Director Selva, an experienced director who has made waves in the industry with films like Naan Avanillai, in an exclusive interview with Behindwoods. Here he talks about his journey into the world of films and his upcoming film Guru En Aalu and future projects. Read on to find out more about this director who has rendered around twenty films in a career spanning almost three decades.

 
 

“When I watched K B’s Naan Avanillai, I was totally floored by its ‘avant garde’ theme”

About Guru En Aalu

Now I am working in ‘Guru En Aalu’ where I am teaming up with Madhavan for the first time. I have taken a small knot from the Hindi film ‘Yes Boss’ and have developed on those lines. Mamtha Mohandas is the heroine and Abbas, Mayilsamy, Vivek, M S Bhaskar are part of the rest of the cast. Guru En Aalu is K R G banner’s 49th film which will be a humorous flick right through. I am very confidant that this is going to be an important film in Maddy’s career. Comedy sequences involving M S Bhaskar and Vivek are going to be the highlight of the film and will be talked about.

Music in the film

There are five songs in the film which are peppy in nature. There are no remix tracks and the songs are well suited to Maddy and Mamtha. Chellame Chellame shot in Switzerland will be talked about for camera work.

 

Guru will be a hardcore rib tickler and a total laugh riot


How did you choose ‘Yes Boss’?

When Maddy and I decided to work together, we were discussing many scripts and opted to do a remake and zeroed in on ‘Yes Boss’ which was a hit during the 90s with Shah Rukh as the hero. We have altered the script to suit the contemporary trend.

Compare Guru En Aalu with Naan Avanillai and Thotta

Naan Avanillai is a Tamil remake of the film with the same title while Thotta is all about gangsters. These two films did not have much of comedy elements in it. But Guru will be a hardcore rib tickler and a total laugh riot. I pray that just like Naan Avanillai and Thotta, Guru also will be liked by everyone and would run for 100 days.

What is the theme in Guru…?

Everyone has some kind of goal in their life. In today’s world, the younger generation is keen to achieve this in a fast track mode and want to settle down fast. My hero and heroine who are in love with each other also belong to the same genre. How they infuse their love into their goal is what I have discussed in the film. As regards this story, performance is very essential and I cannot rely on any other gimmicks. My cast has perfectly understood this and delivered the goods. This is the highlight of my film.

What is your opinion on remake films?

I first began remaking from Tamil to Tamil in Naan Avanillai. I can proudly say that I am influenced by K Balachander. When I watched K B’s Naan Avanillai, I was totally floored by its ‘avant garde’ theme. For a film which was shot some 35 years ago, the theme is still contemporary. When I knew that the response of the film was not too good in those days, I wanted to make the theme popular. That’s when I decided to remake the film. Naan Avanillai’s success encouraged me to try out KB’s other films also and I will be remaking Nootrukku Nooru in Tamil soon.

Will you be remixing ‘Naan Unnai Vazhthi Padugiren’?

Not yet thought about.

I will team up with Ajith once again

 

Ajith was introduced as a hero through your movie Amaravathi. Any plans to work with Ajith again?

Yes, we would like to team up. Actually, I was to do Kireedom but the production house wanted to try out a new director. Hence, I could not do that film. When the right time comes, I am sure we would once again do a film together.

The film that you recently saw and liked?

Dasavatharam. I marvel at Kamal’s determination, perseverance and his serious attitude towards work. Although he is such an experienced actor, he considers every film as his first project and works very diligently. The younger brood should learn a lot from this master actor.

About directing older superstars like Rajni & Vijaykanth and newer superstars like Vikram and Surya?

Talks are on to direct Vijaykanth. It may happen in future. I got a prospect to direct Sarathkumar but it did not work out. With Ajith, we planned to do another film but it got shelved due to FEFSI issues but we would be teaming up in future. But with other actors, I did not get any opportunity.

Compare success of a bigger movie like Dasavatharam to that of a smaller movie like Subramaniapuram

The recognition that Subramaniapuram is receiving is encouraging as the cast consists of enthusiastic newcomers. One needs to certainly give accolades to the team who worked so hard to bring in front of us the events of the 80s. As regards Dasavatharam, it is a Kamal’s film and is a technical marvel. In my opinion, Subramaniapuram scores over Dasavatharam in that it had newcomers who attempted something new and they need to be encouraged which would pave way for such quality attempts in mainstream cinema.

Do you want to act?

My forte is direction and I enjoy it every bit. I also feel that I am yet to accomplish in the field of direction. And secondly as I concentrate on story and direction I do not have the time to act. When I reach a level of saturation in direction, I may attempt something different. Till such period, I am happy directing.

Actor Maddy is considered to be someone who comes up with lot of inputs. Did you find it interfering?

