I m ready to quit films for my daughter – Director Selvaragavan


Director Selvaraghavan has been working on his latest film for almost a year and a half now. The reticent director opens up to KT about his Arya-Anushka-starrer, why some of his movies have been dropped mid-way and why he wouldn’t mind quitting the industry after this release…

Is Irandam Ulagam (IU) related to any of your previous two projects — Idhu Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam and Maravaan — that you started and dropped half way through?
This film has nothing to do with all those movies; it’s a completely new script, new cast and new technicians. When we planned this film earlier, we couldn’t afford the VFX then. After Mayakkam Enna, I didn’t have to spend two years of my life and lots of money on this one. But, IU is one of the toughest scripts to convert into a movie, and it’s my dream to see the story on the big screen.

Is the film a socio-fantasy, set in Georgia?
It’s a mystical film. When I say mysticism, Sufism, God and miracles are part of it. There’s no magic, but there’s a lot of mystical element in this. And, why worry if the film’s set in India or in Georgia? We’ve been blindly accepting whatever is shown in Hollywood films; even if the film is set in deepest part of Africa and the characters speak in English, we accept it. In Avatar, the characters are not even from this world, and yet, when they speak accented English, we close our eyes and believe it. But, if a person speaks Tamil elsewhere, we ask thousand questions. We must respect our own cinema. Otherwise, we are going to kill it or watch punch dialogues and comedy films all our lives.

You seem to be making a lot of experimental movies…
If I indeed were, then I won’t have any opening. It’s just higher quality of filmmaking that I’m keen on. For doing experimental films, like an Anurag (Kashyap) or a Vishal Bharadwaj, you need guts. You can’t expect to shoot in luxury because no one is going to pay you. I’m trying to balance things and trying to recover the money the producers have invested in my script. Once I’ve made them some profit, I will think of experimenting.

You’ve shelved a lot of your films; like the Vikram-Swatistarrer, the Karthi film and the other one with Dhanush…
(Interrupts) You’re forgetting the one with Kamal Haasan.
But, will you go ahead and restart these films anytime? For you to have filmed a few schedules in difficult climatic conditions and different venues, the script must have had something…
In our industry, being honest is a sin. People don’t want to accept your view if you are telling them the truth. I’ve been in this industry for 13 years now, and I wish I’d stayed away from it. Earlier, filmmaking was like magic for me; I was star-struck. But after being here, you realize, they create a world around themselves and don’t want to step out of it. They want to live in their comfort zone, think of themselves as God, especially since there are 20-30 people who call them God and do as they are told. When you go and tell them that something is not right, and that filmmaking is all about giving a good product and being true to what you do, obviously the movie will get dropped. We hear you’ve patched up with Yuvan Shankar Raja…
We didn’t break up to patch up again. We are good friends, and thankfully, he is not that kind of a person who would confuse work with friendship. He doesn’t believe that for us to remain friends, we have to work together. I don’t understand what this concept of filmmaker-music composer bonding, like we are husband and wife. If a composer can work with 15 other directors, why can’t a director work with other music directors? It’s time to cut off such silly sentiments and see a movie as a movie.

The buzz is that you’ll be doing a film with Dhanush next. Now that he has become a pan-India star, will you treat him differently this time?
(Laughs) I’d treated him differently in our last film together, Mayakkam Enna (ME). I always enact a scene to the actors to make things simpler. But, on day one of this film, he came to me and said, ‘I’ve been in the industry for 12 years now, and have done three films with you. So, if you teach me one more time what to do, it’s a big insult to me as an actor. It means I haven’t learnt any s**t from you.’ Though I was very cagey, I gave him the script. But, he did an excellent job. Everyone thinks he comes to the set and performs without preparation, but I know how much effort he puts behind every film. For ME, he befriended a photographer and started exploring lenses and learnt certain mannerisms. Even for Raanjhanaa, he did his homework. He suffers for every role he plays.

Have you decided on your next film?
I might work with my brother or do a film with Rana, which is long due, or start my long-pending film in Hindi or even quit the industry. My health is not perfect, and I’m taking things slowly. And, I want to spend a lot of time with my family. My daughter is not letting me step out of the house these days. Filmmaking is everything for me, and I’m ready to quit it for my daughter. If a rich man adopts me and pays off my loan, I’d happily stay at home and raise my kids.

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