A mystical touch to love, says filmmaker Selvaraghavan of his upcoming Irandam Ulagam. Nikhil Raghavan records some emotions…

Philosophical, religious, mystical or romantic? It is difficult to label director Selvaraghavan. His neatly appointed office is stocked with books on topics ranging from archaeology to Zen, including a row of books by Osho. So, what kind of a person is he, I ask him as Selvaraghavan breezes in, calm and composed despite the pressures of getting his two-year project, Irandam Ulagam, ready for release. Selvaraghavan has an Osho quote: ‘The birds fly, but they don't leave any footprints. You cannot follow them.” That explains it all… Selvaraghavan speaks…

On Irandam Ulagam

“No one has really attempted a mystical film. There is a lot of Sufism and a Zen feel to the film. I have made a romantic film that uses these elements in the background. There is a reality in mysticism; I believe so much in God that I have brought God into this film in the form of love. I want everyone to feel good when they come out of the theatre. It is meant to make everyone feel proud that they are in love with someone. In comparison to my earlier films, this is probably the best way I have managed to convey God and love. The concept of pure love has been lost to today’s generation. Today, it is all about dating and judging each other on material things. Watch Irandam Ulagam to know how to fall in love. Love, without thinking of anything else. Irandam Ulagam is a feel-good film, period. Yes, both Arya and Anushka play dual roles and beyond this, I cannot reveal anything more.”

On staying focussed

“I am a completely different person when I am at work. I manage to stay focussed on the job at hand. My personal life is at a different layer; suddenly I will miss my small daughter and I will make every effort to switch to family time.”

On his evolution as

a director

“I have done six films in Tamil and two in Telugu and am still dissatisfied with what I make. This is not because I am not capable of making better films. It is becoming increasingly difficult to make a good film in Tamil. At every juncture, there are unnecessary restrictions and untold miseries for serious filmmakers like us. If I stay away from showing the feet of the hero walking and everyone else is walking at 500 frames per second and heroes are falling in love at first sight, there are songs in lush foreign locales, that itself will make my film different. But, if I have to think out of the box, I have to risk a Rs. 50-crore budget. Therefore, I have to strike a balance. Irandam Ulagam is a sensible entertainer. At least you won’t have to scratch your head to comprehend the film. If I am to do the usual, I cannot be different from the others. At the same time, our system doesn't allow too much freedom to experiment. Our censorship laws are too restrictive. Can I make a real thriller without attracting an 'A' certificate? If seventy per cent of my audience is not allowed to see it, how will my movie make money?”

On his strengths

“I am a better writer than a director. I am never happy with what I do. When I sit back and see what I have created, I think…there are so many things that could have been done better. But, isn’t that how life is always? Screenplay is my forte and I would love to give that responsibility to a better screenwriter, if there is one. In many other film industries, a screenwriter is sometimes paid on par with the actor, for the screenplay is the core strength of any film. Of course, I do believe in the concept of a bound script. But tell me, how many times do we have the luxury of rehearsals and script reading? Do some of our present-day actors have the time or the interest to do that?”

On newcomers getting overnight recognition

“Ask any of these new filmmakers to do a film other than comedy. I will then give them full marks. Today’s audience does not want to be made to think. Mindless humour makes them laugh; are they laughing at themselves for a no-brainer movie? If I give them an intelligent movie that makes them think, they turn around and ask: ‘Who do you think you are to ask us to think? Are you more intelligent than us?’ That is the attitude of a majority of filmgoers today.”

On the future

Selvaraghavan feels that he is at the moment sandwiched between two generations and wondering what his next step should be. “I was 21 when I made my first film. Now I am 37 and onto my seventh film. I am neither in yesterday’s generation nor in the next. I feel like the bird in the Osho quote. I have a Hindi film and two Telugu films to start after Irandam Ulagam releases. My heart says, do the Hindi film, for there is so much that’s interesting happening in Bollywood. But, my roots are here and sometimes I don’t feel like moving out of my comfort zone.”

The article was corrected for an error.