In Gautham Menon’s Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa , a filmmaker tells his young assistant, “Cinema-la romba mukkiyam porumai”. Perhaps this particularly applies to Atharvaa, whose patience has been constantly tested throughout his career. His films, Semma Botha Aagathey, Boomerang, and Thalli Pogathey all saw multiple delays before eventually getting released. And now, his latest, Kuruthi Aattam, is no different. The Sri Ganesh directorial was announced in 2017, went into production in 2018, and finally hit screens only last Friday (August 5). Atharvaa says he never lost hope.
“There are several reasons for the delay of Kuruthi Aattam, including the pandemic. We could have done nothing about it. Yet, I didn’t lose hope as I don’t like to doubt my choices.” While he exudes a lot of resilience, surely, such delays wouldn’t have been easy on him, an actor in ascent. “After I do my job right, there is little in my control. Very early in my career, I did Paradesi, which went on for almost three years. Today, I’m known for that film. So, I think I come from a school which believes that delays don’t matter as long as the end product comes out right.” Having faced his share of highs and lows at the box office, Atharvaa remains unfazed, not tempted to feel any regret about his choices.
“There have been times when I felt certain things could have been dealt with differently, but I regret no decision I’ve made, including launching my own production house. The path might be tricky, but I’m sure it will turn for the better very soon.” The actor is pleased that the pandemic, in a way, has fast-tracked changes in the industry. “Cinema is evolving fast and it has made filmmakers all the more collaborative. There’s been a distinct shift in the approach of filmmakers. Gone are the days when it used to be just one person trying to do everything. Now, it’s more like a combined effort where everyone is given space to make suggestions. This is enriching for a performer.”
The passion to succeed is palpable in this conversation with Atharvaa, who shares that all his choices are calculated with a larger picture in mind. “I have a checklist in mind, but I don’t want to say it. Right now, Tamil cinema is enjoying its best phase. There’s great content being made. I just want to do a wide range of roles and wish to give the audience a unique experience while they watch my films.” Atharvaa, a self-confessed cinephile, has fallen in love with documentaries. “It’s one of those phases. There’s a lot of talk about the Hubble Space Telescope and I am very interested about that.
So, I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries based on that.” This fascination for true stories has extended to his home turf as well. “I’ve been reading a lot of stories about real-life heroes and I’m planning something along those lines. The plan is to make a biopic on an iconic personality I can’t yet name, and I’m very passionate about this project.” Up next, Atharvaa has the action thriller, Trigger, and Karthick Naren’s Nirangal Moondru coming up; the actor strongly believes that Karthick’s film cannot be boxed within the confines of any one genre. “It’s a quirky project and something completely different from the mainstream. Karthick has a beautiful mind that envisions ideas others can’t imagine. If he’s able to translate it on screen, it would be great.
I am quite excited about how it is shaping up.” Over his 12-year start-stop career, Atharvaa holds one piece of advice closest to his heart, one that was told to him by his late father, actor Murali. “He told me never to watch his films to pick up references and encouraged me to do what I feel is right. I’m not sure why he told me that, but I find it invaluable,” says Atharvaa, who understands that comparisons with his illustrious father are inevitable. “I don’t get affected when people call me ‘Murali’s son’. However, dad always wanted to be known as Atharvaa’s father. Considering his legacy, I think that will take a lot of doing. For now, I’m just in a happy space and slowly gaining love and recognition.”