Interviewer : Venkatesh | Camera : Maran | Text : Arun | Coordination : Venkatesh
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Aadhi is on a high having completed Aravaan directed by Vasantha Balan. He takes us through his journey of Aravaan on this special day and discusses his experiences.

About the title ‘Aravaan’!

Quite a few people have asked me about this title, not many have heard of this before. He was one of the characters from the Mahabharatha, someone who embodies all the qualities of man. There are only seven characters in the Mahabharatha who have all these qualities; like Bheema or Arjuna, Aravaan is one of them. So, in the film, the character will have all the qualities that the perfect man should have.

Will Aravaan emulate the success of a Mirugam or an Eeram?

One cannot really be sure about the chances of a film. But, I can definitely say that the team of Aravaan was highly dedicated towards the film. Be it Vasantha Balan, Pasupathi, cinematographer Siddharth, art director Vijay Murugan or producer Siva, we were all highly committed towards the film. The producer especially did not just have the commercial aspect in his mind during the making of the film; he has given all possible support to give the best product. Everyone in the film had the passion to deliver a good movie. We are confident that we have delivered a good film, now it is up to the audience.

We are confident that we have

delivered a good film

My look exceeded expectations

About your role in Aravaan

It is a movie set in the 18th century. That apart, I cannot talk much about my role at this point because there are still a few weeks left for the release. We are expecting a November third week release. As part of the role of a man who lived in and off the forest, director Vasantha Balan asked me to develop a rough and tough body with a six pack with lot of flexibility and agility. He gave me 3 months time to get into shape. He did not want me to build a well toned gym physique, but to get into a frame that would look fitting for a person who lived in the forests. Initially, I had very little idea of what to do for this. But, then I started eating more natural foodstuffs and avoided regulated gym work outs and went in for different exercises. At the end, Vasantha Balan said that my look exceeded his expectations.

About Pasupathi

He is my favorite co-artiste in Aravaan. When I was in college, I remember watching his films like Dhool and Virumaandi and being in awe of his acting abilities. When I came to know that I would be working with him in Aravaan, initially I felt a bit nervous. But, he never behaved like a senior to me on the sets; he treated me like a brother and made me feel comfortable. That chemistry we shared will show up on screen. And, Pasupathi is an extremely fun loving person. When he is around, there is never a dull moment on the set.

Pasupathy is my favorite co-artist

in Aravaan

About Dhansika

You might have seen her in the songs, she looks very nice. The long hair, the saree and the big bindi suited her really well. I think she looks like a typical traditional woman in the film, in spite of being quite modern in real life; Vasantha Balan has taken care of all those aspects. Her character is called Vanapecchi and it has come out very well. One of the reasons for that is the amount of effort she has put into the role. For nearly one to one and half years she was fully committed to the film, without taking up any other project and we should all appreciate it.

I have talked more to Bharath

behind the camera than before it

About Bharath and Anjali

I think the appearance of Bharath and Anjali is a very good thing for the film. I thank them for taking up what might be called a guest role. Of course, they did it because of their previous associations with Vasantha Balan, but still, being my film, I feel lucky that they agreed to make an appearance. Even if their roles are small, it comes at a pivotal point in the movie. I did not have much to do along with Bharath or Anjali on screen. In fact, I have talked more to Bharath behind the camera than before it. He is a very good person to work with. Even with Anjali, I just had a one day combination scene. I feel she is one of the contemporary actresses who will be able to get into the skin of any character given to her.

Locations for Aravaan

Like the usual stuff I won’t claim that we went to Austria, Switzerland or New Zealand to film songs choreographed by Shobhi master or Dinesh Master. No, this film had a completely different set of requirements. It was up to the art director Vijay Murugan to create authentic looking sets of the 18th century for almost all scenes. He has done a wonderful job with the sets; there is not even one instance in the film that makes you think that artificially erected sets have been used.

