Of course, there’s a highway connection, but there’s a lot more too, says Krishna of his upcoming Nedunchaalai, set in three time periods

The director who brought on-screen romance to life in Sillunu Oru Kaadhal is ready with his next film, Nedunchaalai, which is to hit the screens soon. If it was Suriya, Jyotika and Bhumika in SOK, a fairly new cast of Aari, Shivadha Nair and Salim Kumar are part of Nedunchaalai. Silluni Oru Kaadhal was released in 2006, and Nenduchaalai releases in 2014! Where was director Krishna all these years?

With a sardonic grin Krishna begins, “SOK has been garnering encomiums ever since it has been on the television circuit. But its poor run at the cinemas remains an intriguing fact till date. Which other pair could have brought in such spontaneity and passion as the lead couple of SOK did? I still believe that it is one of Suriya’s best films.” Then why didn’t it do well? “In an era when the fate of every film depends on pre-release publicity, I feel we didn’t do enough to promote it.”

Probably the lack of response to SOK deterred him from moving on at a faster pace?

“Not exactly, in between I made Yaen Ippadi Mayakkinai. But it never got released.” Was it because of a fairly new cast? Richard was the hero of YIM. “You’ll be surprised. Gayathri, the heroine who has drawn a lot of attention in Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, was the leading lady. Sathya, the composer who shot to fame with Engaeyum Eppothum, debuted with YIM. I can only conclude that those were trying times for me,” he looks back with a tinge of disappointment. But they are bygones now.

Fascination for films

Despite challenges, not once did Krishna contemplate giving up his pursuit. “Cinema will always be my profession. Films fascinate me. From conceptualisation, planning and execution to improvising on the sets and transferring my thoughts on to celluloid, every aspect of my job gives me a high.”

Krishna intends trying out new genres. “After Nedunchaalai, it’s going to be a full-length actioner,” he smiles.

Now, Krishna is confident about his new effort. “Udayanidhi Stalin is very impressed with Nedunchaalai and his support is a true morale booster,” he says. After Yaen Ippadi Mayakkinaai, Krishna teams up once again with Sathya for the music of Nedunchaalai. “The album is already a hit.” He sounds happy.

Going by the title, the film could revolve around the happenings on a highway. “Of course there’s a highway connection, but there’s a lot more too,” says Krishna. “In fact, it is a film set in three periods — the 1960s, 1980s and the present day.”

And the inspiration … “Is completely original,” Krishna butts in. “A few things I’ve heard, seen, experienced and read about have found their way into the story.” Sheen and subtlety in treatment made SOK stand apart. And being a product of the Gautham Menon School of filmmaking, the finesse with which Krishna handled the subject, was quite commendable.

But will Nedunchaalai travel on a rugged terrain, with sophistication taking a backseat? “Just because it appears to be a highway tale, it doesn’t necessarily have to do only with lorry drivers and others. Several kinds of people use the highway,” Krishna contends.

But the rugged, sinewy look of Aari in the promos cannot be completely misleading, can it? “Nedunchaalai deals with the lives of six people, including the roles played by Thambi Ramaiah and Malayalam actor Salim Kumar.” Salim won the national award for his role in Adaminte Makan Abu and is a notable value addition to the Nedunchaalai cast. Again, Shivadha Nair, the heroine, is from Kerala. “She plays the role of a woman who runs a highway dhaba.”

After debuting with the dampener, Rettaisuzhi, Nedunchaalai should be a big break for Aari, the protagonist. “I chose Aari for his fit physique and he has done a good job. He came on board after I auditioned many others for the role,” explains Krishna. “The action sequences in the film will be a highlight of Nedunchaalai.”

Ultimately, the mainstay of any film is its script. “That’s exactly what I’m trying to say. Story and screenplay are vital for success, not just the saleability of the hero. We’ve worked hard and I hope to hit the bull’s eye this time.”