Vijay believes that “films are simply an extension of life.” That’s why he tries to write realistic stories. His face lights up as he recalls how the idea of Vanamagan struck him while on a trip to the Andaman Islands in 2009. “I was then writing the script of Madrasapattinam and got firsthand experience of the lives of the Jarawa tribe people. That excited me,” he says. The director here chats about the Jayam Ravi-starrer and how it came into being. Excerpts follow:
The first look poster shows Jayam Ravi sporting a Tarzan-like look. My intention wasn’t to remake Tarzan in Tamil. I realise comparisons are bound to happen, but when you watch the film, you’ll see that it is different. And honestly, I haven’t even seen the Tarzan films. Arya’s recent film, Kadamban, was also in a similar setting. setting.
But that film dealt with corporate greed and land-grabbing. Vanamagan is an action love story.
Tell us about the lead characters. Jayam Ravi plays a tribal man. Sayyeshaa, the female lead, plays a multi-millionaire. How she falls in love with a man who doesn’t even know the value of money is what the story is about. I hope the film gets people thinking over what constitutes a good human being.
Anything you are particularly excited about?
There’s an action sequence with a tiger. The sequence is a major highlight.
Did you write the script specifically for Ravi?
No. Arya knows this story too. I also pitched it to Suriya. Though he couldn’t do it, he told me he loved the
script, and so did Jyotika. It is a special film and I guess it was destined for Ravi. (Smiles)
What was it like to work with him?
Ravi is like a brother. We’ve been planning to work together for nine years now. The fi lm isn’t just about acting. It also calls for a lot of physical and mental effort. Ravi had to climb trees and trek long distances barefoot. Not once did he complain though.
Is it true that Ravi has no dialogues in the film?
I cannot tell you that. Let’s just say it’s not easy to play such a character; he had to express every emotion through his body language.
What about Sayyeshaa?
When I did Idhu Enna Maayam with Keerthy Suresh, I knew she’d go places. Today, she is one of the most sought-after heroines. I have similar intuition about Sayyeshaa.
You’ve generally made minimalistic films. Vanamagan doesn’t seem to fall into that category. (Laughs) I agree. I wanted to do something different. Over the years, I’ve tried to explore various genres. My scripts have been exercises in self-discovery and re-discovery. But let me tell you that my best is yet to come! There’s nothing called good cinema or bad cinema. I simply do what I believe in.
Tell us about how you write your stories. Converting an idea to a script is challenging. I believe there are two kinds of styles — one where your characters follow the lens, and another where the lens follows your characters. I prefer the latter. No matter how laborious the process seems, I enjoy it. Lately, I feel I have been experimenting a lot with my form and narration. The most important part of filmmaking is constantly asking myself why I am making a film. Do I need to tell this story? If yes, I aim to tell it on my terms.
Vanamagan is Harris Jayaraj’s 50th album.
I’ve known Harris for a long time and have always wanted to work with him. I used to direct his concerts before. He has given us some truly fantastic numbers for the film, while still providing what the script
What’s next for you?
I am directing the Tamil remake of Charlie, with Madhavan in the lead. I am also planning to do a sequel to Devi(l). I think I’ll start working on it by the end of next year.