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Star director Elan interview: We never set out to make a ‘cinema padam’

Director Elan, whose upcoming film Star is set to release on May 10, talks about drawing on personal experiences to make this film, working with Kavin and Yuvan Shankar Raja, and more

Star director Elan interview: We never set out to make a ‘cinema padam’

Last Updated: 01.57 PM, May 04, 2024


Director Elan's debut film, Pyaar Prema Kaadhal, was a commercial success and a much-loved romantic drama. There is an uncanny resemblance between that movie and his second film, Star. While the former traces the journey of two individuals with opposing views on life, Star is the story of an underdog’s journey to his dreams. Both of which tends to present a journey to audience.

“I am not very into having an external villainy factor to be brought into my stories. I like to have an internal force that drives the drama, and my taste in films is also such that it traces the journey of the protagonists. I think that is what I am attracted to,” Elan says.

Elan on having personal connections in his films

The director subscribes to the philosophy of how circumstances can make someone the antagonist in someone else’s life. He adds, “I think the only genre where you can bring a villain is action and there will be clashes. But with the genres I am dealing with, the antagonist is not one person. Such characters can also feel distant and forceful. I don’t want to force fit something and even in real life, I have not seen any villains; it is only circumstances that make people good or bad.”


Elan affirms that all his scripts will have personal references and connections, and Star is no different from that. Drawn from his father's (actor Pandian) and his own experiences, Star will explore the hero’s journey to making it big in the movie industry. “I think all my films will have personal experiences. As once said by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho,'very personal is very unique’, I believe that a lot. Even if it is a very usual story, if you draw from your personal experiences, it will still be unique because those events would have happened only in your life,” Elan explains.

Mentioning how several of those moments occurred during the writing stage, Elan adds that he has incorporated elements that happened in his father's life. He calls Star a very personal film. When asked about how he enriched the script with a simple rags-to-riches plotline, Elan says, “It takes a long time to write such stories and you might also feel that you are going through a lot psychologically. But at the same time, even though the trailer is linear, when asked why the audience should watch the film, it is for the moments in the film. That will be the biggest strength for this kind of genre film. Again, I have taken the moments from my life and am hoping that the audience finds them unique and refreshing.”

On Star and his inspirations 

Elan says that they were very conscious that Star is not a “cinema padam” and reveals that scenes related to cinema will be barely there in the movie. “It is all about the dream of the protagonist and how passionate he is. I have shown every emotion related to cinema by using my character as a device. Even though the protagonist wants to be an actor, it can be replaced with any other ambition and the film will still be relevant,” he adds.

Star is a coming-of-age drama and when asked what his most favourite film from the genre is, Elan instantly says Vaaranam Aayiram. “I saw the film during my college days with my parents at Kamala Theatre. I still remember how he would have mentioned the film as a tribute to his father. Similarly, I too wanted to make a film for my father and that thought inspired me to do Star.” 

Talking about the resemblance that Star's song College Superstars has to Ethi Ethi, Elan says, “We did not have any idea to replicate it, but at the same time, we wanted to make a college song with a young crowd. It so happened that many people found the similarities.”

Elan explains how the aesthetics and thought processes of audiences have changed progressively post-pandemic. “I find it more liberating as a writer and have the confidence to explore more healthily. For example, Manjummel Boys doesn't have a heroine and yet it became a big hit. It is a good example of how a director can explore his thoughts,” he adds.

Process of filmmaking 

Elan firmly believes that careful planning in pre-production is a key factor that helps him execute the film. He also asserts that it is the pre- and post-production of the film that he enjoys the most. “We got something very magical on the edit table that none of us had thought of. A known filmmaker watched the film and asked a question and we found the answer on the edit table. This is the first time I found magic on the edit table and it gave me a creative high,” he revealed.

Star is Elan’s second collaboration with Yuvan Shankar Raja. The director says that his script-writing process includes writing the musical parts as well. “I like to present a film musically. I am a fan of Disney movies, so I can visually imagine where and what kind of music can be incorporated. I have an idea to make a musical action film too. Speaking about Yuvan sir, he is very easy to talk to and communicates in layman’s terms. He gave a theme for Star and it was really good, but I wanted something more dark and painful. All I had to tell him was the mood, and he delivered another theme,” Elan reveals.

Speaking about Kavin, Elan reveals how only after he got in did they know how many elements of the story happened in Kavin’s life as well. “He took it very personally, and the output was very authentic from his heart.”

Wrapping up the conversation, Elan says that his biggest takeaway from Star is to trust in the process and let destiny lead its way. “Everything happened in the right divine timing and I began to believe in this concept more with Star. I think the stars have indeed aligned,” he signs off.

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