‘My film doesn’t fit into a template’: Director Ahmed
Ahead of Iraivan’s release on September 28, director Ahmed speaks with CE on the film, depicting violence on screen and why psychological thrillers are not his genre
A head of Iraivan’s release on September 28, director Ahmed speaks with CE about the film, depicting violence on screen and why psychological thrillers are not his genre.
Psychological thrillers are not new to Tamil cinema and its discerning audience who are watching such content from across the world thanks to streaming platforms. But director Ahmed assures that his upcoming film Iraivan, starring Jayam Ravi and Nayanthara in lead roles, will not fit into the usual template. “I am neither dwelling into the reason behind the killer’s disorder nor into his flashback. The audience will instead experience his psychopathic behaviour,” he notes.
The director, who has earlier delved into action with Vaamanan (2009), romantic comedy with Endrendrum Punnagai (2013) and legal drama with Manithan (2016), is returning to the big screen with Iraivan after seven years. For Ahmed, it was a conscious choice to work in different genres. “It has to be challenging for me as a director. I can’t keep making films which aren’t exciting for me to work on,” he says.
Ahmed strongly believes that the story has to align with the central cast, their previous work and the director’s vision. So when the filmmaker knew that he was collaborating with Ravi, who has donned the khaki multiple times in his career, he knew that something new had to be brought to the table. “Since Ravi has played a cop multiple times, I looked at what I could do differently. I realised this was a genre that both of us haven’t explored so I fixed this genre first and cracked the story in three to four months. This role is tailor-made for him,” he explains.
Iraivan also marks the return of Rahul Bose to Tamil cinema after the Vishwaroopam films. When asked why he chose Rahul to be the ‘smiley killer’ Brahma, Ahmed says, “This is a performance-oriented film. I wanted an actor who would ace this role. Rahul Bose is a great actor and he is very intense as a person as well. Needless to say, he has done a fantastic job.”
Ahmed is clear that there is a difference between psychopaths and serial killers. In fact, he opines that everyone has the tendency to be psychopaths, and it is the circumstances that determine the plunge into eccentricity. “You don’t have to experience intense childhood traumas to turn into a psycho. It can happen to anyone at any time. Just because someone murders people, they cannot be called a psycho,” he says and cites the example of Anthony Hopkins’ character from Silence of the Lambs (1991). To portray facts correctly in the film, Ahmed had to get his research right. He did his fair share of readings and watched similar films to understand psychopathic traits to write the villain’s character. Sometimes, it was necessary for him to get into the shoes of the character to look at how they think. “This is a very from-the-heart sort of a film.”
Psychological thrillers always tread a delicate line when it comes to showcasing violence on screen. While some of them are implied metaphorically, Iraivan has taken this factor several notches higher than normal. Ahmed understands this and explains that he is being true to his genre and doesn’t want to paint a rosy picture while showcasing the story. “I don’t want to cheat the audience. Now that I have shown the trailer, it is upto their discretion whether to bring their family or not. I have only tried to showcase the reality,” he says, adding, “I wanted the film to be unique. I didn’t have the choice but to go all out while depicting violence. I trust that the audience, especially youngsters, have been exposed to this type of content before and will accept this.” In fact, Ahmed shares that the characters in the world of Iraivan are slightly on the edge, even Nayanthara, who is Jayam Ravi’s love interest in the film. “She is a very strong person here and I have tried to subvert the usual story arc of female leads in this genre.”
Interestingly, Ahmed confesses that he hates films which have a dark theme. “As a person, I feel my strength lies in emotions. I love watching good films irrespective of the genre,” says Ahmed listing out a rather eclectic list of favourite films. “Titanic, Alfred Hitchcock movies, Mindhunter series and also films of Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth.”
After Iraivan, Ahmed is joining hands with Ravi again for a spy-thriller where Taapsee Pannu plays the female lead. Speaking about the trust that the actor has on the director, Ahmed says, “Ravi and I share a special bond and he trusts me a lot. The same applies to Nayanthara and my producers too. Along with Yuvan Shankar Raja’s great sound design and music, which is the backbone for this genre,
I believe Iraivan will work well.”