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‘Content-driven films also require stars as leads’: Pavel Navageethan

Pavel Navageethan

Pavel Navageethan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


The 35-year-old actor is turning director with ‘V1’, a film that is scheduled for release this week

Luck is a big determinant in scaling the peak of success in Tamil film industry.

Speak to any veteran in Tamil cinema, and they would have you believe that luck shines on you either by chance, or you try and engineer some for yourself by push or pull. Pavel Navageethan’s career trajectory bears the pattern of the latter.

The accidental actor

His dream of becoming a filmmaker predates his acting interests, which, he says, was pure happenstance.

“Ranjith (director) and I are contemporaries. We were pitching stories for our début films to producers. Both of us were signed up by the same production company, and our films were to release simultaneously but the projects were dropped,” he says.

But Ranjith’s luck worked out better when CV Kumar intervened to help release Attakathi (2012). While his Madras (2014) was under production, Ranjith rang Pavel and asked him to come over to his office.

“There was an acting workshop going on that day, and I had taken my scripts to narrate them to Ranjith. That is when he told me, ‘Thala, chinna character onnu irukku... panriya?’ (Will you do a small character?).”

The role was Viji in Madras, a character that became his calling card.

Though it fetched him recognition, Pavel was in no mood to give up on his directorial ambitions. “...because I did not enter films to be an actor. I told myself I cannot be playing the rowdy or bad guy all the time. So, I started being choosy with my roles. But the advantage of receiving acting offers is that it also helped me land a meeting with producers easily,” he adds.

No more a fiction

His dream is set to become a reality this week with his début film, V1, set to release. The film has débutant Ram Arun Castro and Malayalam actor Vishnupriya in the lead, and is touted to be a psychological investigation-thriller.

Ram Arun Castro in a still from ‘V1’

Ram Arun Castro in a still from ‘V1’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The film’s teaser, which was uploaded to YouTube two weeks ago, drops a hint that the plot revolves around the pursuit of a paedophile.

“It is one of the issues [portrayed in the film]. V1 will have stories that most of us would have read in a newspaper,” says Pavel, adding that the title refers to a door number.

The 35-year-old credits editor CS Prem for helping put the movie together, revealing that he had narrated the script to over 100 producers.

“I was frustrated beyond a point because when you are an actor, there are no such problems. I thought why should I put myself through this?” he says, adding, “Narrating stories during this phase was the toughest. Some people would listen to the entire story and would then say that they did not like the genre (laughs).”

Prem’s references brought together the lead cast as well as a producer. Still, the film failed to find a distributor until now, although filming was completed earlier this year.

“It is a business. V1 has a new face as hero, and they have a fear. It is natural. If [Ram Arun] Castro gains recognition after this film, there will be people who will come forward to buy his next film,” says Pavel.

Ram Arun Castro and Vishnupriya in a still from ‘V1’

Ram Arun Castro and Vishnupriya in a still from ‘V1’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Selling the product to an audience is an equally huge task.

“If I had Karthi playing the lead instead of Castro, then the film would sell itself. I don’t even need to push it among social media (paid) promoters. They will be pushing me, asking me for material if it was a big hero. Even fresh content requires a known face. That is why masala (commercial) films, no matter how bad they turn out to be, continue to attract significant day-one audience,” he adds.

New perspective

Pavel is aware that his product is meant for an A-centre audience (read as: multiplex crowd).

Ram Arun Castro in a still from ‘V1’

Ram Arun Castro in a still from ‘V1’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“I have asked for around 100 screens. It is an A-centre film, and there is no denying it. Even in my home town Chengalpattu, I think people won’t be interested to watch a film titled V1,” he laughs, adding that his film has elements which would appeal to the cinematic aesthetic of a cosmopolitan audience.

While he awaits the release of V1, Pavel is busy in front of the camera as well — Vikram Prabhu’s upcoming film Taanakaran and Aishwarya Rajesh’s Bhoomika, produced by director Karthik Subbaraj are films he is a part of — and does not intend to let go of acting opportunities in pursuit of his ambition.

“Things have changed since I got married. We have a child who is one-year-old now. When I was single, I used to look at the many random roles I was offered in a dim light. All those notions break the moment you go into a family. Now, I am just trying to balance my dreams of directing with the acting offers,” he concludes.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 5:12:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/content-driven-films-also-require-stars-as-leads-pavel-navageethan/article30136253.ece

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