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Exclusive! GS Viknesh: Halfway through the script, I felt Nayanthara should play the lead in O2

The filmmaker talks about the making of the movie which had a direct OTT release 

  • Thinkal Menon

Last Updated: 02.31 PM, Jun 17, 2022

Exclusive! GS Viknesh: Halfway through the script, I felt Nayanthara should play the lead in O2

Viknesh with Nayanthara

GS Viknesh, who has made a few notable short films in the past, is excited about his debut film O2, which has dropped on Disney+ Hotstar today. Though initially meant for a theatrical release, fate had different plans for the movie. But Viknesh is quite convinced about the reception for OTT platforms, and has pinned hopes on the film.  

In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the young director opens up on making a survival thriller which is set inside a bus, the reason behind choosing the genre, roping Nayanthara in for the project, challenges during shooting and more. Excerpts...

The trailer of O2 which was released more than a week ago hinted at the film being a survival thriller. What made you choose the genre?

Survival thriller is a popular genre in Hollywood and a few other industries. It's comparatively a new genre for Tamil cinema. A few films made in other languages have been an inspiration for me to come up with a story which suits the genre. When I got the nod from a leading production house, I utilized the opportunity to explore the genre with good production values.

What were the primary challenges you had while scripting and making this survival thriller?

As far as the writing part is concerned, I focused a lot on the emotions of prime characters. Working on their character arcs was challenging. I had to ensure that the screenplay is gripping as a lion's share of the movie happens inside a bus. The same challenge existed during shooting, too. All the department had to put in extra effort considering the limited space in which the story unfolds. 

Since the story has instances where its characters suffer from lack of oxygen, which isn't something we have experienced, we didn't have any reference. We had to do some rehearsals for actors to perform scenes in which they experience breathlessness. Similarly, we worked a lot on camera movements and improvised on shot sizes depending on various emotions.  

Which aspect of the film do you think impressed the producers while narrating the story?

I didn't narrate the story to them. They read my script which was around 100 pages. That's how they work. If interested, they inform directors about taking the project to the next level. They have a team of content readers for the same. They were impressed with the storyline of O2 and that's how I came on board.

What made you choose Nayanthara as the protagonist? She has been part of many thriller flicks before...

Halfway through the script, somehow I felt she would be apt to play the lead. Luckily, she liked the script and things fell in place. She has a high success rate when it comes to pulling off thriller movies. Moreover, this particular plot is fresh for her. Some of her mannerisms and expressions were spot on. We couldn't have asked for more. 

How did you chance upon a story which has scope to address exploitation of nature and significance of oxygen?

We have witnessed the importance of oxygen during the pandemic. I think we are taking it for granted. We hardly realize that we can't sustain without the air we breathe. I wanted to convey all this in a survival thriller in an organic manner.  

When was the decision to release the film on OTT made?

We were approached by Hotstar when we were done with 50 percent shooting of the film. They liked the story and we were told that their prime target audience constitutes women. So, this female-centric thriller appealed to them. Though we started off keeping in mind a theatrical release, many big films like RRR were postponed during the third wave. The uncertainty made us say yes to the OTT offer.