He was the proverbial dark horse, when he made it to the winning post with a battalion of new faces in tow. The film was ‘Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu, and the debut-making director was Susindran, who had apprenticed under the likes of Ezhil and Saba.

“Story, director and cast are secondary. Narration is primary for a film to succeed,” he asserts. But this time, for his ‘Naan Magaan Alla,’ he has gone in for strong players led by Karthi. “Karthi is the only actor who came to my mind when I conceived this story of a city bred young man from a middle class background. And within the first ten minutes of my narration he was impressed with the line,” smiles Susindran. That’s when Studio Green, the producers, stepped in, and soon things fell in place.

From the bucolic ambience of ‘Vennila …’ to a city-centric subject in ‘Naan Magaan Alla,’ and from directing small timers to handling star power must be quite a shift for the young filmmaker. “Karthi is a very down-to-earth actor. ‘The character is more like what I am in real life. I go around on the bike, hang out with friends at roadside tea stalls … The thought process of this hero gels well with mine,’ Karthi commented during the shoot,” he says, and adds, “Once he is inspired by the role, there’s no stopping him. You saw it in ‘Paruththi Veeran’ and you’ll see it again in ‘Naan Magaan Alla.’”

Despite a couple of Tamil films Kajal Agarwal, the heroine of ‘Naan …’ hasn’t been able to find a foothold in Tamil cinema. “This film should do for Kajal what ‘Ghajini’ did for Asin,” he quips. “You will see her dressed only in salwar and churidhar sets. And her chirpy role will take her places.”

Yuvan Shankar Raja is ‘Naan ...’s composer. “Yuvan’s splendid score and RR make him the hero of the second half of ‘Naan …’” says Susindran. But why didn’t he repeat Selvaganesh, the ganjira expert, who did a commendable job in ‘Vennila …’? “Of course, he was very good, but RR in the latter part of ‘Naan …’ is crucial, so I opted for Yuvan,” he explains. “And adding lustre to ‘Naan …’ is Madhi’s camera. After ‘Veyyil,’ he has used a lot of natural light here.”

Jayaprakash who came out with a brilliantly underplayed performance in ‘Pasanga,’ is playing a pivotal role in ‘Naan …’ and Suri (none can forget his hilarious ‘Parotta’ sequence in ‘Vennila …’) joins the cast this time too. Laughs Susindran: “But here he’s done a different role. As for Jayaprakash, he is all out to prove his potential once again.”

Susindran’s penchant for new faces was evident in ‘Vennila …’ “You will see many more in ‘Naan …’ too,” he smiles.

After a very different name for his debut film, does he have to plump for a yesteryear Rajini film title this time? “I thought of a 1000 other options but didn’t find any as apt as this. The title should tell a story – ‘Naan Magaan Alla’ does. Once you watch the film you will agree with me,” he contends.

Five months of scripting and 10 days of rehearsals preceded the shoot of ‘Naan…’ Interestingly, the entire film has been shot in Chennai. “The first half is in action mode and the next, more a life’s travel, is sprinkled with humour,” is all he’s willing to disclose about the story of ‘Naan …’

“Life is full of incidents that can be made into stories. I’ve dealt with one such and I assure you it will be fresh.” Susindran seems all set to make the magic work again.