In a chat with OTTPlay, Ashok Selvan narrates his experience working in the critically-acclaimed anthology, Modern Love Chennai, his definition of love and more
Last Updated: 03.30 PM, May 26, 2023
When Ashok Selvan discovered the names associated with Amazon Prime Video's latest anthology, Modern Love Chennai, he had already committed himself to the project. The six-part series is inspired by articles published in the New York Times and Ashok Selvan is part of the episode titled Imaigal. The short, helmed by Balaji Sakthivel, has Ashok Selvan as Nithiyanandan and TJ Bhanu as Devi, a woman facing imminent blindness due to degenerative retinal disease.
In a quick chat with OTTPlay, Ashok Selvan, who is shuttling between his upcoming projects, Por Thozhil and Blue Star, shares his experience working in the series, which is being lauded for breaking away from the typical Kollywood tropes. Excerpts...
So, what made you get on board?
To be honest, it's the people in the franchise. When I heard the names, be it Thiagarajan Kumararaja, Balaji Sakthivel, Balaji Dharaneedharan or Yuvan Shankar Raja, I had set my heart on the project. And when I read the script, I was driven to say 'yes'. I had earlier taken a dekko at the international edition of Modern Love and I found the concept quite engrossing.
Imaigal is not quite the typical rom-com with meet-cute moments. How did you prepare for Nithyanandan?
When we take up a romantic comedy, we approach a scene in a way that 's entertaining and funny. Here, we had to keep it very realistic. And of course, we had the master at work, Balaji Sakthivel sir. I trusted him completely and went ahead with the short. And it turned out to be a beautiful experience for me."
Having said that, I must add that even romantic comedies can be challenging at times because at the end of the day, you need to make a scene work. If it's not challenging, there's no point doing the role.
All the stories in the Modern Love Chennai edition revolve around women..
Yes, all the episodes of Modern Love are from the women's perspective. When I was reading the script, I figured that it was Devi's story and an intense one at that. So, I had to ensure that I gave Bhanu and her role, the space it needed. I didn't try to score over her but tried to balance my scenes with hers. Bhanu is a dedicated actor and is completely into her character. It was really great working with someone, who is so passionate about her work.
Your repertoire mostly comprises films with debutant directors. How was it teaming up with an experienced director like Balaji Sakthivel?
When I am working with newcomers, we would often discuss a particular scene and ask each other how to make the scene look better. Here, it was a total surrender! If Balaji Sakthivel sir said the scene had come out well, we would move on to the next without batting an eyelid. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that his call was right. He is wonderful and extremely passionate about his work. The people associated with the project are there not just because of their names, but for the passion for their craft. It was quite inspiring, I must say.
The series is an eclectic concoction of love stories. How do you define love?
Well, it keeps changing with time. Love to me, today, is acceptance. If you had asked me five years ago, I would have given a different answer. And I am pretty sure it would be different if you ask me again after five years!
Did you watch the other episodes in the series? Which one did you like the most?
Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal is my absolute favourite. Ever since I watched the episode, I couldn't take it off my mind.That's the impact I had from the short. Throughout the episode, I was wondering how they were going to wind up the story. At one point, I even pondered if they were all going to live under the same roof.
I also liked how they narrated their predicament in a story format to the children. And that's not all, the way they played around with the selfie, was an icing on the cake. I didn't expect such a short from Bharathiraja sir, that, too, at this point of time. The writing and performances were splendid.
Did working in Modern Love Chennai feel any different from Navarasa?
For Navarasa, I barely had half a day's shoot. I was excited about my combination scene with Revathi ma'am since I am a huge fan of her. I am like this excited kid who is constantly jumping at an opportunity to work with different people and learn from them.
Also Read: Modern Love Chennai Review: This anthology may not be all feel-good, but it's a heady concoction of some impressive power-packed stories
The album of Modern Love Chennai has provided a huge fillip to the anthology. How do you look at it?
It is a great album and I think everyone has delivered their A-game. It's fantastic that Kumararaja Thiagarajan sir went to Ilaiyaraaja sir for the music. The album has made a statement that the legend is still here and rocking the show.
Your favourites from the album..
Nenjil Oru Minnal, Kaamathuppaal and Peranbe are on top of the list.