For someone who started his career almost a decade ago, Atharvaa Murali has done just ten films so far, Boomerang being his 11th. “I didn’t have the confidence to do 2-3 films at a time, and I believed I was too new for it. I got the confidence to do it only later,” says the actor, who also attributes the delay in the release of his projects, which make it seem like he does only one film at a time.
“Boomerang had to be postponed many times owing to a number of external factors, which we all know of,” he says, adding that it helps that almost all of his films so far have not been time-bound. “If the film is high-concept based, then we have to get scared about the delay in release. However, the films I have chosen so far are not ones that get stale over time,” says Atharvaa.
Talking more about his latest release, the Eetti actor says, “My character in the film doesn’t want to be an armchair activist and strives to be the change he advocates.” Isn’t it similar to his role in Kanithan, his 2016 release? “Kanithan is a guy going against the system. In Boomerang, I don’t complain about the system. A problem arises in my village, and I’m pretty selfish about getting that problem out of the way. The film’s underlying theme is karma, and how it is futile to do anything against nature,” says Atharvaa, who shares that he loved the challenges that came with portraying three distinct looks in Boomerang. “There is one look that has me sporting a burnt face, and I was very excited about it. I am not sure how many scripts in Tamil cinema deal with face transplantation,” he says.
“Film industries that keep evolving and digital platforms have opened up our audience to a lot of new things. So, when you pick content, it has to be universal,” says Atharvaa, who adds that it is this criterion that has made him pick a remake next, an official confirmation of which will be announced soon.
With the increase in the number of streaming platforms, and exponentially increasing digital content, the question does arise if this will spell reduced interest in theatrical releases. Discussing the digital factor, Atharvaa says, “Theatres will always be the bigger draw, but it is irrefutable that the digital space offers you space to speak what you want. I do see myself working in digital platforms in the near future, once I am done with my film commitments.”
2018 was an important year for Atharvaa, as he made his debut as a film producer with Semma Botha Aagatha. When asked if it would have fared better if made for the digital space, he says, “There is nothing I would change about that film. We did have hiccups prior to the release, but I don’t blame anyone.” He also made his first multi-starrer in the same year, sharing screen space with Nayanthara, Raashi Khanna, and Anurag Kashyap in Imaikkaa Nodigal.
Our discussion slowly moves into one of the most dreaded words in cinema circles: Nepotism. “Initially, when I got into the film industry, I was a star kid. My dad (Murali) was there to support me through my first film. However, hardly a month after its release, he passed away. After that, I was just a kid trying to make it big. Whatever I’ve done in my career since then, has been my doing,” says Atharvaa, who adds that he faced comparisons with his father originally, but that it all changed with the release of Bala’s Paradesi in 2013. “I became known as the actor who could do a film like Paradesi. And then the challenge was to break out of that image,” he says.
With remakes and biopics being the toast of the industry now, does he see himself remaking one of his father’s films? “I wouldn’t remake any of his films. He was smart to act in films for his generation. If I want to make a film like Idhayam, I’ll have to change the entire crux of it, and it doesn’t make sense to me. I may as well do a new film.”