Attending press meets of small-budget films is great, because the crew arrives before the scribes. Of course, this is no guarantee of the event actually starting on time. After all, every crew member has to meet every cameraperson. Mediapersons wait, albeit not always patiently, for their turn. Once they get to the person, the mike is handed over, and the actor or technician is told, “Start, sir” or “Edachu sollunga, Madam”. Those of the crew who are new to all this look confused about what to ‘say’. But a little familiarity, and they learn the drill. The same thing is said to every channel. Along the lines of “I play this role…”, “I thank my director and producer…”, “My co-star is so great, they made me feel comfortable…”, “I’m doing this movie next….” And it ends with “Indha padam oru full and full entertainment movie, kandippa theatre la poi paarunga”. In three years of reporting, not a single generic word has changed.
Today I’m at the Sawaari press meet. The film is a psycho-thriller road movie. An excited young team is eager to talk to the press. I first spot Mathivaanan Rajendran, who has acted in Mayakkam Enna and Vallinam. He says, “Even though the film has heroes and villains, I think the main villain in the film is the car. The film is very exciting because it has young ideas and a young director, but the crew is very experienced. We have Chezhiyan, who worked in films like Paradesi and Tharai Thappattai. My only disappointment with this experience is about a difficult scene which took me 22 takes, but was cut in the final version. But in the end, that is cinema.”
We also spot Pandian, a frequent supporting actor who first acted in Raja Rani as Jai’s father. He says, “I was initially called Stills Pandian. I used to be a still photographer for movies. I came to Chennai at the age of 24 to act in films, but now I act as a father to youngsters. I play a cop in this film too, and I have a few key scenes.” I ask him why he’s always cast in supporting roles. He says, “Some directors just tell me what my part is and cast me for the role. But there are directors who take the time to narrate the whole story and explain my part. I really appreciate that, because then, I know exactly how I fit into the story.”
Karthik Yogi, who plays the protagonist in the film, is also a familiar face, thanks to the reality show, Naalaya Iyakkunar. He acted in a handful of short films in the contest and was adjudged the best actor of the season. Karthik Yogi has some interesting things to share about director Guhan Senniappan. “When I was in Naalaya Iyakkunar, I used to pray that Guhan’s films don’t do well in the competition, because I belonged to the opposite team,” he laughs. “But later, our friendship grew from there and now we are doing this film together. I play Ravi, who drives this vintage car, and this character manages to get into trouble every single time.” I ask him about the vintage car and he says, “The car is a 1990 model Contessa. In the film, there is a horror element attached to the car. But in reality, I do think the car is possessed. Normally, the car gives a mileage of about 25-27 km/l. But we drove this all the way to Coimbatore and back to Chennai, and had to fill the tank only twice.”
Director Guhan Senniappan talked about late editor Kishore TE, whose last film was Sawaari. “I was quite apprehensive about approaching him, but people told me he would be willing to work on a good script. So I approached him. He liked the narration, and started work on this film. Our crew dearly misses him.” He also had a lot to say about Karthik, “Besides being a great actor, he was also an assistant director and helped us out all the time. He was instrumental in getting our producers, Entertainment Brothers, on board, which made the release possible.”
Karthik Yogi, who pursued law before stepping into acting, knew producer Karthikei Balan through college, and Balan has remained one of his well wishers. He was invited to a screening of the film and offered to buy the film from its former producers.
On stage, the team members took great pains to talk about each and every member of the crew. Music director Vishal Chandrashekar said the film’s music was reminiscent of his score in Jil Jung Juk. “This is a car movie. There are characters who embark on a journey. So we decided to go with that genre. In Jil Jung Juk, honestly, there was no scope for a song. But in Sawaari, I requested him to place a song to diffuse the tension”, he said.