Selvaraghavan is a pro behind the camera. He has given us some of Tamil cinema’s most tragic human stories and unforgettably complex characters. But, he’s a novice when he’s put in front of the camera.
In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, Selvaraghavan revealed the humbling experience he had while working on Saani Kaayidham. “It’s really difficult. My brother (Dhanush) used to say that if you come before the camera, you will understand all the difficulties. Then I never got it. When I started Saani Kaayidham, I realized how difficult it was to be in that mood. I used to call him every half an hour to take his input from him. ‘What should I do now? Now, I am bored. Can I read a book between the breaks? He guided me all the time,” the actor-filmmaker revealed.
Saani Kaayidham, which is set to stream on Amazon Prime Video from May 6, would have marked his screen debut. Director Nelson Dilipkumar’s Beast pipped the film at this distinction. In Beast, Selvaraghavan played a supporting role. However, in Saani Kaayidham, Selvaraghavan and Keerthy Suresh are at the center of the narrative.
“She (Keerthy Suresh) is a phenomenal actress. I was blown over by her performance in Mahanati. She really performed, really well. When Arun told me that Keerthy will also be doing the film, I was thrilled and had so many questions (about Mahanati). She is brilliant in Saani Kaayidham. She is one of the finest actors we have in India right now. It’s a pleasure to watch her perform,” he said.
Saani Kaayidham was a steep learning curve for Selvaraghavan as it sort of challenged everything he thought he knew about acting. “I used to act for my actors but it was a totally different thing when I had to memorize lines and say them in front of the camera. Every day was a challenge. I love to learn and after a few days, I got a hang of it and then it became an incredible experience,” he added.
Selvaraghavan is quite impressed by Arun Matheswaran’s working style. “After the first few days, I called my creative producer and told him that Arun (on the sets) reminded me of myself when I was in my 20s. I am amazed. It’s raw talent and it’s an outstanding experience,” he said.
The actor-filmmaker also heaped praise on Arun’s storytelling style. “It’s an entirely different kind of storytelling. You get immersed in the narration and scenes. He’s got a unique visual storytelling style. My wife saw the movie and she said, ‘it’s like watching poetry’. I’m so thrilled to see the reactions of the audience,” he added.
Arun Matheswaran made his directorial debut earlier this year with Rocky. The film made quite an impression thanks to the director’s uncompromising interpretation of violence and the price one has to pay in the pursuit of vengeance. The trailer and teaser of Saani Kaayidham also showed that Arun has again explored the senseless nature of hate and the insatiable urge of humans for violence.
And as a writer-director and now actor, Selvaraghavan knows the price that makers have to pay to create such complex characters in movies. “During the process of making a film, be it romantic, historic or crime, I used to change a bit. My wife would ask why are you moody or why are you screaming? I realized what was happening to me. You think about what to say and narrate. You have to perform for the actors. And you are slowly evolving into the character. Then you should be really careful. The work-life shouldn’t affect your family. It’s a price that you have to pay even when you are a writer,” he said.