the ‘Vayathu 18 maaniram’ tagline with the
title of the film?
(Dir) When the audience hears the description of an
18 year old girl of medium complexion, an image is naturally
developed in their minds which help the film. Not only
that, this film is about the search for a girl who has
gone missing. Usually, in all man-missing news items,
there is a brief description of the person. That is
why I went in for this tagline.
the movie based on a true story?
(Dir) I wrote the script
for the film with the aim of satisfying all
classes of movie goers. But, I have been influenced
by many characters that I have known in life
and have incorporated those elements into the
narrative to make it look closer to life. But,
the story is purely fiction, nothing to do with
any real life incident.
" I have been influenced by
you to Tamilarasi?
(Jai) Well, I would not have been as excited if the
description had said that Tamilarasi was 32 years old…
(laughs). The director narrated the story and I liked
How did you get
involved despite the offbeat nature of the story?
(Jai). What involvement? (with a smile) The director
told me what to do and I just followed his instructions.
He first told me the story after the release of Chennai
28. Subramaniapuram was only in its shooting stage at
that time. After its release, a lot of people came to
me from all sides, but he was the only person who came
to me when I was still a relative nobody. That is what
prompted me to commit to his project. More over, he
waited more than a year for me to get free from other
commitments. It is for his patience, persistence and
good nature that I agreed in the first place, the story
came only later.
Why the name Tamilarasi?
Is that special to you in any way?
(Dir). Definitely not any romantic interest of mine!
When I was thinking about the title of the film, I wanted
it to instantly connect to the Tamil audiences. I did
think of many names like Radhika, Shanthi. But, to capture
the minds of the audiences instantly, I felt that there
was the need for a name that was in some way connected
to the identity of the Tamil audience. And what better
name than Tamilarasi to do that? Of course, it might
not look like the catchiest title in the commercial
sense and I must thank the producer for allowing me
to go ahead with my idea.
That is the faith I have in
the Tamil audience "
gave you the confidence to produce this kind
of an offbeat venture?
(pro). That is the faith I
have in the Tamil audience. Every time a new
or different effort has been made, the Tamil
audience has always supported it. Right from
the days of 16 Vayadhinile. When I first read
this story, I got the feeling of reading a novel,
there was also something poetic about it. It
gave me the kind of feeling that I had after
watching Azhagi. At that time, we were in the
process of making Poo. Even that film had a
similar feel about it. I thought that even this
story, if brought out on screen can reach into
the minds and hearts of people.
But, making this film was not an
easy job mainly because the director is a non-compromising
person. He wanted everything to be real and not give
out any artificial feel at all. He was against even
fake hair, like the beard that was used in Kattradhu
Tamil. So, we waited for the right time and shot.
The most difficult portion was perhaps the ones that
we shot in Kulasekara town, filming the Dussehra celebrations.
For that, we had to wait for the month of October
to arrive. The problem was that it was a Herculean
task to replicate that kind of a celebration anywhere.
We would have needed around 5 lakh extras and the
appropriate costumes and make up to go with. So, we
decided to finish off all other portions by April-May
and then wait for October to can the portions in Kulasekara.
I did not interfere at any of these points because
I felt that this was a director’s film and had
to be left that way for best results. I got the confidence
to do that because of the faith in the audiences’
discretion. I would also like to mention that Behindwoods
has been very helpful in this direction by organizing
a contest for our film. They usually do such things
only for the big films. But, if they have done it
now, it is because of their commitment towards good
cinema and the desire that it should reach the people.
I would like to thank Inian (Behindwoods associate)
for his efforts. Without such an event, I don’t
know how many of you have would have seen this film.
But, now that you have seen it, I hope that you realize
that this is not just another offbeat venture; there
are a lot of creative things to enjoy in the film
and I am sure you will convey this to many others.
About the Dubai film festival experience!
The organizers for the film
festival were here in Tamil Nadu watching various
films as part of their selection process. At
that stage, the double positive of our film
was ready. It was Suhasini Mani Rathnam who
prompted them to take a look at our film. They
were highly impressed with what they saw and
selected our film on the basis of being a bold
theme to come out of the Tamil industry. It
was a very proud moment.
It felt great to be afforded hospitality in
a 7 star hotel, to be given a red carpet welcome
and then have our film appreciated by an international
audience. It was really satisfying. But, greater
satisfaction comes from knowing that a huge
number of people in Tamil Nadu are now watching
the film in theaters. The satisfaction that
one gets from theaters cannot be matched by
film festivals. It is not about the money that
comes from theaters, the movie has to reach
the common audiences.
" The satisfaction that one gets
from theaters cannot be
matched by film festivals"
Why Vijay Anthony
for a village subject?
(Dir). Basically, Vijay Anthony is a good composer
and I was confident that given a chance he will surely
deliver the goods. And, he has come good and kept
my belief in him. He fully understood the story and
delivered the score accordingly.
accent has come out well. How did you choose the same?
(Dir). Almost all the artistes in the film have dubbed
for themselves. But, the main reason is I belong to
Tirunelveli and when I set out to do a rural subject,
it is best that I do it in a setting that is familiar
to me. Only then will I be able to produce the best
It is said that
you picked the heroine from a temple in Madurai! I
too have my portfolio ready, will I get a chance?
(Dir). Definitely, if there is a right character!
Your experience with Ajith.
(Jai). When Chennai 28 was
released, he was the first person to call and
congratulate me. Ajith appreciated my voice
modulation and body language a lot. Then, I
messaged him when he was unwell and he responded
with a call and gave me lot of tips on acting.
" Ajith appreciated my voice
modulation and body
language a lot "
Why did you choose
to depict puppetry in your film?
(Dir). Every art form owes its origin in some other
art form. There is a dialogue in the film that states
‘we are the first to tell stories on a screen’.
Today, I am a director of the big screen, but the origin
is from this art form. I wanted to thank the art form.
The heroine looks
matured in the film, but very young in person. How did
you mould her?
(Dir). Your question itself indicates that she is a
Your theme is novel,
but isn’t there a resemblance to a few other films.
(Dir). When you narrate a story of a person’s
life from the age of 8-30, there is no way one can skip
the childhood part.
Similarly, there are many films that have shown the
search for a missing person. There also have been many
films based on life in the villages. This might give
rise to a similar feel to the movie, but besides that,
there is no resemblance.
Meera Kadiravan’s instructions
were shocking "
person, you look very different from the character
in the film!
(Nandhagi). This is the same question that I
asked the director. He said that this is the
way he wanted Tamilarasi to look. Meera Kadiravan’s
instructions were shocking at first. He wanted
me to stand in bright sunlight, not highlight
my eyebrows and more importantly, he asked me
to completely avoid the beauty parlor. Though
I felt uncomfortable at first, he told me that
the value of this would be seen once the film
releases. I went by his word and took everything
in my stride. And, one last thing, I am not
a native of Madurai, I am from Kancheepuram.
About your shooting
(Nandhagi): I felt a bit down when there were long gaps
between schedules. Then, the director explained that
I had to gain and lose weight alternately for different
portions of the film and that it could not be done overnight.
He also said that our ‘dream hero’ was busy
with many other commitments and that we have to wait
for him to get free and change into the character. But,
overall, it was a very good experience.
Was your film entry
(Nandhagi). Not at all, not even in my dreams did I
think about a career in films. I have to say that this
is God’s gift. The director saw me in a temple
and asked me straight and that was it. Otherwise, I
do not have any connection to the film industry even
through my family.
shooting in the villages.
(Nandhagi). Good experience