Director Gopi Nainar, popularly known as Minjur Gopi, might be a debutant director (his Aramm, starring Nayanthara, is releasing tomorrow), but he’s already a known name, thanks to the case he filed against AR Murugadoss for allegedly plagiarising his story and making Kaththi. He is also a familiar face in TV, for his show in which he talks about issues faces by the poor in the country.
Gopi says he got the idea for Aramm from something his wife was watching on TV. “She was watching reportage of an incident that happened in Tiruvannamalai. What I saw shook me and left me wondering how a section of our population lives without any security,” he says. “The same incident happened again in a nearby village, and I went in person to survey the issue.
That’s when I realised that when such problems occur in a country like India, there’s no technology that can save its people. What I witnessed laid the foundation for my story,” says Gopi who had a hard time finding a producer after developing his script.
“I approached a number of production houses that questioned the commercial viability of such a subject, given I was insistent on not including songs or any other commercial aspects,” he says. That’s when a friend introduced him to Rajesh of KJR Studios. “Rajesh sir was impressed with the story and introduced me to Nayanthara madam who was equally excited and agreed to do the project in just five minutes. Before I knew what was happening, we were discussing the making of the film and cast choices. That same evening, I got my advance for the film, which made me forget that I had spent a year wandering with my script.”
Shooting for the film was almost excruciating, he says. “We shot in a village in Ramanathapuram as I needed to shoot in an arid land. The backdrop of the story is North Tamil Nadu but the place we chose ironically had rains, and so, we opted for the southern regions. Here, it was a different challenge as we had to endure blistering heat. Every day, we had someone falling unconscious on the sets,” says Gopi, who still managed to wrap up the shoot in less than a month.
He doesn’t think the trailer gives away much. “Many have been asking if the film is about water scarcity or farmer issues. It’s not, but the story will remind you of these issues as well. The film is about what happens when we turn a blind eye to the bare necessities of life and how it affects the downtrodden.”
Gopi heaps praises on the film’s lead, Nayanthara, who plays a collector. “For someone to do such a role, it requires incredible courage. The story demands that she play a person who stands up for the people of a village,” he says, and exclaims surprise at how she showed no airs. “She’s extremely approachable and treated everyone equally. She didn’t ask me to make any changes to the story after she came on board. I didn’t even originally plan it as a female-centric film. Even a hero could’ve done this. Considering the topics we touch in the film, irrespective of who does the lead role, they can expect some enemies to be made (laughs).”
Though the director was clear that he did not want any ‘commercial elements’ in his film, he has included some songs. “I’ve used the songs to try to accentuate the emotions already present in the story. They’re not used just for commercial purposes.”
On all the issues films that deal with social issues face today, Gopi says, “In a democratic country like India, we can talk about anything and we’ve done it boldly in this film.” He says this courage to take on a corrupt system stems from being in a marginalised community. “You then grow up with certain ideologies and your work turns out to be a reflection of them.”