Words come naturally to Selvara-ghavan and his movies bear that definitive stamp of a filmmaker who's in total control of the camera and the language of cinema. His strength lies in his strong thematic treatment in a narrative filled with real people who have a believable behavioural pattern.
Result: There has always been great sensitivity to intense emotions. His films like Kaadhal Kondein (2003), 7G Rainbow Colony (2004) and Mayakkam Enna (2011) are all testimony to it. He talks to us about Nenjam Marapathillai, his wife, his equation with Yuvan Shankar Raja, and others. Excerpts follow...
Tell us about your film, Nenjam Marapathillai. What does it have in store for the audience?
I am not the kind of a director who targets a certain demographic to make movies. The verdict lies with the audience and after seeing the movie, they should tell me if they found something for them in it. (smiles)
Nenjam... is about us. There are two sides to everybody, and the story revolves around the concept. I had this one-liner in my mind, but it took some time to write. I usually take a week or two to write a script, but this one took about 2-3 months. I have dealt with several variations of screenplays in Nenjam... The challenge was to translate the visuals to a script, and then how I'd bring it on the screen.
Why SJ Suryah as the protagonist?
No other actor could have done justice to the character. I felt like he is the right choice.
How was the experience of working with Yuvan Shankar Raja again?
My job becomes easier when Yuvan is with me. He understands what I want, and it’s vice-versa. The movie was tough to make, of course. The concept especially. The composing part is cool. Yuvan has finished the background score. We’re nearly done with the related songs. He and I share a similar wavelength when it comes to work. There’s no question of discomfort or difficulty between us.
I might struggle when I go alone, and he might face the same situation when he goes alone. But when we’re together, there’s no element of impossibility. Only a married man with children knows the value of another married man!
How exhausting was the filming process?
We shot entirely in Chennai. You can’t get tired when your work is interesting. I love what I am doing. The process
was exciting. Whereas coming home, getting ready, and going back to the sets was stressful.
What have you learnt being here?
People usually say I make my own kinds of movies. But I haven’t seen, realised or felt it somehow. There’s no conscious effort that I put in to achieve that. Also, I have never believed that I can only work on a specific genre. I make movies from the heart — that’s all I know. If my favourite genre was romance, I should have made only such films throughout my career.
Or gangster-films, per se. I began my career in 1998. Please don’t think I am old! There’s a lot to learn, and that’s what I have come to know. Earlier, I just made movies. Only after Mayakkam Enna, I discovered the aesthetics of filmmaking and how much I can play around with it.
So far, which has been the most challenging film to direct?
It’s yet to come! (Grins)
I am sure you must be proud of your brother Dhanush. He’s directing
Of course, yes. The day you decide to become a director, you should forget about the support system and others’ opinions. You are on your own. You have to keep exploring. Dhanush does justice to whatever he is into.
A couple of your films didn’t do well at the box-office. How did you feel then?
Let’s take a look at the current scenario. It’s difficult to release a film in theatres today. Filmmaking isn’t about the economics alone. Looking at how much we have spent and what we got back — it has been fair. We didn’t get washed away, thanks to the fans who have been supporting us and the good cinema. We can’t get the full amount or more than what we invested unless there are specific heroes. I have never worked with such actors.
Was there no possibility or have you not wanted to work with big actors?
Everything is possible, but what people don’t realise is that it’s a long process. I need to take a lot of things into consideration if I need to make movies with the big names. I can’t just take a camera, aim and shoot. Their fan base matters, if I will be satisfying their expectations, etc — everything counts! Again, who knows how much of Selva can change in future? Change, is natural, after all. (Laughs)
Who do you want to work with?
I think I am unfortunate because I couldn’t work with Sivaji Ganesan and Puratchi Thalaivar.
That’s the safest reply you can give us...
(Chuckles) You wanted the truth, I told you the truth.
I am working with Santhanam, and then I have another film with Suriya.
What genre do they belong to?
I am not even revealing Nenjam Marapathillai’s genre. How can you expect me to talk about something which is still on the process? As far as Suriya’s film is concerned, a lot of polishing has to be done. I am researching on the script.
What keeps you occupied when you aren’t busy filming?
I talk to my wife. She’s an extremely intelligent woman. Yes, all the talking can backfire too but it’s all in the game! I play with my kids. It’s blissful. That takes most of my time.