Selvaraghavan is a maverick director. But now, he is an actor too. Though Saani Kaayidham was the first film he signed, it was Thalapathy Vijay’s Beast, which was released first. For his debut venture, Selvaraghavan joined hands with Rocky director Arun Matheswaran. He plays the role of Sangaiyyah, Keerthy Suresh’s step-brother in the revenge thriller.
Saani Kaayidham skipped a theatrical release and will premiere directly on Amazon Prime Video on May 6. In an exclusive chat with IndiaToday.in, Selvaraghavan spoke about his experience, director Arun Matheswaran and what his brother Dhanush thought of his acting.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Saani Kaayidham was the first film you signed as an actor. What pushed you to become an actor?
A: I didn’t have the intention of becoming an actor. When Siddharth (creative producer) approached me, I said I was not interested. He then asked me to listen to Arun Matheswaran’s script, and when I did, I was taken aback. He narrated it so beautifully. Then he asked me if I would do the film. I was happy and honoured to have received the opportunity.
Q: When Arun Matheswaran narrated the script of Saany Kaayidham, what struck you the most?
A: I am always drawn to films that are about real people and stories that we can relate to. I play Sangaiyyah and he’s a person you’d meet on every corner. Even Keerthy Suresh’s Ponni is a character you can find in everyone’s life. We never felt we were a part of a movie. It felt like everything was happening for real. That was Arun’s most striking quality.
Q: Your character Sangaiyyah is unabashedly himself in the film. How did you channel that rage?
A: Everyone has that rage within themselves. It is all about how they project it. We’re all capable of showcasing the rage. In real life, people will not be ready to experience it. They’d say you’re always angry. Sometimes, we are forced to react to situations. And in the film, two characters (Ponni and Sangaiyyah) are pushed to a great extent and they burst out. That is the story of Saani Kaayidham.
Q: How was it working with a new-gen filmmaker like Arun Matheswaran?
A: Firstly, I wanted to forget that I am a filmmaker. I thought to myself that I am an actor first. But, I am not a machine. At times, I do feel something can be said or done differently. But, I’d say to myself that I am an actor. I used to be the boss, but now, Arun is. So, I followed what he said. Arun gives a lot of freedom to his actors.
Q: Keerthy Suresh plays a role that she hasn’t played before. How was it sharing screen space with her?
A: I’ve watched her films before. But, to see her play a next-door woman was exciting. We’re both different individuals. In the film, she plays my step-sister and we don’t talk much. We only had to emote. Every brother and sister has a bond. This was different because I’m a step-brother. We used to improvise on the spot. It was fun.
Q: Can we call you a director’s actor already or are you still discovering the actor in you?
A: You can call me a director’s actor. I’ve always been in a director’s shoes. I understood that I needed to shut my mouth (laughs). Moviemaking works on our instincts. I decided that I wanted to be a director’s actor and I didn’t want to ask even one question.
Q: Do you think filmmakers these days are forced to take a political stand in their films?
A: Saani Kaayidham has nothing to do with politics. And every film belongs to a different genre. This film is about two characters who are pushed to a corner. They take the law into their hands.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from Saani Kaayidham?
A: I learnt a lot. Basically, I understood how difficult acting is. I told my brother [Dhanush] that acting is so difficult. He made fun of me. Dhanush said, “Do you understand now? Don’t torture your actors hereafter. You keep asking for 15 takes. Do you see how monotonous it gets? (laughs).” Maybe, that’s my takeaway. I can now understand an actor from their perspective.
Q: Can you give us an update about Aayirathil Oruvan 2 and Pudhupettai 2?
A: Both should happen. I’m waiting for Aayirathil Oruvan 2. I need to sit down and write my characters. It will not be what people expect, but something different. It will happen soon.