'Mayakkam Enna was a pleasant journey'
Mechanical engineer turned film-maker Selvaraghavan shocked Tamil audiences with his first film Kadal Kondein that starred his younger brother Dhanush. He continues to shock and amaze audiences with each of his films, whether it is 7 G Rainbow Colony or Pudupettai or Aayirathil Oruvan.
His latest film Mayakkam Enna with Dhanush and Richa in the lead is ready (to release on 11.11.11) and the posters have already evoked tremendous interest in the film.
A reclusive Selvaraghavan spoke exclusively to Shobha Warrier about the film and his journey as a film-maker so far.
It has been quite a while after Aayirathil Oruvan was released.
Yes, but I don't feel the gap is long as it was a very tough film to make. It was tiring and I needed some time to get back to work again.
Aayirathil Oruvan was a different kind of film shot in difficult terrain. Was it both physically and mentally strenuous?
It was physically as well as mentally strenuous. It was a physically demanding film. Then, I was not too happy with the post production. So, not only shooting but post production work also took a toll on me and all of us.
Image: A still from Mayakkam Enna. Inset: Selvaraghavan
'A movie is really born only when it goes on the floors'
How did rejuvenate yourself?
Eat, sleep and read. I had to sort out some personal issues also. So, it was home sweet home!
In between, there were reports of you starting several films including one with Kamal Haasan. Were they true?
The problem is that the moment you start talking about a film, reports appear as if everything has been finalised. A lot of things have to be taken care of for a movie to finally take shape; just a thought or an idea alone is not enough. Before you start rolling, you need to tie up a lot of loose ends. That was how the reports of me directing a Kamal film and all that came out. Finally when it did not proceed, the reports said it was scrapped. Where is the question of scrapping a film when it had not even started?
A movie is really born only when it goes on the floors. Till then, you can never say whether it will materialise or not because there are so many people involved in it.
Were the scripts ready for all those films that were supposed to have been scrapped?
I will put it like this, all those who are connected with the films have to agree with the script and accept it. Without that, it will not proceed at all.
Image: A still from Mayakkam Enna.
'A movie cannot be made without the film-maker becoming a part of it'
You said that after Aayirathil Oruvan, you just ate and slept. But weren't you writing scripts too?
(Laughs) Yes, I was! For example, I wrote the script of Mayakkam Enna then. It was my brother's idea. When he (Dhanush) suggested the idea, I thought why not write a script based on the idea? So I wrote it. It is about gen-next, how they think and behave.
When we spoke several years ago, you had said that a part of you is always there in the protagonist. In Mayakkam Enna, did you move away?
On the contrary, I got totally into the protagonist. A movie cannot be made without the film-maker becoming a part of it. I don't mind going back and getting into his shoes. One good thing about me is I don't feel I am growing old. I think I stopped growing after I was 18 or 19. I like to believe that I am 18 or 19 all the time.
Not only as the script-writer but as a film-maker also, one has to take the journey along with the characters.
Was Mayakkam Enna a pleasant journey or a painful one?
It was a pleasant journey, while it was a very painful journey for Aayirathil Oruvan. In the case of Aayirathil Oruvan, I was not sure what kind of a journey I was undertaking because it was a road untravelled. Several times I ended up in unknown destinations. One might be expecting a valley in front but what one saw in front was a hill! One never knew where the road took you.
On the other hand, the journey I undertook in Mayakkam Enna was already travelled.
Image: A still from Mayakkam Enna
'I have the same kind of understanding with all my actors'
You said you had a pleasant journey in Mayakkam Enna. Is there no pain in this romance?
No romance is without pain. Only the dosage changes. It was much less in Mayakkam Enna.
You and Dhanush have worked together for quite some time and you seem to be in perfect sync with each other. Do you get the same understanding from other actors too?
I have the same kind of understanding with all the other actors. I could vibe equally well with Karthi and Venkatesh too. I have tremendous understanding with Richa in Mayakkam Enna. Unless a film-maker has a perfect understanding with his actors, it is very difficult to get the right kind of performance from them. They have to understand what is expected of them and you have to clearly tell them what you expect from them.
Long ago when I asked you why your protagonists look like you, you said you enact the scenes to your actors. But Karthi in Aayirathil Oruvan looked totally different...
Yes, that was very intentional. If Karthi looked and behaved the way I did, the film would look like another Kadal Kondein. We worked hard on Karthi's expressions and body language so that he looked and behaved totally different.
Image: A still from Mayakkam Enna
'I have not made a film like this before'
You have directed Dhanush in his first film and now in Mayakkam Enna. How much has he grown as an actor?
He was like a baby in Kadal Kondein. Now, he is a national award winner. Should I say anything more?
How was the experience of making Mayakkam Enna?
It was a pleasant one for me but I will know whether it is a pleasant one for the audience only when it releases. I have not made a film like this before. So, the experience was new and enriching. I felt good making the film and I hope it will make others also feel good.
Now that the film is ready for release, have you started thinking about your next journey?
My next film is Irandam Ulakam with Arya and Anushka, and I will start shooting in December. But till the release of this film, nothing else will be on my mind.
How long do you carry your film and its characters with you? Till the release?
At least 10-15 days after the release. After that, I have to find a way to wriggle out of it. I would say those characters are forced out of my system by new characters who are out there trying to get in!
When I look back and think about my earlier films and my characters, I see only the flaws in characterisation and film-making. So, I have stopped thinking about my earlier films. By God's grace, I have a very short memory too (laughs)!
Image: A still from Mayakkam Enna