Why ‘Andhaghaaram’ director V Vignarajan hates jump scares

V Vignarajan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A journey rife with hardships can drag one to the darkest places. Not for V Vignarajan who whilst making Andhaghaaram (darkness), and despite struggling to bring it to light for the past many years, never lost sight of his target — “to make a good film”.

It didn’t matter even if it was going to be just the one, he says, over phone from Chennai.

Having assisted director Radha Mohan in films such as Mozhi (2007) and Abhiyum Naanum (2008), Vignarajan set out on his own only to find that the film industry had a strange way of crippling people with ambitions; his first project, Orey Nyabagam, was shelved after more than half of it was completed.

Born out of that experience was the decision to make an indie film, Andhaghaaram. “We shot a pilot and pitched it to couple of producers. We continued filming with money that we pooled from various sources. When it was two-thirds complete, Passion Studios took an interest,” says Vignarajan. He adds: “However, it was Atlee’s entry (as presenter) that brought so much attention to this small film.” Excerpts:

What is Andhaghaaram about?

It is a supernatural suspense-thriller film. The supernatural aspect, however, is only used as a [narrative] element, and isn’t a defining aspect of the film’s genre. It is a hyperlink subject that sees three stories colliding at crucial points.

Is there an inspiration for the storyline?

This incident in my life from 10 years ago left a ‘what if’ question in my head. My friend from Kerala had told me about this man who claimed to speak with spirits using a phone. Obviously, it was false, but I thought ‘what if it was real?’

Vinoth Kishan in a still from ‘Andhaghaaram’

Vinoth Kishan in a still from ‘Andhaghaaram’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Tell us about your casting choice for the lead roles: Vinoth Kishan and Arjun Das.

Vinoth plays Selvam, a visually-challenged person. I had followed his work since Naan Mahaan Alla; his eyes are intense. I thought it would be interesting to snatch that powerful tool [of expression] away from him, cast him in this role and then see how he pursues his character. He liked the idea. Same with Arjun, who plays a failed cricketer. I didn’t have to hold auditions, and I now know there aren’t better actors to play those roles than the two.

Bagging a Netflix release gets you a bigger audience...

Yes, but I’m disappointed that I could not release the film in theatres. We planned the visual and sound effects for the big screen experience. However, gaining a Netflix release is a positive thing to happen to us in these gloomy days.

How did Atlee come on board?

During the film’s edit stage, Atlee learnt of our film and he liked what he saw. He asked us to make a completed film copy ready for him. He then moved on to make Bigil. After its release, he saw our movie’s final cut and agreed to present it in theatres, but then the lockdown happened.

Arjun Das in a still from ‘Andhaghaaram’

Arjun Das in a still from ‘Andhaghaaram’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

You tout the screenplay as the unique element in Andhaghaaram, but the film is still a suspense-thriller. Will there be jump scare moments?

I hate jump scares. Even when writing the film, I didn’t include jump scare situations intentionally because I didn’t want to fall for the clichés. Andhaghaaram has to be treated as a suspense thriller only, and not as a film in the supernatural genre. We have tried our best to create a unique world in the way we have lit the film, treated the sound and performances. I was particular about not affording it the treatment given to films with conventional subjects.

What do you make of the long journey that it took you to bring Andhaghaaram to this point?

It is not tough to make indie films especially if you are supported by a good crew. Raising money is tough, but everything depends on how our beliefs work. What matters is that we remain committed to making a good film, the rest would fall in place easily. I am disappointed that Andhaghaaram took such a long time. However, at the end of the hardship, if we successfully endure it, we will find the path we want to tread on going forward.

What have you lined up next?

I do have a few scripts, but it will be decided based on how well Andhaghaaram is received. I have plans in place whether or not the situation works to my favour.

‘Andhaghaaram’ is streaming on Netflix

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 2:51:11 PM |

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