Jeeva Shankar, director of Amarakaaviyam, on why he tried a romantic subject

A period story set in 1988, Amarakaaviyam, starring Satya (actor Arya’s brother) and Mia George, is based on a real-life incident that took place when Jeeva Sankar, cinematographer-turned-director, was a teen.

“I started writing the film backwards from the climax. The film includes my own experiences of falling in love as a teen for the first time,” he says.

This could very well have been Jeeva Sankar’s first film had he not followed the advice of his friends to avoid doing a love story as his first film.

After delivering a decent first film, he was determined to make his next a love story. “I also found a producer but we couldn’t agree on the budget. We mutually decided not to work on the film,” he says. And that’s when his good friend, actor Arya, who he knew ever since his days with the late director/cinematographer Jeeva, agreed to listen to the script.

“Many would think that Arya produced the film only because it features his brother, but even after he agreed to produce, I hadn’t decided who would play the lead. But I wanted a new comer…”

And then, it finally happened.

“Seven years ago, I had told Arya over dinner that his brother too should perhaps try his hand at acting. I even did a small photo shoot for him. Till then, he had never thought of becoming an actor. Apparently, I kindled his interest in acting,” he says.

The film, he says, will illuminate how different it was a couple of decades back to court someone and fall in love. “One had to wait for hours outside the person’s house or at a bus stop to even get a glimpse. The young people of today, who are well connected thanks to technology, will be surprised to see how people fell in love in those days.”

Perhaps taking a cue from his mentor (late cinematographer/director Jeeva), Jeeva Sankar has put himself in charge of several departments. In Amarakaaviyam, he’s the writer, director and cinematographer. “I have even designed the costumes because the designer backed out at the last moment,” he says.

So, how did he manage so many roles? “Thanks to Jeeva’s influence, I have never looked at cinematography and direction as two different things. In fact, I found it difficult to do just cinematography or direction. I wasn’t getting the kind of films I wanted to do as a cinematographer. So, I thought, let me do it myself. Also, since this film is set in Ooty and it is about first love, I wanted to shoot and direct the film myself.”