It's a huge change and a challenge too for Venu Arvind, popular face of small screen soaps, who makes his directorial debut with the film Sabash Sariyaana Potti

The last time I met Venu Arvind was more than a decade ago, when he ruled the roost as a serial king. Despite the limitations of the small screen's sob sagas, Arvind transcended clichés with his spontaneous performances. And he's been astute enough to know when to make switchovers in his career and how. So now he takes a giant leap and turns director with the film Sabash Sariyaana Potti, an eventful step that follows his long innings before the camera.

Interestingly, Arvind hasn't apprenticed under any director. “But I've worked with some of the best,” he clarifies, “beginning with K. Balachander, Balu Mahendra and Mani Ratnam and more recently Samudirakani and Sundar K. Vijayan.”

With his demeanour, voice and diction, Arvind should have made it big in cinema as a hero. But the lack of leeway made him change tack. He played noteworthy roles in megas, even as he impacted viewers, albeit in small roles, in films such as Alaipaayudhae.

The interaction with Arvind throws up interesting insights. “Creativity is only one side of the picture. Prompt and proper decision-making skill is a prerequisite, when problems stare you in the face at the shooting spot,” he says.

Of course, direction is an onus in itself as it involves money. “A hell of a lot of it,” he guffaws. “Particularly when it is another person's, the angst could weigh you down.”

How tense has he been? “That's the point. Emotion management is essential, because tension can only make matters worse.” Time is a crucial factor too. “I've been a student of management — the knowledge comes in handy,” says Arvind.

Today, releases are dime a dozen, securing screen space is a tall order, and marketing and promotion of films have reached feverish proportions. “Yes, these are the other challenges,” he agrees.

Much before the shooting of SSP, Arvind stopped accepting acting assignments. “I had to give SSP my best shot,” he avers. The film deals with the life of an actor. Personal reflections? “To an extent, and also what I've observed, imbibed and been inspired by …” he shrugs. “It's a multi-layered story with accent on levity. Nothing will look contrived.”

Over the years, Arvind has been working on quite a few story ideas. So when he met V. R. Raghunathan, an R&D scientist with a yen for story writing, and told him a two-liner, the response was, “Why don't we make it into a film?”

“It was as simple as that,” laughs Arvind. Hectic discussions with friends and aces in the field followed and in six months he had a bound copy of the script ready.

Jayaram plays a major role in SSP. “He's an actor who is liked by all and he's done a great job. Providence has been guiding me throughout. I wanted new actors for the two main roles. Also the hero had to be conversant with the Madurai dialect. I finally plumped for Sriram Karthik. And heroine Anjana Thamburatti's role is very different from the usual song-and-dance routine,” Arvind says.

Is Anjana from Kerala? “Very much! I wanted a Tamil, but none whom I approached was willing. Also SSP has a sound technical crew. Composer Thaman, cinematographer Krish Kymal and editor A. L. Ramesh, who did an outstanding job in Nadodigal, have made wonderful contributions.”

The tagline of Sabash Sariyaana Potti is ‘A dream come true' — it should, for Venu Arvind.