OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Blue Star director Jayakumar Interview | Ashok Selvan’s character is based on my brother who plays cricket

Debutant director Jayakumar who made Blue Star, starring Ashok Selvan and Shanthanu Bhagyaraj, talks about writing the film, politics it speaks and more

Blue Star director Jayakumar Interview | Ashok Selvan’s character is based on my brother who plays cricket
(L) S Jayakumar; Blue Star poster

Last Updated: 04.45 PM, Jan 26, 2024


Debutant director S Jayakumar, who made the recently released Blue Star, is on cloud nine. Not only did the sports drama receive much love on social media and run successfully in theatres, but it also gathered positive reviews. But as much as he is elated by it, the director of the cricket-based sports drama is also happy to see his debut film running in screens at his home town in Arakkonam, the same place Blue Star is also set in.

In conversation with OTTplay, Jayakumar, who is touring Arakkonam theatres to know the film’s response, tells us, “I see many people who have loved the film. I visited the theatre where I used to bunk classes and go to watch films. Now the very same theatre is playing my film, and with people loving it, it’s a different feeling altogether. I am blessed, is all I can say now.”


Talking about the inception of Blue Star, Jayakumar says, “I was determined that I record a landscape through my film and make sure that the place is part of the story. It is the very reason I chose Arakkonam as my backdrop.” Jayakumar, a close friend of filmmaker Pa Ranjith, who presented Blue Star, adds, “In Attakathi, Ranjith would have shown the suburban life and the livelihood that thrives there. I wanted to show Arakkonam similarly. The city is also very important historically because it has one of the oldest railway stations in India; it is located on the first line laid out in southern India. My family worked in the railways, and it has been an integral part of who and where I come from.”

Blue Star is not merely a sports drama but also talks about caste and class politics, which change the dynamics between people coming from different walks of life. Jayakumar, who assisted Ranjith in Kaala (2018) and is a cricket player himself, says that he has been soaking in the film’s plot since. “I started to write the story around that time. It is not based on a true story, but something that I have seen growing up. My childhood was filled with playing cricket, and each of the Blue Star characters is inspired by people around me and the matches we play. Our city gave more importance to sports and we had more than five teams. In fact, the title Blue Star came from one of the teams that had the name on their bats. The character Ranjith (played by Ashok Selvan) is slightly based on my brother, who is also a cricketer,” recalls Jayakumar.

Blue Star follows the captains of two rival cricket teams, played by Ashok Selvan and Shanthanu Bhagyaraj. One of the positive aspects of the film is how the latter’s character, Rajesh, goes through a cycle of oppression, from being a privileged person in front of Ashok Selvan’s Ranjith to being shown down by the classist cricket club members. Speaking about writing the cyclic chain of how power dynamics work in classism and casteism, Jayakumar says, “It was the most difficult arc to write and Pa Ranjith was continuously asking me to focus on it. Ashok’s character was easy to write. Rajesh is a character that I did not live with, but he is someone I interacted with. But as we interact more and understand perspectives, we can empathise once we understand the thinking they come from.”

Jayakumar credits that he constantly read BR Ambedkar and Buddhist works, which helped him understand the psyche of people. “Each of us has it within us, but we do not tend to bring it out, fearing what might happen. It is a form of vulnerability and once you come to terms with it, understanding people becomes better. This society is never made of one person but a collection of people. I always wonder how it would be if all of us stood together.”

It is to be noted that Blue Star opened for the Republic Day weekend on the very same day that India adopted the Constitution written by Ambedkar. “It was by accident, but as a filmmaker, I want to ask the right questions and do my duty as a storyteller.” He also mentions his admiration for Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, who is known to talk about the politics that are hidden in the normal lives of people. As Jayakumar believes films have the power to impact society, he mentions, “I was sure that I didn’t hurt anybody but just presented my thoughts and observations. Director Wong Kar-wai once said that his films should raise questions in society. I am just following it and creating worlds that will help raise pertinent questions.”

Blue Star has the admirable quality of not treating its women as just peripheral aids to heroes and instead giving them a voice and purpose for their existence. Keerthi Pandian, who plays Anandhi, is not merely a love interest but also a woman who aspired to be a cricketer but failed, thanks to patriarchy. While her role gets an abrupt ending, Jayakumar explains how Anandhi is merely a puppy love that comes into everyone’s lives. “But how it impacts women is when they tend to get married soon, by force or customary, in our society. I wanted the role to be like that, reflecting what is happening in daily life. Blue Star is about Rajesh and Ranjith and did not deviate from the sportsmanship the film was talking about. Anandhi represents that one lingering feeling of love we might recollect at some point in our lives.”

While Jayakumar decided to do a story on Dalit Christian’s life, the film never explicitly spells out. Instead, flashes of beef stalls, church bells, and words like "ooru" and “colony” are used to convey the premise the film is set in. "It was very clear what the scenes conveyed about the protagonist. An Ambedkar poster is enough to describe the whole setting. But saying it again, I went to the landscape of the film. I merely documented the lifestyle that I saw at home. There were no special efforts taken to explain the politics. I have seen how loan sharks turn up shouting at homes, women going to churches, and beef stalls near home,” Jayakumar adds.

When asked about the casting, the director reveals how he was determined that all of them were cricket players. “In fact, my brother looks very much like Ashok Selvan and he is also a cricketer. But I had approached Keerthi first. She is politically aware and shared the script with Ashok. Then came Shanthanu, who was hesitant about Rajesh's character at first but later understood his role. Actor Kalaiarasan suggests Prithvi Pandiaraj’s name. He has an innocence that is very much required for this character. Ashok is a director’s delight who gives many variations for a shot. All of them used to shoot under the hot sun for hours and were dedicated.”

However, as the question raises why the lead actors were brown faced, thus involuntarily providing fodder to pre-conceived opinions on people and where they come from, Jayakumar responds, “We wanted to tan their colour since the characters play cricket under hot sun for hours. Eventually, the actors tanned themselves after shooting for hours. We did not think about brown facing them based on the area they come from.”

Jayakumar signs off by mentioning his team, editor RK Selva, cinematographer Thamizh A Azhagan, composer Govind Vasantha, artist Jayaragu L, producers Ganesh Murthy and G Soundarya and presenter Pa Ranjith for making Blue Star a success. “I am next writing an action-comedy film. I have written the synopsis and will flesh it out once the promotions for Blue Star are over,” he adds as Jayakumar is on his way to Tiruttani for a theatre visit.

Get the latest updates in your inbox