The locations we chose in India include Kuttraalam, Madurai, Bobilli palace in Vizag, parts of Kerala, Gandikkotta and some forests in Andhra. We just kept traveling for this movie. The director had very specific visions about the kind of locations for each and every scene and wanted to get to that place, no matter what. And, the results have shown up well on screen. It really is a grand visual experience. All credit goes to the director.

Vasantha Balan had very specific

visions about the kind of

locations for Aravaan

Siddharth has done an excellent

work for Aravaan

About cinematographer Siddharth

Siddharth is a very good friend of mine, a very smart looking guy who also works very smart. During the audio launch of the film we had screened a trailer and a couple of songs for the audience. Everyone said that the visuals were excellent. Aravaan has not been shot in the regular film format. We have used Red One and D70 cameras. Both cameras are very different. In fact, D70 is very small, almost like a still camera. So, throughout, the team had some doubts about how the output from two different cameras will come out as a consistent viewing experience on the big screen. But, now, after the DI works of the film, the output looks really good. Matching the lighting pattern required for two different cameras requires a lot of homework and experience and Siddharth has all of that having shot in the digital format before and having worked with Kamal Haasan in Mumbai Express. Overall, it was an excellent piece off work that Siddharth has done for Aravaan.

About the strains of shooting for Aravaan

In the beginning, I thought that getting the right physical frame for Aravaan was the toughest part. Having done that, I thought that the rest was going to be pretty easier. But, it was the actual shooting process that was the most difficult because I had to manage my physique throughout the duration. The entire film requires me to be bare bodied and thus I had to work overtime to maintain continuity. During the shooting period, I had to wake up at 4 in the morning and work

We knew that Vasantha Balan

would deliver a good product

out for about two hours, others in the cast also joined me. Then, we would sit down for the make up, which would take around 2 hours. So, by the time we arrived on the set we were already tired. And, on top of that I had to maintain a strict diet for my physique. And, all the scenes in Aravaan were physically demanding, like jumping out of trees, wading through pools and such stuff. I had to do all this without taking my regular food. That balance was tough to maintain. But, the entire team was behind me, giving support. Especially, producer Siva was more like a friend as he encouraged me throughout. All this support took the team through the tough shooting period. And, all of us had that confidence in Vasantha Balan. We knew that he would deliver a good product and our efforts would never be in vain.

About the stunts and the risks

The stunts in Aravaan cannot be shot the way it is done for other films. It requires a lot of variations in the body language. Rocky Rajesh was the stunt master for Aravaan and he led the team really well, using all his experience. It will be evident in the way he has handled a bullfight scene which also has a lot of CG. The audience is definitely going to love it.

I have not used any body

doubles in the film

Another thing about the action in Aravaan is that I have not used any body doubles in the film. This is something I can be proud of because there were many scenes in the film which genuinely called for an expert body double. But, I pulled off all of them myself. Especially the bullfight sequence was very risky. The body double was ready for this shot, but I went up to Vasantha Balan and said that I wanted to do it myself. He warned me that it is not as easy as I think and any mistake could be fatal. But, I did it with complete belief in my team and in the audience who has appreciated my work in Mirugam and Eeram. And, by God’s grace I came through almost unscathed. When the film releases and the audience appreciate my efforts, all the risks and injuries will be just sweet memories.

About the rigors of shooting in forests

The first shot of Aravaan involved me and Pasupathi. It was in a forest, something unlike any that I had seen before, very thick and dense, almost unfrequented by people, even the stones here were razor sharp. The shot involved us running fast in the forest and we were barefoot. Being the first shot, I was very enthusiastic and ran as fast as I could, trying even to outperform Pasupathi. By the end of the shot I was bleeding from my feet, Pasupathi too had injuries. One week into the shooting and we understood that this was not going to be easy, especially when we were asked to walk barefoot on barren rocks at high noon; it was nearly boiling our soles off our feet and we had to keep a straight face.

It was fun when Dhansika joined the sets. She came 15 days after shooting commenced and I immediately told her “Welcome to Aravaan”. She did not get my drift until she was asked to take off her slippers and step onto the rock.

