O2, the upcoming Tamil film headlined by actor Nayanthara, is a thriller that is predominantly set inside a bus, says director GS Viknesh in conversation with Silverscreen India.
Viknesh, who has earlier assisted Venkat Prabhu on Massu Engira Masilamani, makes his directorial debut with O2. “Travel is a crucial element of the film,” he says. “Everyone has certain expectations when it comes to travel. When an unexpected situation arises during the course of a journey, it impacts the lives of the characters. There is a clear connection between the first and last scenes. It shows how a mother does everything in her power to save her son, which mirrors how Mother Nature shields and protects her children, the Earth and its many inhabitants. O2 refers to oxygen, which plays a significant role throughout the film,” adds the director, who has also penned the script.
Asked if O2 revolves around environmental issues and the importance of conservation, Viknesh says, “We have not alluded to it directly, but the film touches upon the idea and throws light on its significance.”
He reveals that he wrote O2 sometime in 2019, but the film was delayed due to the pandemic. “When I started to write O2, there was only one plant in my house. Now, I have some 200-300 plants. The writing process changed me personally. Likewise, I hope the film brings about some awareness and understanding of how we need to interact with nature,” Viknesh adds.
On casting Nayanthara, the filmmaker says she was his first choice for the lead role of a botanist, who is also a mother. “Someone like her can present a larger-than-life image. There is an element of heroism in the film, and I knew she would be able to pull it off with ease.”
He adds that he pitched the film to the actor before the release of Mookuthi Amman (2020). “She liked the one line, and after reading the entire story, she came on board.”
Child actor Ritwik, a popular YouTube star, plays the role of Nayanthara’s son. The film also features Malayalam actors Lena and Jaffar Idukki as well as Aadukalam Murugadoss, late RNR Manohar, filmmaker Barath Neelakantan, Rishikanth, and others.
O2 went on floors in July 2021 and was completed in four schedules that same year. Although the film is set against the backdrop of the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, the film was shot on sets in Chennai with cinematographer Thamizh A Azhagan helming the camera. The crew also includes editor Selva RK and composer Vishal Chandrasekar. The film features two songs, says Viknesh.
On the current trend of young filmmakers collaborating with popular stars, Viknesh opines that it enhances the fabric of the filmmaking industry. “This provides a chance for younger, budding artists to grow. Stars these days want to work on good content with unique storylines and this encourages up-and-coming filmmakers to generate fresh ideas. Both parties benefit, and so too does the film industry.”