Ganesh Venkatraman
Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Camera : Maran | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Coordination : Hemananth
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Ganesh Venkatraman wowed us with his looks and performance in Abhiyum Naanum and Unnai Pol Oruvan. Having worked with Amitabh Bachchan and Mohanlal in Kandahar in Malayalam and with Nagarjuna and Anushka in Damarukam in Telugu, this debonair actor is ready with his first solo hero project in Tamil, Pani Thuli directed by Natty Kumar and Dr Jay. Catch Ganesh Venkatraman in a friendly tete-a-tete with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar.

Why a long gap after Unnai Pol Oruvan?

I was waiting for a good role as I want to be part of good cinema. I did Kandahar with Amitabh Bachchan sir and Mohanlal sir in Malayalam. And that was when Pani Thuli came my way. I would have listened to at least 30 scripts before Pani Thuli but nothing impressed me. After having worked with Abhiyum Naanum, Unnai Pol Oruvan and Kandahar in a good character role, I was waiting for the right kind of project as a solo hero. And that was Pani Thuli. After reading the script, I knew this was the script that I was waiting all along. It was worth the wait. The film is over now and I am eagerly waiting for its release and the audience’s feedback.

This was the script I was waiting

all along

Pani Thuli will be like a James

Bond film

What genre is Pani Thuli?

Pani Thuli is a romantic subject but Natty has given it a James Bond touch. It is a new genre by itself. Perhaps you can call it a romantic thriller. Natty has infused all the elements of a commercial film in Pani Thuli. There is romance and beautiful spell binding music; we have tried a few new techniques in action sequences a la Hollywood style and there is comedy. There are unexpected twists and turns like in a James Bond film which will take care of the thriller element.

How do you feel about your first solo hero subject?

I am very excited and feel fortunate to have got a good education in cinema having worked with Prakash Raj sir, Amitabh Bachchan sir, Mohanlal sir, Sathyaraj sir, Nagarjuna sir, Venkatesh sir and two beautiful heroines Trisha and Anushka. I can’t expect a better education in cinema than this. And I have used all those experiences with big stars in Pani Thuli. I am confident that Pani Thuli will do very well.

I am confident that Pani Thuli will

do very well

He can live on love and fresh air

What is your role in Pani Thuli?

I am Shiva a software engineer in Pani Thuli. He lives in Chennai and is madly in love with a girl called Meera. He works in a mediocre company and is not very ambitious about his career. He thinks he can live on love and fresh air. But Meera who is a final year medical student is very ambitious and pushes Shiva to reach the next level and because of this he gets an opportunity to go to USA. And then the film travels to US and what happens there forms the crux of Pani Thuli.

Home work for Pani Thuli

As an actor I really like to work on the characters I play. Two specific characterizations were there for the character Shiva in Pani Thuli - one was the simple Shiva in Chennai who is in love with Meera and there is another Shiva in the US. I will not reveal much but I can say both are very opposite and very different. I sat with my directors and discussed in detail about the characters and I tried to incorporate the different body languages, attitude to life etc in the roles. As my action sequences in Unnai Pol Oruvan were much talked about director Natty wanted my action scenes in Pani Thuli to be the highlight of the film.

As per this the action sequences in Chennai will have a local flavor. We have incorporated new elements in the US sequences. A few scenes involved snowboarding and I had to learn this. I was nervous initially and fell down many times. I practiced for 3 days and on the 4th day I did the sequence and I am happy about the results.

There is an important chase sequence in the film where the villains follow me through the streets of San Francisco. In this along with running, we involved skate board too. For this I had to learn stunts on the skate board. All this learning happened, thanks to Pani Thuli.

On the dancing segment, I had to learn salsa as my character in the US is charming, a Casanova kind. In fact my introduction in the US is through a dance sequence in a club and hence it was important for me to pick up salsa and dance like as if it’s my second nature. I can do kuthu numbers and hip hop but salsa is different. You need to sway your hips and keep your upper body stiff and it involves a different body language. I took salsa training for 25 days and have executed the scene. These are the things I learnt for the film.

About director Natty Kumar

I have made great friends with Natty Kumar through this film and it has been a great journey for me. Post Unnai Pol Oruvan, I received the script of Pani Thuli through email. And I was impressed with the presentation, screen play, characterization, detailing, dialogues and the treatment. I immediately understood that these guys are professional and they are clear about what they want to do. I also realized that they have worked one year on the script and so many discussions had taken place.

Afterwards through the shooting of almost 90 days, we got close and became a family and understood each other quite well. We not only discussed Pani Thuli but also about all kinds of films. Natty is also cinema paithiyam like me and we used to watch movies together and our wavelengths matched quite well. We understood each other so well that half way through our schedule, Natty just had to look at me and I would understand what he wanted from me as an actor. This is very important in cinema for an artist to understand a director’s vision and to execute it. Natty’s biggest strength is his sense of scripting. In addition to that his sense of humor is awesome. In the most serious situations, he would crack a joke and make the situation lively and you will feel this humor in the film too.

Natty’s biggest strength is his

sense of scripting

Natty Kumar made sure I had

two heroines to romance

Two heroines

Generally in film, for a new hero, there will be one heroine and throughout the film he has to run behind her and romance. Luckily for me, Natty Kumar made sure I had two heroines to romance. Jokes apart, the script demanded two heroines. Shobana and Kalpana Pandit are the two heroines of Pani Thuli and they have acted very well. Shobana is from Mylapore and has moved to America a couple of years back. Kalpana is experienced and has acted in a few Hindi movies. Pani Thuli will be her debut in Tamil. Both are extraordinary dancers and I had to get my dancing right to match them. It was fantastic working with them. I always believe that when you are working in a romantic film, it is important that you have a good comfort level with your co-stars which translates on to the big screen. Both are very cordial and friendly people to work with. There was no attitude problem. Although it was their first film, they have acted very professionally in Pani Thuli.


The highlight of Pani Thuli is its visual treat and we have shot 70% of the film in US in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Boreal ski resort. We have captured the beauty of San Francisco during Christmas and have shot a nice romantic song under a 45 feet Christmas tree. We have shot a song in Las Vegas, the land of casinos and an action sequence in Boreal ski resort. We have also filmed in Universal studios in Hollywood, in Disneyland and in beaches. We shot in Financial District in San Francisco where IT companies are located. We show Shiva working in this area.

The highlight of Pani Thuli is its

visual treat

Music is very important in all

romantic films

Music in Pani Thuli

Music is very important in all romantic films. Music directors Agnel and Faizaan have scored 6 beautiful numbers. They are associates of A R Rahman and come from his school of music. They have done Hindi films like Ragini MMS and are currently working with Anurag Kashyap, Ektha Kapoor and such big production houses. Pani Thuli is their first Tamil film. As we are doing this film in Hindi and Tamil, we wanted someone who can give music in Tamil and Hindi and they were the right choice for this film.

Did you dub for yourself?

In Hindi I dubbed for myself but in Tamil, as a team decision we used the services of a dubbing artist. I am also eagerly waiting to speak in Tamil. I am there almost 80% and I feel I should speak not just for the sake of it or to prove a point but I want to do it right. Very soon, I will be doing my own dubbing.

Any projects you have signed?

I have just completed Damarukam with Nagarjuna and Anushka in Telugu. It is a sci-fi futuristic film with lot of action along the lines of Terminator and Magadheera. I have had four months of back breaking schedules. This month I am taking it cool and from February I will be starting and announcements will come. As of now I am waiting for the release of Pani Thuli. I want your love and patronage. Please support us.

Tags : Ganesh Venkatraman, Pani Thuli, Natty Kumar
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