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Exclusive! Selvaraghavan: While working in Saani Kaayidham, I was amazed at how much a person could learn as an actor

The filmmaker gets candid about his career as an actor and a director

  • Thinkal Menon

Last Updated: 02.42 PM, May 02, 2022

Exclusive! Selvaraghavan: While working in Saani Kaayidham, I was amazed at how much a person could learn as an actor

Selvaraghavan in Saani Kaayidham

Arun Matheswaran's Saani Kaayidham is one of the most-awaited Tamil movies of 2022. The critical acclaim his debut movie Rocky garnered, the acting debut of filmmaker Selvaraghavan and the never-before-seen avatar of Keerthy Suresh are prime reasons why movie lovers have pinned high hopes on the film.

Billed as a revenge tale, its story is said to be set in the 1980s. Going by its promo videos, it looks like the movie is high on action and emotions, and has unapologetically gory scenes. In a chat with OTTplay, Selvaraghavan opens up on the decision to foray into acting, experience of having worked with Arun and Keerthy, the changes film buffs have gone through in the pandemic era, the inspiration behind script writing and more...

What made you take the plunge into acting?

Arun approached me saying that he can't think of anyone else than me to play Sangaiah, one of the lead characters in the film. I remember planning to do a scene in my film Pudhupettai, but then I backed off as I felt it wouldn't work. I was never keen on acting, but when Arun wanted to narrate this story, I thought of listening to him. I could connect to various emotions which were there in the story. His narration was so engaging that I decided to try my luck in acting. Moreover, it is always good to learn something new.

Which aspect of the film impressed you more? Was it your character or the story or the approach to the screenplay?

What amazed me was the story and characterizations. Every character has a purpose and the detailing that has gone into them was fascinating. I noticed this and that's when I felt that I should be a part of this project. I could predict the outcome of the film when I was listening to the narration. That's one advantage of being a filmmaker. During the shooting, I realized that it is shaping up in a better way than I had imagined. Arun has a distinctive style - he is interested in world cinema and creative art - in fact, I could see myself in him during our interaction.

The film has you playing a cold-blooded guy who confesses to have committed 24 murders. What was the driving force behind emoting such a character?

I myself have made violent movies like Pudhupettai. But this is more of an emotional crime thriller which has a few violent scenes as per the requirements of the story. It has two central characters who have contrasting behaviours. The focus is on myriad situations which make them violent. No human being is born violent, it is only when someone's patience is tested beyond a point by another person or by the society, he or she relies on violence. I personally liked this facet associated with the characters.  

What were the preparations you underwent to essay the role? How was it to approach your debut character?

To be honest, there weren't any preparations. Usually, I tell my actors to come with a blank mind to the set for shooting. Arun, too, wanted me to do the same. A filmmaker can paint his own picture only when the actors maintain a blank mind.

What was the most challenging part while acting, was it doing the action scenes or delivering dialogues?

It was delivering dialogues, indeed. It was a difficult process to remember my lines. I never had to do it as a director.  

Did you develop confidence eventually as an actor as days passed?

Yes, but I still had various doubts on my performance. Luckily, I had a fantastic director with whom I could check on my performance. His reactions and inputs were quite valuable.

Your co-star Keerthy Suresh has played a completely different role in the movie. How was it to act along with her?

She's already an accomplished actress, a National Award winning performer. She lived her character, I could see her adapting to her role in different ways. Sometimes, she manages to be the person she plays even during the break time. It was beautiful to watch her delve deep into her character.

As an actor, your second film, Beast, in which you played a notable role, has already been released. Do you have plans to take up more acting assignments? I'm always a person who takes life as it comes. I used to follow this with regard to the projects which I had directed. I will stick on to the same formula for acting assignments as well.  

Having acted in two movies, are you a confident performer now?

Yes, I'm more confident, but I think I should improve more. I always love learning new things; I'm amazed at how much a person could learn as an actor. It's an interesting process and every new role offers unique experiences.  

How do you look at the changes in which people have started consuming content after the pandemic hit our lives?

The audience has evolved a lot in the last two years. They are sharper, matured and intelligent than they used to be two years ago. They are exposed to international content like never before. A huge revolution has happened with regard to consuming content. This should have actually happened at least 10 years ago. This will only lead to filmmakers upping their game.  

Do you have plans to direct a film for OTT platforms?

I would love to. After watching the likes of Game of Thrones and Reacher, I felt I, too, should foray into the digital world.  

You are teaming up with Dhanush after 10 years for Naane Varuven. What can we look forward to?

As a filmmaker, I have been striving to offer surprises to the audience. So, you can expect the unexpected. I will try my best to do justice to the expectations surrounding the project.

At what point do you generally think of developing a plot which you find interesting?

It happens organically. I don't believe in such a predetermined time to start writing. Be it a romantic film or a gangster flick, I listen to my instinct before I begin writing.

What's that trigger point which makes you write a story or develop a character? A news piece or interaction with others or something else...

I don't know about others. For me, it's always random thoughts which help me develop interesting ideas or characterizations. It happens in a jiffy,

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