Tamil filmmaker Selvaraghavan, who recently made his acting debut with the Vijay-starrer Beast, will next be seen in the revenge drama film Saani Kaayidham, alongside actor Keerthy Suresh. The director, who has helmed several hits like 7G Rainbow Colony and Pudhupettai, says that his life has completely changed since he made the move to acting.
“I’m fortunate to experience this kind of journey. After a certain point, life tends to become monotonous. Now, my life has taken a complete U-turn and I am learning to experience different things. I am grateful to God for that,” he tells Silverscreen India.
Although Selvaraghavan ultimately made his acting debut with Beast, it was for Saani Kaayidham that he first faced the camera. “To be honest, I was shivering and a bit nervous. I felt all the things that a person facing the camera for the first time feels,” says the seasoned director.
Saani Kaayidham is written and directed by filmmaker Arun Matheswaran, who made his debut with Rocky. It follows the journey of Ponni (Keerthy), a constable who lives with her five-year-old daughter Dhanna and husband Maari, a coolie working at a rice mill. On one unfortunate night, she loses everything. To avenge the injustice done to her, she takes the support of Sangaiah (Selvaraghavan), with whom she shares a bitter past.
Upon hearing director Arun narrate the story, Selvaraghavan says he could “see where Arun would be taking the movie” and how it was going to unfold. “I could see glimpses of it and that fascinated me. I also wanted to be a part of this kind of journey.”
He adds that it also fascinated him to go as a “new person” to the sets. “Rather than carrying the baggage of a filmmaker, I wanted to just be a part of the film. I did not want to think I am more than that. I was just trying to fulfil his (the director’s) vision. I wanted to go to the sets and have this new experience.”
Elaborating further, Selvaraghavan adds, “It was a completely different experience. For me to direct a film and create something, is very different from seeing someone else do the same thing. To see Keerthy transforming into somebody else, it was all fascinating for me. I used to witness such things every day on the sets. It has been a huge learning experience.”
Selvaraghavan notes that being an actor has made him see his work in a new light. “I normally don’t visit any other film set. But being an actor and seeing different kinds of sets and filmmakers, it is very interesting to experience and understand how things can be conceived and how they function in different ways. It is a lot of learning. As filmmakers, we have fixed beliefs, but in this way, one gets to witness something different. I think that is really nice; learning is a joyful experience.”
Saani Kaayidham is set to have a direct OTT release and Selvaraghavan feels the medium gives filmmakers the freedom to pursue more daring stories.
Noting that even in terms of genres, Tamil cinema has branched out and diversified, he says that it is great to see the new ideas that people, especially youngsters, are coming up with. “Hurdles are being bridged and today, with OTT platforms, it is easier to make different, unique films and launch them. If five people pitch in to produce, they can make a film. The emergence of these platforms provides a sense of freedom and relief, along with accessibility.”
“The level of exposure for people is also higher, and this is a favourable thing,” he says, citing this as an impetus for the evolution of Tamil cinema in terms of both genres and methods of storytelling. He adds that the “hunger for different stories is huge” and says that he is happy to note that the appetite is growing with time.
While he had been enjoying the experience of acting, Selvaraghavan asserts that he is still primarily a filmmaker. “Direction is what I signed up to do, the rest are learning experiences. One’s roots never change, you keep going back to them. That is how filmmaking is for me,” he says.
On the directorial front, Selvaraghavan is collaborating yet again with his brother, actor Dhanush, on the upcoming Tamil film Naane Varuven. It marks their reunion after Mayakkam Enna over a decade ago.
“We have finished filming Naane Varuven. Right now, we are focusing on completing the rest of the work. It is a different story altogether and it is written by Dhanush. We try to collaborate as and when possible and when we do, it is special. The expectations are high and I hope the film satisfies the audience.”
Meanwhile, Saani Kaayidham will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.