Text: Arun
Director Ameer who is known for his intense films like Maunam Pesiyade, Paruthiveeran will be seen in a new avatar now. He is the hero in the upcoming Yogi and he shares his thoughts on the film with behindwoods.com

About the film Yogi

Ameer: It is a movie set in the poorer parts of Chennai, almost like the slums and revolves around the feelings of a resident of such an area. His name is Yogeshwar aka Yogi. Many movies before have depicted life in Chennai, but Yogi takes a new perspective which will definitely be interesting. The life lead within the restricted 8X8 confines of a small room has been shown really well. The problems and issues of such an existence can be a movie by itself. Yogi will be a very different experience for all viewers.

" Yogi will be

a very different experience

for all viewers "

What kind of a person is Yogi?

" Yogi does not care

much about circumstances

or people "

Yogi does not care much about circumstances or people around him. If he wants to do something, he just does it. You could like him to a lion. There are three characters in the movie that are always with Yogi. One of them has been played by Snehan, the poet. The other two have been played by youngsters picked straight from the slums of Chennai. Madhumitha has essayed the character titled Rajasulochana. It is a role that is sure to bring her accolades once the movie releases. Apart from them, there are at least 20 new faces in the movie.

Your experience in front of the camera

It was indeed a new experience for me, an eye opener of sorts. Till Yogi, I had only been extracting the right expressions from my actors. I did not have the knowledge abut the problems they faced. But now, after acting in Yogi, I know much better. There were times when the director in me gave a lot of trouble to the debutante actor within myself. Many a time after director Subramaniam Siva had given the ‘action’ call, I have caught myself inspecting the shot, the camera position, the field of vision as if I were the director. Siva took me aside and told I was the hero of the movie and should concentrate on nothing but my performance. It took a few days to get adjusted to my new role as actor.

Why did it take so long in the making?

Almost everyone I have met in the recent past has asked me this question. It can be fully understood only by a person who has attempted to shoot a movie in Chennai. Getting permission to shoot at important public spots is a huge process. For instance, we had to shoot a scene in front of Citi Center. It had nothing important, just me walking past. Even for that we had to run from pillar to post for many days. We were first denied permission. But after many pleas, it was finally granted with the condition that shooting could be carried out only at night, that too at a rent of Rs 40,000 per hour. And, when we wanted to show a shop within the complex, they too wanted a separate rent. Similarly, a scene in the toilet of Sathyam cinemas too had such difficulties. All this were for the more insignificant portions of the movie! Imagine how much we had to go through to complete the film. At last, it is over at a final budget of 11 crores.

How would director Ameer rate actor Ameer?

I was surprised by my looks on screen. I do not look more than 35 years. I understood there is a lot of difference between seeing oneself in a photo as compared to a well shot complete movie. I don’t want to say more, the audience can see for themselves in theaters.

" I was surprised by

my looks on screen "

" I am a pure

‘non-vegetarian’ "

How did you discipline yourself for the movie?

I am a pure ‘non-vegetarian’. I glut non-veg thrice a day. But, ever since Yogi started I have been on a completely restricted diet. Greens, vegetables, wheat food like chappathi, egg whites etc. I almost started feeling as if I

am at an herbal treatment center. Of all the things that I ate, the only non-veg item was egg. But, even that, I could not eat in the form I wanted, like omlettes. It was only the fully boiled egg whites that I had. Exact eight hours of sleep a day and regular work outs at the gym. It was difficult to sleep peacefully after a long day at the gym, the body used to feel so tight. My skin too got dark and tanned due to long hours in the sun.

About action scenes

We have tried to do action scenes that are comparable to Hollywood standards. We have shot the action scenes painstakingly to ensure quality. Two fight scenes were shot for a total of 51 days. The film ‘Nenjil Oru Aalayam’ was shot in 20 days, now we have taken 30 whole days to shoot one fight sequence. All the efforts have gone into give the best to the audience.

Earlier this year, the fight scenes in Ayan were talked about a lot. The main reason is that they brought a leading stunt master from USA. We have also tried to attain the same level of quality. Rajashekharan is the man behind the action in Yogi and once the film releases, he is sure to get big offers and a separate identity. I want the audiences in theaters to feel the originality in the fight sequences and that is why I chose not to go in for body doubles for risky shots. I did them myself and got hurt twice in the process.

" We have taken

30 whole days to shoot

one fight sequence "

" Yuvan has been

exceptional as usual "

Yuvan’s work

Yuvan has been exceptional as usual. When he composes tunes for me he gives the impression of being the ‘Modern Ilayaraja’. He knows exactly what I want, how I will shoot the visuals and delivers the exact mood that is required whether it is the songs or re-

recording. In yogi, there are four songs, one is promotional. I have also lent my voice for a song along with poet Snehan that goes ‘Seermavum Koovathile, Seerazhiyum naathathile, singara Chennai pottri’ Earlier in Paruthiveeran I had sung a small note that went ‘Ae Dandanakka’. Yuvan still remembered my voice from that piece and made me sing in Yogi.

About director Subramaniam Siva

I have total faith in him as a director. I liked Thiruda Thirudi a lot. Everyone talks only about ‘Manmadha Rasa’ from the film, but there are many other things that I liked. It was a cute love story narrated in a very breezy manner. This is what prompted me to act under his direction. Yogi will definitely be a milestone for Subramaniam Siva; he will attain a new stature after the movie is released.

" Everyone talks

only about

‘Manmadha Rasa’ "

" Cinema is

not a medium

to give messages "

Any message through Yogi

Cinema is not a medium to give messages. It is basically meant to entertain. One must not make cinema with the sole aim of passing on a message, no one will take notice of the movie then. If a message can be incorporated seamlessly in the flow of things, then it is definitely good. Yogi will follow that principle. Yogi will have a message, but in a small dose.

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