Cheran who will wield the baton once again in JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai talks about the need to change with the times

After a gap of four years, Cheran returns to direction and production with JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai, a bilingual (in Tamil and Telugu). He is betting big on this film that features young actors such as Sharwanand (who played the lead role in Engaeyum Eppothum) and Nithya Menen besides Santhanam and Jayaprakash.

“I have never made a film with such a huge budget,” says Cheran. So what’s the reason behind this sudden urge to do ‘big’ films? “So far, I have made small films with good stories. But, when I see a Bala or a Gautam Menon, constantly trying to up the ante, I feel I need to do something better. If I can’t keep up with the trend, I will be left behind.”

Stating that he is ‘changing with the times’, Cheran describes JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai as an entertainer made with the intention to appeal to the younger generation but insists that the film would nevertheless bear his trademark ‘touch’.

Push him to elaborate on this ‘touch’ and he says, “ This film talks about the importance of bonding with one’s family. We don’t really think about it, do we?” asks Cheran. Responsible characters are a recurring motif in his films, right from his early days. Question him on how he goes about creating these heart-warming characters, and he reveals that he steer clears of popular depiction. “I came up with the character of the father in Thavamai Thavamirundhu since I was tired with Tamil cinema’s obsession for mothers,” smiles Cheran.

Talking about JK…, he says, “I make sure my heroes always stand out as examples in our society. I hope the audience takes home the message of how important their life is, and how important it is for them to be responsible.”

His insistence on creating ‘responsible’ heroes should make him one of the most sought-after directors among Tamil cinema’s popular heroes, but Cheran disagrees, “The heroes always bet on the winning horse. Though I have made memorable films, I couldn’t work with big heroes as some of my films didn’t do as well as I had hoped. The heroes go in for a short-term impact at the box office and don’t really aspire to do characters that stand the test of time.”

The actor Cheran, however, is doing quite well. Chennaiel Oru Naal, in which he plays one of the leads, is running successfully. He also plays one of the leads in the soon-to be-released Moondru Per Moondru Kadhal. How difficult was it to make this transition? “It wasn’t difficult. You learn to tune your focus as you get more experience, he says and adds, “I know my limits as an actor. It is only as a director I am able to compete with others.”

Cheran has today moved to the city. His filmography reflects his own journey from being a son of a projector operator to a film director, he says.

As he chooses to create characters that are more urban, can we expect him to go back to his roots? “The villages have changed so much. You don’t get producers to make that kind of a film anymore.”