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Making waves with Engeyum Eppothum

Last updated on: September 21, 2011 12:49 IST

Image: A scene from Engeyum Eppothum
Shobha Warrier in Chennai
Young Tamil film maker, M Saravanan, a protege of A R Murugadoss, has arrived on the Tamil film scene with a bang. Engeyum Eppothum has surprised all those who have seen the film.

The acceptance by the public has been so good that theatres have increased the number of shows in all the multiplexes.
Engeyum Eppothum, shot in real locations, is Fox Star Studios' first Tamil production in association with A R Murugadoss.
Over to Saravanan on how he made such an endearing and successful film.

Engeyum Eppothum is the love story of two couples and a bus journey. From where did you get the inspiration for such a story?

I had decided in the beginning that I didn't want to tell the story of just one couple. I had also decided that the message in the film -- that speed kills and rash driving is not good -- shouldn't be obvious because viewers wouldn't like it. The message has to be subtle and hidden in the story.

Then I thought how I could tell the story of a journey intertwining it with the stories of a few travellers. That is why I decided to have two love stories.

'I wanted it to be a genuine love story'

Image: A still from Engeyum Eppothum
You have infused a lot of humour in Anjali and Jai's love story.

I wanted it to be a genuine love story which can induce good laughs. Entertainment is extremely important in a film and I chose Anjali and Jai to provide that.

Other than the message about the accident, I have also shown through this love story how the right lover can be chosen. 

What was the inspiration for the Ananya-Sharwanand story?

It is from my own experience. When I first came to Chennai from a village near Namakkal, I was also petrified. So frightened was I that I had no courage to ask directions from anyone.

I had, in fact, walked hours to reach a place because I didn't ask anyone for directions. That is how Ananya behaves in the film. We come to a city with the perception that people here are out to cheat you. I have modelled Ananya after me and many others like me. I must tell you that if I am a film maker today, it is because of the people in this city. But in villages, we have a wrong perception about cities.

'I cast Jai as he looked like a meek character from a village'

Image: A still from Engeyum Eppothum
Everybody feels that the four actors look perfect in their roles. How did you zero in on them?

The first actor I decided on was Jai who I felt looked like a meek character from a village. Then I wanted someone who could dominate him. I had auditioned many and found that Anjali was the best.

Then, for Ananya's role, I wanted a girl who has that lost and innocent look. For Sharwanand's role, I had first booked Vimal but there was some problem with his dates. Later, when Sharwanand came to our office, I felt he has the right urban look and sophistication. Had it been Vimal, we would have had to work on his looks, but Sharwanand looked perfect.

Did you show Murugadoss the bound script or tell him the story?

I first told him the story and he liked it. Then, I told Fox Star Studios the story. They wanted me to write the full script and give them the English translation. I did that. They liked it and okayed the film.

'It was the climax that came to my mind first'

Image: A still from Engeyum Eppothum
Were you confident about the impact the story and characters would have while you were writing the script?

I gave importance not only to the two couples but even the character that appears for just one minute in the film. I wanted each and every character to be genuine and interesting. So, I knew this story would have an impact on viewers.

What is most appreciated is the climax of the film. How did you reach that point?

It was the climax that came to my mind first. That is what I wanted to highlight and not the love stories. And I wanted to show and describe the accident in a way that has not been done before. I didn't want anyone to say I have made yet another love story.

In many films, accidents are shown from the outside. I wanted to show what happens to those who are inside, how painful and scary it is for them, how they get affected physically and mentally. So, I went inside and showed that. What I did was, I created a story board, animated the whole thing and then restructured it inside a bus.

'Shooting the accident scene was the most difficult'

Image: A still from Engeyum Eppothum
Were you witness to any such accident on a highway?

Yes, I was. I was travelling from Chennai to my village, and on the way, our bus stopped because there was an accident on the highway. I could hear people crying from inside the bus. I and another gentleman went inside the bus, and there I saw a young lady trying to get her father out of the mess. His leg was trapped inside. I and the other gentleman also tried a lot but couldn't lift him out as he was very heavy.

After some time, the police came and they somehow helped him get out. When I came out of the bus, I found that my bus had left. There I was stranded on the road because I went to help the accident victims.

This incident never left me. Every day I read about an accident in the papers and I am reminded of it. For all those who read the news, it is another accident and a story about a few deaths. It is personal only to those whose people get killed in the accident.

How difficult was shooting the accident?

That was the most difficult part of the entire film shoot. We shot on a highway, and we had to do it when there was not much traffic. Eighty people were inside the bus and all of them co-operated so well. After that, we used computer graphics, but I must thank all those who were inside the bus. Without them, it would not have had such an impact.

It was reported that you shot the entire film in real locations. Was that because you felt the story needed such a realistic look?

Yes, it is true that I shot the entire film in real locations. I didn't use a single set or a studio. For a film like this to look realistic, real locations are necessary. I didn't want the viewers to get the feeling that it was a story and they were watching a film; not even for a second. They should feel that everything is real.

'My next film will be an action thriller'

Image: A still from Engeyum Eppothum
You started the film with the love story of Ananya and Sharwanand but those who watched the film fell in love with the other couple....

I think that is only because there is humour in the Anjali-Jai track but I feel in the Ananya-Sharwanand track, there is more realism, and according to me, that is the more poetic story.

Did you expect this kind of positive response?

To tell you honestly, I did. Each time I read the script, I used to visualise and undertake the journey of every character. I visualised all that not as the scriptwriter but as an outsider, and I got the feeling that the story would have an impact.

Why did you give the film a title that means 'anywhere, any time'?

These kinds of stories happen all the time, anywhere and any time. For the love stories also, I felt the title was very apt.

Have you started thinking about your next script?

Yes, for the last one month, I have been thinking only about my next script. I finished all the work of Engeyum Eppothum one month ago. From then on, it is the new story that is on my mind. It will be an action thriller.