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Siren director Antony Bhagyaraj Interview | It is my principle that I narrate stories to only actors before their managers

Siren director Antony Bhagyaraj talks about the Jayam Ravi-starrer, writing for stars, the choices that went into making the film, and more

Siren director Antony Bhagyaraj Interview | It is my principle that I narrate stories to only actors before their managers
Antony Bhagyaraj; Siren poster

Last Updated: 11.26 AM, Feb 11, 2024


Writer Antony Bhagyaraj, who has worked in films like Annaatthe, Viswasam, Hero, will be making his directorial debut with the upcoming revenge action drama Siren starring Jayam Ravi in the lead role. While the film’s release is scheduled on February 16, the director, in conversation with OTTplay, talks about Siren, writing for stars, the choices that went into making the film, and more.

Talking about the shift from writing to direction, Antony says, “I had always wanted to be a filmmaker. Becoming a writer was what that happened by accident. I never planned to be a writer. One day, editor Ruben with whom I have worked in several films, prompted that I could become a writer. Luckily it worked for me and I was able to work with big directors.”


Writing to direction

During his career so far, Antony has worked with filmmakers like Siruthai Siva and PS Mithran. But he says how he had always yearned to become a director one day. “Be it Hero, Viswasam, Irumbu Thirai, or Annaatthe, all of them were big projects and I was not able to spend time for my script and felt guilty about it. So, after a point, I stopped to write and tried for direction. I tried to cut down my income by not taking up writing tasks which can in turn push me writing my script. It was also the time when I was at my peak in doing big projects,” he adds.

The filmmaker also recalls the time when he met with editor Ruben and expressed his interest to direct. “I was also stubborn that I won’t narrate a story to the artist’s manager. If my story gets rejected, let it be by the actor. It is my principle and I have always narrated it to actors only, because you never know the film knowledge and mindset of the managers. Secondly, the writer card served as an advantage. Maybe if I was an assistant director, I would not have been able to take this stand, but the writer position gave me the much-needed recognition,” Antony mentions.

Origin of Siren

It was at this time when Ruben gave the idea to Antony to pitch the story to Jayam Ravi. Antony, who needed someone who can pull off both a middle-age and young look and at the same time own a hero image, says, “We have not seen Jayam Ravi sir old. He has a very chocolate boy, or uptight police officer look. So, I thought why not approach him.”

However, the twist in the story comes when Antony, when met producers of Siren, but gave the narration of another film. “I narrated an entirely different story for over two hours. The script was that of a fun-filled story. They loved it since it was during the pandemic time, and though a comical film would uplift and cheer the audience,” Antony recalls. But at the same time, the producers also gave an heads up to the director to prepare a script with another genre, just in case Jayam Ravi did not want to take up the first script. It was at this time when he prepared the script for Siren and narrated that instead of his former story to Jayam Ravi.

“I had a gut feeling to narrate Siren and Jayam Ravi was quite satisfied about the script. After a few sittings, I got a positive sign that Siren will work out. In fact, the producer got to hear the full script of Siren only after we signed the deal,” he reveals. Antony says Siren is a film that highlights the emotion of father and daughter.

Writing for stars

Antony, who has written for stars like Sivakarthikeyan, Rajinikanth, Ajith Kumar, Vishal, says that writing for each of them varies. “I think my biggest advantage is I was able to write for many stars. If you see for SK, there is some fun required even in a serious subject because that is what his ground is. In case of Vishal sir in Irumbu Thirai, I had to concentrate more of the social consciousness the film had to offer. When it came to Ajith sir, every word that he utters will reach the mass. So, I had to make sure he doesn’t say anything wrong. Instead, I focussed on the punch dialogues. Coming to Rajini sir in Annaatthe, it was time when his political entry was debated about, so I had to keep his image intact. As a writer, it becomes a big responsibility to know the type of stars,” Antony explains.

Coming to Jayam Ravi in Siren, Antony reveals that he plays the role of Thilakan and says how he wrote the characteristics of Thilakan keeping Jayam Ravi’s image in mind. “I must say that he also adapted to the character well. We never moulded the script for him but it was vice versa. He plays an ambulance driver in the film. I think he has done more for the role than I have done for him in this role.”

The filmmaker says that the film has been in the way to suggest the clash of sirens. “We have Keerthy Suresh playing a cop, while Jayam Ravi plays an ambulance driver. The commonality between both them are the sirens. It is a story of the clash between them.”

Speaking about Keerthy Suresh’s role and why the role has been designed to be a woman, Antony says, “Even she asked me the same question. I think even at the time of writing, I wanted this character to be a woman. It is a clash between a woman and man. I wanted to show a strong woman, not an arrogant one. I also did not want to do a double hero subject instead. As a writer it was very challenging to make a woman stand as strong as the hero.”

Theatres and flawed characters

Antony acknowledges that Tamil cinema has changed after pandemic with the rise of OTT platforms. Sharing his view, he says, “I believe that it is strongly the content that holds the films. But the openings for theatres is held by the heroes. So, when content and openings are there together, it proves to have strong performance. At the same time, cinema is always theatres for me, while watching something at home is time pass. Theatres are always collective experience for me. It is also a place where there will be difference of opinions can exist.”

Agreeing to the fact how Tamil cinema is growing to accept flawed characters, which are far from do-gooders, Antony says, “Ambulance drivers are do-gooders of the society. They cannot even switch off their phone for a second, because calls can be made to them at any point. A person who saves lives had to go to jail, but why? That is where the flaw in the character comes. We, as humans, are flawed, and all we need is acceptance. I am glad heroes are taking up such roles more.”

The director assures that Siren will be a family entertainer and will be as equal to a festival release. Sprinkled with family values and emotions, Antony concludes by saying that Siren will be able to engage all types of audiences.

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