From production to promotion, director Selva's techniques seem different for the film releasing on March 9

“We don't remember days, we only remember moments,” director Selva sounds quite cryptic. Baffled, I blink. “Yeah, that's the tagline of my Naanga,” he smiles.

Once Selva had decided on the subject, he spoke to innumerable educated youngsters and urged them to talk about the best part of their lives. Invariably, they dwelt on incidents from their college days. “‘We cherish those wonderful moments,' they told me, and I knew I was on the right track.”

When a film is of the youth, it has to be for the youth. “Yeah, luring youngsters is the aim. But all age groups can relate to it,” says Selva. “And it isn't just romance, it's also a fun film.”

As if to celebrate the quarter century mark in his career — Naanga is Selva's 25th film — he has turned producer. “Yeah, I'm trying out a different kind of narration which, I think, hasn't been done before, and ideally, it would be better for me to produce it, I felt,” Selva explains.

How different is the script? “The story travels between the years 1985 and 2011. It's about five friends, and the screenplay is in five parts with one of the heroes being the fulcrum of each.”

Like five short stories put together? “Exactly, but every story is connected with the other, and the characters are common to all segments,” says Selva.

Naanga teems with new faces, and all of them have a filmi background. “I wanted greenhorns but couldn't go on auditioning. So I decided to restrict my choices to children of film personalities,” says Selva.

You'll get to see actor Adityan's son Nivas, director Santhana Bharati's son Sanjay Krishna, composer Vasu Rao's son Muneesh, production executive Gurusamy's son Vinod and film distributor Chandrasekhar's son Uday playing the heroes of Naanga. Singer Mano's son Shakir dons the anti. And Ashwin Raja, son of producer Swaminathan, is the comedian. Ashwin was the gluttonous student, who gave Arya and Santhanam a run for their money in the laugh riot, Boss Engira Bhaskaran. And again, but for Kasturi, the main character in one of the five parts, the other heroines are debutantes.

Having so many fresh faces could be cost-effective. Selva cuts me short even before I complete my query, “I wanted a new set of actors only because the storyline warranted it. Going by my track record, you know the number of actors who have debuted under my direction. I'm known as a director who gives a minimum guarantee run. Even if they aren't runaway hits, none of my films has plummeted.”

True, the man who introduced ‘Thala' Ajith with Amaravathi and talented character actor Vijay with Thalaivaasal has also been instrumental in bringing several other new faces to the big screen. Be it Jai Akash, Sibi Raj, Sanghavi, Sakshi or Nagma's sister Roshni, many have opened their innings with Selva.

“Honestly, marketing a film which has no known heroes isn't easy. In fact, it could be frustrating,” he continues. Was that a reason for Naanga taking quite a while to see the light of day? “Not the only reason, though. As I said, I did have to fight my way through to market it. And as it spans nearly a quarter century of the heroes' lives, the look for the various stages differs — growing their mane or trimming it, putting on weight or losing it, these things take time,” he details.

Selva has now planned a week-long road show in Chennai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Salem and Madurai, door-to-door distribution of pamphlets as in election campaigns, and canvassing for viewership.

Training so many youngsters is quite a task. “Making them feel comfortable is primary. Giving them a complex would get us nowhere. Rehearsals help and more than dialogue, it is the reactions we have to work on. I behave like one among them, as if I were a newcomer myself,” Selva laughs.

From advertisement media, documentaries and television to cinema, Selva has traversed several areas in the visual arena and most of the time he has been successful. So he could well do it again. And a battalion of new faces has been given a platform to prove its potential.

In a few days from now, we'll know whether the innovative screenplay and the new team turn up trumps.

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At WorkSeptember 24, 2010