yeto Vellipoyindhi Manasu which was his home production under Photon Kathaas.
Gautham Vasudev Menon directed the Telugu version film titled Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo of the Tamil film Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada in 2016.
In 2019, Gautham Vasudev Menon released the Tamil language web series Queen which is based on the life story of Indian politician Jayalalithaa. The series was released on MX Player.
The other two anthology series Paava Kadhaigal (2020) and Navarasa (2021) were released on Netflix.
Gautham Vasudev Menon produced and directed a Tamil short film Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn in 2020.
Singing and Rapping
Gautham Vasudev Menon sang the song Pudhu Oru Kadavu for a Tamil comedy-drama film Uppu Karuvaadu in 2015.
He has also sung the song Uyire Vaa for the Tamil film Puppy (2019). He has done the rapped part of the song Nira in the Tamil film Takkar (2023).
Cameo Roles in films directed by him
Gautham Vasudev Menon has made several cameo appearances in the films directed by him. Some of them are, Minnale (flower man; 2001), Kaakha Kaakha (police officer Vasudevan Nair; 2003), Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (dancer in the song Manjal Veyil; 2006), Pachaikili Muthucharam (bus passenger; 2007), Vaaranam Aayiram (informer; 2008), Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa (himself; 2010), Yennai Arindhaal (police officer; 2015), Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (police officer; 2016), and Kutty Story (Aadhi; 2021).
Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein (Maddy’s Boss; 2001) and Ekk Deewana Tha (actor; 2012).
Ye Maaya Chesave (actor; 2010) and Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo (police officer; 2016).
Cameo Roles in other films
Minsara Kanavu (man in crowd; 1997), Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiya (2013), Yatchan (2015), Oru Naal Iravil (2015), Power Paandi (2017), Goli Soda 2 (Raghavan; 2018), Oh My Kadavule (2020), Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal (DCP Prathap Chakravarthi; 2020), Theeviram (police officer; 2020), Rudra Thandavam (Vathapirajan; 2021), 3:33 (paranormal investigator; 2021), FIR (Ajay Dewan; 2022), Selfie (Ravi Varma; 2022), Don (2022), 13 (Arulmozhi Varman; 2023), and Viduthalai Part 1 (Sunil Menon; 2023).
Ee Nagaraniki Emaindhi (2018), Sita Raman (Major Selvan; 2022), and Michael (Gurunath and his twin brother; 2023)
Naam (2018), Trance (Solomon; 2020), and Lovefully Yours Veda (Sri Kumar Kartha; 2023)
The Malayalam film Anuragam was released on 5th May 2023 with Gautham Vasudev Menon, Sheela, and Johny Antony in the lead roles. The film is Shahad’s directional debut. New18
Gautham Vasudev Menon has worked as a dubbing artist for several actors like Jeevan (Kaakha Kaakha; 2003) Salim Baig (Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu; 2006), Muthukumar (Veppam; 2011), and Suresh Menon (Thaanaa Serndha Koottam; 2018).
Dubbing artist of Salim Baig (Gharshana; 2004)
In 2010, Gautham Vasudev Menon established his own production company with Venky Somasundaram and Reshma Ghatala as co-promoters. The name of the production company was derived from Gautham’s original company’s name “Photon Factory” which had produced several films of Gautham. Nadunisi Naaygal (2011) was the first Tamil home production under Photon Kathaas. The film’s performance was above average.
In 2012, Gautham Vasudev Menon produced two films under his production house, Neethaane En Ponvasantham in Tamil and Yeto Vellipoyindhi Manasu in Telugu.
For producing the Tamil film Neethaane En Ponvasantham in 2012, Gautham teamed up with Elred Kumar of RS Infotainment. There was high hope related to the success of the film but its performance was just average at the box office. This lead to trouble between Gautham and Elred. Elred Kumar filed a legal case against Gautham and the producer Madan on account of taking the advance payment of 40 million to make a film but keep on delaying the project for several reasons. Due to this, the other productions of the company Photon Kathaas fell into trouble. In 2016, Gautham Menon announced that his production company Photon Kathaas has been closed with references to the cases filed by RS Infotainment against the company. Scroll
Protests outside Gautham’s house
The film Nadunisi Naaygal (2011) of Gautham Menon was based on the story of a victim of child abuse and how he further causes damage to women. The film managed to perform above average with several critics labelling it as “not for family audiences” and “loopholes in the story with no logic and doubts.” Even a group of protestors held a protest outside Gautham Menon’s house in Chennai as according to them several scenes in the film were against the Tamil culture. They were against the misuse of the name of Goddess in the film and several explicit content and violent scenes. However, the protestors were arrested by the police. In reply to the whole situation, Gautham said that the story is based on a true incident and he had no intentions to hurt anyone. He further said that the film promos always stated that the film is only for a selective group of people since it got an “A” certification. BehindwoodsHe said,
Nadunisi Naaygal is based on a true story and the antagonist is a mentally disturbed person who cannot distinguish between good and bad.”
