Gautham Vasudev Menon, better known as Gautham Menon, is an Indian film director, story writer, and producer who works predominantly in the Tamil film industry. The director has carved a niche for himself in the industry by directing some of the most critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical and thriller movies. The stalwart director is most noted for directing Vaaranam Aayiram
and producing Thanga Meengal
under his producing company, Photon Kathas. Both the movies won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. Apart from directing some of the biggest blockbuster Tamil movies, Gautham Menon has also directed Telugu and Hindi films, which are mostly the remakes of his own Tamil films.
Menon, known for his unique style of filmmaking, stated that his films are largely inspired by the depth and aesthetics that are showcased in the American movies. In all his movies, Menon makes the characters sport similar kind of haircuts and make them wear urban casual wear. The director claimed that he was very inspired by movies like Nayakan and Dead Poets Society, which eventually led him to change his career path from being an engineer to become a filmmaker. Another significant aspect of his directorial work is that all his movies have a strong depiction of the female characters.
Born in Ottapalam, Palakkad, Kerala to Malayali father and Tamil mother, Gautham Menon grew up in Trichy, Tamil Nadu. He studied Mechanical Engineering in Mookambigai College of Engineering, Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu.
Gautham Menon is married to Preethi and the couple has three sons.
Gautham Menon started his career in the film industry by working as an apprentice under filmmaker, Rajiv Menon. He then worked as an assistant director for Minsara Kanavu, which was directed by Rajiv Menon
. The movie released in 1997 and it had Menon appearing in a cameo role. He made his debut as a director with Tamil film, Minnale (2001), which had R. Madhavan
, Abbas and newcomer Reemma Sen
in lead roles. Before the filming started, Gautham Menon said that he was under a lot of pressure as the entire crew barring the chief editor, Suresh Urs, was new. When the film released it was one of the biggest hits of that year as well as it was applauded by the critics.
The success of Minnale, led the Bollywood producer Vashu Bhagnani to sign Menon to direct the Hindi remake of the film, titled Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein starring R. Madhavan, Dia Mirza
, and Saif Ali Khan
. The movie released in 2001 and it received poor reviews as compared to the Tamil version and it was a commercial failure. Dejected by the film`s failure, Menon claimed that the movie lacked the simplicity of the original version due the producer`s intervention in the movie.
Menon returned to direction in 2003 with thriller Kaakha Kaakha
, starring Suriya Sivakumar
and Jeevan. The film showcases how the life of police officers is affected by the gangsters. In an interview, Menon revealed that he got inspiration for making the film after he read articles on how the encounter specialists and their families get threatening calls in return for doing their duty. The director had initially approached R. Madhavan, Vikram
and Ajith Kumar
to play the lead role, but all of them backed out citing that they did not want to play a police officer`s role. Eventually, on Joythika`s suggestion, the director offered the role to Suriya Sivakumar and the movie was a huge commercial success and it opened to positive critics review; the critics labeled the movie as the `career high film` for Menon.
In 2004, the director remade Kaakha Kaakha in Telugu as Gharshana with Daggubati Venkatesh
in the lead roles. The film earned commercial and critical acclaim and the director was compared to noted filmmakers like Ram Gopal Varma
and Mani Ratnam
. Post the success of Gharshana, Menon next teamed up with the star actor, Kamal Haasan
and directed the investigative Thriller Vettaiyaadu Velaiyaadu co-starring Prakash Raj, Jyothika, Daniel Balaji
and Kamalinee Mukherjee
. This film again highlighted an episode from a police officer`s life who goes to America to investigate the case of psychotic serial killers. The film released in August 2006 and Menon completed a hat-trick of successful films in Tamil.
Menon`s next project, Pachaikili Muthucharam was based on a novel, `Derailed`, written by James Siegel. The movie had R. Sarathkumar
and Jyothika in the lead roles and the movie released in February 2007. The movie, which marked the debut of the actress Andrea Jeremiah
opened to positive reviews but it failed commercially. His next film, Vaaranam Aayiram, released in 2007 and it had Suriya Sivakumar in the lead, who essayed a dual role. The film was a commercial hit and got critical acclaim.
Menon later revealed that much like the story of the movie, which showcases the life of a youngster who finds inspiration from the life of his father at various stages of life, he too was inspired by the life of his father and dedicated the success of the movie to his father who had passed away a year before the movie released. The movie made with a budget of 15 Crores INR and it grossed over 22 Crores INR worldwide. The film also won five Filmfare Awards, nine Vijay Awards and the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in 2008.
In 2010, Menon made a romantic Tamil film, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa
, starring Silambarasan
and Trisha Krishnan
. The film showcases the relationship between Hindu boy and a Christian girl and their emotional conflicts. The movie, which marked Menon`s first collaboration with A.R. Rahman
, opened to great positive reviews and later it was given a `classic` cult status. Soon after the shooting completed, Menon began shooting for the Telugu version of the movie, which was titled, Ye Maaya Chesave
and it had a fresh cast including Naga Chaitanya
and debutante Samantha Ruth Prabhu
. Just like the Tamil version, this movie was critically acclaimed and it was the most profitable Telugu movie of 2010.
Menon`s next movie was Nadunisi Naaygal
starring Veera Bahu
and Sameera Reddy
. It was the first movie produced under his production company, Photon Kathaas. Menon claimed that the movie is inspired by a true event that happened in the USA; during the making of the movie, he stated that the film is not meant for the family audience. The movie revolves around the life of a child abuse victim and how he later creates havoc in the life of women. Upon release, the film got poor reviews and the director got into trouble as people protested in front of his house for showing explicit sex and violent scenes.
The year 2012 marked the return of Menon to Bollywood with the Hindi remake of Tamil movie, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya and was titled Ekk Deewana Tha.
The movie starred Prateik Babbar
and Amy Jackson
and unlike the original version, opened to below average reviews and was a commercial failure. Menon`s next release was a Tamil movie Neenthaane En Ponvasantham
, which was also made in Telugu as Yeto Vellipoyindhi Manasu
. Both the films released in 2012 and it had Jiiva
in the lead roles, while Samantha Ruth Prabhu was the lead actress in both the movies. The movie co-produced by Photon Kathaas opened to average reviews and it was an average earner.
After a gap of two years, in April 2014, Menon started shooting for Yennai Arindhaal
, which was the third installment of his police movie. The movie released in 2015 and it had Ajith, Anushka Shetty
, Trisha Krishnan, Parvathy Nair
and Arun Vijay in pivotal roles. The movie was a commercial hit but it opened to mixed critical reviews. His solitary directorial venture in 2016 was the Silambarasn and Manjima Mohan
starring Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada
, which opened to positive reviews. His 2017 release includes Power Paandi
, the directorial debut on Dhanush, where he appeared in a cameo. His 2019 projects include Enai Noki Paayum Thota and Puppy. His other releases include Trance (2020), Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal (2020) and Nenjam Marappathillai (2021).