Ashok Selvan, Priya Bhavani Shankar and Sathish, who are all part of this week’s release Hostel, directed by Sumanth Radhakrishnan, are more friends than colleagues. Interviewing them was quite a task as their camaraderie would often result in friendly banter in between questions. I ask Sathish about his new run as a hero, and Ashok corrects me: “Action hero, you mean…”, referring to Sathish’s first serious role in the upcoming Sattam En Kaiyil. He continues, “When we were shooting for Hostel, the film, Naai Sekar, was in the discussion stage. I didn’t realise that that film would come out before Hostel.”
Sathish shares that he runs all his scripts through his friend and actor Sivakarthikeyan. “I do a film only after Siva says yes. He is great at analysing pros and cons. Thanks to Naai Sekar, I have three more films lined up as a lead,” says Sathish. The promotional footage and photos of Hostel provide equal importance to Ashok, Sathish, Priya and two new actors, Yogi and Krish Kumar. Priya, one of the busiest actors in the industry, has no qualms about sharing the limelight.
“It would be an injustice if I asked for more focus, considering that the script features multiple characters.” Ashok agrees: “I love being part of films that revolve around multiple characters. I believe it adds more value to a film, even in terms of business.” Priya shares that promoting a film right is sometimes as important as its making. “My last film, Blood Money, didn’t reach many people due to underwhelming promotions. Those who saw it appreciated the film and my performance, but sadly, so many aren’t even aware of its existence.”
The upcoming Hostel is an official remake of the Malayalam horror-comedy, Adi Kapyare Kootamani. This, interestingly, is the first time Ashok is doing a remake. I ask if it’s not counterproductive for an actor trying to establish himself across languages. “I guess you could see it that way, but Adi Kapyare Kootamani isn’t as popular as, say, Premam. Also, I have wanted to do a comedy for a long time; I felt this film fitted the bill as it has been almost seven years since the original came out. But yes, I don’t see myself doing another remake anytime soon.”
While Hostel is Ashok’s third release this year, after Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal and Manmadha Leelai, Priya has a long list of completed films like Kuruthi Attam, Bommai, Yaanai, Rudhran and Thiruchitrambalam all awaiting release, this year. Too many releases in a short span? Ashok says there’s no such thing as ‘too many releases’. “The more, the merrier. I am happy that my films are getting a theatrical release during such times.
Let’s remember that for almost two years, we didn’t have a single release. So, I feel excited to see my face regularly on the big screen once again.” Priya too shares that she never planned on having as many films bunch up together, awaiting release. “The pandemic stopped theatres from playing films, but we never stopped shooting. That’s why I have a long line-up of upcoming films. But yes, you can count on seeing me a lot this year.”