A legal case against the director
In 2012, the production company of Gautham Vasudev Menon teamed up with RS Infotainment to produce the Tamil film Neethaane En Ponvasantham. The average response to the film led to a legal battle between the producer of the film Elred Kumar and Gautham Vasudev Menon in 2013. The producers Elred Kumar and R Jayaraman filed a legal case against the director Gautham Menon and producer P Madan stating that Gautham and Madan had entered into an agreement on 27 November 2008 stating that they would do a film with Silambarasan in the lead role with music by A.R. Rahman, during the shooting schedule of the film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaaa (2010). However, in December 2010, it was decided that the actor Allu Arjun would be in the lead role of the film with the previous team of technicians. Elred and R Jayaraman claimed that both Gautham and Madan had gone on to do other projects rather than doing the film for them even though both Gautham and Madan were paid 40 million in advance. The case was filed by Elred and Jayaraman in February 2013 for the business interest that either Gautham and Madan do the financial settlement or proceed further to do a film for them. The Times of IndiaIn an interview, Elred Kumar said,
We share a friendly relationship with Gautham and Madan but we were forced to file a case to protect our business interest. We had paid them 4.25 crore to begin the project but now, Gautham has announced that he will be doing a Suriya film titled Thuppariyum Anandan. We have asked him to either settle the amount and proceed with the Suriya film or do a film for us before taking on other projects.”
The case was solved with an amicable settlement between the parties but as a result of legal trouble, Gautham found it difficult to release the rest of the productions of Photos Kathaas.
The public clash between Gautham and Simbu
There were reports of a public clash between Gautham Vasudev Menon and actor Simbu (Silambarasan) while shooting for the film Achcham Yenbathu Madamaiyada in 2016. The film was in production for several years and was getting postponed due to several reasons. This caused tension between both parties. There were reports that Gautham didn’t pay the part of remuneration to the actor and due to this he was not turning up for shootings. Gautham blamed the actor for the delay in the shooting of the movie due to his irresponsible behaviour for not turning up for the shooting. There were several public disputes between the two. However, the remaining part of the shooting was done but faced a lot of issues too to get the release date. Eventually, the film was released on 11th November, 2016 India Today Deccan Chronicle
Public Fallout between Gautham and Harris Jayaraj
Both the director Gautham Vasudev Menon and the music composer Harris Jayaraj made their debut with the film Minnale in 2001. The duo worked together successfully for several films like Kaakha Kaakha, Pachaikili Muthucharam, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, Vaaranam Aayiram, and many more. Though the partnership between the two was one of the most successful ones in Kollywood, things turned ugly between the two in 2008 when Harris made a public announcement of getting separated from Gautham. India Today IndiaGlitzThe duo didn’t reveal the reason for the separation but in an interview, Harris said,
We are forced to take the decision. There is no ill-feeling between us. I wish him all the best in all his future endeavors.”
However, they both returned together in 2015 for the film Yennai Arindhaal by overcoming their past differences.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Vijay Award for Favourite Director, Vaaranam Aayiram (2008)
- Nandi Award for Best Screenplay Writer, Ye Maaya Chesave (2010)
- Nandi Special Jury Award, Ye Maaya Chesave (2010)
- Honoured for Creative Excellence, Rotary Club of Chennai (2010)
- National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil, Thanga Meengal (2013)
- Filmfare Award for Best Film – Tamil, Thanga Meengal (2013)
- Vijay Award for Best Film, Thanga Meengal (2013)
- Government of Tamil Nadu, Kalaimamani (2021)
- Beverage: Hot Chocolate
- Actor: Kamal Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan
- Actress(es): Kajol, Nayanthara
- Indian Director(s): Mani Ratnam, Ram Gopal Verma
- International Director: Martin Scorsese
- Music Director: Harris Jayaraj
- Film(s): Awara (1951), Pyaasa (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Nayakan (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Amarkalam (1999) Subramaniapuram (2008)
- In an interview, Gautham Vasudev Menon said that he found it difficult to work with the team of Minnale (2001) as all of them were new to the industry except Suresh Urs, who was an experienced technician in the making of the film. Madhavan, the lead of the film, was also at the beginning of his career and worried about playing the role. Menon further said that he was under a lot of pressure when Madhavan asked him to narrate the story of the film to his mentor Mani Ratnam to check if the film Minnale was a good career move for Madhavan or not. Menon did so but Mani Ratnam was not impressed with the storyline of the film. However, Madhavan agreed to continue with the project. The film was released in February 2001 and became a hit at that time. The film managed to get a positive response from both the audience and critics.