I am a team player and the moment I start work, I tell my unit that we need to work as a team to win. This is what I follow till date and I have not faced any problem with any actor and I don’t foresee such things in future also. I am a friendly director.

 

Subramaniapuram needs to be encouraged

How about directing Telugu and Hindi films?

I got offers to direct Telugu films twice, but as my hands are full with Tamil projects, I am yet to venture into Telugu industry. As regards Hindi films, producer of Naan Avanillai, Nemichand Jhabhak is planning to make Naan Avanillai in Hindi in which case I will be directing my first Hindi film which may happen next year.

Tell us something about your college life

In my school days, I was very much interested in theatre. I graduated from Pachaippa’s college, Chennai, and that’s where the seed to prove myself in film world was sown in my mind. At Pachaippa’s I came under the influence of Director A S Prakasam who was also my professor. Although I was keen to work under him, I never got the opportunity.

On television serials and the route to filmdom

During my tenure at Pachaippa’s college, through my very close friend Sampathkumar I joined as an assistant director in an advertising firm which was involved in making ad film, documentary and short films and I worked there for two years. I worked in my first television serial titled Thyagam.

My maiden directorial venture was a documentary film on poet Bharathi running for thirty minutes which was screened in Delhi Doordarshan. The very name of Subramania Bharathi brings to mind his majestic head gear and I had shot an entire film using only the head gear to convey things. This innovative concept was appreciated by everyone and the documentary served as an entry ticket for my next project wherein I was asked to direct eminent writer Akilon’s Gnanapeeth award winning novel Chithira Paavai which was to be telecast in Doordarshan. It was a thirteen episode serial which had Vaishnavi, Fathima Babu, Nazar and many leading TV personalities. Though Chithira Paavai earned me a good repute, I was yet to become popular.

Subsequently I received another offer to direct a TV serial called Neela Mala from Chozha creations. I was very zealous to enter films using Neela Mala which was telecast on Sunday mornings. This serial had the necessary impact that I was hoping for and made me and my entire team famous and we became a household name. Many talented artists like Thalaivaasal Vijay, Keladi Kanmani Neena, and Mahanadi Shobana featured in the serial. The success of the serial facilitated Chozha creation’s re-entry into film world and they gave my first opportunity to direct ‘Thalai Vaasal’ in 1991. Till date I am indebted to Chozha creations for this opening and the trust that they had vested on me.

On your early films

Thalaivasal introduced me to filmdom. In Thalaivaasal, except for playback singer S P Balasubramanain, everyone in the cast was new like Bhanuprakash and Vijay who later came to be known as Thalaivasal Vijay. It is a story revolving around college life which forms the foundation stone for the future of any individual. The film won good reviews and it fetched me a chance to direct Chozha creation’s next film. Thalaivasal was an action packed film and we decided to have romance as the backdrop in our next film, Amaravathi, which again had many newcomers. Playback singer SPB introduced us to Ajith who was then acting in a Telugu film. Ajith liked our script and we introduced Sangavi as the heroine. Although the film did not do too well, it gave me recognition in the film industry as a good technician. But I learnt a valuable lesson that unless a film is commercial success, it is very difficult to survive in the film industry despite the critical acclaim one receives. Almost for 30 days, I analyzed the situation and learnt the nuances to make a commercial potboiler and totally changed my tracks to give such films. From then on, it has been only commercial films for me. Subsequently I went on to do Karna with Arjun, Goundamani and Senthil, an out and out commercial film. Then came Pudaiyal, Sishya, Pooveli, Roja Vanam, James Paandu, Student No.1, Aasaiyil Oor Kadidam, Naan Avanillai, Thotta etc. Till date I am treading a path which satisfies my producer, distributor and at the same time gives me also some kind of artistic satisfaction.

MGR is my inspiration

 

Comment on M G R being your inspiration

When I decided to shift to commercial stream, the first person who amazed me and had a long lasting effect is M G R and I chose to follow his path. His films are liked by everyone, they are commercial hits and at the same time had some kind of message to give our society. The manner in which songs were picturised in his films was totally enchanting, specially in Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban. His films were all minimum guarantee films and the producers were a happy lot. Like any other fan of M G R, I worship him and as a small mark of my respect to this remarkable man, I have kept his photograph in my office and look up to him for my inspiration.

What is your opinion on the many issues faced by the film industry?

Generally salary issues keep cropping up. But as there are unions to represent every section of the film industry, the respective councils are resolving them.

I thank Behindwoods for sharing my journey in the film world with everyone.

Kalaprabhu Venkat Prabhu Actress Tejasree Lekha Washington Director Mysskin Director A.R.Murugadoss
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