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Exclusive! Arun Matheswaran: The unexpected combination of Selvaraghavan and Keerthy Suresh will keep the audience hooked

The director opens up on Saani Kaayidham and his career

  • Thinkal Menon

Last Updated: 02.07 PM, May 04, 2022

Exclusive! Arun Matheswaran: The unexpected combination of Selvaraghavan and Keerthy Suresh will keep the audience hooked

Arun Matheswaran

Though Arun Matheswaran is a one-film old director, his upcoming film Saani Kaayidham, which will release directly on Amazon Prime Video on May 6, has garnered ample buzz among movie buffs for multiple reasons. Despite not setting the cash registers ringing, his debut flick Rocky which released in theatres a few months ago, was appreciated by many for its making. 

The unusual combination of filmmaker Selvaraghavan and Keerthy Suresh playing lead roles, with the former making his acting debut, is one of the reasons why there are huge expectations surrounding the movie. Interestingly, Arun's sophomore project, like his first attempt, is a revenge drama. He talks in detail about his tryst with violent films, experiences he gathered after directing two movies, working with Selva and Keerthy, the influence of his mentor Thiagarajan Kumararaja and more in this free-wheeling chat with OTTplay... 

Going by the promo videos, Saani Kaayidham comes across as a thriller which is high on violent sequences. What made you choose this genre?

Well, I have a liking for revenge dramas. I had plans to do a revenge trilogy. My first film Rocky was part of that. I hadn't planned Saani Kaayidham as my second movie. But I had to take it up because of some circumstances. On choosing revenge, I would say the inspiration is the plethora of news pieces we come across everyday.  

How do you approach revenge as an emotion during the scripting process or while making the film?

In Rocky, it was about a gangster who lived his life on the edge. He was part of a violent world. But in Saani Kaayidham, the story deals with two ordinary people, a man who earns by delivering gas cylinders and a woman who works as a police head constable. Theirs is a small world; what happens to them and how they react when they face horrific situations in their lives forms the crux of the movie.  

There are reports that the film is based on a real-life incident...

No, that isn't true. In fact, I readied the story for this film after getting influenced by several incidents which I was attracted to. 

Selvaraghavan making his debut in acting and Keerthy Suresh playing a fierce, revenge-seeking woman are things people never expected until you announced Saani Kaayidham. What made you cast them for the lead roles?

I had Selva sir in my mind while writing the character Sangaiah. I knew that he could pull off the role. Similarly, for the role of Ponni, Keerthy was my first choice. Unusual selection of actors always keeps the audience hooked. I'm sure fans of both Selva sir and Keerthy will enjoy their performances. 

Did Selva's experience as a filmmaker help you while making the film? Did he ever come up with suggestions?

Not really. I had a proper idea on what should be done and what not to be done. He was so sweet and delivered as per the requirements of the character. He came, acted his part and left. He was only an actor on set. 

What are the aspects you focused on while making Saani Kaayidham? Was there any deliberate attempt to better yourselves in your second directorial project?

Every film is a learning experience. You find some of the mistakes only after you are done with a movie in every sense. What I focused on while working in Saani Kaayidham is the organic flow of emotions. I think I have handled it better than I did it in Rocky. 

The promo videos of Saani Kaayidham have several black and white images. You relied on the same in Rocky as well...

Both films belong to a similar milieu and genre. I personally love black and white images to convey intense emotions. I feel that other colours distract attention easily. Black and white images appeal more to me than colours.  

Despite critical appreciation, Rocky wasn't celebrated much in theatres. Now, Saani Kaayidham is set for a direct release on Amazon Prime Video. How do you look at it?

It's true that Rocky had a limited audience. I'm happy that Saani Kaayidham will reach more people because of its direct OTT release. Had Rocky been released directly on OTT platforms, it may have attracted more audience.

Cinematography and stunt direction were two aspects in Rocky which received massive appreciation from film lovers. What according to you will be the USP of Saani Kaayidham?

I hope that every aspect of the film will be thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. Be it the story or the screenplay structure, I feel the movie has a whole will appeal to film lovers. 

You were an assistant to Thiagarajan Kumararaja. How much has he influenced you in terms of filmmaking and plot development?

He is a huge influence not only for me, but for many aspiring filmmakers in Chennai. As a filmmaker, he is a powerful person. He has got a unique style, distinct vision and a different film language. What impressed me more is the conviction with which he does new things. He never compromises on his filmmaking style and it is this attitude which I would love to follow. It is this quality which I love to adapt from him rather than different film techniques.