- According to Gautham, the decision to become a filmmaker was made when he was in college. He said that organising the students’ cultural festivals and participating in several college fests helped him to gain confidence in life. The Hindu
- In an interview in 2010, he said that it was Mani Ratnam’s film Nayakan (1987) that fueled him to fulfil his desire to become a director. The Hindu
- In an interview in 2001, Gautham Vasudev Menon revealed that he was not in favour of the Hindi remake of the film Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein as he had plans of directing Tamil and Malayalam films initially and Hindi films were supposed to come later on. It took him half an hour to make the final decision of directing the Hindi version. He further said that he was not in favour of changing the original unit of the film but the director Vashu insisted Gautham to change the unit as Vashu felt that they needed a new unit that can understand the Hindi audiences well. Rediff He said,
Directing a film in Hindi was not on the cards originally. I thought of making a few Tamil films and the occasional Malayalam film. Hindi films were supposed to come into the picture much later on. But Madhavan was very keen to do a Hindi film. When the producer Vashu Bhagnani saw Minnale and contacted Madhavan, he agreed to do the Hindi version. But he wanted me to direct it. I was rather confused initially; I wasn’t sure the Hindi remake would turn out well. I was apprehensive. I took half an hour. Madhavan was very keen that I make the film. I originally wanted to work with the same unit for the Hindi film too but Vashu Bhagnani felt that we needed people who knew the Hindi audiences better.”
- According to Gautham, he used to watch a lot of films in theatres to notice the reactions of the audiences regarding various scenes of the films. He did so because he wanted to deeply understand the mindset of the audience so that he can make his first film as per their preferences and choices. Rediff
- Gautham Vasudev Menon revealed that he was inspired to make the film Kaakha Kaakha in 2003 after reading various articles on how specialists were trained to encounter and shoot gangsters and how their families are threatened after this. He further said that initially, he approached R. Madhavan, Ajith Kumar and then Vikram to play the lead role but all of them refused as they didn’t want to play the role of a police officer. However, he signed Suriya for the role. Before beginning the shooting, Gautham Menon enrolled Suriya in a commando training school to prepare him well for the role. The film was released in August 2003 and managed to gain positive reviews from both audiences and critics.
- In 2004, Gautham Vasudev Menon decided to direct the Hindi version of his Tamil film Kaakha Kaakha. He had signed Sunny Deol for the lead role. Gautham even revealed that the lead role of the film Kaakha Kaakha was written 5 years ago keeping Sunny Deol in mind. However, due to certain reasons, the film couldn’t take off. The Hindi version of the film “Force” starring John Abraham and Genelia D’Souza was released in 2011 and the producer Vipul Shah contacted Gautham in 2010 to direct the film. Gautham initially agreed but later on, pulled out again. The film Force was then directed by Nishikant Kamat.
- Gautham Vasudev Menon had a plan of making the English version of the film Kaakha Kaakha and thought of collaborating with Ashok Amritraj, chairman and CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment Group for this purpose. However, due to certain reasons, the plan failed to take off.
- As per the reports, during the shooting of the Tamil film Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu in 2006, the producer of the film had attempted suicide due to which the entire unit of the film fell into trouble. Kamal Haasan, the lead actor in the film wanted to quit but it was Gautham who convinced Kamal to work as they had taken the advance payments. However, despite getting into trouble, the film managed to gain the love and appreciation of both audiences and critics.
- In another interview, Menon said that he wanted to make the Hindi remake of the film Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role in 2006. However, to due certain reasons, the project couldn’t take off. Later on in 2012, Menon again started negotiating with producers for the Hindi remake of the film but with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role.
- According to the reports in 2007, Gautham began work for the youth-centric film Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam with several newcomers. The shooting of the film started in September 2007 and continued for 30 days. However, the shooting was delayed and eventually stopped. The Hindu The project was dropped as Menon felt that the actors needed to be trained properly first and he said he would consider re-starting the project later on in life. The Hindu
- The blockbuster film Vaaranam Aayiram (2008) of Gautham is very close and personal to him. He said that 70 per cent of the film is about his life and considers it his autobiography. Baradwaj Rangan
- In 2012, Gautham directed the two versions of the films in both Tamil and Telugu and had plans to direct the third one with a Hindi version titled Assi Nabbe Poorey Sau. He decided to cast Aditya Roy Kapoor in the lead role but the project couldn’t take off after the box-office failure of Ekk Deewana Tha.
- In an interview in 2015, Gautham revealed that he always pen down the film’s climax only after the shooting begins. This is because he feels that the climax of the film can alter once the shooting starts. Deccan ChronicleHe said,
I write till 80 per cent of the script as I have to start shooting with dialogues and scenes, but I don’t write the climax. I decide the climax after most of the film shot. I check the body language of the actor and factor in many other aspects and then I will write the climax. Though I have an idea about the climax, it always changes when shooting starts.”
- Gautham Menon Vasudev’s filmmaking style is very unique and is highly appreciated by audiences as most of his films are based on middle-class stories where the actors are shown in urban casual wear with a strong hold on the English language. Unlike other films where a female lead is shown as a hero-worshipping mere prop, he gives a strong depiction of female characters. Baradwaj Rangan
- In an interview in 2008, he expressed his desire to work with American actor Robert De Niro.
- Gautham Menon doesn’t like the dubbed version of his films and due to this many of his films have been re-directed in different languages.
- Gautham Vasudev Menon has gotten into a public clash with many of his actors like Ram Pothineni, Suriya, Simbu, Dhanush, and many others over the disputes of the behaviour of both parties. Some even accused Gautham of not paying them timely remuneration. India Today
- Gautham Menon had started the shooting of several films but they were all delayed and eventually shelved due to certain reasons.