Will Aravaan emulate the success of a Mirugam
or an Eeram?
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
your role in Aravaan
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.
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
Pasupathy is my favorite co-artist
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
Bharath and Anjali
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
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
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
About the strains of shooting for Aravaan
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
About the rigors
of shooting in forests
I have not used any body
doubles in the film
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.
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.
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
It was fun when Dhansika joined
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
highlight scenes of Aravaan
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.
have a message?
Will the film have a documentary feel?
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
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.
The editing pattern
of the film
When I heard that the music of
Aravaan was to be scored by
Karthik, I was a bit apprehensive
the music of Aravaan
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 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
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
About Vasantha Balan
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
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.
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.