Movies

Power politics

Cinematographer-turned-director Jeeva Shankar tells chitradeepa anantharam that his upcoming political drama, Yeman has nothing to do with the current political scenario in the State.

Jeeva Shakar’s debut film Naan, (which also marked Vijay Antony’s debut as actor) made everyone take notice of him. An assistanct to late director/cinematographer Jeeva, he prefixed his guru’s name to his name. Now, he is all set for the release of his third film, Yeman. And he has yet again teamed up with his long time friend Vijay Antony.

Shankar’s second film Amara Kaaviyam (2014), which went unnoticed, sent him into a dejected mood, and he did not take up any projects after that. “Amara Kaaviyam was the first script I wrote, it is an intense film and, close to my heart. Naan was written after that. But when I pitched both the scripts, many preferred Naan,” he says.But he never intended to cast VIjay Antony in the lead role, but it so happened that he ended up casting him. “Due to various reasons, Naan was getting postponed and one fine day, Vijay Antony asked me if I would consider him. But I had my reservations. Ivan set aaga maattan, I thought as I had never perceived him as an artist but only as composer and sound engineer. But a few days later, I gave it a thought, and decided to go ahead as I had no other option,” says Shankar.

The trailer of Yeman, cut by the director himself, as well as the single track, ‘Yemmela kai vecha gaali’, has garnered a lot of attention. Was Yeman written exclusively for Vijay Antony? “Definitely not. I did not write the script for him. In fact, when I write a script, I don't wear the director or cinematographer hat. Only after completing the script I go into those areas. Vijay Sethupathy was totally impressed when I mentioned the premise to him and requested me to complete the script within two months and meet him. But I took almost eight months to complete it, and by that time he had committed for five films. Vijay Antony who knew about my script, requested me to keep him also as my last option, and finally, I cast him, as I was convinced that he can do the role with elan.”

Shankar says that Yeman was written in anger, as he was hurt that his earlier film flopped. “Yeman is a political drama. It is the story of an ordinary man’s aspiration to attain political power, and his journey has been narrated with many twists and turns. It is the story of a common man who goes on to become the king. It is not about any political party or a politician, but it is purely about politics,” says Shankar. The film according to him, is how a comman man perceives politics. “We criticize, comment and make fun of politicians, but what happens or what pushes these politicians to behave in certain manner is what I am dealing with in Yeman,” he says.

Given the current high voltage political drama going on in Tamil Nadu, the film seems to echo the current situation in the state, going by the dialogues in the trailer. “My film has no connection with the present political situation. The script was completed in end of 2015, and the film was shot between February and October 2016,” says Shankar. “The film belongs to political drama genre, and it’s predominant theme is Karma. I am dealing with the universal theme of decisions and consequences in the background of politics.”

From Naan to Yeman, Vijay Antony has come a long way as an actor. Will this film elevate him to the next level? What sort of a role is he portraying in the film? “Vijay Antony plays the role of Tamilarasan, a common man who evolves into a perfect politician, a king. He is a yadharthavadhi, a strategist, who charts his success. Vijay Antony fit perfectly into the character he portrays, and he has two different look in the film,” says Shankar. “A hardworking person that he is, Vijay Antony had some stiffness in mind and body when we worked together in Naan, but now, there is a drastic improvement in his confidence levels. The only negative aspect that I notice in him is the mental block he has. He is a perfectionist, but going beyond that is no good. When he hesitated much about doing a dance number, ‘Enn Mela Kaiya vecha gaal’, and even requested me to do away with it, but I insisted, and he ended up giving a splendid dance performance.

Shankar has cast veteran director/actor Thiagarajan in a pivotal role in Yeman. Shankar says that he required an artist of Thiagarajan’s calibre for the role. “His personality is majestic and he can act effortlessly. He is not playing a negative role, in fact the film is not about protagonist and antagonist. It is two strong individuals juxtaposed. The focus here is on power politics.”

Each and every artist in the film, Mia George, Arul Jothi, Sangili Murugan, Charlie, art director Kiran, Marimuthu, Arjai and Jaikumar have significantly contributed in Yeman. Produced by Lyca, the film is slated for release by the end of the month.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 9:46:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/Power-politics/article17288258.ece

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