It was fun when Dhansika joined

the sets

Overall, it was a big effort from the entire team. It is difficult to understand the kind of strain unless one has worked in this film. Definitely, the amount of effort required here was greater than for a normal film. And, I am really glad that we have put in this effort to give a quality product.

Everything in Aravaan is a


The highlight scenes of Aravaan

Right from the opening credits to the final card that says ‘A film by Vasantha Balan’, everything in the film is a highlight. You will believe it when you see the film.

Will the film have a documentary feel?

It is a question many people have asked me. There is the general perception that a period film will be slow and like a documentary. Initially, even I had these doubts. But, now I am confident that Aravaan is a good commercial film. Everything required for a commercial flick is there in the right measures in Aravaan. There is nothing unnecessary, artificial or over the top, but it is good entertainment. One can make an out and out entertainer, one can also make a good documentary, but to make a film that has an enjoyable balance of both requires a lot of skill and Vasantha Balan has done a great job with this.

There is nothing unnecessary,

artificial or over the top in


Does Aravaan have a message?

Definitely, it has a message. But, it is not about a contemporary issue. It is something about the people, life and incidents of the 18th century. I cannot reveal any further at this point.

When I heard that the music of

Aravaan was to be scored by

Karthik, I was a bit apprehensive

About the music of Aravaan

Initially when I heard that the music of Aravaan was to be scored by Karthik, frankly, I was a bit apprehensive. I thought that such a big film could have done with an established composer. But, the way Karthik has performed has surprised all of us. He did not look like a first timer; he gave the vibes of a person who had 100 albums behind him. The way he has scored music for Aravaan is exemplary, using the instruments true to the 18th century and yet giving out music that appeals to the current crop of audiences. I call him ‘Kutti Rahman’ and believe that he has done a fantastic job.

The editing pattern of the film

The editing of Aravaan was done keeping in mind the need too maintain a fast tempo throughout. As I said before the film is a complete commercial and editor Praveen has taken care that the audience never feels bored. All the films that he has done before have been crisply edited and it is the same here too. I think the work of all the technicians will speak louder than my words when the film releases.

About the producer of Aravaan

To make a period film of this scale, you need a lot of experience and a lot of passion for cinema as well. Producer Siva has both in good measure. The kind of complications that keep arising when shooting in the kind of locations that we did can be solved only by a highly experienced and adept producer. To be frank, he has been willing to spend much more money than is usually put into a film with me in the lead. He has invested with faith in the story and with the desire to bring a classy product from under his banner. If such a tough film has been completed and is ready for release as scheduled, it is all thanks to the producer.

About Vasantha Balan

I have been touching upon Vasantha Balan every time I talk about the film. To say something specifically about him is difficult. You can say that he is a complete workaholic. All his thoughts all the time are revolving around the movie he is making. On the set he is only thinking about the shot in progress. His mind is never in our world, he is always in the world of the characters of the film. Talking to him is a different experience because he is always preoccupied. We are very lucky to have a dedicated director like him. I wholeheartedly thank him, producer Siva and Almighty for giving me such a powerful role so early in my career. After seeing this film, each and every actor will want to feature in a film like this. I really would want to work on more projects with Vasantha Balan.

I really would want to work on

more projects with Vasantha


About Archana Kavi

She is one of the two heroines of the movie, besides Dhansika. She is a popular actress in Malayalam, having done quite a few films there. She is a very honest and strong performer. The only problem she had while shooting was with Tamil. She knew almost next to nothing about Tamil. There were a few instances where her rather queer Tamil accent made me laugh during takes. And, we used to have a good time sarcastically imitating her Tamil accent. But, that apart, she was an integral part of the team and it was nice to have her on board.

Other highlights

The opening song, Oore oore, choreographed by Kadhal Kandas has really come out well with lots of extras; it looks grand on screen. Then there is the ‘Nila Nila’ song, my personal favorite, choreographed by Gayathri Raghuram, a very nice romantic number. And, there is the Aravaan song in the pre-climax portions choreographed by Kalyan master, who is another workaholic like Vasantha Balan.

Tags : Aadhi, Aravaan, Vasantha Balan, Dhansika
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