When Dhanush made Selvaraghavan realise how difficult his job is as an actor

Filmmaker Selvaraghavan on becoming Sangaiah for Arun Matheswaran’s revenge drama, Saani Kaayidham

Updated - May 05, 2022 10:22 am IST

Published - May 04, 2022 03:12 pm IST

Selvaraghavan in ‘Saani Kaayidham’

Selvaraghavan in ‘Saani Kaayidham’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It is not too common for a filmmaker to be blown by a material written by another filmmaker. And yet, that is exactly what happened to Selvaraghavan when he first heard of Arun Matheswaran’s upcoming sophomore film, Saani Kaayidham. Selva quickly posted a tweet introducing Matheswaran to the world, much before the latter’s debut Rocky released.

“As I am a screenplay writer myself, I really liked what I heard from him [Matheswaran]. The narration itself was a new experience for me. I could see what he was trying to convey and how the film would come out. When he narrated it, I could only see the film,” says Selvaraghavan.

Arun Matheswaran was rather adamant about bringing Selvaraghavan on board for the role of Sangaiah, who shares a bitter past with Ponni (played by Keerthy Suresh) in the revenge drama “I think any actor could have played Sangaiah. But Arun somehow felt I would do a better job,” says Selva.

Selva says he was quite taken up by the way Sangaiah was sketched out; the fact that he is a common man and doesn’t wear a mask or political colour. That he comes from a humble background and yet is accused of killing 24 people. “Normally, when you write a character, you would think of several things. But Sangaiah is different; he is someone you could bump into in the streets. He is that simple,” he adds.

Used to briefing actors about the way they need to embody his characters, Selva says he approached Sangaiah like how any actor would. In the process, he did learn a thing or two about acting, though he is still reluctant to call himself an actor. “Right from the start, I had lots of fear and insecurity but I realised you need to overcome all that, in order to improve your craft. It is a learning process. I wouldn’t call myself an actor yet,” he laughs.

Selvaraghavan and Keethy Suresh in ‘Saani Kaayidham’

Selvaraghavan and Keethy Suresh in ‘Saani Kaayidham’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Arun Matheswaran wanted Selva to be himself at the end of the day. That was helpful, he says. “I decided then that I should just follow what my heart says. Instead of thinking too much, I thought of things like how Sangaiah would react to real situations. That is how I perceived the character.”

Dhanush, who is easily one of the best actors in the country right now, has always maintained that it was his brother Selvaraghavan who groomed him right from the start and sharpened his acting chops. So, what according to Selva constitutes good acting?

So, what, according to Selva, constitutes good acting? “As a filmmaker, what is important to me is that it shouldn’t feel like you are acting,” he says, “You have to hone your talent and find different ways to approach a character. There are subtleties and nuances you need to get right. When I direct my actors, I slowly feed them information about how the character should walk or talk. That is how they get the big picture.”

Although Selvaraghavan has said that there is a bit of him in his characters, he was particular that Sangaiah shouldn’t have those qualities. “Even in the films I make, I shouldn’t see myself in my characters. And in Saani Kaayidham, I tried to follow Arun’s vision and what he wanted from me. He gave me that space.”

Selvaraghavan is currently directing Dhanush in Naane Varuven. The duo has ensured that they don’t discuss work outside of film sets. Dhanush, however, had a tongue-in-cheek response to Selva’s acting stint with Beast and now Saani Kaayidham. “Only when you go deep into acting, do you realise its many challenges. Maybe I understand my actors better now. Dhanush told me once, ‘At least now do you realise how difficult my job is?’”

Saani Kaayidham releases on Amazon Prime Video on Friday

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